Saturday, October 23, 2010

IQSC, Lincoln

This morning we went to the IQSC, the International Quilt Study Center, in Lincoln, on the campus of the University of Nebraska. This fabulous building was put up by all private money to house the collection of quilts that the fiber arts department of the U of N had collected. They had a long history of studying and teaching the preservation of textiles, and this Quilt Study Center was the natural outcome.

The Quilt Guild that operates here has about
300 members. A few of them were at work in the 2nd floor lobby making "Santa Stockings" for distribution to needy children.

After entering the building to the right on the picture above, you ascend this striking stairway to the level of the galleries, and the open lobby where the women were busy sewing.

I find it strange that many grand public staircases are built with very short risers and long treads. It forces you to take two steps on at least every other tread. The whole thing feels very unnatural. The huge outdoor marble stairway leading to the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha was on the same pattern. I wonder what the idea is?

The current display, using two of the three galleries, is "South Asian Seams," featuring many quilts made in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The quilts shown here were made by servant girls, using bits of cloth left over from worn out saris, given to them by the people they worked for.

Most of the quilts were very intricately pieced, embroidered, and hand-quilted. I'm sorry to say that I found them too ornate.
Viewing them felt a little like looking at a
picture of a very crowded Indian street scene. Pictures like that always make me feel a little suffocated.

Pictures of Japanese subway cars are like that too. I've seen pictures of a Japanese subway station that uses "pushers," people hired to cram more people onto a train. Yikes!!!

Well, I digress. Here is an example of a quilt that was probably made as a wedding gift, as it is rather large.
The amount of detail in this quilt is overwhelming.

Most of these quilts are pretty "wavy" as they were not quilted on a frame but just held on the lap as they were sewed and quilted. It really boggles my mind to think of the time and effort involved in making one of these.

Here is a close-up of the detail in the above quilt. This is part of the right-hand border. It is pretty much all reverse appliqué, and straight appliqué. The quilting is done in straight vertical lines.

One of the quilts had large areas of plain fabric, recycled from worn out saris. But the quilting was so interesting: carefully spaced, parallel vertical lines that formed a herringbone pattern. Such care to detail!

Here is an example of a more "simple" quilt. Straightforward 9 patch squares alternate with elaborate reverse appliqué squares.

There was a lot of this "cheddar yellow" in these quilts. A colour Bonnie Hunter likes a lot, but not one that shows up in my quilts.

The signage in this exhibition was excellent. There was lots of historic, geographic and cultural information about the quilts. Even Jim enjoyed the exhibition because of how much you could learn from it.

I kind of wished to see a little more variety: some old quilts, some art quilts, etc. but this was the exhibition that was on now.

We left Lincoln at noon and headed for Topeka, Kansas. On the way we stopped at a small WalMart (Yes, there is such a thing as a small WalMart) in a small town and bought a $10 watch to replace the one I left behind somewhere. Better hang onto this one!


  1. Wonderful watching your vacation via blog question I have been pondering as I read.How do you know about all these landmarks, etc. to visit? I was under the impression you were just taking off and 'wandering' this trip. It seems you have a well planned itinerary.


  2. When we get to a new city, we get hold of information about what there is to see and do there. Usually there's info in the motel lobby. So then we pick and choose. If there's a capitol building, we'll go there, as they are usually pretty elaborate and there's usually also some interesting history. If there is a history museum, that's next on the list. Then if we have time, an art gallery. I just lucked out with the International Quilt Study Center in Lincoln. Jim saw a handout in the motel lobby advertising the IQSC, and brought it up to the room.

    When we've seen a few things in one place, we decide where to go next. The general direction is toward the gulf coast. So it's plan as we go.