The Textile Wing at the Charleston Museum

The textile wing of the Charleston Museum in South Carolina featured some beautiful quilts (mostly antique), garments from the colonial era on through to the 70’s, embellished accessories, and very intriguing notions.

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Embroidered Satin Bag, c. 1795. Attributed to Margaret Dick Burgess

IMG_2554 I didn’t know what ‘toilet pins’ were, so I looked them up.  An online draper called Merchant & Mills, gave me this tidbit:

…traditional toilet pins are an unusual pin being quite long at 45mm. Before the button became commonplace, many clothes were pinned together and a lady would have pins on her dressing table. The toilet pins come from and era when one would need pins for hats, corsage,etc. 

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Silk Embroidered Bag, from 1920’s

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Crib quilt, c. 1889. Log cabin variation made by Mary Louisa Schirmer Tiedeman

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incredibly small hexagons — dime-sized?

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“Field of Diamonds”, c. 1820. Maria Boyd Schulz

Don’t you just love the beautiful poking tools in the silk-lined box?IMG_2555 IMG_2563Paper pieced. More chintz. One of the names on the star below, “C.C. Pinckney” must refer to Charles Cotesworth Pinckney — one of Eliza Lucas Pinckney’s two sons.  Eliza Lucas Pinckney was a remarkable British settler who helped establish indigo as a crop and valuable commodity in the 1740’s. star-close

IMG_2572 IMG_2573 IMG_2574 IMG_2575These Civil War era fabrics must have faded some. I wonder what they looked like 200 years ago. I can’t imagine them appealing to me any more than they do at this saturation.

There was one contemporary quilt. IMG_2569

"Memphis Blues", 2000. Mary Alma Parker

“Memphis Blues”, 2000. Mary Alma Parker

I apologize for the blurriness of the pictures (better ones in this flickr set), but I hope you can see that the hexagons in this quilt are made to appear dimensional both through color/pattern choices and a willingness to let the surface ‘poof’ a little. The color of the surround was a deep and appealing blue, while the center panel of paper-pieced hexagons exuberantly combined prints. Notice, too, that in places one of the surrounding ‘petals’ does not match.  Sometimes the center color fades and blends with its ‘flower’ and other times the color selected practically pops off the quilt with contrast. Skillful blending of tone and color give the panel this lovely fluid feel, as the colors fade from dark to light to dark again.

I assumed looking at the work that its maker is African American. Why? Because of the title, the lively use of prints and the occasional departure from pattern (print mixes and departure from pattern being well-appreciated and documented signatures of the Gee’s Bend quilts, as well). Does anyone know? I couldn’t find anything online, even with a variety of search terms and approaches.  I DID learn that Parker is a very common name, as is “Mary Alma”.  Turning up various treasure troves of genealogy featuring white Parker families proves nothing one way or the other, of course, given that many slaves took their owners’ names once upon a time.

5 thoughts on “The Textile Wing at the Charleston Museum

  1. Dana

    Thank you so much for sharing these lovely pictures. How fascinating is cloth! The colors and prints of the antique fabrics are so immediately discernible …they are like a time capsule.

    Reply
  2. deedeemallon Post author

    Dana, cloth is fascinating — and when I’m at a museum or in a new city or lots of places, it is great for me to have one place I consistently go, one area I love to look at — it becomes a window and an anchor, both.

    Reply
  3. Pingback: Quilter Mary Alma Parker | Dee Mallon and Cloth Company

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