Amish Quilts and the Welsh Connection

September 14, 2012 at 7:26 pm | Posted in Museums and Exhibitions, Patchwork, quilt | Leave a comment

It seems to be becoming a tradition that every second year my summer holidays include a visit to the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham. This year, for the first time, I had booked a few lectures to mix up the days at the Festival and to have an opportunity to be entertained while sitting down in the middle of a long day on my feet.

The first lecture I attended was by Dorothy Osler, talking about her newest book “Amish Quilts and the Welsh connection“. I had selected this talk mainly because I was going to visit the exhibition of the same name at the Jen Jones Welsh Quilt Centre in Lampeter and was interested in hearing more about the topic. What I didn’t realize at that time was that the exhibition is actually inspired by the book, although given the identical titles, this is hardly surprising.

During her talk, Dorothy Osler shared a little bit of the story about how that book was conceived. We got to hear about her research successes as well as failures, and how the whole story came together. An absolutely fascinating mix of history and quilting! If you ever get a chance to hear her talk, it’s definitely worth it.

After that, I was looking forward to my visit to Wales even more. I took a train from Birmingham to Aberysthwyth, where I had to change to a bus to Lampeter. At first the weather was typically Welsh, with a bit of rain and some fog. But just in time for my arrival in Lampeter, the sun came out and it was an absolutely gorgeous afternoon. The museum is located in the old Town Hall, which very conveniently is right across the road from the bus stop.

The building has been lovingly restored and is now a perfect place for a quilt museum. The ground floor has the museum shop and entry on the left side and a very nice café on the right, where I enjoyed a great lunch. The main exhibition room is the old court room on the upper floor, and it’s absolutely magnificent. It’s not a big place, but the exhibition was lovely and I had all the peace and quiet I wanted to admire the quilts at leisure. In the hallways there was some more information about the history of Welsh immigrants to America, and in a few smaller rooms other temporary exhibitions were shown.

Back  downstairs at the shop, I did the inevitable: shop for souvenirs. Here’s my booty:

In front to the right, the catalogue for the exhibition. Behind that, a gorgeous bookmark with a detail from a red handquilted quilt. And at the back, a book about Welsh Quilting Patterns and how to design your own. The Welsh Quilting Pattern & Design Handbook is a special edition published by the Welsh Quilt Centre, and the proceeds go toward the conservation of the museum’s collection. I’m pretty sure this isn’t the last time I’ll mention that book, since I feel a bit of sketching and quilting may be in the not-so-far future.

All in all, this is an amazing place, and I highly recommend a visit if you can make it there. The current exhibition still runs till November 3, 2012. A big thank you goes to Jen Jones and her team, who make the existence of this place possible. Their enthusiasm for the museum is highly contagious, and they did everything to make my stay there as enjoyable as possible. I might be back sooner rather than later even though the place is a bit off the beaten track!

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