Thursday, December 18, 2014

STARS IN A TIME WARP: Weekly Lessons in a Shower of Stars

In 2015 I'm planning a QuiltAlong over on my Civil War Quilts blog. Every Wednesday I'll post a piece----but it won't be a pattern for a different design each week.

For the Stars in a Time Warp QuiltAlong we'll be doing the same 6" sawtooth star every week.

Vintage Variable Star or Sawtooth Star, mid-19th-century

What will change weekly is the fabric.

Vintage star quilt, early-19th-century

Each post will be a lesson on reproduction fabrics in a particular style or color.

Vintage Sawtooth Star top about 1880-1910.

You'll wind up with many 6" stars that you can mix or match into time warp quilts....

Feathered Star Medallion reproduction quilt by
Bettina Havig
Reproduction quilts large and small.

Jacobean Meadow reproduction quilt by
Jean Stanclift

Reproduction quilt by Jerrye VanLeer

Reproduction block

You may want to copy the vintage blocks closely

or interpret them in softer  shades.

The fabric lessons will be based on my books America's Printed Fabrics 1770-1890 and Making History: Quilts and Fabric from 1890-1970.

Reproduction blocks

In January we'll begin in the 1840s with tips for finding authentic reproduction prints in Turkey red and Prussian blue style.

Doll quilt, about 1900

We'll go forward in time stitching sawtooth stars from the reproduction prints in your stash or on your shopping list.

Star set on point about 1840

 Because it's a time warp we can shift backwards too, exploring the days of chintz and toile.

Roseanne Smith
Morris Star reproduction

You can make one star or more each week. By the end of the series we'll have a shower of stars to set into a quilt from mini-sized to king-sized.

I'm snipping a triangle from every piece of reproduction
fabric in my stash to make a charm quilt of triangles while I piece
6" star blocks.

Look for the first post on the first Wednesday of January: January 7th.
Here's the address for Civil War Quilts.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Savannah and the Cotton Trade

I spent my Thanksgiving holiday in Savannah, Georgia.

We picked the spot for the architecture and the ocean.

Both lived up to our expectations.

Savannah Cotton Exchange Building, built in 1886.
Architect William G. Preston.

The Cotton Exchange about 1910

I unexpectedly learned a lot about the history of cotton...

the raw commodity, way before it became yarn, fabric or print.

When these early postcard photos were taken in the port of Savannah about 1900-1915, the United States was the world's largest producer of cotton. A century ago in 1914, Georgia farmers planted millions of acres of cotton---the high point of American cotton production.

Cotton was shipped out into the Atlantic along the Savannah River.

When the Savannah Cotton Exchange was built Savannah was the second largest shipper of cotton in the world. Cotton supported the city.

The Telfair House

Before the end of slavery, Mary Telfair was the richest
woman in the state of Georgia, with a fortune based
on the cotton/slavery plantation empire. She willed
her home to the city for a museum.

After five years of war and trade embargoes, post-Civil-War cotton production rebounded.

Weighing cotton in the early 20th-century

Cotton merchants, the middlemen between planter and fabric mill,
were called cotton factors.

Factors in Savannah set world prices.

French painter Edgar Degas had an American brother 
who was a cotton factor. Degas painted the office at the New Orleans
Cotton Exchange in 1873, while he tried his hand at 
making money rather than art. The factors pictured are judging
cotton's quality and checking the markets in the newspapers.

"Factors Walk," restored industrial buildings on the Savannah River

But disaster struck 100 years ago,

Forsyth Park about 1910

causing Savannah to be prettily frozen in time.

The disaster came in small form, a cotton-devouring beetle known as the Boll Weevil (Anthonomus grandis).

Chopping Cotton on Rented Land, Green County, Georgia, 1941.
Photo by Jack Delano, Library of Congress.

By the mid 1920s cotton acreage in Georgia was half what it had been a decade earlier. The Savannah Cotton Exchange closed in 1920.

J.A. Johnson's  Youngest Son Picking Cotton, 1939,
North Carolina.
Photo by Marion Post Wolcott, Library of Congress.

Drought, low commodity prices and continuing boll weevil problems devastated the cotton industry
in the Southeastern U.S. By 1937 America had lost its place as the world's leading cotton producer.

Since the 1970s a U.S. Department of Agriculture program to eradicate boll weevils without pesticides has been succeeding, but rebuilding American cotton agriculture has been a hard row to hoe (so to speak).

Today China is the world's largest cotton producer with India close behind. The U.S. is third.

And now I know one very good reason why my reproduction quilt fabrics are not printed on American-grown cotton.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Jason Pollen. Unfurled: Thirty Years in Kansas City

Jason Pollen, Havana, 2014

Don't miss the second phase of Jason Pollen's two-part show at the Kansas City (Missouri) Public Library's Main Branch.  Unfurled: Thirty Years in Kansas City comes down on January 4, 2015.

Friends and I went on our seasonal holiday outing to get some culture, eat well and shop. The show was a high point in a great day.

Jason Pollen, Forest/Trees IV

Found sticks, wrapped on a dyed background.

Jason Pollen, Forest/Trees

Jason Pollen, Forest/Trees Detail

See an interview in The Pitch about how Pollen came to make these assemblages:

Jason Pollen, Metamorphosis I

Felted Wool

Jason Pollen, Metamorphosis I

Jason Pollen, Prophets

The faces looked familiar. The catalog notes his inspiration
in the Metropolitan Museum of Art's collection
of Fayoum or Fayum funerary portraits of Egyptians.

He also is showing his sketchbooks.

The man mixes media in wonderful fashion.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Austen Family Album Last Block

Block 36 Modern Envelope from the Austen Family Album
by Becky Brown

Last Sunday I posted the last block of my 2014 free block of the week The Austen Family Album. The 36th block was for Jane's friend Anne Sharp.

Here's Anamaria's plan for setting the 36 blocks.

 Each week I've told a little history about Jane Austen, her family and her times, and given a pattern for a pieced block that symbolizes her family and friends.

The blog address:

Marie-Louise's Block 7 for Aunt Phila

Blog-readers post their blocks every week on our Flickr page.

Marie-Louise Ardonceau's Flickr Photostream

I'm quite intrigued by Marie-Louise's set of blocks.
In every post I include a portrait of a member of Jane Austen's world,

such as this one of Aunt Philadelphia Austen Hancock.

Marie-Louise's Block  for brother Frank Austen

Marie-Louise is printing the portraits onto fabric and
piecing or appliqueing them into each block.

Marie-Louise's Block  for Sister-in-law Eliza

Marie-Louise's Block  for brother Edward Austen

Can't wait to see this set together!

See Marie-Louise's Flickr photostream here:

Remember, Jane's birthday is December 16th. She'd be 239 years old. Have a party.

Time travel can be upsetting to one's sensibilities, however.