Textiles and the Triplett Sisters

To Die for Dye: Cochineal


When I give my program Red & Green Quilts for Xmas…NOT!, I usually don’t talk about cochineal. Instead, I tend to focus on Turkey red, a popular color fast dye in the 19th century. Shame on me! Here thousands of cochineal insects were literally dying to create a fabulous color red and I neglected to discuss. Cochineal is a dye that was and is still in use today. In fact, cochineal dyes are returning in popularity because they are natural, and water soluble yet resistant to degradation. In the 16th century the Spanish Conquest of the Aztec Empire introduced cochineal to societies on both sides of the Atlantic. In Europe there was no comparable color, the closest being crimson from the Kermes vermilio insect. Once the European market discovered carmine, the demand increased significantly. Even the Pope...
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How to Research – Part III


Some the items I’m writing about are simply good reminders on the researching journey. You may already be aware and can simply look at the glorious quilts. But in case you aren’t familiar with one or two of these ideas, I want to cover them. Original source documents are something frequently cited, but what all does it include? Everything from diaries, to receipts, invoices, and more. One good way to find these documents is to research by career (shippers have bills of lading, merchants have stock invoices, etc.) or by family name at libraries and historical societies. If you’re lucky the family will have at least one person who was a saver. An interesting additional original source in our industry is other reproduction quilters’ notes. Someone who left notes that went before you researching a quilter,...
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How to Research – Part II


Research never ends. Even when you think you’ve exhausted the resources available and come to realistic conclusions. Remember, research NEVER ends. There are new documents uncovered, or new papers added online (particularly during the pandemic), and new textiles or quilts uncovered. Sometimes an expert you relied upon concluded something that is no longer supported by your new research, because…research never ENDS. It is an important rule to remember in researching, that periodically revisiting a research topic you are passionate about is vital. Our research on Chintz fabric that was the subject of our Chintz Quilts book has continued for more than 10 years. This year at the request of the Mingei International Museum we also began re-visiting our indigo research of more than 10 years. Which brings me to our book Hidden Treasures that included research...
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How to do Research


Right now, my world is being dominated by research which I enjoy. Research is the underpinning of those interested in antique quilts and quilt history. Of course, you can simply admire the beauty of the quilt, the artistry of the quilter, and the amazing fabric used in the quilt. However, if the quilt includes a name…look out we’re off to do research, especially if it is a signature quilt with lots of names.   Genealogy websites are very useful tools in this instance. The most frequently used site for this type of research is Ancestry.com, which is great for historical records, but don’t forget MyHeritage which has a global database, or LegacyTree if you want to hire a genealogist. Your local library may have free access to these databases as well as other sources to consider....
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Quilt Blocks


When did the use of quilt blocks originate? Is it American in origin? When I was teaching a workshop in the Netherlands, I was asked this question, and I didn’t know the answer. Sometimes these questions provide me with a new research topic. One museum expert that was present at the class stated it was American in origin. Another person thought it began about mid-19th century with the Baltimore Album Quilts. I wanted data before making any statements. Occasionally I’ve looked for academic articles about the topic or read history of quilting books to see their answers. I’ve never written about it because I never really felt I had a solid answer. I decided the best way to get the answer was to track quilts by date. Then the answer wouldn’t be about “best guess.” Barbara...
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