Sunday, November 27, 2011

Morris & Company Brother Rabbit

Brother Rabbit from my Moda collection
Morris & Company

"Brother Rabbit" was designed by William Morris in 1882. It's a monochrome print, quite small in scale (especially for a Morris print) but also finely detailed. This is one Morris pattern that was actually designed to be a cotton print.

Here's a magnified shot so you can see the detail although it's fuzzier in the photo than it is in the fabric.
Like many of Morris's designs, it's based on his observations in his garden. Birds and  rabbits hide in the vegetation.

For Morris & Company we colored it five ways. It reads as a neutral and will provide some light contrast to the darker, larger-scale prints.

Like many of Morris's designs the inspiration is the intricacy of medieval tapestry.

Rabbits are often seen hiding in the garden as in this detail from one of the Unicorn tapestries.

Br'er Rabbit from Joel Chandler Harris's Uncle Remus stories

There are references to this print as "Br'er Rabbit" and the idea that William Morris was inspired by the Uncle Remus stories in American folklore, yet a talking rabbit seems the antithesis of what he was trying to do with his emphasis on European medieval design.

So I am sticking with the name Brother Rabbit, it's patent registration name in 1882. I think it reflects the same kind of empathy for the garden's residents that inspired the "Strawberry Thief."

Plant enough in the garden so the birds and animals can share.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Seth Thomas Rose Quilt in Oregon

I was looking at WillyWonky's blog the other day and came across this picture---which immediately caught my eye as I myself had  just blogged about the pattern. The quilt is in a show in Salem, Oregon.
See my post here:

The Oregon quilt is very close to the newspaper pattern published by Ruby McKim in 1929, showing a quilt made in the 1860s by Araminta Daniel Kreeger (1830-1875) who lived near Independence, Missouri in the middle of the 19th century.

The major difference is in the lower florals coming out of the vase.

The Oregon quilt is attributed to Adeline Brown Crawford (1821-1879) who traveled in one of the earliest Oregon-bound parties in 1842. She was one of six daughters of Gabriel and Elizabeth Robinson Brown, described in this post by Jim Tompkins: 

"Five of them of marriageable age when [they left] Arkansas. Known as the “Belles of Oregon” not for their beauty, but for their availability, three of them were the first emigrants to marry in Oregon (Adeline age 23, Polly age 16, and Cynthia age 14, each married men who were in the same emigration party as the Browns). They were said to be fair haired if not endowed with titian tresses. Is it any wonder that they were passionately courted, in an almost Eveless Eden."

Adeline may have brought the quilt with her from Arkansas but the style indicates it was probably made after 1842 and thus is an Oregon quilt. So it's unlikely to be the actual quilt that inspired Ruby McKim's "Seth Thomas Rose" in Independence, Missouri.  However, interesting details emerge in Adeline's story. The Brown family joined that 1842 overland party near Independence in Jackson County, where 13-year-old Araminta Daniel Kreeger lived. 

Adeline's quilt does cast doubt upon Ruby McKim's story that Araminta drew her pattern from a picture on a Seth Thomas clock. Could it be that she and Adeline Brown Crawford shared a pattern for a quilt with circles edging a central flower? Or is this pattern more common than I thought.

My version of the Seth Thomas Rose sewn by Susan Stiff

Treasures from the Trunk: Quilts and Their Makers After the Oregon Trail Journey, curated by Mary Bywater Cross is up until December 24, 2011 at the Wilamette Heritage Center in Salem, Oregon.

An important Oregon quilt on exhibit there is Elizabeth Ann Clark Kelly's ribbon quilt made from souvenir ribbons gathered at reunions of the pioneers who traveled to Oregon on the overland trails. It's on loan from the American Folk Art Museum.

See the WillyWonky blog post here with more pictures of the show:
Adeline met her husband Medorem Crawford on that 1842 trip. Read his journal of the trip here at Google Books:
And Jim Tomkins' web page here:

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Morris & Company Fabric is IN

The newest collection of William Morris reproduction prints from Moda is in a few shops already.
Click here on Moda's home page and see this lovely introduction slide.

This line uses shades echoing the natural dyes that were so important to William Morris's vision.

Blues from indigo

Burnt oranges from madder

And we also have some updated color schemes,
gray green with gray, shades of taupe for today's taste.

And a true black

Some shops already have the yardage.
Berrima Patchwork was the first to blog about it.

Click here to see the whole range at Moda:
Morris and Company

And click here to get the free project designed by Susan Stiff, a period fan block in an arts and crafts frame.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Fancy Machine Grounds

Every early 19th-century reproduction line needs a print with a fancy machine ground.
For my Lately Arrived From London collection for Moda I had a rather large piece of fabric with a floral trail figure atop a detailed "fancy machine ground." The document print above is the larger piece, the reproduction is the smaller square. It may date to about 1820-1840.

In the englargement you can see the finely detailed dots behind the florals. They not only add a background, they form part of the floral figures. These backgrounds were not engraved on the roller by hand; they were applied in a machining process.

Above:  the tan reproduction in the top left and the larger brown document print for the Meryfield print from my Hartfield collection, an early-19th-century line I did a few years ago. The green leaves in the original were probably done with a wood block, the brown ground printed with a roller. Notice the streak in the fancy machine ground, indicating it crimped in the roller.

Once printers figured out how to apply detailed machining to copper rollers the designers came up with many outrageous combinations as in the print from an old quilt above. The insect-like figure and the striped machined ground have very little in common. And then there are those green sticks.... People loved the variety and the layers of detail.

Designers and customers welcomed the new look about 1810 because older wood-block printing limited the types of backgrounds. One typical wood block ground was a solid color hand applied around the figures with a wood block, as in the chintz above. The technology wasn't perfect and printers often left haloes of white between the figure and ground---the registration was off.

For more detail the block printer could add a patterned ground behind the figure, in this case a regularly spaced dot, probably applied with a wood block fitted with pins in a regular pattern. In England these dotted grounds were called Stormont grounds, in France picotage.

But the fancy machine grounds were ---well much fancier---than the old Stormont grounds. Once the roller printed grounds were possible the designers and the printers showed their skills in many combinations of figure and ground. The detail is impressive, the registration is perfect---the only flaw (if one were being picky) is that the design combinations were sometimes strange.

So if you are looking for an authentic 1810-1840 look buy prints with detailed grounds---fancy machine grounds. You wouldn't see them any earlier than 1800 because the technology wasn't there yet. And they fell out of favor about 1840 as new styles developed.
Above is the Little Molly print in the muslin colorway that shows the fancy machine ground off the best.

In the tea colorway the shading dominates the florals, creating a rainbow look.

In the plum colorway the ground is more subtle and the figure stands out.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Northern Lily/Southern Rose Block 9

The last applique block for the Northern Lily/Southern Rose sampler is the Indiana Bouquet (neither a lily or a rose.) I adapted the design from some Indiana quilts of the mid-19th-century. I was looking for regional designs and thought of the quilts of Susan McCord.

Northern Lily/Southern Rose
by Jerri McReynolds
Indiana Bouquet
by debi schrader

The block was inspired by Susan McCord's quilts but mainly by Mary Jane Kirkpatrick's quilt, which was pictured in the Quilts of Indiana book in 1991. The women lived in adjacent Indiana counties and their fanciful bowls of fruit and flowers have something in common but we don't know if they knew each other or saw each other's quilts.

Indiana Bouquet
by Ilyse Moore

I simplified the Indiana Bouquet from a design I drew for the Sunflower Pattern Co-operative book Susan McCord: The Unforgettable Artistry of an Indian Quilter

Shade Garden Sampler by Shauna Christensen
from our Susan McCord book.
Mary Jane's Compote is the block at top right.

Indiana Bouquet
by Barbara Brackman

I used Mary Jane's general shapes but I added Susan McCord's penchant for dots.

Harrison Rose Urn by Susan McCord

by Barbara Brackman
I love those dots

See more of Susan McCord's quilts by clicking on these links

Update at Noon central time on November 15th
I fixed the links....
and here is the link to the Quilting Genius exhibit at the Henry Ford Museum

Click on this link to see more about the book Susan McCord: The Unforgettable Artistry of an Indian Quilter by Barbara Brackman, Shauna Christensen and Deb Rowden.

Mary Jane Takes Up Juggling
by Barbara Brackman
Our quilt guild had a challenge sponsored by Sarah's Fabrics in which we took a quarter yard of  Bee's Knees print and made a mini quilt.

I saw broken china and thought of the Indiana Bouquet block. I moved the dots off the vase and into the air.

Ask your quilt shop for the Moda pattern for Northern Lily/Southern Rose. Next month I'll show the quilting pattern.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Edge Treatment

I made another visit to the International Quilt Study Center
 and Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska the other day.
There are two shows up right now.
Elegant Geometry: American and British Mosaic Patchwork,
curated by Bridget Long is up until January 8, 2012.

Lovers with a Broken Heart by Yvonne Wells

Yvonne Wells: Quilted Messages
is on exhibit until February 26, 2012

I've seen photos of Yvonne Well's quilts but it was great to see them
on the wall to see the scale and the detail.
In one gallery we thought about thinking big.
In the other we thought about thinking small.

But one thing the galleries had in common was fascinating edge treatments.
Here's an early 19th century fringe.

And an early example of an edge turned in---what we would call a knife edge.

A woven, colored twill tape from the 19th century.
 (For a while we were calling this Trenton tape
 but it was used in many places outside of New Jersey)

And then I noticed the edges on Yvonne Well's quilts.
What is that little bug along the binding?

A tiny triangle along the edge in another
 ---is Prairie Point the right word?

They just pop up.

Another 19th-century edge-no binding, no border.

This 19th century quilt is on a slant board,
possibly because the edge is so out of whack.
The quilt gets narrower with every descending row.
 The right edge of the photo is square, the quilt is not.

Next Saturday at IQSC: Storytelling in the gallery with artist Yvonne Wells.
Saturday, November 12, 2011, 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM

See photos of the Yvonne Wells exhibit here: