Crazy quilt

Eleanor stitched this eclectic quilt on a horse farm in Tennessee for her cousin in 1871 – read the inscription on the back. An embroidered black horse anchors the design, while farm animals, flowers, fish and a butterfly are dotted about. Aside from providing warmth, parents might use it to tell stories to children at bedtime.


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What kinds of stories or memories do you think Eleanor was sharing with her cousin Marjorie when she gave her this quilt?

responded: Jan 25, 2012

Posted by Liz

194
Recommend this Response
This ‘crazy quilt’ is so detailed with fabric, stitching and personal reflection. You can tell how personal it is with the different materials that Eleanor decided to use. It was not a matter of going to the fabric store and picking out the different material that you would like to use. The way the patches are suggests that it is fabric she may have found throughout her house and barn. Fabric from old garments, horse blankets, feed bags, anything that could be found throughout her daily life. The quilt is beautifully made with lots of colour and different sections to show different things. Each section has a new feeling and a new expression of what Eleanor is trying to remind her cousin of. When I analyzed this piece I looked at it as a whole then section by section to really see what memories this quilt may hold. As a whole piece I see the different seasons (shown in the stitching, wheat, snowflakes, brooms and flowers), a garden quality to the whole piece with lots of earth tones and bright flowers. You can see a story progressing throughout the entire quilt. I believe that this entire quilt flows into a story, whether it is a short story or the story of their lives on the farm it means a lot to Marjorie. The lines vary dramatically going from linear to flowing, showing the different emotions of people and the moods within the farm. As I look more closely at this phenomenal piece I really started to see the shapes. The most eye catching is the biggest representation of the family with the horse in the centre. They grew up on a horse farm; this symbol would remind her of her family and may be her favourite horse. The stitching itself looks like it is growing, each area it gets a little bigger and it is like the stages of a garden from seed to plant. There are two ducks with so many different meanings it could have. The girls may have sat by a pond or river looking at the ducks, or maybe it is just a representation of how close they were, like two inseparable ducks. The larger red deer when I first saw it, it made me think of Christmas and some of the reindeer representations we see around. There is a dark butterfly, this could symbolize the passing of a loved one or something as simple as sitting on the porch watch the butterflies in the fields. A red bird is seen in the bottom centre of the piece, it could be a cardinal, if this is true it is a symbol of beauty, hope and love. Below the horse there is a girl sitting with a pet. Most of us have fond memories of our pets, a pet is your best friend when no one else is around and will listen to you. There is a brown shirt that I noticed a little hidden but I do think it is suppose to be there. It is a reminder of the girls work; they may have worn a uniform for work or possibly school. Owls are wonderful creatures full of mystery, my family used to hear them at night and always try and find them. I believe that is true with these girls. Beside the larger horse is a small horse and a girl is standing beside with flowers in her hands. Eleanor and/or Marjorie may have competed on horses or just have gotten to go for a ride and pick flowers. There is a rooster, which we all know to be a staple on the farm. Fish are represented and they may have just gone fishing in the pond. In most of my interpretations I have classed this family as a middle class family. Through the representations that I see and the way they are portrayed it seems like these girls have gotten to do these things. They may not have gotten to participate in them regularly but they still were able to experience the feelings and activities. At the same time Eleanor and Marjorie could have fantastic imaginations and they are able to think up these wonderful activities to do and they are now represented on this beautiful gift.

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