Tuesday, August 12, 2008

how to "read" an antique crazyquilt block...

G'day! So, I was saying to Miss Hortense Eileene earlier in the day, how should I proceed, d'ya think? Of course, she couldn't have cared less. Then I remembered that Blogger sent my last photo to the head of my last post instead of to the end of it -- which gave me the idea for today's scary subject. I say "scary" because, well, some things are easier than other things, and I because I've come to a point of confession after these few weeks as a Bloggeress. After twenty-one years in this groovy pursuit of great and humble crazyquilts, I have become exceedingly opinionated! As in, too sure of the correctness of certain approaches to gaining mastery of our subject matter (don't laugh, Miss Willa). OK -- that's a little too silly for even me. But I meant to say, I'm convinced that we can't learn the fundamentals of crazyquilt design and construction UNLESS WE STUDY ANTIQUE CRAZYQUILTS. Not everyone, not even every expert on the subject, would agree with me. That's the scary part.

I have to say at this point that, with certain very reasonable exceptions, and giving total homage to all of you brilliant contemporary-mode crazywork creators among us, I am far more "19th-century" than I probably ought to be. That's why I study the old, pre-1950s CQs. No -- I mean, really study them. As in, spending at least an hour (and oftentimes much longer) with many a quilt or block that Life presents. With pencil or pen AND substantial note-taking book in hand. Just as if each one were a long-hidden-away textbook of some great significance -- because truly, that is how I view each one. All of the time that I'm looking, I'm aware that I could not possibly SEE everything the quilt/block/pillow/garment has to show me, at least not all at once. The best strategy for me is to apply a device that somewhat mimics a forensic investigation into one particular piece of evidence -- except, I do have my own time-tested procedures that have absolutely no resemblance to anything done in any CSI lab!

Before I post my "Reading Chart," there's one more thing to remember: to really understand whatever the CQ item has to teach us about authentic crazy patchwork, we have to look beneath the stitchery, the colors, and the fabrics. It's an acquired skill, and we get better and better at it as we do the exercises that are being suggested here. Perhaps I should also mention that I only invest the time it takes to "interview" any CQ item in depth IF that item is visually stunning to my eye; thus, anyone else wishing to study in this way will decide which items are worthy of her efforts to "get acquainted."

"To study in this way" means, start a new page in your dedicated notebook whenever you choose to learn about a different CQ item; note first of all the name (if any) that the maker gave to the item, then the overall size, and then -- if you're documenting a whole quilt or quilt top -- the number of blocks that make up that quilt/top, if relevant. (If it matters to you, add the name of the item's creator. I almost never have any interest in the provenance data, though, so I rarely do this.)

More to come, and I hope you find it at least interesting, 'cause I will reveal the rest of the "How To Read" information next time! Comments in agreement or disagreement will be equally welcome along with any ideas which occur to you. OH: these photos (and the one from the last post) are all from the same 1880-to-1910 antique quilt. An eBay offering, I haven't been able to find its owner, and I hope I haven't violated a copyright by showing them to you. Each block has several important things to teach us, if we can only see them. . . . .

Blessings on the morrow, and affectionate back rubs to all. . . . .


1 comment:

Susan said...

What gorgeous pictures you are sharing, and well considered opinions. Even if it's opinion, the person who holds that opinion can almost make it fact, don't you think? So, thanks for the facts. =)

If Blogger is working correctly, it will always put a picture at the bottom of any text. If you want it at the top, you must put it there first, OR you can copy it from where Blogger puts it, and put it where you'd like it.

If you want it in the middle, then stop typing where you want it, put in the picture, and continue typing afterward, or do the above trick again.

Don't forget to remove the original one, though. I didn't say cut and paste, because I have a time or two lost something when cutting it. Now, with blogger, I copy first, paste and, when I'm sure it was successful, I cut out the first one that I don't want any more.