Ladies of Baltimore"
1988. 91" x 91"
Collection of Elly Sienkiewicz.
Quiltmaker, author, and teacher, Elly Sienkiewicz is credited with being largely responsible for the revival in interest in Baltimore Album quilts.
"The 'Good Ladies of Baltimore' is a revivalist Baltimore album quilt. And an album quilt is a collection on a theme just as a photograph album or a stamp album would be a collection on a theme, so it's a collection of different blocks.
"They were made by the hundreds as far as we can tell, the quilts, during the mid-19th century between roughly 1844 to 1856 say, in Baltimore, Maryland.
"And it's a mystery because we don't know why so many [quilts] of this complex style [exist in a] small area at a time when the population was much less than it is today. So that caught my imagination and has been the passion of my later years.
"I was very happy to see it chosen as one of the 100 best because it symbolizes a revival of a style and I think that that style has meant as much to the people who sew it as it has meant to me. It's heart warming.
"Well it's very exciting, but it's a group quilt. So I have always had this, I suppose, modest reaction when people say, 'Oh I love your work!' I want to look them in the eye and say, 'Do you know what's mine?' So there was this feeling that it wasn't just me, that it was an honor but that that honor was on many of us. So it was exciting, but it was very much a shared honor.
"I'm sure that the ladies who helped make the quilt are very thrilled because it was made a long time ago and there are probably finer revivalist Baltimore [quilts] that have been made since but at the time each of us made it, none of us believed that we could do such a thing by ourselves.
"So they're very impressive and very labor intensive and very beautiful, it was very exciting to find that we could do it and I think we did it by breaking it into elements, that is people start with lesson one doing a one layer block, and then they add a 2nd color, and you basically learn things that get augmented.
"I think all us of loved the thought that we could work on one, that we could try it but that we weren't taking on the whole quilt. So I'm sure they were excited. I know for a fact that many of those people have gone on to make one all by themselves. Which is exciting so you have to have been honored by it."