We Love You, Mary G!

By: Marti Phelps
Prince Frederick, Maryland

Mariska (Mary) Mihalovits arrived in America from Hungary in 1905 at age 16. She became an American citizen, married Stephen Gasperik in 1906, and resided in Chicago, Illinois. In 1933, Mary was inspired by the Sears Contest quilts displayed at the Chicago World’s Fair. She joined the Tuley Park Quilting Club, to learn, receive advice, study patterns, and display her handiwork. Mary created Daisies Won’t Tell circa 1940. Her heart-shaped daisy wreath quilt was inspired by an oval wreath quilt design, Daisy Chain from a Mary McElwain publication.

Selecting just the right quilt for the study was challenging. Making sure ALL the fabrics were SOLID was difficult. I contacted Susan Salzer, Mary’s granddaughter, who is the expert on her grandmother’s more than 80 full-size quilts. Susan kindly sent me a list of Mary’s solid fabric quilts from the Quilt Index. Thanks also to Merikay Waldvogel. I chose Daisies Won’t Tell, owned by Susan, who generously answered my questions. The Daisy quilt’s wholecloth background is filled with beautiful hand quilting! Mary hand quilted ALL of her quilts!

Mary’s colors and quilting motifs, such as the feathered heart medallion and surrounding fern feathers, and appliquéd daisies were my inspiration. I celebrated Mary’s heritage, adding the Hungarian girls from another Gasperik masterpiece. My design process differed from Mary’s as I quilted the background first and then embellished with appliqué.

I marvel at the techniques that Mary must have used. How did she so artfully design and mark the top? How did she manage hand appliquéing hundreds of daisy petals? How did she find the time for such beautiful hand quilting in a large frame? In stark contrast, I hand quilt in a 14-inch hoop, machine appliquéing with a computerized sewing machine.

Nevertheless, I celebrate the award-winning hand quilting of Mary Gasperik! “We Love You, Mary G!”