Quilt Stories, pt.1

In early 2013, our museum was thrilled to learn that we received a Museum and Technology Fund Grant which would go towards digitizing Henry House.  In anticipation of our summer exhibit Common Threads: Stories from our Quilt Collection, the first artefacts to be cataloged, photographed, and digitized were our quilts!  The museum has over 75 quilts in the collection, and photographing these large artefacts has proven to be quite the challenge.

The first step was finding space to photograph the artefacts, and the upper floor of Henry House, which is off limits to the public and therefore limited traffic, proved to be an ideal space.  The entire floor area in one room, with grey photographer’s paper laying against the carpet, became the photographic studio.

The upstairs of Henry House, with our quilt photography studio set up

The upstairs of Henry House, with our quilt photography studio set up

The next challenge we needed to face was how we were going to get the picture we wanted!  Before undertaking this project, we researched how other sites photographed their large textiles, and we had a clear idea of what we liked and what we didn’t like.  Photographing our own quilts at first was a trial and error process, seeing what worked, what didn’t, and what technique got us the image we were looking for.

What technique worked for our quilts?  A camera, on a tripod, on top of a ladder.  It sounds elaborate, but we were happy with how the images were turning out.

Our set-up for photographing large quilts.

Our set-up for photographing large quilts.

We’re also trying our best to ensure we capture the whole quilt, as well as an image with the back, because quite often the fabrics on the back are quite detailed.

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The front of a ‘log cabin’ patterned quilt

A 'log cabin' quilt, with the back fabric showing

A ‘log cabin’ quilt, with the back fabric showing

In the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing posts about the quilts in our collection, the patterns used, and the stories that are associated with the quilt.  This was simply the story behind the story.  Please be sure to check back often!

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