Sunday, May 26, 2019

Atlanta History Center 1: Tree of Life Chintz

Last month Merikay Waldvogel and I took a tour of the South
looking at quilts in museums.
We stopped in Atlanta and spent a day at the Atlanta History Center,
which has several hundred quilts in their collection.

The galleries include a display of five or six quilts
housed in a clever mechanism. The quilts hang on
slant boards in the dark. You pick a quilt and push
the yellow button.

The slant board slides out so you can see the quilt for
about 30 seconds and then retreats.

When one goes to the museum one must have luncheon at the Swan Coach House
on the grounds.

We sat next to a lady who had lunched there weekly for fifty
years. It's that kind of a place.

Tara, Me and Merikay
We met Tara Miller of Atlanta there.

Merikay had chicken salad in timbales and a frozen fruit salad.
It's traditional.

Being Atlanta, the History Center has some wonderful chintz quilts. Collections Manager Erica Hague took the time to pull a few for us. I thought I'd feature one or two a day for a few days and show you details.

Tree of life appliqued chintz quilt top

Tara braved life and limb to stand on a tall ladder for pictures.
Most of these excellent shots are hers.

Like many tree of life quilts this one is built on a rocky hill with a few
animals at the base. Everything is assembled from various chintzes and toiles.

Several of the animals like the goat look to be cut
from a pictorial toile (monochrome copper plate print.)

The peacock is cut from a chintz

We thought these animals were ducks but look at their faces.
Camels? With wings.

Large-footed bird

How old is the top?
I'm guessing 1800-1830.
Nothing is known about its origins.
More tomorrow.


  1. Thanks for showcasing this work. I'm fascinated with tree of life quilts and have never seen one in real life; really appreciate the detail photos. I have a technique question - is the appliqué raw edge, and what kind of stitch was used to secure it? Thank you!

  2. James, your question is one of ours, one reason we went on the tour to see chintz quilts. How were they stitched? Every one we saw was done by turning under the edges of the chintz and stitching with a slightly visible applique stitch. No buttonholing, no raw edges that we could see. We've seen other techniques but not on this trip.

  3. Fascinating tour of these chintz quilts!

  4. those duck/camels - I'm thinking chickens. Some breeds, especially the roosters, have a fairly large fleshy bit under their chins call the wattle, in additon to the combs on top of their heads.

  5. Very nice post Thank you for sharing!!

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