Saturday, August 7, 2010

Virtually Whole Again

This lovely old quilt is not what it appears to be. The quilt, OQP # 2010.02.066, appeared at the crack of dawn on June 27th, our third day of a three-day documentation event in Sisters. It was not in one piece, though. It was in three. Still is, as a matter of fact.

How are we looking at a picture of a one quilt, you may ask? We did a virtual restoration, digitally reconstructing the image of a whole quilt using a clever piece of software called Adobe Photoshop. We are pretty sure Photoshop wasn’t around when the earliest quilt documentation days were held back in 1981 in Kentucky, but we are sure glad we have it now! Too bad more people don't know how to use it.

There was one big piece, and two narrow strips with swag borders. One end of the big piece was finished with applied twill binding, where it had been cut. We photographed all three pieces, and talked to the owner about the quilt. She wasn’t sure what to do with it.

We talked about options, from restoration and conservation, to storage and where it could go in the future. Even though she seemed a little distressed about the quilt in three pieces and the conundrum of what to do with it, we reassured her. We told her about the quilts we have rescued, and how we feel they have definite cultural, educational, and artistic value despite condition.

While we were talking, Someone casually mentioned that great things were possible with Photoshop. If there was an opportunity, we could digitally recreate the image of a whole quilt. It was a side comment, and we are sure she didn’t really expect us to do anything about it, but we did. We hope she is pleasantly surprised when she receives the pictures of the quilt, virtually whole again.

Note: to all participants in the June documentation days, the packets are in the mail and should arrive shortly. All other information packets for July documentation days are still being processed.


  1. Very nice, Bill! Ain't technology grand?

  2. Hi Dale, Yes, technology is grand. In general, it's a big advantage for our project. Now, if we can only get all of our volunteers on board with it... :)