Norma Dessent (the donor) was cleaning out her Mother-in-law Amy Dessent’s home, after she passed away in 1995. She came across a collection of gunny sacks for chicken feed, potatoes, and flour. Norma gave the bags to her good friend Beryl Andersen, thinking she might be able to make use of the material in her quilting. Many years later in 2001, Beryl gave Norma this quilt made in a wagga style out of the bags. This was both a great surprise and a great delight for Norma.
Amy Dessent was a housewife. Her chickens were her friends, keeping her company as she worked in her renowned garden and while she cooked and maintained a beautiful home. Typically, Amy would have a dozen chickens clucking around at a time. In the style of the time, everything was kept for a possible repurposing later in life, such as these gunny sacks.
The Chicken Feed Wagga was created in Ballarat by Mrs Beryl Andersen. Beryl was the inaugural president of the Hamilton Quilters Guild and is a well-known quilter. Perhaps her best-known work was the “Quilt for Hope”, a living memorial for victims of institutional church-related sexual abuse. More information about this quilt can be found on the following link. https://www.nationalquiltregister.org.au/quilts/quilt-of-hope/).
The wool blanket used as a backing belonged to Beryl’s mother. Beryl’s mother married in 1930 and the blanket is thought to have been a present from this wedding, making the blanket close to a century old.
Norma donated the quilt to the National Wool Museum in 2021 as a result of downsizing. She no longer had room for the quilt to hang on her wall. Before downsizing, the quilt had hung in the entryway to her home for the last two decades.
Wagga style quilt made with a Appliqué top layer of gunny sacks that once held chicken feed, flour, and potatoes. The insulating internal material is not known. The backing fabric is made from a cream woollen blanket. The edges are bound with a material of a red and white plaid. The gunny sacks are quilted together with a machine stitch of red thread. The sacks contain imagery pertaining to their previous use. Some sacks have an image of a chicken applied with blue, red, or green ink. Other sacks contain imagery of potatoes. While other sacks contain information “Minimum Crude Protein 14%, Minimum Crude Fat 3%, Maximum Crude Fibre 7%”. One of the sacks shows a handwritten price for a bag of chicken feed in a red ink.