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Kentucky Quilts and Their Makers

Kentucky Quilts and Their Makers

Mary Washington Clarke
Photographs by Ira Kohn
Copyright Date: 1976
Pages: 136
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  • Book Info
    Kentucky Quilts and Their Makers
    Book Description:

    Kentucky's contribution to the perennially popular American craft of quiltmaking is a rich and varied one. Mary Clarke examines here the state of the craft in Kentucky and finds it as lively today as it was 150 years ago.

    Like a fingerprint, every Kentucky quilt differs from all others in some respects, whether it is an original creation or a variation of one of the traditional patterns long popular in the United States. And many Kentucky quilts reveal much about the individual maker -- her disposition, taste, and lifestyle, the familiar objects that bring joy to her daily life, and her response to events beyond the confines of family and home.

    Taken as a whole, Kentucky quilts and quilt names reflect the history of the Commonwealth, at every turn showing the intermingling of old and new in the grassroots continuity of an ancient craft that responds to fads and fashions by absorbing and refining them.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-5971-3
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. 1 “It Gives Me Great Pleasure”
    (pp. 1-19)

    The invocation at a state-wide gathering of extension home economists in Lexington in 1975 was a passage from Eliza Calvert Hall’s early twentieth-century novelAunt Jane of Kentucky. In this passage a quilter used her craft as an analogy for living one’s life, and the speaker adapted it effectively to fit her profession. Later, in the informal luncheon conversation, youthful home economist Donna Manning of Bell County remarked, “Quilting is reallyinnow over around Cumberland Gap,” affirming for her region that a craft significant in eastern Kentucky from its pioneer beginnings still survived and thrived there. “Do you know,...

  5. 2 Frugality and Self-sufficiency
    (pp. 20-33)

    Both piecework and quilting are activities that reach too far back into history to establish their beginnings. It seems reasonable to assume that piecework began as a strictly utilitarian salvage activity—sewing together useless scraps to make a piece of cloth large enough to be useful in some way. Quilting, whether by sewing through a cloth sandwich with continuous seams or by some variation of tacking, is a way of making the filler stay in place. It is utilitarian and does not necessarily have anything to do with piecing. The two activities, however, would inevitably come together for making bedcovers...

  6. 3 Their Infinite Variety
    (pp. 34-75)

    You have to have a little artist about you,” a quilter said, explaining the impulse that has kept quilters piecing and quilting bedcovers by hand in an era of readily available and relatively inexpensive machine-made blankets and coverlets. To a tradition-oriented person, as so many native Kentuckians are, sleeping under a “right pretty quilt” made by a member of his family or a neighbor, especially if it is in one of the old familiar patterns, conveys a subtle warmth involved with appreciation of continuity in his cultural heritage. Beauty, it is true, is in the eye of the beholder, and...

  7. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  8. 4 The Extravagant and Extraordinary
    (pp. 76-100)

    Traditional piecework patterns are usually produced without much reference to a particular time or place. A fancy patchwork parlor throw, in contrast, quite often reflects place, time, or theme as well as something about its creator. A commonly executed piecework quilt such as a Nine-Patch or Double Wedding Ring does, of course, reveal a great deal about the skill, patience, and color preferences of its maker, but the traditional nature of the pattern is a relatively fixed form, leaving little room for individual or topical expression. To find a quilt that is necessarily a Kentucky artifact, or one that conveys...

  9. 5 By Any Other Name
    (pp. 101-111)

    The delightful whimsicality expressed in quilt-naming, that carefree riot of verbal creations matching to some degree the visual creations they name, disturbs quilters and quilt-lovers not at all. The seekers after “correct” names in neat categories may find their efforts more frustrating than fruitful. Names of quilt patterns, like names of old songs and favorite recipes that are passed around informally, proliferate and overlap—continually re-emerging, recombining, here and there appearing in print as they show minor variations under new and old names.

    A student struggling with what seemed to her irresponsibly inconsistent behavior on the part of English grammar...

  10. Selected Sources
    (pp. 112-114)
  11. Index to Quiltmakers
    (pp. 115-116)
  12. Index to Pattern Names
    (pp. 117-122)