Thursday, October 28, 2010

Dots and Modernism

Here's another member of the Polka Dot club
Nancy Cunard photographed by Cecil Beaton in 1929.
You may recall this photo of "The Polka Dot Club" in Larned, Kansas about 1900.
See my blog post about a year ago by clicking here:

Tilly Losch by Beaton
Beaton probably used this photo backdrop in other portraits.
It's so-o-o modern.

This woman may not look like the height of fashion today but she was styling in the 1890s.
Dots were important in the modern age when circles symbolized the ideal of ornament as simple shape.

Bette Davis
All dots and lines

Circles are graphically appealing. They really grab you.
No name for this four patch with a larger circle in the center and smaller circle in the corners (or vice versa).

String quilt wheel, about 1900

These late 19th-century and 20th-century quilts fit right into our modern revival.

String quilt snowball about 1950

String quilt
The string quilts are a combination of nostalgic homespun and modern graphics.

I'm always drawn to these circular designs, most of them variations of a four-patch with a quarter circle. Above are a few sketches from my BlockBase program of the patterns numbered in the 1490s and 1500s.
Names include Full Moon, Snow Ball, Base Ball.

All of which reminds me: I have got to decide where to go with this Fireball top.
Bigger or border? It's about 48" x 60" now.

I've heard that if the circles are white in this string quilt variation it's a Snowball. If the circles are red it's a Fireball.


  1. Once again you have given us some great photo's. Bette Davis was definitely a DIVA!
    I think the Fireball should be bigger ....LOL

  2. I also think the Fireball needs to be bigger, not sure how much more, though.
    Love each and every one of your posts! I feel like I learn something new each day. Thanks!!

  3. Bigger with no border - I love the way the fireballs go over the edge.

  4. I'm also a lover of polka dots. I would've said you HAD to buy that couch! Love the Fireball as it is. Fun post. Thanks!

  5. Thanks for the delightful pics,again.
    I think your fireball needs to be bigger, due to the size of the balls i guess. Have a nice day.

  6. Gotta LOVE polka dots! I have a new business called the Farmer's Dotter...retreats, patterns and trunk shows, so I Love everything dotty! I have come across a few old photos of my ancestors in dots and just love 'em! One is of my dad in the 30's in a polka dot sailor outfit. Please check out my website:www.farmersdotter.com and blog. I'll make sure and put a picture of my dad on my blog. Thanks for taking the time to look!
    Brenda Weed...the Farmer's Dotter

  7. I have come across a similar pattern but instead of 1/4 circles they are 1/8ths. I have posed this question on the internet and I know you have done a lot of research. I am just trying to find the correct name(s) of the block so I can then proceed with a search to find a pattern. Please visit my blog for pictoral clues on two quilts. https://myquiltprojects.wordpress.com/2016/08/19/quilt-research-puts-me-in-circles/ Thank you!