Textiles and the Triplett Sisters

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Paper Piecing Like You've Never Seen Before

Continuing our adventures in DC we were captivated by the Fan Quilt of Mt Carmel at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The quilt was made by the residents of Bourbon County, Kentucky originally named after the royal family of France who aided the US in the War of Independence. The Ladies Aid Society is prominently featured on the quilt with the President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer included, which leads me to speculate they had significant involvement in the creation of the quilt.

I was particularly drawn to the “paper” faces in the quilt, identified by the museum as chromolithographic paper decals. Chromolithographic printing was in wide spread use after the civil war and it allowed the middle class also to hang art. It is a colored image printed by many applications of lithographic stones using different inks. The printing process was so popular in the last half of the 19th century, it was sometimes called “Chromo Civilization.”

I’d never seen a quilt with this type of paper piecing which immediately reminded me of the Kate Greenaway images we’d seen just a couple of nights before (see our previous blog article BAS – Crib Quilts.) Kate Greenaway was known for her images of children in books and greeting cards, but less known is her artwork for “Brigg’s Patent Transfering Designs.”

Founded in 1874, Brigg’s was the developer of a process that allowed the transfer of embroidery designs from paper onto quilts. Embroidery from the quilt appear to match some of those found in the quilt. For those interested in seeing the designs here is a link to a pdf of the book with the designs by Kate Greenaway. If more interested in seeing the “people” of Greenaway, be sure to check out page 63 and beyond. What a joy to see this once in a lifetime artwork, with such a rare technique, inserting paper faces to create a unique quilt.