The sense of touch

detail from Selvage Star of Bethlehem made by Mayleen Vinson quilted by Jan Hutchinson
detail from Selvage Star of Bethlehem
made by Mayleen Vinson
quilted by Jan Hutchinson

We are all familiar with the five senses:  sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell.  I discovered what an important role the sense of touch plays in my life while attending the 2015 International Quilt Festival last week.

I spent Friday morning wandering around in the exhibits trying to see as many of the quilts as I could (several hundred are on display).  Some permit photographs, others do not.  Under no circumstances can you touch any of them because of the permanent effect of the oils on your fingers.  “Quilt Angels” wearing white gloves are stationed in various exhibits and will flip a quilt over for you to see the back, but touching is forbidden.

Skull Valley Garage made by Mary Ann Hildebrand
Skull Valley Garage
made by Mary Ann Hildebrand

As I moved into one of the no photography sections I lowered the camera down and was leaning over the rope as much as I dared trying to get a close look at an antique quilt.  The older the quilt the more it calls to me!  A dear Quilt Angel approached and gently reminded me of the no photography rule.  I turned and smiled at her and answered, “Oh, I’m not going to make pictures, but you may have to restrain me from touching one of these!”  She laughed with me and we launched into a conversation on the power of touch.

detail of hand quilting on quilt from the 1800's
detail of hand quilting on quilt from the 1800’s

She reminded me that we are lovers of textiles and therefore we touch.  We touch fabric in a store, we touch fabric in clothes as we walk through a clothing store, with permission we touch clothes someone is wearing when we admire them.  We want to not only see the fabric, we want to feel it.  By touching the fabric we connect to it.  And so it is with the quilts; I want to touch the quilt and through the fabric feel a connection with the other hands that have touched the same quilt so many times.

Here Come the Brides A collection of Double Wedding Ring Quilts and wedding gowns. Quilts made by Victoria Findlay Wolfe
Here Come the Brides
A collection of Double Wedding Ring Quilts and wedding gowns.
Quilts made by Victoria Findlay Wolfe