Memory & History
Made from vintage fabrics, personal belongings, and ephemera, these art quilts capture historical moments and family ties.
Astronomer Simon Newcomb at the eyepiece, with Superintendent Rear Admiral Benjamin F. Sands, standing alongside the new telescope in late fall 1873.
Photograph inside the US Naval Observatory
The Great 26-Inch Telescope at Foggy Bottom
The world’s largest refractor for more than a decade, the USNO’s 26-inch Great Equatorial Telescope saw first light on 20 November 1873. Made by Alvan Clark & Sons of Cambridgeport, Massachusetts, the telescope has had a distinguished career. It was with this instrument in August 1877 that astronomer Asaph Hall discovered the two moons of Mars. In 1893, the telescope was relocated from Foggy Bottom to its present site on Observatory Hill in Washington, DC. It is still in use today for research on double stars and the orbits of the moons of the outer planets.
The inspiration for my quilt was an engraving from a newspaper story celebrating the work of the telescope. The print shows astronomer Simon Newcomb (at the eyepiece) and Superintendent Rear Admiral Benjamin F. Sands (standing) in the dome with the brand new telescope in late fall 1873. The engraving was based on a photograph of the same scene.
The quilt took me a year to make. It is machine pieced and appliqued, and machine quilted. I used many reproduction 19th century fabrics to give a period feel. The tube of the telescope and the astronomers’ garments are shaded by fabrics with stars.
42.5" x 32"
Skyscrapers made out of the straps and buckles of baby overalls.
Naomi, My New York Beauty
This quilt was made from my daughter’s baby clothes. It depicts the city of her birth and a lunar eclipse I saw the night after.
The quilt is pieced from commercial fabrics and embellished with beads and buckles. I reinterpreted the traditional New York Beauty quilt block as the Chrysler Building.