Tree of Life - detail

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Pattern Names: Tree of Life (Karen)
Commercial Sources: McCall #1853 Crewelwork Pattern/Tree of Life published in McCall Decorative Arts and Needlework 1931-1932. Feather band on right and left side - See #C5576 in "Aunt Martha's Answer to ‘How Shall I Quilt It?’”
Top By: Gasperik, Mary
Quilted By: Gasperik, Mary
Period: 1930-1949
Date: 1942
Location Made: Chicago, Illinois (IL) United States
Project Name: Mary Gasperik Private Collection
Contributor: Gasperik Collection
ID Number: 065c
Layout Format: Medallion or framed center
Quilt Size: 81 inches x 90 inches
Fabrics: Cotton, Solid/plain, Print
Colors: Yellow, Orange, Green, Cream, Brown, Beige or Tan
Construction: Hand Applique, Embroidery
Quilting Techniques: Hand quilting
Purpose or Function: Art or personal expression, Artwork/wall hanging
Description: This is the most elaborate of the five Tree of Life Quilts, showing the greatest degree of transformation of the McCall pattern and including elements from outside sources. She may have returned to this quilt pattern when a Tree of Life Quilt won the grand prize at the 1940 Detroit News quilt show. The year "1942" is quilted on the front of the quilt. Gasperik won a second prize at that same 1940 Detroit quilt show. A paper exhibit tag reading "Tree of Life First Prize (most artistic) in Springfield in 1942 Second Prize in Detroit in 1940 Mrs. Mary Gasparik" [sic] suggests that it is possible that the Gasperik 1938 Tree of Life could have been the runner-up to Mrs. Voelker's Tree of Life!
Other Notes: Gasperik not only added more applique pattern elements to the McCall suggestions, she also made her designs more complicated by subdividing suggested pattern elements. This subdividing allowed her to greatly expand her palette of fabrics, especially noticeable on the two birds. The purple print with white stars found in the upper left flower of this 'Tree of Life' quilt, also appears in two of the Gasperik 'Indiana Wreath' quilts, perhaps helping to date them.
Inscription: 1942
Related Items/Publications: Pattern envelope (including contents with yarn color chart) McCall #1853 Crewel Tree of Life - Susan Salser private collection. The family has Gasperik's own copy of the McCall Kaumagraph #1853 pattern (printed in black and white). Complete Catalogue of McCall Designs, Dec. 1931 (private collection of Susan Salser), Letter from Gasperik's niece Vilma McClure to Susan Salser, dated Jan. 9, 1994 refers to the Gasperik 'Tree of Life' quilts (she calls the design "the family tree quilt"): "About your mother. She helped design many of the quilts. I particularly remember the family tree quilt. I saw it in the making. I think your mother designed that one. Elsie was most pleased that her mother had such a passion for making quilts. Indeed, Aunt Mary didn't do anything else - literally! Your mother went to Hazelcrest and cleaned her mother's house and did her wash on a regular basis." (private collection – Susan Salser) The Detroit News, May 25, 1940 p.4 "Quilt Beautiful as a Painting Wins Its Skilled Maker $50" by Garnet Warfel, features the grand-prize-winning Tree of Life made by Mrs. Charles Voelker and also mentions Mary Gasperik took second prize at the show. Unfortunately the article does not name or describe the prize-winning Gasperik quilt. The family has Gasperik’s own newspaper clipping. McCall Needlework Magazine, "Prize-Winning Quilt" Spring & Summer 1950 also features the Voelker Tree of Life.
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