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Tree of Life; Tree of Life (Linda)

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QUILT INDEX RECORD

18-14-49

ESSAY:

The five Tree of Life (#031, #065#044, #082, #083) quilts are based on the crewelwork design McCall Kaumagraph #1853. The first two were given away but can be documented in a 1935 family photo. Elsie Krueger helped her mother with the design transformation to appliqué. The appliqué bird in shades of orange and yellow in this quilt is a Gasperik addition to the McCall pattern. It appears on Tree of Life #044 as well. Being a crewelwork pattern, McCall Kaumagraph #1853 had nothing to say about quilting designs. As is true of other Gasperik quilts which were done in series, the quilting is slightly different on each Tree of Life quilt, as are some of the appliqué fabric selections. Gasperik quilted the date "1938" across the top of the white ground.

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.

031

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

Finished quilt

QUILT'S TITLE, IF IT HAS ONE: Many quilts have no title, but contemporary quilters often give a name to their quilts.

Tree of Life

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 (Linda)

OVERALL WIDTH: Enter how wide the quilt is.

68 inches

OVERALL LENGTH: Enter how long the quilt is.

89 inches

SHAPE OF EDGE: Choose the best description for the edges of the quilt.

Scalloped

SHAPE OF CORNERS: Choose the best description for the corners of the quilt.

Scalloped

PREDOMINANT COLOR(S): Enter all colors that are found in the quilt.

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

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

Multicolor; Dark colors

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

Excellent/like new

TYPE(S) OF INSCRIPTION: Choose all the options that are found on the quilt.

Date

DATE OF INSCRIPTION: Enter the date found on the quilt.

1938

METHOD OF INSCRIPTION: Choose the method used to inscribe the quilt.

In the quilting

OTHER LOCATION OF INSCRIPTION: If you chose Other, please describe where the inscription was found.

Visible at center top on front white ground

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.

1938

FAMILY/OWNER'S DATE FOR QUILT: If there are family stories that indicate a date when the quilt was made, enter that date.

1938

OTHER EXTERNAL OR PROFESSIONAL DATE ESTIMATION: If the date was estimated by an antique dealer, quilt historian or appraiser, enter that date.

1938

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.

Although the McCall pattern on which this quilt is based was published in 1931; the estimated time span for Gasperik's Tree of Life quilts is based on the 1938 date quilted on this Tree of Life quilt.

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.

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 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.

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.

Print; Solid/plain

CONSTRUCTION TECHNIQUES USED IN QUILT TOP: APPLIQUE TECHNIQUES: Choose the applique method used to construct the quilt.

Hand Applique

CONSTRUCTION TECHNIQUES USED IN QUILT TOP: EMBELLISHMENT TECHNIQUES: Choose the embellishment technique used to make the quilt.

Embroidery

FABRIC FIBER TYPES USED IN QUILT BACK: Choose the fiber type used to make the quilt back.

Cotton

COLOR OF BACKING: Enter all colors that are found in the quilt backing.

Beige or Tan

DESCRIPTION OF BACK: Choose the best description for the back of the quilt.

Solid/plain

MATERIALS USED IN QUILT BINDING: Choose the fiber type used to make the quilt binding.

Cotton

CONSTRUCTION TECHNIQUES USED IN BINDING: Choose the construction technique used to make the quilt binding.

Bias grain

WIDTH OF QUILT BINDING: Choose the width (in inches) of the binding of the quilt. Measure from the front side only.

less than a half inch

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

Cotton

QUILTING TECHNIQUES USED: Choose the technique that best describes the way the quilt layers are held together.

Hand quilting

THREAD COLOR: Enter the color(s) of thread used to hold the quilt layers together.

white

NUMBER OF QUILTING STITCHES PER INCH (PLACE 1): Count only the stitches that are visible on the top and measure in one place on the quilt. Enter the measurement.

12

QUILTING DESIGNS USED: MOTIFS/OVERALL PATTERNS: Choose the overall quilt design found on the quilt top.

Clamshell; Grid diamond; Patches outlined/in the ditch

QUILTING DESIGNS USED: DECORATIVE PATTERNS: Choose the decorative quilt design found on the quilt top.

Floral; Other

QUILTING DESIGNS USED: BACKGROUND FILL PATTERNS: Choose the background quilt design found on the quilt top.

Grid/crosshatch

PLEASE DESCRIBE OTHER QUILTING DESIGNS USED: Describe any other quilting designs that appear on the quilt.

Embedded in the diamond crosshatching of the center panel are at the top, two quilted leaves which duplicate the appliqued long feathered leaf at the base of the tree, and four quilted birds (spaced widely apart). Two of those birds are quilted versions of the two appliqued birds; the third and fourth birds are slightly different.

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.

Of the three Tree of Life quilts examined, this is the only one with a scalloped border. The bird appliques use only solid colored fabrics. A very broad range of colors, and color gradations, is seen in all three of the surviving Tree of Life quilts.

QUILT TOP MADE BY: Enter the name of the person(s) who made the quilt top.

Gasperik, Mary

QUILTED BY: Enter the name of the person(s) who quilted the top.

Gasperik, Mary

CITY: Enter the name of the city where the quilt was made.

Chicago

COUNTY: Enter the name of the county where the quilt was made.

Cook County

STATE: Enter the name of the state where the quilt was made.

Illinois (IL)

COUNTRY: Enter the name of the country where the quilt was made.

United States

HOW WAS QUILT ACQUIRED BY OWNER: Choose the best description for how the owner acquired the quilt.

Gift

DETAILS ON HOW THE QUILT WAS ACQUIRED:

Elsie brought this quilt to Linda as a gift from Gasperik 1968-69.

QUILTMAKER'S REASONS FOR MAKING THE QUILT: If the quilt was made for a specific purpose, choose the reason from the list.

Art or personal expression

QUILT WAS ORIGINALLY DESIGNED TO BE USED AS: Choose how the quilt was originally used.

Bedding, special occasion

QUILT IS PRESENTLY USED AS: Choose how the quilt is being used by the present owner.

Keepsake/memento

OTHER PRESENT USE(S) OF QUILT: If you chose Other, please explain the quilt's present use.

Mary's grandchildren regard her quilts as a unique collection to be preserved and appreciated.

SOURCE OF QUILT'S MATERIALS: Choose how the quilt maker acquired the fabric for this quilt.

Purchased new

QUILT TOP PATTERN SOURCE: Choose where the quilt maker found the pattern for this quilt.

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 family stories it was Elsie who persuaded her mother to quilt some of the birds, rather than execute all of them in colorful applique. Elsie had a rather austere quilt aesthetic. Her mother, on the other hand, was probably well aware of the richly colorful (and crowded) Tree of Life designs being copied from museum wall hangings, designs which were winning quilters' attention (and prizes). Gasperik herself would have preferred to have more appliqued birds, not fewer.

There is also a different perspective from which to view Gasperik’s quilted birds. Gasperik’s granddaughter Susan Salser, who began researching her grandmother’s quilts in 1992, discovered that Mary Gasperik was an enthusiastic and devoted participant in the annual quilt shows and contests held in Detroit Michigan sponsored by The Detroit News. Gasperik first discovered the Detroit quilt phenomenon in the fall of 1935, picking up a discarded Detroit News at a World Series baseball game at Wrigley Field. Mary, who had probably been engaged in quilt-making for only 2 years at that point, immediately sent some of her quilts to Detroit, to enter into the show. Several weeks later she got on the bus and went to see her first Detroit News quilt show and contest. This particular show featured three quilts sent by an Angola, Indiana quilter named Ada Chilton, quilts that were eagerly anticipated and admired by the crowds attending this 3rd such Detroit News national quilt show. Mrs. Chilton had contributed a quilt to the previous year’s show (1934), an appliqué quilt, called “the birds quilt” by the Detroit News quilt club and shows editor, Edith B. Crumb. Club members had found that quilt so remarkable that they asked Mrs. Chilton to send it to the next show, 1935. So, in 1935 (the year year Mary Gasperik first went to a Detroit News quilt show) Ada Chilton not only exhibited “the birds quilt” again, she also sent her latest two quilts, one of which featured flowers and accurately rendered butterflies, and the other of which featured fish and sailboats. Chilton was an enthusiastic bird and butterfly watcher. She was an outdoorswoman. She loved to fish. She loved reading books by Indiana’s popular writer and amateur naturalist Gene Stratton-Porter. Those three quilts were unique expressions of Mrs. Chilton‘s passions; they were creatively original and extremely expertly made. The crowd admired them greatly. Gasperik was in that crowd. In her quilt column of October 24, 1935, soon after that 1935 Detroit quilt show and contest, Edith Crumb presented, in her Detroit News column, a black and white photograph of Chilton’s fishes quilt along with a rhapsodic description of it. This description includes the following: “The border of this quilt is formed of sail boats; and between each group of fish there is a small sailboat created by quilting rather than piecework or appliqué.” Gasperik, who was beginning a life-time of quilt-making and was eager to learn what was admired, eager to gather ideas for her own use, must have spent some time in that crowd admiring Chilton’s quilts, listening to the comments and observing details of those quilts. Her decision to quilt rather than appliqué some of the birds onto her Tree of Life quilts may have been influenced by this experience at her first Detroit quilt show. She attended all subsequent shows, corresponded with Detroit News Quilt Club Corner members and its editor, Edith Crumb up until the club and shows ceased, in January 1942. As late as 1957, when she made a quilt for her first great-grandchild, Andy Finn (the family called this quilt What Are Little Boys Made Of? #058) she was careful to quilt, rather than appliqué or embroider, the fish in the water in her design. This is a wonderful example of how family stories can mesh with quilt research – how they can reinforce each other.

EXHIBITIONS: List all known exhibits where this quilt has been displayed.

The Quilts of Mary Gasperik, Ravenswood Historic Site, Livermore, CA, March 14-15, 1992.

It is likely this quilt was sent both to Detroit and to Springfield.

CONTESTS ENTERED: List contest(s) entered.

A handwritten yellow paper exhibit tag (most likely from a Tuley Park quilt show) reads: "Tree of Life First Prize (most artistic) in Springfield in 1942 Second Prize in Detroit in 1940 Mrs. Mary Gasperik" an added note in Elsie's handwriting reads "to ECK to Linda". This would mean that a Gasperik Tree of Life won second prize to the grand-prize-winning quilt in Detroit that year which was also a Tree of Life design (made by Mrs. Charles Voelker).

A second yellow paper tag reads "Tree of Life First Prize - Most Artistic 1942 Springfield Made by Mrs. Gasparik" [sic]. An annotation in Elsie's handwriting reads "To ECK to Karen". A Detroit News article from the May 25, 1940, p. 4, quilt show confirms that Gasperik won a second prize, but does not describe or name that winning quilt.

OTHER RELATED ITEMS: List other materials that exist about this quilt like oral histories, wills, diaries, or patterns.

Pattern envelope (including contents with yarn color chart) McCall #1853 Crewel Tree of Life - Susan Salser private collection.

The family has Gasperik's own copy of the McCall Kaumagraph #1853 pattern (printed in black and white).

Letter from Gasperik's niece Vilma McClure to Susan Salser, dated Jan. 9, 1994 refers to the Gasperik Tree of Life quilts (she calls the design "the family tree quilt"): "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."

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:

Private

NAME OF QUILT OWNER:

Linda Krueger MacLachlan

QUILT OWNER'S COUNTRY:

United States

AUTHOR/INTERVIEWEE'S RELATION TO THE QUILT:

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:

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:

Mihalovits, Maria

QUILTMAKER'S GENDER:

Female

QUILTMAKER'S BIRTH DATE:

01/25/1888

DEATH DATE OF THE QUILTMAKER, IF APPLICABLE:

05/25/1969

QUILTMAKER'S ETHNIC BACKGROUND:

Hungarian

QUILTMAKER'S EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND:

Elementary School

QUILTMAKER'S COUNTRY OF BIRTH:

Hungary

IN WHICH KIND OF ENVIRONMENT DID THE QUILTMAKER GROW UP?

Rural

CITY WHERE THE QUILTMAKER LIVES/LIVED:

Chicago

COUNTY WHERE THE QUILTMAKER LIVES/LIVED:

Cook

STATE WHERE THE QUILTMAKER LIVES/LIVED:

Illinois (IL)

COUNTRY WHERE THE QUILTMAKER LIVES/LIVED:

United States

QUILTMAKER'S FATHER'S NAME:

Mihalovits, Istvan

FATHER'S BIRTHPLACE:

Hungary

FATHER'S ETHNIC BACKGROUND:

Hungarian

QUILTMAKER'S MOTHER'S NAME:

Mihalovits, Vidoszava

MOTHER'S BIRTHPLACE:

Hungary

MOTHER'S ETHNIC BACKGROUND:

Hungarian

SPOUSE'S ETHNIC BACKGROUND:

Hungarian

SPOUSE'S OCCUPATION:

Milk Dealer/Grocery Store Owner/Butcher

NUMBER OF CHILDREN:

3

NUMBER OF FEMALE CHILDREN:

1 (Elsie 1909-1988)

NUMBER OF MALE CHILDREN:

2 (Elmer and Stephen)

HOW DID THE QUILTMAKER LEARN TO QUILT?

From guild or club member; Self-Taught

WHEN DID THE QUILTMAKER LEARN TO QUILT?

Age 40-49

WHY DOES/DID THE QUILTMAKER QUILT:

Pleasure; Other

OTHER, WHY THE QUILTMAKER QUILTS:

To make her Tree of Life quilts (#031, #044, #065, #082 and #083) Gasperik transformed a McCall Kaumagraph #1853 crewel work pattern into an applique quilt pattern. This required considerable skill, judgment, and allowed the maker full choice of fabrics and colors. Like the Indiana Wreath quilts (#011, #032, #043, #063), the Tree of Life quilts constitute a series of quilt studies based on a very specific design. Mary Gasperik made quilts to exhibit in shows held by her Tuley Park quilt club in Chicago, the Detroit News quilt show in Detroit, many Illinois State Fairs, at least one Indiana State Fair. She entered quilts in at least 2 Chicago department store contests. She made at least one quilt and one quilt top specifically for the 1939 New York Worlds Fair quilt contest. She also made children's quilts specifically for grandchildren and great-grandchildren; and wedding and wedding anniversary quilts for her son Elmer and grand-daughter Karen. Primarily, she wanted to make quilts because it was her life passion and her greatest talent. The occasions and venues to show them presented themselves. It should be noted that prior to Mary's emigration to America in late 1904, at age 16, she was an apprenticed needleworker in her native Hungary. The intricate and colorful floral embroideries traditional to Hungary lend themselves especially well to applique, the quilt style Mary preferred.

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

Tuley Park Quilt Club and Detroit News Quilt Club

LOCATION OF GROUP:

Southside Chicago and Detroit MI

SPECIALIZED ACTIVITIES/EVENTS OF QUILTING GROUP: Enter activities the group participated 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:

more than 50

DID THE QUILTMAKER SELL QUILTS?

no

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

no

PHOTO CREDIT:

Don Gonzalez

ACCESS AND COPYRIGHT IS:

Restricted

HOLDER OF COPYRIGHT:

Hank Finn

Details

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Cite this Quilt

Gasperik, Mar. Tree of Life. 1938. From Mary Gasperik Legacy Project, Mary Gasperik Private Collection. Published in The Quilt Index, https://quiltindex.org/view/?type=fullrec&kid=18-14-49. Accessed: 08/19/22

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