Monday, June 18, 2012

Leibovitz, Alcott and I'm back to talking about quilts.

I love picture books!  Don't misunderstand this statement thinking I will just pick up a book, glance through the illustrations and put it down.  No, I love beautiful illustrations, photographs and I love a good story as well.

But when a beautiful book of photography combines history and a wonderful story line, it is more than a coffee table book.  Now imagine beautiful photographs by Annie Leibovitz captured in iconic historical homes with her narrative and you have Pilgrimage.

I loved the book immediately.  But there are two photographs that just captured my heart; a hanky embroidered by Louisa May Alcott with her initials and  a page of the journal by her father, Bronson, with the outlines of his and Louisa May's hands. 

A cord of familiarity was struck.  I ran to the files to pull out my own piece of Louisa May Alcott history.  I had acquired a grouping of signatures on cloth from an autograph auction in the 90's.

The photograph of the hanky with Louisa's initials.with a period signature square.  Notice the perforations around the edges of the block.  It once graced a quilt and the signature blocks were removed leaving a trace of their prior use. 

Then, I had to go to my quilting files and pull out the notes and pieces of paper I had kept while working on the wall hanging which incorporated my daughter's hand print with the signature blocks.  
This is the photograph in the book with Louisa's and Bronson's hand outlines.  The little green hand print is that of my youngest daughter in 1996 when I was working on assembling photo transfers of the signatures into a wall hanging.

One of the quilt blocks had the date 1880 and I added the date because I believe most of the signatures were acquired during this time period.  My daughter's hand was appliqued in the center of a large Union Star quilt block.  One of the signature blocks had the lines, "Lend a Hand" signed by Edward E. Hale, and it seemed appropriate for the name of the quilt.

Louisa's photo transferred signature block allowing the original block to remain safe.
The photo transferred signature blocks were placed around the outside of the Union Star in a border of  the pattern Square Within a Square.  I always felt there could have been a little more applique in the center, but then I rationalized that applique really wasn't in vogue during this time period - the fad of the Baltimore album blocks had passed.
I loved the inscription by Hale on his block.  It reads:

Look up and not down
Look forward and not back
Look out and not in
Lend a Hand
Edward E. Hale

So back to Pilgrimage...  did I mention there is a section on Annie Oakley!!!  I feel like there is another quilt coming on!!!!


  1. My goodness, these are beautiful!

    came here because of Susan's link at LMA is my Passion. So glad I did. What amazing work.

    1. Thanks for stopping by Jeannine and thanks for your kind words!