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Tree of Life #1

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Cite this Quilt

Gasperik, Mar. Tree of Life #1. 1935. From Mary Gasperik Legacy Project, Mary Gasperik Private Collection. Published in The Quilt Index, https://quiltindex.org/view/?type=fullrec&kid=18-14-15. Accessed: 09/17/21

QUILT INDEX RECORD

18-14-15

DESCRIPTION OF ESSAY: Paragraph length description of the object.

Mary Gasperik's first two Tree of Life quilts were a pair of twin-sized quilts made as a 1935 wedding present for her daughter Elsie's friend. The whereabouts of these two quilts is not known. A family photograph, on the back of which is written the year 1935 and the recipient's name, is the only surviving image of these quilts. This photo is cropped from that b/w photo. See also #083.

ESSAY: Essay about this quilt or image object.

Salser's notes indicate that Ruth Stein's married named was Mrs. Ernest Stein and that although Ruth was a Chicago friend, the couple moved to Wisconsin. This information might be of help in locating the pair of quilts, in case they still exist.

Susan Salser remembers this about the making of the Tree of Life quilts:
1935 was a period of time in which grandma was going full bore with her quilt making. She had discovered the 'Detroit News' and its quilt club and shows and was made VERY aware of how quilters were rewarded (in prizes and publicity) for utilizing commercial pattern offerings. Grandma very actively sought recognition; we know that from the quality and volume of her work. 

The 'Tree of Life' quilts were ones which my mom [Elsie Gasperik Krueger] was deeply involved in helping design. Even though a lot of the design components are dictated by the McCall Kaumagraph #1853 for crewelwork, Elsie worked hard to draw the applique patterns for her mother and make suggestions about how best to turn the McCall pattern into an appliquéd, quilted quilt. She considered what might be amplified, what might be left out, proposed reflecting the applique IN the quilting design, etc. We know that from personal memory and also from mom’s cousin Vilma McClure who wrote me a letter explicitly describeing how hard mom worked to help grandma create these 'Tree of Life' quilts. Vilma stated that my mom was very involved in helping grandma with her quilting in these years. 'Tree of Life' was the specific pattern she mentioned, but I know there were also other MG/EGK quilt collaborations ('Double Feather Star', #006, #045, #081 and 'Four Little Pigs', #057 come to mind.)

Mary was stricter with Elsie than she was with her sons, sometimes driving her to tears. Despite that, my mother wanted to encourage her mother to use her prodigious needlework skills to express more personal and original  designs - especially using  connections with the elaborate floral embroideries of grandma’s native land, Hungary. So these particular quilts are attached to their mother/daughter relationship. My mom, the daughter who wanted more recognition of her own independence than her mother appeared willing to grant her and who refused to make, much less admire, the prolific embroidery she grew up surrounded by, was telling the expert needleworker how to improve or change her needlework. Image how grandma felt about that! 

My grandmother very much believed in formal family weddings and expressly demanded that her daughter turn over that decision to her. My mother (and father) wanted a private and civil ceremony and simply went ahead and married on a lunch break in downtown Chicago on Aug. 25, 1934. Grandma was deprived of the grand wedding (and accompanying wedding quilt stamp of approval) she was so determined to have. So, when my mom’s very good friend at the time, Ruth Peterson, got married (presumably in 1935 to someone with the last name Stern) grandma had her opportunity and used it to present Ruth and her husband with a pair of 'Tree of Life' quilts. These were possibly the very first 'Tree of Life' quilts grandma made.

Where are the records for this quilt housed?

Mary Gasperik Legacy Project

Who documented this quilt?

Mary Gasperik Private Collection

CONTRIBUTING INSTITUTIONAL INVENTORY CONTROL NUMBERS: Enter the main control number for this item you are entering. For a museum, this will probably be your acquisition number. It may be the number given to the quilt by the state or county project.

082

TYPE OF QUILT OBJECT: Choose the best description for the quilt being documented.

Finished quilt

OWNER'S NAME FOR QUILT'S PATTERN: Enter the name given to the quilt by the owner. This can be the name the family used to refer to the quilt as it passed through different generations, e.g. "Aunt Susie's quilt" or a pattern name that the owner used.

Tree of Life #1

PREDOMINANT COLOR(S): CHECK ALL THAT APPLY: Enter all colors that are found in the quilt. Use ctrl + click to choose more than one.

Beige or Tan; Brown; Cream; Green; Orange; Yellow

OVERALL COLOR SCHEME: Choose the best color scheme description for the quilt being documented.

Bright or primary colors; Dark colors

OVERALL CONDITION: Choose the best description for the quilt being documented.

Unknown/Not Rated

TIME PERIOD: Choose the time frame that best describes when the quilt was made. The date does not have to appear on the quilt to enter it in this field. This can be your best guess based on family stories or your own knowledge of quilts.

1930-1949

DATE FINISHED: Enter the date the quilt was finished (as mm-dd-yyyy or c.yyyy, e.g. c.1965). Leave blank if you don't know.

1935

FAMILY/OWNER'S DATE FOR QUILT: If there are family stories that indicate a date when the quilt was made, enter that date (as mm-dd-yyyy or c.yyyy, e.g. c.1965).

1935

OTHER DATE ESTIMATION BY WHOM: Enter the name and/or title of the person who estimated the quilt's date for field 23d.

Merikay Waldvogel

FURTHER INFORMATION CONCERNING DATE(S): If you know anything else about the date the quilt was made, please tell the story.

McCall Kaumagraph #1853 was offered in 1931-32. This Gasperik quilt appears in a family photograph dated 1935.

LAYOUT FORMAT: Choose the best description for the layout (or set) of the quilt.

Medallion or framed center

SUBJECT OF QUILT, IF IT HAS ONE: Some quilts are made with a specific intent (e.g. Commemoration of September 11, the 100th anniversary of a town, or an AIDS panel). Enter the subject of the quilt. If there is no subject, leave the field blank.

Tree of Life

NUMBER OF BORDERS: Borders are the strips of fabric that are added after the blocks (and sashings) are put together. They appear on the outside edges of the quilt. Quilts often have multiple borders. Enter the number of borders on the quilt.

One

BORDER DESCRIPTION: Describe the style of the borders (i.e. pieced, appliqued, stenciled) and the width of each border, from the inside to the outside.

Wide border of rich dark brown fabric, on four sides frames the center panel.

FABRIC FIBER TYPES USED IN QUILT TOP: Choose all the types of fiber that are used to make the quilt top. Use ctrl + click to choose more than one.

Cotton

FABRIC PATTERNS, STYLES, MOTIFS, OR PRINT CATEGORIES USED IN QUILT TOP: Choose all the types of prints that are used to make the quilt top. Use ctrl + click to choose more than one.

Print; Solid/plain

CONSTRUCTION TECHNIQUES USED IN QUILT TOP: APPLIQUE TECHNIQUES: Choose the applique method used to construct the quilt. Use ctrl + click to choose more than one. Skip the question if no applique appears on the quilt.

Hand Applique

CONSTRUCTION TECHNIQUES USED IN QUILT TOP: EMBELLISHMENT TECHNIQUES: Choose the embellishment technique used to make the quilt. Use ctrl + click to choose more than one. If your answer in Field 38f was no, skip this question.

Embroidery

MATERIAL USED FOR QUILT BATTING OR FILLING: Choose the fiber content that best describes the material used to fill the quilt.

Cannot tell

QUILTING TECHNIQUES USED: Choose the technique that best describes the way the quilt layers are held together. Use ctrl + click to choose more than one.

Hand quilting

QUILTING DESIGNS USED: MOTIFS/OVERALL PATTERNS: Choose the overall quilt design found on the quilt top. Use ctrl + click to choose more than one. Skip the question if none of the designs appear on the quilt.

Grid diamond; Outline

QUILTING DESIGNS USED: BACKGROUND FILL PATTERNS: Choose the background quilt design found on the quilt top. Use ctrl + click to choose more than one. Skip the question if none of the designs appear on the quilt.

Grid/crosshatch

ANY OTHER FEATURES OR NOTES ABOUT THE QUILT'S APPEARANCE, MATERIALS, OR CONSTRUCTION: Describe anything about the physical appearance of the quilt that wasn't already recorded in a previous field.

The pair of quilts appearing in a photograph dated 1935 (which, in Elsie's handwriting, also notes they were "given to Ruth Peterson Stein") appear to be the simplest of Gasperik's Tree of Life series. The quiltING is an all-over hanging diamond pattern without Gasperik's usual flourishes and embedded motifs. There appear to be no birds: either quilted or appliqued. This (and its mate, #083) is the simplest - and probably earliest - Gasperik rendition of the McCall design. Although some decorative additions (and substitutions) were made, Gasperik constructed her five Tree of Life quilts (#031, #065, #044, #083, #082) from a single universe of fabrics.

QUILT TOP MADE BY: Enter the name of the person(s) who made the quilt top. Names must be listed last name first, followed by first name and middle name or initials; last name should be followed by a comma and space.

Gasperik, Mary

QUILTED BY: Enter the name of the person(s) who quilted the top. Names must be listed last name first, followed by first name and middle name or initials; last name should be followed by a comma and space.

Gasperik, Mary

CITY: Enter the name of the city where the quilt was made. Skip the question if you don't know where the quilt was made.

Chicago

COUNTY: Enter the name of the county where the quilt was made. Skip the question if you don't know where the quilt was made.

Cook County

STATE: Enter the name of the state where the quilt was made. Skip the question if you don't know where the quilt was made.

Illinois (IL)

COUNTRY: Enter the name of the country where the quilt was made. Skip the question if you don't know where the quilt was made.

United States

HOW WAS QUILT ACQUIRED BY OWNER: Choose the best description for how the owner acquired the quilt. Use ctrl + click to choose more than one. Skip the question if you don't know how the owner acquired the quilt.

Unknown

OCCASION, DATE, PERSON INHERITED FROM, ETC: If the quilt was inherited, enter any information you know about the inheritance. Skip the question if the quilt was not passed on through a family.

Made for Mary Gasperik's friend Ruth Peterson Stein for her twin beds in 1935. Karen Krueger remembers that they were given by Gasperik as a wedding present.

QUILTMAKER'S REASONS FOR MAKING THE QUILT: If the quilt was made for a specific purpose, choose the reason from the list. Use ctrl + click to choose more than one.

Wedding

QUILT WAS ORIGINALLY DESIGNED TO BE USED AS: Not all quilts were made for beds. Choose how the quilt was originally used. Use ctrl + click to choose more than one.

Bedding, special occasion

SOURCE OF QUILT'S MATERIALS: Choose how the quilt maker acquired the fabric for this quilt. Use ctrl + click to choose more than one.

Purchased new

QUILT TOP PATTERN SOURCE: Choose where the quilt maker found the pattern for this quilt. Use ctrl + click to choose more than one.

Commercial/Published source: Pattern

COMMERCIAL SOURCE NAME(S): If you know the commercial name of the pattern used for this quilt, please enter it. This may include books, magazines, newsletters, pattern companies, computer software programs, and kits.

"McCall #1853 Crewelwork Pattern/Tree of Life" published in McCall Decorative Arts and Needlework 1931-1932.

ANY ADDITIONAL NOTES OR STORIES ABOUT THE QUILT'S DESIGN OR MATERIALS SOURCE: Describe anything about the design of the quilt that wasn't already recorded in a previous field.

According to Elsie's cousin, Vilma McClure, Elsie helped Gasperik design the Tree of Life quilts. Elsie's daughters remember that this particular series of quilts, the Tree of Life quilts, seemed to be Elsie's personal favorites of all the quilts her mother made.

OTHER RELATED ITEMS SUCH AS IMAGE, ORAL HISTORY, OR EPHEMERA: Use this box to list other materials that exist about this quilt. This may include oral history, articles, additional photos or publications, etc.

January 9, 1994 letter from Vilma McClure to Susan Salser: "About your mother. She helped design many of the quilts. I particularly remember the family tree quilt. I saw it in the making. I think your mother designed that one. Elsie was most pleased that her mother had such a passion for making quilts. Indeed, Aunt Mary didn't do anything else - literally! Your mother went to Hazelcrest and cleaned her mother's house and did her wash on a regular basis." (Susan Salser, personal collection).

Family photograph, b&w, showing a pair of Tree of Life quilts. Written on the back, in Elsie's hand: "1935 Twin Tree of Life made for Ruth Peterson Stein".

AVAILABLE SOURCES FOR QUILTMAKER: List other source materials about this quiltmaker such as photos, oral histories, book or newspaper publications, fame for some other reason or event.

Merikay Waldvogel and Barbara Brackman. Patchwork Souvenirs of the 1933 Chicago World's Fair, (Nashville, TN: Rutledge Hill Press, 1993)102-103.

Merikay Waldvogel "One American Dream Comes True", Quilters Newsletter Magazine, March 2008, 46-49.

OWNERSHIP OF THIS QUILT IS: Choose whether the quilt is owned by a person (private) or a museum or public collection.

Private

QUILT OWNER COUNTRY: Country of current quilt owner

United States

AUTHOR/INTERVIEWEE: The person who brought the quilt for documentation is the source. Enter his/her name here.

Author/researcher; Blood relative of quiltmaker

OTHER RELATIONSHIP TO SOURCE: If you chose Other, for the relationship to the source, describe the relationship here.

Grand-daughter

OTHER INFORMATION ON SOURCE PERSON TO QUILT: If you chose other, please describe how the quilt maker participated in the design.

Grand-daughter Susan Salser began this research effort in 1991, after she and her two sisters divided up the quilts which belonged to their mother (Elsie Gasperik Krueger) who died in 1988. Her ongoing research has been fruitful and interesting.

QUILTMAKER'S MAIDEN NAME: Enter the maiden name of the quilt maker.

Mihalovits, Maria

GENDER: Choose the gender of the quilt maker(s). Use ctrl + click to choose more than one.

Female

BIRTH DATE: Enter the birth date of the quilt maker (as mm-dd-yyyy or c.yyyy, e.g. c.1965).

01/25/1888

DEATH DATE, IF APPLICABLE: Enter the date of death of the quilt maker (if applicable, as mm-dd-yyyy or c.yyyy, e.g. c.1965).

05/25/1969

QUILTMAKER'S ETHNIC BACKGROUND/TRIBAL AFFILIATION: Enter the ethnic background or tribal affiliation of the quilt maker.

Hungarian

EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND: Enter the last level of education completed by the quilt maker.

Elementary School

QUILT MAKER'S COUNTRY OF BIRTH: Select the quilt maker's country of birth, if known.

Hungary

IN WHICH KIND OF ENVIRONMENT DID THE QUILTMAKER GROW UP: Choose the kind of environment the quilt maker(s) are from. Use ctrl + click to choose more than one.

Rural

COUNTY: Enter the county where the quilt maker lives/lived.

Cook

CITY: Enter the city where the quilt maker lives/lived.

Chicago

STATE: Enter the state where the quilt maker lives/lived.

Illinois (IL)

COUNTRY: Enter the country where the quilt maker lives/lived.

United States

FATHER'S NAME: Enter the name of the quilt maker's father.

Mihalovits, Istvan

FATHER'S BIRTHPLACE: Enter the birthplace of the quilt maker's father.

Hungary

FATHER'S ETHNIC/TRIBAL BACKGROUND: Enter the ethnic background or tribal background of the quilt maker's father.

Hungarian

MOTHER'S NAME: Enter the name of the quilt maker's mother.

Mihalovits, Vidoszava

MOTHER'S BIRTHPLACE: Enter the birthplace of the quilt maker's mother.

Hungary

MOTHER'S ETHNIC/TRIBAL BACKGROUND: Enter the ethnic background or tribal background of the quilt maker's mother.

Hungarian

SPOUSE'S/SPOUSES' ETHNIC/TRIBAL BACKGROUND(S): Enter the ethnic background or tribal background of the quilt maker's spouse.

Hungarian

SPOUSE'S/SPOUSES' OCCUPATION(S): Enter the occupation of the quilt maker's spouse.

Milk Dealer/Grocery Store Owner/Butcher

NUMBER OF CHILDREN: Enter the number of children of the quilt maker.

3

NUMBER OF FEMALE CHILDREN: Enter the number of daughters of the quilt maker.

1 (Elsie 1909-1988)

NUMBER OF MALE CHILDREN: Enter the number of sons of the quilt maker.

2 (Elmer and Stephen)

HOW DID THE QUILTMAKER LEARN TO QUILT: Choose the way(s) the quilt maker learned to quilt. Use ctrl + click to choose more than one.

From guild or club member; Self-Taught

WHEN LEARNED TO QUILT (CHECK ALL THAT APPLY): Choose the age when the quilt maker learned to quilt. Use ctrl + click to choose more than one.

Age 40-49

WHY DOES/DID THE QUILTMAKER QUILT: Choose the best explanation(s) for why the quilt maker makes quilts. Use ctrl + click to choose more than one.

Pleasure; Other

OTHER, WHY THE QUILTMAKER QUILTS: If you chose Other, explain the why the quilt maker quilts.

Mary Gasperik made quilts because it was her life passion and greatest talent. As opportunities arose, she entered contests and exhibited them publicly. She also made special quilts for her family.

NAME OF QUILTING GROUP: If the quilt maker belongs to a group, enter the name of the group.

Tuley Park Quilt Club and Detroit News Quilt Club

LOCATION OF GROUP: Enter where the group meets. Include the name of the building, city, county, and state.

Chicago, IL and Detroit, MI

SPECIALIZED ACTIVITIES/EVENTS OF QUILTING GROUP: Enter activities the group participates in.

Chicago group met to quilt and held periodic quilt shows; Detroit group held national exhibits and contests.

ESTIMATED NUMBER OF QUILTS MADE BY THIS QUILTER: Choose the number that approximates how many quilts the quilt maker has made.

more than 50

DOES/DID QUILTMAKER SELL QUILTS: Has the quilt maker ever sold a quilt or sold quilting services?

no

DOES/DID QUILTMAKER TEACH QUILTING: Is the quilt maker also a quilt teacher?

no

PHOTO CREDIT: Credit for photographer.

unknown, famly photo

ACCESS AND COPYRIGHT INFORMATION FOR IMAGE: Choose whether this TIF is available to use other than in this database.

Restricted

FOR HOLDER OF COPYRIGHT, CONTACT: Enter the name of the person or institution that owns the copyright to the image.

Hank Finn

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