Monday, October 23, 2017

Asymmetrical Open Wreath

Block from quilt dated 1847 for Bernard Nadal
Smithsonian Collection.

What makes an album sampler a Baltimore Album quilt?
If I see 3 typical BAQ patterns in a sampler I file it in the BAQ file.

This one from a Hap Moore auction has several typical Baltimore designs---
that distinctive eagle with the flag, woven basket
and this one.

An asymmetrical kind of wreath or bouquet,
or as Elly Sienkiewicz classified it a Lyre Wreath.

It looks rather free-form and naturalistic and you'd never notice it as 
a "pattern", except that you notice it all the time.

Quilt dated 1847 from a 1985 ad in the Clarion magazine,
offered by Kelter Malce Antiques.

It's the layout of the flowers with one popping in from the lower left...

to fill an empty space above the stem juncture.
The two sides of the open wreath are not the same.
The top left stem curves in to fill another space.
It's a pretty way to fill a square block with flowers.

It's in my Encyclopedia of Applique # 43.65, "unnamed from an album dated 1847" (probably Bernard Nadal's). Page 135.

BAQ in the collection of the American
Folk Art Museum.

Does that space-filling floral ever pop in from the bottom left in a BAQ?

BAQ at the International Quilt Study Center & Museum

The flowers can be large or small, growing as triplets
or alone.

BAQ documented in the Arizona quilt project.

The earliest I've seen the pattern is in BAQs dated 1846, which
is also the earliest date-inscribed Baltimore album quilts I have
photos of.

Dated 1846 by Elizabeth Stansbury. Online Auction.

So it was part of the BAQ phenomenon from the beginning

Elly Sienkiewicz has been using the pattern
and inspiring other to make it too: Flowers popping in from left 
in this reproduction.

You also find the pattern in repeat block quilts.

All I have with this photo is a signature picture,
which the seller thought said
"Miss Harriet Welker

Fons & Porter's Love of Quilting did a pattern on a beauty from the IQSCM collection
in their December, 2012 issue. Here's a link to a free download. They called it Blossom Wreath.

I've seen several in online auctions over the past dozen years.

But one difference in most of the repeat block designs is the space-filling 
floral pops in from the bottom center.
The wreath is still asymmetrical with more of an arc on the left 
than the right.

Online auction from 2007.
I'd guess these are from the mid-19th century.

But here's one that looks more 20th-century 

at least in the fabric and binding.

Another 20th century version shown
in the Detroit News in 1934.
The woman holding the four-block quilt
said her grandmother made it recently.

Here's a version of Harriet Welker's. Print it 8"
or double it to 16".

Can't get enough Baltimore Album???? Check out the Smithsonian's picture file on Bernard Nadal's 1847 quilt.

Tulips on Bernard Nadal's quilt


  1. Asymmetrical always speaks to me. Being more than a bubble off center myself, these are among my favorite designs. Once again, it was great to see you in NH and thanks for your contributions to research of these treasures.

  2. Yes! A brilliant analysis of motifs usually present on BAQs. The asymmetrical wreath is among the most often seen. To eagle/flag & woven basket (largely red), I'd add the fruit compote, dove w. Bible or album, cornucopia, & lyre. If several of these appear, the quilt was probably made in or near Baltimore in the 1840s or 50s or was inspired by one. They can be well made or crudely done & of many different fabrics, not just the good calicoes from downtown shops. Debby Cooney