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Here are pictures I took trying to stand in the same place I did when I shot the winter pictures. The same shot of the woods, my big spruce, the big maples in front of my house. I saw a baby fawn in my woods (yes, the woods shown in the attached photos), just a few minutes old, all wobbly on it's tiny legs and being licked clean by the mother. So sweet. Turkey's are regular visitors. I hear the Loons every day now, morning and evening, and the hummingbirds and monarchs are back too. I have 5 apple trees now and am waiting for delivery of two sour cherry trees. My new orchard is "all about PIE". I have old hardy varieties of trees known for being good pie apples: the Northern Spy, the Wine Sap, the Empire, and two Wolf Rivers. Yum yum yum! I'm home for the whole summer for the first time in years. I'm busy working outside and inside. Living the quiet country life I've chosen for myself, I seem to manage to have a lot going on without so much as getting in my truck and going anywhere.
One of the things I've been doing that is keeping me hopping is working on some writing projects and I hope to be able to share some exciting news with you about one of them by early July.
Life is good here at Gwen's house and I hope it is good at your house as well.

New Zealand Quilters

The Picton quilters from New Zealand have delighted me by using designs from my Needlework book for their raffle quilt. What good taste those women displayed with their choice! And, reports indicate that they did very well with their raffle. Their choice of the setting for he embroidered blocks was so clever that I asked for, and was given permission to share their quilt with you. Isn't it amazing that quilting has gone global too.

Marston/Moran Collaborative Quilt Exhibits

Exhibits of the collaborative quilts shown in the book Freddy Moran and I wrote together are on the road. Here is the exhibit information and we hope you see the quilts when they are in your neighborhood. Collaborative quilt making from Gwen Marston & Freddie Moran, including individual pieces from each artist.
March 14-May 13, 2007 Collaborative Quilts. LaConner Quilt Museum, LaConner, WA

Lest we Forget...In Gwen's own words

Lest We Forget
Cuesta Benberry
Sept 8, 1923 - August 23, 2007

The quilting world has lost one of the pioneers of quilt history with the passing of Cuesta Benberry this past August 23rd.  The news reached me shortly after I  returned from Marion, Indiana for the induction of Mary Schafer into the Quilter's Hall of Fame. It was particularly poignant in that Mary and Cuesta had been friends for many years during which time they had been actively supportive of each other. Mary and Cuesta had enjoyed a long, fruitful friendship and held each other in the highest regard. Cuesta, herself a member of the Quilters Hall of Fame, had enthusiastically supported my efforts to insure that Mary's name was included to that list.

            I met Cuesta through my friendship with Mary. Those of us who corresponded with Cuesta fondly remember her timely and thorough responses to our questions which arrived hand written on legal sized sheets of lined yellow paper.

            Cuesta wrote many fine articles for early quilt magazines including Nimble Needles and Quilter's Journal. While she rightly gained notoriety as a quilt scholar, she maintained a great appreciation for serious quiltmakers like Mary. As she reminded us way back in 1984, "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." (Quilter's Journal, No. 23, 1984, p.13). Cuesta pops up repeatedly throughout the book I wrote about Mary. She is cited ten times in the bibliography and quotes from her letters generously pepper the Schafer book.

            We all owe Cuesta our thanks for her many contributions. It was her generation who diligently worked together to gather the stories, document the patterns, collect the quilts and lay the framework for the quilting world we all enjoy today. As she and her friend Joyce Gross so colorfully reminded us "Today's quilting world did not just spring from the head of Zeus." (20th Century Quilts:1900-1970, Women Make Their Mark. Paducah, KY: American Quilter's Society, 1997.)   We will miss you, Cuesta.

              Here is a section about Cuesta from my book Mary Schafer, American Quilt Maker  (The University of Michigan Press, 2004).

 Cuesta Benberry's particular interest and expertise is in pattern collecting and researching African-American quilt history. She began researching quilt history, collecting and cataloging patterns in the early 1960's. She holds a Master's degree from the University of Missouri, St. Louis.

            Since 1975 her research has centered primarily on African-American quilt history. Her book Always There: The African-American Presence in American Quilts (The Kentucky Quilt Project, 1992), was a ground-breaking document. Recognized for her research, Cuesta is cited in the 17th edition of Marquis Who's Who of American Women, in the 23rd edition of Marquis Who's Who in the Midwest, in the 11th edition of Who's Who in the World, and in the Directory of African-American Folklorists, Smithsonian Institution Office of Folklife Programs. A restless researcher and prolific writer, her impact on the quilt world has been considerable.

            Cuesta's interest in quilts inspired her to design a quilt using blocks found in black-made quilts from the days of slavery to the late 20th century. She named the quilt "Afro-American Women and Quilts". Mary Schafer pieced the ninth block, a version of Robbing Peter to Pay Paul. Mary got the idea for her block from a picture she saw of a quilt attributed to a black woman in Florence Peto's book, Historic Quilts.

            Mary and Cuesta corresponded for years before finally meeting each other in the summer of 1985. In a letter to Gwen Marston, dated June 15, 1985, Cuesta writes:

            The Michigan trip was a memorable one!.....the high point was to see Mary's fantastic quilts! Whew! I am still awe-struck. Everyone should know we have a Master Quiltmaker living among us today-Mary Schafer! I have seen photos of Mary's quilts for 20 years and always thought they were beautiful. But those quilts have to be seen to be believed-they are just that fabulous!

            Their friendship went beyond corresponding with each other. Over the years Mary sent Cuesta over 100 quilt blocks, which Cuesta has now donated to the Quilters Hall of Fame.

June 13, 2003

I've been dong a lot of hand quilting this summer and as I've been quilting, I've been thinking about quilting. I've been remembering all the references suggesting that a specific quilt was probably worked on by various quilters as the stitches vary. Right now I'm working on a medallion quilt and my stitches vary. It's because some of the fabrics are finely woven and lightweight and therefore, easy to needle. The borders are other fabrics, however, are heavier and courser and therefore, my stitches suffer.

I'm a bit concerned when editors of quilt books and magazines tell me that "no one is interested in history." They tell me quilters want patterns and projects, not history." It's hard for me to think they are right, I know so many well informed quilters who are not interested in yet another pattern: they are way beyond that.

We all owe a great deal to the women who laid the foundation for the current popularity of quilts, and it's safe to say that Florence Peto is one of the most influential quilters of the 20th century. Because I'm sure there are quilters who want more than another quilt pattern here is a little piece I wrote about the fabulous Florence Peto. I've included a bibliography so you can look up more information and see photos of some of the quilts mentioned herein. Enjoy!

Lest We Forget: Florence Peto
By Gwen Marston

Opening the summer copy of Quilting Today (Issue No. 91, pp. 18-19) I was greeted with a reproduction of a very familiar quilt called the "Calico Garden." The original quilt was made by Florence Peto in the early 1950's and now belongs to the Shelburne Museum in Vermont. The beautiful reproduction quilt was made by Froncie Quinn. The Peto quilt can be seen in 55 Famous Quilts from the Shelburne Museum, p. 43, Quilts from the Shelburne Museum, pp. 128-129, and The American Quilt, p. 241.

Few would argue that Florence Peto was the most influential quilt authority of the mid-twentieth century. Virginia Avery refers to Peto as "Renaissance Woman of the Mid Century." Born in 1884, Florence played a critical role in laying the foundation upon which the quilt world we know today was built. As two contemporary quilt historians (Cuesta Benberry and Joyce Gross) remind us, today's world of quilt making did not just "spring from the head of Zeus."

Seeing the copy of Florence's familiar "Calico Garden" quilt reminded me again of how much we quilters of today owe her. Florence Peto was born in 1884 and died in 1970. She was a quilter, collector, historian, author, lecturer, a consultant and generous donor to museums. She was inducted into the Quilters Hall of Fame the second year of its existence along with other notables like, Averil Colby, Anne Orr, Grace Snyder and Bertha Stenge. Since Peto's stated goal was to preserve the memory and identity of the quilt makers, it just won't do if we forget Florence.

Her interest in quilting began as a collector and researcher of quilts. Being from New Jersey, she naturally focused on quilts from New York, New Jersey and the New England area. While initially a hobby begun after she was married and a mother of two children, she soon began to lecture and write about quilts. Her two books, Historic Quilts, 1939 and American Quilts and Coverlets, 1949, set the standard for scholarly research. She also wrote for leading magazines of the time including American Home, McCall's Needlework and Crafts, Woman's Day, and Antiques Magazine.

Florence was also a prizewinning quilt maker entering shows and winning ribbons. Being both an accomplished quilt maker and quilt scholar gave her an advantage in her ability to comprehend significant aspects of the antique quilts she collected and wrote about. She particularly enjoyed using antique fabrics from her extensive collection in her own work. The "Calico Garden" quilt contains fabrics from the eighteenth and nineteenth century including hand-block and copperplate prints, chintzes and prints from England and France. Two other Peto quilts made with her antique fabrics are Hearts and Flowers and Pot of Flowers with Wild Geese, both of which are shown in 20th Century Quilts 1900-1970: Women Make Their Mark, pp. 25-26.

Florence was always enthusiastic about sharing her antique quilt collection with the public. The Peto quilts were featured in a number of prestigious exhibits throughout the years. In 1948 the New York Historical Society hosted an impressive exhibit of Peto quilts and The Henry Ford Museum presented an exhibit of quilts from the Peto collection in 1955.

From the beginning Florence was interested in recording the history of old family quilts. She was intent on documenting information about the quilters themselves who were so often ignored and forgotten. Boldly prowling the countryside, she earned a reputation for knocking on doors and asking people to share their quilts with her. She also carefully documented all the family history pertaining to the quilts she saw. Many of the quilts she discovered she eventually helped place in museum collections.

As a well-known authority on quilts and quilt history, Florence often worked as a consultant to museums in the selection and documentation of their collections. Among the museums she consulted were the Smithsonian, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Shelburne Museum and the Newark Museum. She was responsible for placing a number of important quilts in these museums, including the magnificent Mary Totten "Rising Sun" quilt in the Smithsonian. (The Smithsonian Treasury: American Quilts, pp. 28-29). She donated the "Jane Voorhees" quilt to the Newark Museum. The Vorrhees quilt is a stunning all white stuffed-work quilt dated 1830/1831. (American Quilts in the Newark Museum Collection p. 60-61). To my knowledge, the Newark was the first museum to begin acquiring quilts for their permanent collection and to offer quilt exhibits, the first held in 1914.

Her connection to the Shelburne Museum is well known. She and Electra Webb, the founder of the Shelburne Museum were good friends who shared a common interest in quilts. They worked together to build the esteemed quilt collection for which the Shelburne Museum is so deservedly known. Seventeen of Peto's quilts became the nucleus of the collection at the Shelburne. Three of these quilts (including the "Calico Garden") are shown in 55 FAMOUS QUILTS From The Shelburne Museum on pp. 24,42, and 43.

Florence influenced quilters across the entire country. She was known for her generosity and for the encouragement she gave other quilt enthusiasts. Some of her antique fabrics even filtered down into my grateful hands, via my friend Mary Schafer. Mary was one of many quilters who corresponded with Florence and who benefited by Florence's willingness to share both information and examples of antique fabrics.

Florence died in 1970, leaving behind a legacy of quilts and information and the appreciation and respect of many esteemed contemporaries. She corresponded with many quilters including Lenise Bacon, Mary Schafer and Emma Andres. One of Peto's quilting friends was Maxine Teele, a regular writer for Nimble Needles Treasures during the 1970's. After Florence's death, Maxine wrote a wonderful remembrance of her friend in an article called "In Partial Payment." (Nimble Needles Treasures, Winter, 1973, p. 9.) I include excerpts from the article because it helps us know what kind of a woman Florence was.

... There are some people you can never repay for their contribution to your happiness. The following is a tribute to just such a person...Florence Peto, a gracious and talented lady.

... Even yet I marvel at her willingness to share time, ideas, and information with me. That Mrs. Peto was willing to take time for me (and many others) is an indication of her generous spirit and boundless enthusiasm.

... Mrs. Peto was a lady of wide ranging interests and these letters sparkled with observations on many subjects. Often she wrote of her fondness for antique fabrics, toile, calico, oil calico, historical, chintz and homespun.

... Because she gave of herself so freely, we are inspired to do likewise. Because of her many of us have had our intellect challenged, our horizons widened, our knowledge deepened and our hearts warmed.


To fully understand and appreciate any discipline, it is essential to know its history. With so many new quilters coming into the fold, it seems beneficial to serve them up a delicious plate of quilt history occasionally. Hopefully, the accompanying bibliography will get you started. Some of the listings in the bibliography may be hard to find, but both the Kiracofe and Woodard books are available and provide a quick review of who's who in quilting in the second half of the 19th century. Another good source for quilt history is the state documentation books of which there are many. Remembering Florence Peto prompts me to remind new quilters how beneficial and rewarding it is to explore quilt history. Florence was one of quite a number of outstanding women who pursued her interest in quilts with a passion.


Avery, Virginia "Florence Peto-Renaissance Woman of Mid Century." Quilter's Newsletter, January 1980.

Bacon, Lenice American Patchwork Quilts New York: William Morrow & Co., Inc., 1973.

Benberry, Cuesta "The Superb Mrs. Stenge." Nimble Needle Treasures, Summer 1971, 4.

Bowman, Doris "The Smithsonian Treasury: American Quilts" Washington D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press 1991.

Curtis, Phillip H. "American Quilts in the Newark Museum Collection." 1973, Vol. 25, pp. 21, 60.

Gross, Joyce "Florence Peto and Woman's Day." Quilters' Journal, Mill Valley, CA, Vol. 3, No. 2.

__________ "Florence Peto." Quilters' Journal, Mill Valley, CA: Winter 1979, Vol. 2, No. 4.

__________, and Cuesta Benberry "20th Century Quilts: 1900-1970, Women Make Their Mark." Paducah, KY: American Quilter's Society, 1997.

Kiracofe, Roderick "The American Quilt New York": Clarkson Potter, 1993.

Oliver, Celia Y., Ed. "55 FAMOUS QUILTS From The Shelburne Museum" 1990

Peto, Florence "American Quilts and Coverlets New York": Chanticleer Press, 1949.

_______ "Historic Quilts New York:" The American Historical Company, Inc., 1939.

Shankel, Carol, Ed. "Quilts from the Shelburne Museum" Tokyo, Japan Kokusai Art, 1996, pp. 128-129.

Snyder, Grace "No Time on My Hands" As told to Nellie Snyder Yost Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1986.

Teele, Maxine "In Partial Payment." Nimble Needle Treasures, Winter, 1973.

Woodard, Thomas K. And Blanche Greenstein "Twentieth Century Quilts: 1900-1950" New York: E. P. Dutton and Company, 1988.

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