Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Elusive Beauty

The elusive 1930's Mountain Mist New York Beauty
Ever since I first learned about the Mountain Mist New York Beauty quilt pattern and the quilt it produced, I've wanted to add one to my collection. Quilt historian Mary Bywater Cross is the person who first told me about this quilt during the production of my short documentary film in the summer of '09. Problem was, I hadn't seen any available over the last two years. I'd seen a several available years ago, but at the time I wasn't really dialed-in to 20th century quilts because they weren't 100 years old or older and therefore not considered "antique". Silly me.
An original, vintage Mountain Mist pattern.
Once I realized the significance of Mountain Mist, which essentially coined the term "New York Beauty", I had to have one of these quilts. I'd found a vintage pattern about two years ago, but not the quilt. Around the time I began actively searching, Stella Rubin had one on her web site, but it had been sold before I discovered it. Mark French had one, too, but once again it was gone before I knew it. I've scoured all the web sites of quilt dealers, and of course eBay, for this elusive beauty almost every day since the summer of 2009 and finally I found one yesterday!

Hooray for Molly Schiessl, owner of Fourth Corner Fine Quilt Gallery in Ashland, Oregon! She had exactly what I was looking for, and as soon as I discovered the quilt, I offered to buy it. I'd gone to visit Molly at her lovely shop several months ago, bought several quilts, and found her to be charming, fair and extremely knowledgeable. Many of the other dealers I've bought from have been in the business for decades, but Molly started relatively recently, about 6 or 7 years ago. My impression is she's a very quick study and certainly holds her own when it comes to knowing about quilts. If you're buying from Molly, you can definitely buy with confidence.

Instructions for making the Mountain Mist New York Beauty.
The Mountain Mist New York Beauty is a very specific quilt. It is burnt orange and yellow on white, set on the diagonal with slightly blunted points. It has 13 points and two half-points on most of the sashing strips, usually ten shorter points and two half points on the quarter circles, and two-color LeMoyne stars as cornerstones. The pattern is also seen as a red, white, and blue quilt sometimes, a color combination suggested by Mountain Mist as a more traditional approach.

The quilt I've purchased has a couple of noteworthy features. First, there are only nine points and no half points on each of the quarter circles, undoubtedly a variation chosen by the individual who made the quilt. I've seen several different quilting designs in other examples, but never the interlocking circles suggested by Mountain Mist in the original pattern. This quilt has that specific quilting design, which makes me very happy. In many ways, it's as pure an example as I've seen.

It's an important piece in the evolution of the pattern, and therefore, an important piece within my collection. Needless to say, this quilt will definitely be part of my upcoming exhibit, "Beauty Secrets: 150 Years of History in One Quilt Pattern" at the Benton County Museum in Philomath, Oregon, from August 5th to October 1st. A big thank you to Molly Schiessl for making the inclusion of this quilt a reality.


  1. How exciting to find a missing element to your collection, Bill!! But the HUNT itself is sooo much fun!!!! What's next?

  2. Hi Karen,

    I agree, the hunt is definitely a big part of the fun! Now it's time to start getting ready for the exhibit. I've got a catalog to produce. Then there's Sisters, and the OQP, and the CWQSG, and Mary and I are assisting with a July quilt exhibit at the Oregon Historical Society, and the NW Quilting Expo in September. Busy, busy, busy!

    Has the wedding taken place yet?

  3. Fantastic quilt!How fun to fill in your gap.:)

  4. So glad you found that quilt! Congrats! Alice in Arkansas. Did you make it home ok from Paducah?

  5. Hi Alice, Great to hear from you!! I made it home in one piece, and hope you did, too. What a memorable week we had! ;)

  6. How great that you found this quilt! I have a Carpenter's Wheel that almost exactly matches the Mountain Mist wrapper (which I also collected!)

    Looks like you have a lot of quilt events on your calendar this year!

  7. What a beautiful quilt! The colours really glow!