Ohio Amish in California

It came as a surprise to learn that Akron, Ohio, has a major collector of antique Ohio Amish quilts – Darwin Bearley. Of course, you’ll have to go to San Jose, California, to see them. Mr. Bearley keeps them in storage in Akron.

The San Jose Quilt Museum of Quilts and Textiles is hosting exhibits of Amish and Amish inspired quilts. On display until March 1 are Bearley’s historic collection and the second part of the Amish inspired modern quilt exhibit.

You can see photos of the Amish inspired modern quilts exhibit over at the Plaid Portico blog. The Quilt Show has put together a slide show of the antique Amish quilts exhibit. Unfortunately, it doesn’t show the individual quilts. Luckily, the Plaid Portico blog comes to the rescue with many photos of the individual quilts.

four patch about 1890-1910A simple four patch made striking by its border.

log cabin about 1880 Holme CountyThe joined log cabin blocks fool the eye into thinking they’re circles. As for the diagonal pieced strip border, eat your hearts out, modern quilters.

Railroad crossing 1928An unusual ocean waves block setting. Maybe the quilter was trying to stretch a limited number of blocks.

I was especially taken with the bold zigzag borders on some. It’s interesting how the Ohio Amish color palette differs from that used in Pennsylvania Amish quilts. And while some of the exhibit’s quilts feature a few large pieces, many have far more piecing than the Pennsylvania Amish quilts I’ve seen.


Filed under Quilt Shows

10 responses to “Ohio Amish in California

  1. patty

    Since I have spent a lot of time out in Amish country in Holmes County, I have been interested in Amish quilts for a long, long time. I lived about 12 miles from Holmes County for over 20 years. After 30 years it seems Amish quilts are now coming back into fashion since they have “modern” aesthetic. I did see two Amish quilts hanging at Blossom Music Center. They were underneath in the area reserved for artists, crews, and VIPs. Unfortunately they were not being taken care of. They were dirty and had food splatters on them as the trash cans were located right beneath them. Thanks for the link. I looked at the Quilt Show slide show, but I will have to check out the other site.

    • Ouch! Those poor quilts at Blossom. If I recall, there was a display of Amish quilts at the Whitney museum in NYC in the early 1970s that sparked enormous interest in quilting and the simplicity of Amish quilts. What can I say, classics are classics.

  2. Judy

    I have been looking into styles of quilting Amish quilts, since I lucked into an Amish quilt top. The book below is excellent in discussing the varying styles of Amish work from state to state.
    The Amish quilt / Eve Wheatcroft Granick

  3. Thanks for the heads-up! Might have to try to squeeze in a visit while I’m in that area–well, closer than from home!

  4. Last year we attended an RV rally in Indiana and I was surprised at the difference in the colors worn by the Amish women (as compared to the Lancaster, PA Amish that I was familiar with). I’ve done some reading and found it interesting that not just the colors but the quilt designs were so different.

    • And even within a state there are differences, depending on the patterns and color schemes passed along. Amish women can’t exactly search the internet for quilt ideas. My favorite tale is about the two sided quilt – one side in sober colors, the other much brighter – that could be flipped to suit the sensibilities of company.

  5. Pam

    Thanks for writing about this. I just bought “Amish Quilts: Crafting An American Icon” by Janneken Smucker. It will be great to compare both sources.

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