Intuitive creations on tap in parlour quilts display

April 13, 2018

More than 12 years after I wrote the following article, the Wet Coast is still — surprise! surprise — providing us with many days of  “last-leg-of-winter blues” and I am writing this in April.

Here is the cover-up on woolly cover ups:

Gulf islands Driftwood

Wednesday, February 8, 2006

Intuitive creations on tap in parlour quilts display

by Tanya Lester

Cozying up to an eclectic sample from one of the largest Canadian quilt collections at ArtSpring this weekend could be the answer for those last-leg-of-winter blues.

The Family Jewels: Parlour Quilts of the 19th Century exhibit, presented by Stitches Quilt Shop in association with collector Jim Erickson, provides a rare opportunity to view a variety of stunning decorative styles, including crazy quilts, silk log cabin and mosaic quilts.

Erickson chose the ArtSpring galleries in which to display his quilts because it is the biggest island venue. Still, it will hold only a fraction of the 300 quilts he has in his possession in storage trunks, which he call s the “Florence Erickson Collection”, in honour of his mother who occasionally quilted herself.

Erickson said 40 per cent of his collection is Canadian, with most originating in the country’s oldest provinces — Quebec and Ontario — where quilting has been established for the longest time period.

The decorative quilts collected by this south-end Salt Spring resident were never intended to be used on a bed to provide warmth. Instead, he said , it was the fashion in the past to drape them over furniture in the parlours or middle and upper-middle-class homes.

Erickson said the invention of the sewing machine in the 1870s allowed women to produce clothing more quickly, which gave them time to explore their creativity. Beautiful quilts were sometimes made by groups of women working in “bees” but were more often produced by an individual.

Quilts tell numerous visual stories. The square blocks might depict a pattern from one decate while the backing is of a style popular many years later. Erickston explained that this suggests someone made the blocks, but never got around to finishing the quilt, so it was left for someone else’s hands to do years later.

Other quilts emphasize the colours of the Depression ear: a medium green and pink.

Erickson marvels at these “intuitive creations” put together by ordinary people with no design or artistic training. He buys some quilts for their technical excellence, but most often he is interested in the visual quality.

Erickson remembers the first quilt he owned was given to him by an aunt when he left his small Minnesota farm community to attend university. He came to truly appreciate these quilts years later when he began hanging them in his office for his work on film shoots as a set decorator creating authentic period sets.

His work in movies such as Seven Years in Tibet, Mississippi Burning and Snow Falling on Cedars drew him to antique shops and markets all over the world in search of props. Quilts were among his discoveries.

This weekend’s show will appeal to those who quilt, other artists, historians, collectors or anyone who enjoys looking at beauty, as well as those seeking temporary asylum from the winter blahs…

— END—

To read most posts in this blog of eclectic topics of writings by and about Tanya Lester, go to and

Tanya Lester is a psychic counsellor specializing in tea leaf reading, tarot, psychic channeling, mediumship and gypsy cards. She is also a Reiki master and fulltime housesitter.  For more information go to her web: and/or her pages at Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Goggle.  To book a reading or to arrange a housesit, text/message or call 250-538-0086 or email:

Tanya’s books are: Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader, Friends I Never Knew, Dreams and Tricksters as well as Women Rights/Writes. The first two titles can be purchased from the author or All titles are available in some library systems.


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