The Chester County Historical Society has included the Baltimore Album-styled quilt by Gladys Mosteller, a Tel Hai Retirement Community resident, in their second installment of the "Layers: Unfolding the Stories of Chester County Quilts" exhibition, held at their location in West Chester. Information on Mosteller and her craft, as well as the history of other women and their quilting craftsmanship are explored in the society's publication, titled the same name as the exhibit.
The quilt documentation project dates back, beyond the recent display, to 2002-2003, which had included nine days of exhibition held in various locations across the county. The project was introduced to local schools in 2008, with quilts representing numerous periods and styles of work with the one stipulation that the quilter must have been born before 1930. Mosteller, a former teacher of the Phoenixville Area School District, reassuringly
states that she falls into this criteria.
The Director of Collections and Curator, Ellen Endslow, has captured a key element in the project that draws people to quilts-that connection between people that bridges the creative and artistic with the practical home craft. Endslow connected with three residents of Tel Hai besides Mosteller, including Joanne Belson, Esther Burtner and Alta Hershey, who all happen to be part of the community's quilting group, to interview them also to be part of the historical society's text that was published as part of the project.
Mosteller, an eager crafter who is always willing to embrace new styles and techniques, as well as new materials in the projects she undertakes, began quilting after her retirement in 1984. She previously was a teacher at East Pikeland Elementary in the Phoenixville School District, beginning as an instructor in vocal music and then, teaching elementary classes in Kimberton. Her quilt that is included in the exhibit is an oversized, queen-sized bed quilt she created for her youngest son, Ed. All five of her children have been proud recipients of her handiwork. Additionally, her 13 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren all had received crib quilts, which could also be used later as wall hangings.
Literature on the Baltimore Album quilt, the style of Mosteller's proudly displays, dates back to old Baltimore city-life from the mid-19th century as an expression of historic events of a national, local or personal nature. The "Baltimore Album" quilts are made a series of squares, called "blocks," that are each appliqued by a different design and then, quilted together.
The local quilter's inspiration for her 25 Baltimore Album quilt blocks had been from the styles typical of the genre documented by Elly Sienkiewicz, a former educator now well-known as a quilter and quilting instructor, and Mimi Dietrich, also a quilter and quilting instructor. Mosteller's piece has been completed in 2002 and measures 103.5 inches by 89.25 inches. Taking her approximately six years from start to finish-with multiple other projects in between-the 25 12-inch square blocks were appliqued by machine in traditional motifs, with the border and pillow top reflecting her own creative designs. To finalize her project, she quilted the entire spread of the fabrics by hand.
Delightedly, Mosteller attended the second installation of the quilting display with friends from Tel Hai, which began Jan. 14. She continues to maintain her craft of quilting, with her most recent project being a new spread for her bed depicting her favorite birds, pieced and machine satin stitched, aside fabric flowers that were cut from printed fabric and also, satin stitched.
The final installation of the exhibit will begin on Feb. 25 at the Chester County Historical Society and will conclude on Sept. 25. The Chester County Historical Society is located at 225 North High Street of West Chester. For more information, call 610-692-4800 or visit www.chestercohistorical.org.