Sunday, April 15, 2012

Lots of eye candy!!

Several years ago we inherited a woven coverlet made around 1861 by one of Tom's relatives in Georgia.  Ever since we have wanted to learn more about coverlets.  How excited we were when we realized that one of our travels this year would take us very near the National American Coverlet Museum in Bedford, Pennsylvania!  This would be the perfect opportunity to learn more about our family heirloom.

The museum is housed in a former school house built in 1859.

Laslo, a Hungarian by birth and a former antiques dealer who specialized in textiles, gave us a personal tour complete with history of the weaving methods. Boy, was he knowledgeable!!
Here are some of the looms and the wonderful coverlets we saw. This first loom was the kind used by women to produce coverlets for their own homes. These coverlets, like the one we inherited, are called geometric and have only straight lines.


Even though the design possibilities are limited, there is still quite some variety in styles.  For example, these three coverlets are representative of German (top), English (middle), and Dutch (bottom) influences.

The introduction of the Jacquard device in France sped up the weaving process by 24 times and also allowed for more intricate designs, but it raised the cost and complexity of the process and moved coverlet making from women in the home to professional weavers, mostly men.  Here are some examples of professional-made coverlets using the Jacquard process.

Laslo told us that the museum has a thousand coverlets in their collection. Of course, only a small fraction are on display at one time, and the exhibit changes four times a year. He also told us that they will never sell any of the coverlets in their collection.

Check out the museum on their website and/or join their Facebook page to stay in touch with what's happening.


Margaret said...

Oh lucky you! I'd love to visit that museum someday. I love coverlets so much! I actually wove one (a simple one that looks sort of like your first pic) once upon a time. :D

Anonymous said...

Wow, I'd love to go see that museum and its contents.....what a terrific resource for you.

Anonymous said...

I just love coverlets too. Sounds like you had a wonderful time. The pictures are wonderful, thank you for sharing the highlights. Looking at the pictures of the looms makes me think of the wonderful weavers guild that my mother joined this past year. They brought in a teacher that grew up in South America, I think it was Peru, for a work shop. She lectured at the Saturday meeting and talked about how weaving is a staple to the peoples way of life. There are still ladies and men that weave patterns similiar to Antique American coverlets from memory. It was amazing and is amazing. There is also large 2 volume book on Antique Coverlets that the guild has in the library. I think it is still available on-line for sale. Just in case you are not aware of it.

woolwoman said...

Ellen what a wonderful tour of the Coverlet Museum - As a fiber enthusiast - I am very interested in coverlets. Interesting that Tom inherited from a GA relative - I did not think woven coverlets were very prevalent in the south. Hope you have a great week! Melody

Bertie said...

This museum is on my list one day when I visit the USA! Thank you for the wonderful pictures Ellen, they are beautiful coverlets:))

The Inspired Stitcher said...

Thanks for sharing your pictures with us today. The last time I was out that way this museum wasn't even open yet. In fact, it was just a thought being tossed around in certain circles. I'm so happy it came to fruition and is doing so well. I'm adding it to my list of must see's next time I find myself in the area!

Teri said...

Great post! This museum is already on my list of "to visit" places. Thanks for sharing.