Pennsylvania Anabapist Quilting: Yesterday

Over the past month I’ve had the chance to get to see some of the best of the best local quilts, and when you’re living near Lancaster, PA, that means a pretty awesome quilt.

Last month I had a fantastic tour of the Esprit Collection of antique Lancaster County Amish Quilts at the Lancaster Quilt and Textile Museum, guided by Julie Silber, the collections original curator.

Crazy Patch Quilt

Sunshine and Shadows

I saw a portion of the collection this past summer, but this was the first time since the collection was gathered that all of the quilts were on display together and it was very exciting to see them all.  But far and away the best part of the tour was hearing the stories from Julie and a few other important Lancaster County quilt people who were on the tour.  I expected maybe a half hour tour, and ending up spending almost three hours!

Bars Quilt in Red, White and Blue

More Typical Bars Quilt Palette

Perhaps the most surprising of the quilts to me was the Red, White and Blue Bars quilt.  While the pattern is very traditional, I had never seen an Amish quilt using those colors.  Julie’s answer to the questions on very different quilts like this one was that the Espirit collection is not a representative collection of the most typical Lancaster County Amish quilts, but one that was made by a design company and chosen for artistic value, so it contains many one of a kind pieces.

Julie Silber

Unfortunately this exhibit and the tours were part of a week long special event to raise money for the museum.  They currently have not met their budget to allow them to operate regular hours.  Although it is a small museum, it is an important one, and it is truly a shame that their collection can’t be available to the public.

However, although the museum is closed for the moment, the art of anabaptist quilting is alive and well in PA.  The past two days I’ve had the absolute joy to attend the Pennsylvania Mennonite Central Committee Relief sale, held right here in Harrisburg at the Farm Show Complex.  The quilt auction of the relief sale is certainly one of the largest, if not the largest fundraisers of the sale, this year with over 300 quilts being auctioned off.  I have some photos of this year’s sale to share with you tomorrow!


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