Thursday, February 13, 2020

Ethnicity & Quilt Style 2

Woman and a string quilt variation, about 1910.

Yesterday I posted four string quilts from the Michigan project with the question: Can you tell the maker's ancestry by her style? Are the collectors correct in thinking ethnicity is obvious or is Cuesta Benberry's view (Essentially: NO WAY!)  more accurate?

(1) String quilt made in Holland, Michigan in 1982 by
Josie Lewis Shagonoby (1896-1989) 
Josie's niece said she was of Ottawa Potawatomie Native American heritage and that the fabrics were old clothes.

(2) String quilt made in Marshall, Michigan, probably about 1950 by
Lydia Short Easterly (1870-1960) & daughter Dora Easterly Freed (1890-1987)

Lydia's granddaughter described her ethnic background as Dutch and English and recalled the fabric as family clothing scraps. "Very little material was wasted, and based on the stories; neighbors and relatives often traded fabric."

(3) String quilt made in Idlewild, Michigan, 1986
by Viney Green Crawford (1912-) 

The Michigan project interviewed the quiltmaker for their exhibit and book African American Quiltmaking in Michigan. Viney said she didn't "use store-bought patterns, but instead makes them up as she goes along, putting scraps together in a way that makes a pleasing design. 'I don't make really fancy quilts, just something put together.' "

Viney Green Crawford

(4) Quilt made in Gaastra, Michigan, 1981 by 
Ruth Fuleihan Buntrock (1927- ) signed "Grandma, September, 1981."

Ruth's granddaughter (the quilt was a 3rd birthday gift) described her as of Syrian/German heritage (The family was actually from Syria but their home had become part of Lebanon). She remembered the fabrics as "Pieces of material taken from recognizable clothes or remnants of materials from which clothes were made."

"Attributed to an unknown African American quilter...early 1900s."
Perhaps a better caption would be
"String quilt, unknown quiltmaker, early 1900s"


Nann said...

Well, not 100%!

Unknown said...

No, you cannot tell. As a quilter we can sometimes share the same pattern with a different color variation.

QuiltGranma said...

Beautiful quilts no matter who made them, or how, or how easy or difficult they may be.

Anonymous said...

I think these style attributions are made by whoever is selling the quilts. We see it all the time on ebay where they try to capture your attention by what is popular at the time of sale. I am guessing marketing to "the desirable" has always been happening. Quilters are as variable as there are people and are sparked by other's quilts or just designs they see in their lives and surroundings.