Prairie Star and Maple Leaves

Prairie Star and Maple Leaves

Since the 2014 AQSG Seminar is being held in Wisconsin, I was focused on studying a quilt that was a part of Wisconsin Quilts, Stories in Stitches, the state’s published quilt history project book. In perusing the book, I found exactly what I wanted—a red, white and green quilt with the dates of 1860-1865. What was even more exciting, the quilt had been owned by a mentor of mine for NQA certification for quilt judging, Geneva Watts of Racine, Wisconsin, and her son, Rodney. Geneva made her mark as an appliqué artist, teacher and much more. Geneva has passed away since the publication of the book, but I was able to contact her daughter and daughter-in-law. Kathleen, the daughter-in-law, who has the quilt in her possession, was most gracious in giving permission to use the quilt for study, and provided me with the necessary photos. Thus, my quilt is a tribute to Geneva.

The original maker of the quilt was Mary Strove Ellis (1845-1937). It became her wedding quilt. It has remained in the family through the generations.

I do not know the block sizes of the original quilt, but have drafted them to 18” blocks. A good experience to revisit, since I had not drafted quilt blocks in a number of years.

One of the events for AQSG in Milwaukee is an exhibit of quilts with antimony orange/chrome orange, also known as “cheddar.” I have spent a considerable amount of time researching orange dyes and their timeline. The mineral orange dyes were available in the years of the Civil War and thus, it was natural to use them in this interpretation. For me, there is a strong connection to Wisconsin in this piece: Geneva Watts and her contribution to Wisconsin quilters, “America’s Dairyland,” the beauty of Wisconsin’s autumn, and of course, the Green Bay Packers.

So Geneva, this one is for you and how you have inspired my career.