Textiles and the Triplett Sisters

Lori Lee Triplett, Business Manager for Quilt and Textile Collections, has successfully combined a variety of passions which include research, writing, and performing into the quilt world. As a lecturer and instructor she brings her experience from stage, screen, and radio to make the presentations fun yet educational. She enjoys presenting at local quilt guilds, but also presents at national conferences and has made appearances internationally.

Bannister Hall/Charles Swainson

Bannister Hall Printworks, famous for several bird chintzes, was founded in 1798 by Richard Jackson and John Stephenson. Located near Preston, Lancashire, it was the leading printworks for woodblock furniture chintzes during the 19th century. In 1804 Jackson and Stephenson would bring Charles Swainson into the company, eventually completely selling the company to him in 1809. Between 1809 and 1825 it was owned by Charles Swainson, and from 1825-1856 it was known as Charles Swainson & Company. The Swainsons would open a second “big mill” called Fishwick Mill, with John Birley & Sons. People still referred to the company by various names including Bannister Hall, The Big Mill, Birley & Sons, Swainson & Sons. Eventually, in 1892, Edmund Wright Stead would purchase the blocks, machinery, and more than 9,000 designs of Bannister Hall for the competitor...

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Inscribed Quilts

Studying all these Northern Chintz Style Quilts with signatures and presentation info got us thinking about how and when the craze started. We see the proliferation of signatures on the Baltimore album quilts and even in the deep South too. So, it wasn’t associated with just one area or region. The earliest known autograph album was created in 1466, but it would take until 1507 before the “album amicorum” or book of friends to really be established. In the mid 16th century it was fashionable and became common throughout Europe in the 17th century. In the United States, 1820s are usually the time cited of popularity. So, what inspired the writing on quilts? The commonly availability of commercial Indelible ink. Ink was used on textiles earlier, but it may well be that earlier quilts had signatures...

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Northern Chintz Quilt Style

As some of you may recall, I’ve been researching whether there is a regional style of chintz applique. (If you want to re-read the previous blogs, here are the links to the first, second, third, and fourth blog.) After more research, I identified 20 quilts in the style, although the whereabouts are not always known. To see these quilts, please check out our Pinterest page at this link. Wherever possible we’ve included documentation about the quilt, but a few quilts in private collections are not included. Because of some written records, we know there are still additional quilts in this style out there. So, if you know about one of these quilts, please send me the information! We also identified more than 10 mixed album quilts which fit into this grouping by both style (chintz applique...

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Dye: Prussian Blue

Because we research indigo for our books and more, we tend to write about indigo, instead of Prussian Blue. However, as we continue to focus on dyes, it is important to include Prussian Blue, an extremely popular dye of the 18-19thth century. Prussian blue was “invented” in 1704 by Henrich Diesbach in a laboratory. I used quotations around the word “invent” because it was actually a mistake made when trying to create the red color of Florentine Lake. The inventors quickly retraced their steps to create one of the more popular blue pigment and dyes. Prussian blue was much easier to work with in textiles than indigo and could be used in a variety of printing processes. Sadly, it does turn brown if exposed to heat or in the presence of alkalis. So, one way to...

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To Dye: The Barks

In our last blog we briefly discussed quercitron (bark primarily from the Eastern Black Oak in the US) used in combination with cochineal. But quercitron was used on its own to create a color fast yellow. In the US local mills advertised the grinding of barks, which could be used for home dyeing or mulch. To see an 1844 ad about a Bark and Grist Mill follow this link.   In England the use of quercitron inspired a whole color scheme known as “drab style.” The 15 year patent for the dye ran out in 1799, which caused the drab style to be particularly fashionable in fabrics until 1807. Quercitron was used for block printed chintzs until about 1815.   Cedar and tanbark are two additional barks that are used for dyeing which creates a deep...

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