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Mary Schafer passed away peacefully 21 December 2006. Mary lived her 96 years very well indeed and many of us will miss her and remember her so fondly.

This coming July she will be inducted into the Quilters Hall of Fame. She did know she would receive this honor before she left us. I'll be in Marion, Indiana doing several lectures about Mary and also two classes, July 19-22, 2007. Twelve-15 of her quilts will be hung in an exhibit so that will be wonderful to see. Check their web page for this information. or email them at quiltershalloffame@beglobal.net

For more information about this great quiltmaker see:
Mary Schafer; American Quilt Maker, University of Michigan Press, 2004, won Michigan Notable Book Award for literature in 2005.

The Quilters Hall of Fame
Mary Schafer will be inducted into the Quilters Hall of Fame, July 19-22, 2007. I have been working on this for some time now and so I am just delighted for Mary!

In case you don't know who Mary is, she is one of the important women who helped shape the quilt world we now enjoy. As Cuesta Benberry and Joyce Gross (two well-known quilt historians have said, "The quilt world we know today didn't spring from the Head of Zeus." My book Mary Schafer; American Quilt Maker, University of Michigan Press, 2004, won Michigan Notable Book Award for literature in 2005. If you like history, this is a lovely story of a little immigrant girl who made a life for herself with needle and thread and contributed greatly to the quilt world in the process. Mary turned 96 this year.

Here is contact information, which you might want to review periodically because these dates may not be firm. or call 765-664-9333. The address is P.O. Box 681, 926 S. Washington St., Marion, Indiana, 46952.
I'll provide more information as it is available. Please do come help us celebrate.


For those who don't know about Mary, you can read all about her in Mary Schafer, American Quilt Maker. Marston, The University of Michigan Press, 2004. 

... Book is available from Gwen at her link to books.

The site is a great reference.


Mary Schafer becomes the 37th Honoree to be inducted into The Quilters Hall of Fame

 

            It was indeed my pleasure to attend the years celebration honoring Mary Schafer.  The event was held in Marion Indiana, the home of Marie Webster, author of the first quilt book Quilts: Their Story and How to Make Them, 1915.

            On Friday, July 20th, I was the keynote speaker at the luncheon, speaking about Mary's life and contributions to quiltmaking. Since many of you are fans of Mary's I am sharing my notes with you. For those who don't know about Mary, my notes will summary of her accomplishments. You can read all about it in Mary Schafer, American Quilt Maker. Marston, The University of Michigan Press, 2004. 

 

            Here are my notes:

Thank you for coming

We are here to celebrate Mary Schafer as this years inductee into the Quilters Hall of Fame.

 

            Mary was guided by three objectives very close to her quiltmaking heart.

            -to raise the esteem of quiltmaking and to past quilters

            -to heighten peoples interest in quilt history

            -to share her quilts with others.

 

I wonder where Mary got this idea?

            Let's turn to the last paragraph of the introduction in Quilts: Their Story and How to Make Them, Marie Webster 1915

            "To raise in popular esteem these most worthy products of home industry, to add to the appreciation of their history and traditions, to present a few of the old masterpieces to the quilters of today; such is the purpose of this book of quilts. March 18, 1915 "

 

Mary was a fabulous quiltmaker and I want to begin by talking about her quilts.

            - Mary made beautiful quilts. Cuesta Benberry called Mary a Master Quiltmaker, and she was.

            With the first pieced quilt (the Linden Mill made in '56) she formed ideas that would characterize her work henceforth.

            1956 Linden Mill kept looking for pattern name and got hooked.

            -Her interest in pattern collecting and searching for all pertinent historical information about blocks.

            -The idea of honoring unknown quiltmakers. (One way she did this was to reproduce old quilts, worn quilts).

            -The idea of preserving old quilts by reproducing them (always with her own twist).

            -The idea of making historically significant quilts:(quilt patterns from the Robert E. Lee home, from Mt. Vernon. Old unusual patterns like the Lobster. (Florence Peto wrote to Mary "Do you know I have never seen another 'Lobster' quilt since the one pictured in Historic Quilts. I am happy to know you are keeping the design alive."

            -The idea of designing original borders.         

            -The idea of designing original quilting patterns.

            -The idea that quilts should fit the bed.

            -The very idea of how a quilt should be made: she worked out her piecing and her applique techniques, she made quilts by hand, she was a scrap quilter, marking.

           

            -Mary went on to win many blue ribbons:

            -Entered area shows, national shows. (encouraged others to enter, found out what category they were entering so she could enter a different category.

            -The first National Quilting Association (NQA) exhibit, September 1970. Won two blue ribbons, for Best Pieced and Viewer's Choice for her CLAMSHELL quilt.

         -Many exhibits, the first one person exhibit at the AQS museum.

           

             Cuesta, writing in the Quilter's Journal, 1984, said "If people don't make quilts we (scholars) don't have anything to write about so in order of importance, quiltmaking is the most important thing." So I would say that Mary's quiltmaking accomplishments alone win her a place in the Quilters Hall of Fame.

           

But Mary did more than make quilts.

            -She built a fine collection of antique quilts, consciously selecting quilts that reflected the broadest style of American quilts, fine museum quality quilts, and everyday utility quilts.           

 

            -She participated in the on-going quilt scholarship of her time

Harriman , met through Barbara Bannister, # of quilts. She was part of a group of women who collected, documented and shared information pertaining to quilt history.

            Part of this study concerned collecting and documenting the names of quilts which was done by identifying blocks.

            Knowing the names and sub-names of quilt very important: Monkey Wrench, also known as Shoo Fly,  Hole in the Barn Door, Puss-in-the-Corner, Lincoln's Platform and Sherman's March

            -Round Robins

            -And for Mary, this study included building her own block collection as a tangible record. She also made blocks for friends who were lecturers/authors. Often she made one for herself, one for Cuesta, one for Joyce Gross and one for me. She thought we might need them to support our work and that we might be too busy to stitch them ourselves. Cuesta had about 100 blocks...which she has generously donated to the Marie Webster home.

            -She carried on an incredibly wide correspondence with other like-minded enthusiasts. It must have been a very exciting time in the quilt world and we owe these women a lot. Here were a bunch of women just "going for it" and doing it for no personal gain....it was all about the quilts.

            As Joyce Gross and Cuesta Benberry noted in the catalog  for their exhibit "20th Century Quilts, 1900-1970: Women Who Make Their Mark. at the AQS Museum in1997, "Today's world of quiltmaking did not just spring from the head of Zeus after 1970."

 

            -She did everything she could to encourage others. By 1977, Mary had created a notable body of work. While pleased with people's admiration for her complicated and exquisitely executed quilts, she detected something else that bothered her. She was dismayed to notice that her quilts often intimidated new quilters. Concerned that she might discourage them, she decided to stop making elaborate quilts and return to simple pieced patterns that would be more accessible.

 

            -And Mary did something else that was, I believe to be unique in the world of quiltmaking. The Betty Harriman story (died in 1971)

Mary eventually finished 20 of Betty's "starts" as she called them, and 3 of Betty's antique tops.

            Why?  "Because she was my friend."

 

            Mary's accomplishments has been recognized by her home state of Michigan.

 

-State of Michigan proclamation honoring Mary for her contribution to quiltmaking: Senate Resolution No. 605, September 9, 1986.

-Michigan Women's Foundation award for outstanding contributions to the arts. May 25, 1988.

-Permanent Mary Schafer Collection now housed at Michigan State University Museum, East Lansing, Michigan.

 

As this years inductee, Mary joins those whom she admired from a previous generation, William Dunton, Ruth Finley, Averil Colby, Carrie Hall, Rose Kretsinger, Marie Webster, Grace Snyder and "the Superb Mrs. Stenge," as Cuesta referred to her in an early Nimble Needles magazine article.

            She also joins contemporaries: Lenice Bacon, Cuesta Benberry, Florence Peto, Mary Barton, Sally Garoutte and Joyce Gross.

 

            And so it has come full circle. In her dedication to bringing esteem to the art of quiltmaking and to quilters from the past, Mary has earned that esteem for herself.

MarySchafer
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Mary Schafer

April 27, 1910 - December 21, 2006

Mary Schafer passed away peacefully 21 December 2006. Mary lived her 96 years very well indeed and many of us will miss her and remember her so fondly.

Mary Schafer, one of the most important quiltmakers of the second half of the 20th century, was named the Quilters Hall of Fame 37th honoree in Marion Indiana, July 20-21. Mary was known for her prodigious output of beautifully designed and made quilts,  her fine collection of antique quilts, and for her contributions to quilt scholarship.

            On Friday, July 20th, it was my pleasure to present a lecture about Mary's life and contributions to quiltmaking. Mary Schafer and other women of her times are responsible for creating the quilt world we know and enjoy today. Mary contributed by making         historically important quilts, researching the history of each pattern, participating in quilt pattern Round Robins, and carrying on a wide correspondence with many of the early quilt historians and pattern collectors of her day. As Joyce Gross and Cuesta Benberry noted in the catalog  for their exhibit 20th Century Quilts, 1900-1970: Women Who Make Their Mark at the AQS Museum in1997, "Today's world of quiltmaking did not just spring from the head of Zeus after 1970."

            In Marie Webster's book, Quilts: Their Story and How to Make Them, 1915, Mary found the words that influenced all of her efforts on behalf of quiltmaking:

 

            "To raise in popular esteem these most worthy products of home industry, to add     to the appreciation of their history and traditions, to present a few of the old masterpieces to the quilters of today; such is the purpose of this book of quilts".

 

            Upon reading those words Mary set about on a serious quest to raise the esteem of the art of quiltmaking and the quilters themselves, to heighten peoples interest in quilt history and to share her quilts with others. With Mary, it was all about the quilts. If I heard Mary talk about "raising the esteem" once, I heard it a hundred times.

            She entered the first National Quilting Association (NQA) exhibit, in 1970 and won two blue ribbons for her CLAMSHELL quilt: Best Pieced quilt and Viewer's Choice.  Her one woman exhibits include the American Museum of Quilts in San Jose, CA (1987),  the New England Quilt Museum in Lowell, MA (1989) and the first solo exhibit at the MAQS Museum in Paducah, KY (1991.)

            Mary's accomplishments have been recognized by her home state of Michigan.

-Michigan proclamation honoring Mary for her contribution to quiltmaking: Senate Resolution No. 605, September 9, 1986.

-Michigan Women's Foundation award for outstanding contributions to the arts. May 25,    1988.

-Permanent Mary Schafer Collection now housed at Michigan State University Museum,    East Lansing, Michigan.

 

         On Saturday, July 21, I did a walk through lecture at the exhibit of Mary's quilts at the Marian Public Library. The 15 quilts selected for the exhibit are from the second half of the Schafer collection owned by Mary's grand daughter, Deborah Schmondiuk.   Deborah and her husband Joe attended the festivities and their presence greatly added to the personal warmth of these events. The afternoon began with The Induction Luncheon for Mary. It was lovely to scan the room and see so many Mary Schafer devotees, many of whom came from long distances to celebrate Mary's life and contributions. Georgia Bonesteel and Bets Ramsey, both Quilters Hall of Fame Honorees, were in attendance as was Rosalind Perry, Marie Websters grand daughter.           

            It was a pleasure for me to be at this celebration on Mary's behalf and I thank the Board of Directors, Karen Alexander, President,  Joyce Hostetler, Executive Director, and all those who made this event possible. I'm sure Mary would have been very pleased.

            As this years inductee into the Quilters Hall of Fame, Mary joins those whom she admired from a previous generation, William Dunton, Ruth Finley, Averil Colby, Carrie Hall, Rose Kretsinger, Marie Webster, Grace Snyder and Bertha Stenge.

            She also joins her contemporaries, women she knew and corresponded with: Lenice Bacon, Cuesta Benberry, Florence Peto, Mary Barton, Sally Garoutte and Joyce Gross.

            And so it has come full circle. In her dedication to bringing esteem to the art of quiltmaking and to quilters from the past, Mary has earned that esteem for herself.

 

 

            For the complete Mary Schafer story see Mary Schafer, American Quilt Maker. Marston, The University of Michigan Press, 2004. Winner of the Michigan Notable Book Award.

 

 

 


Lest We Forget
Mary Schafer
April 27, 1910 - December 21, 2006

Mary Schafer, one of the most important quiltmakers of the second half of the 20th century, was named the Quilters Hall of Fame 37th honoree in Marion Indiana, July 20-21. Mary was known for her prodigious output of beautifully designed and made quilts,  her fine collection of antique quilts, and for her contributions to quilt scholarship.

            On Friday, July 20th, it was my pleasure to present a lecture about Mary's life and contributions to quiltmaking. Mary Schafer and other women of her times are responsible for creating the quilt world we know and enjoy today. Mary contributed by making         historically important quilts, researching the history of each pattern, participating in quilt pattern Round Robins, and carrying on a wide correspondence with many of the early quilt historians and pattern collectors of her day. As Joyce Gross and Cuesta Benberry noted in the catalog  for their exhibit 20th Century Quilts, 1900-1970: Women Who Make Their Mark at the AQS Museum in1997, "Today's world of quiltmaking did not just spring from the head of Zeus after 1970."

            In Marie Webster's book, Quilts: Their Story and How to Make Them, 1915, Mary found the words that influenced all of her efforts on behalf of quiltmaking:

            "To raise in popular esteem these most worthy products of home industry, to add     to the appreciation of their history and traditions, to present a few of the old masterpieces to the quilters of today; such is the purpose of this book of quilts".

 

            Upon reading those words Mary set about on a serious quest to raise the esteem of the art of quiltmaking and the quilters themselves, to heighten peoples interest in quilt history and to share her quilts with others. With Mary, it was all about the quilts. If I heard Mary talk about "raising the esteem" once, I heard it a hundred times.

            She entered the first National Quilting Association (NQA) exhibit, in 1970 and won two blue ribbons for her CLAMSHELL quilt: Best Pieced quilt and Viewer's Choice.  Her one woman exhibits include the American Museum of Quilts in San Jose, CA (1987),  the New England Quilt Museum in Lowell, MA (1989) and the first solo exhibit at the MAQS Museum in Paducah, KY (1991.)

            Mary's accomplishments have been recognized by her home state of Michigan.

-Michigan proclamation honoring Mary for her contribution to quiltmaking: Senate Resolution No. 605, September 9, 1986.

-Michigan Women's Foundation award for outstanding contributions to the arts. May 25,    1988.

-Permanent Mary Schafer Collection now housed at Michigan State University Museum,    East Lansing, Michigan.

 

         On Saturday, July 21, I did a walk through lecture at the exhibit of Mary's quilts at the Marian Public Library. The 15 quilts selected for the exhibit are from the second half of the Schafer collection owned by Mary's grand daughter, Deborah Schmondiuk.   Deborah and her husband Joe attended the festivities and their presence greatly added to the personal warmth of these events. The afternoon began with The Induction Luncheon for Mary. It was lovely to scan the room and see so many Mary Schafer devotees, many of whom came from long distances to celebrate Mary's life and contributions. Georgia Bonesteel and Bets Ramsey, both Quilters Hall of Fame Honorees, were in attendance as was Rosalind Perry, Marie Websters grand daughter.           

            It was a pleasure for me to be at this celebration on Mary's behalf and I thank the Board of Directors, Karen Alexander, President,  Joyce Hostetler, Executive Director, and all those who made this event possible. I'm sure Mary would have been very pleased.

            As this years inductee into the Quilters Hall of Fame, Mary joins those whom she admired from a previous generation, William Dunton, Ruth Finley, Averil Colby, Carrie Hall, Rose Kretsinger, Marie Webster, Grace Snyder and Bertha Stenge.

            She also joins her contemporaries, women she knew and corresponded with: Lenice Bacon, Cuesta Benberry, Florence Peto, Mary Barton, Sally Garoutte and Joyce Gross.

            And so it has come full circle. In her dedication to bringing esteem to the art of quiltmaking and to quilters from the past, Mary has earned that esteem for herself.

            For the complete Mary Schafer story see Mary Schafer, American Quilt Maker. Marston, The University of Michigan Press, 2004. Winner of the Michigan Notable Book Award.


21 June 2007

From my book Mary Schafer; American Quilt Maker, University of Michigan Press, 2004, won Michigan Notable Book Award for literature in 2005. If you like history, this is a lovely story of a little immigrant girl who made a life for herself with needle and thread and contributed greatly to the quilt world in the process.

Part One of Coming to America