What is at the roots of our quiltmaking? What is the event that brought about the modern quiltmaking renaissance. While we all know a bit of our American quilt history and the quilt designs and fabrics that occurred in historical eras (say Civil War, or 1930's and a particular style and color pallet comes forth in our mind) - what made 20th century women fore go the department store and decide to make their own bedcoverings?
Most style mavens, artists, and quilters will say the 1971 Whitney Museum "Abstract Design in American Quilts" show as the signature event. Suddenly, stodgy 19th century bed linens made by women were on a par with Modern Art made by Warhol, and Kandinsky. This, along with the pending Bicentennial - made things "made by hand" all the rage. Now, what brought about the Whitney Show? Probably a lot of things, and I don't claim to know the reasons - Barbara would :). Ask antique dealers, art gallery owners, and quilt collectors and they will all mention different things that collided into a perfect storm of Folk Art and quilts. The hippie-fication of America was one reason. Could this have been another? I was perusing a book I checked out of the library last week - Horst: Interiors. It is a compilation of Horst P. Horst's photo essays on stylish interiors. You know, home shoots in decorator magazines. He most often worked for House Beautiful and Vogue. These homes were/are stylish! The homeowners include Warhol himself, Jackie Onassis, Oscar de la Renta, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and many more. The one that floored me (literally) was Gloria Vanderbilt. Here is her bedroom and these photos were first published in 1970.
I took these photos off the internet as I couldn't scan the huge book with it's substantial binding. I wish they were a little bigger. The bit of text next to them say the entire room, except for the moldings, were covered in patchwork. OH. MY. GOD. It is hard to tell, but it looks like the floor was covered in quilt blocks and unfinished tops and then maybe coats of polyurethane over it. Those are collages on the wall that Gloria herself made. Now, Gloria is a go-to gal for style. Remember a few years later in the 70's when we all wore her jeans to disco dance in? Hmmmm. Looking at later home shoots in the book you see more patchwork. Could it be Gloria who we can thank for our contemporary fabric madness?
I know. Before it goes any further - we can't condone the destroying of antique quilts. I feel the same way. But - really, I like to think that these quilts in Gloria's bedroom, on her floor and ceiling, became their "Quilt Destiny" here. I think the sum surpasses all the parts. These quilts died for our present quiltmaking mania, wouldn't you say? Brava, Gloria!
What does it all mean, and what am I trying to say? I don't know. I just found it fascinating. You never know where a creative idea can take you - and take everyone else. Ideas aren't made in a vacuum. One thing sparks another and now with internet speed - we all spark each other. Happy sparking, everyone.
And on to more pedestrian quilting.....here is the first block of the Winter Garden/Love Letters quilt. The large applique pieces go fast! The colors aren't quite this bright in reality ;)
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