Since I’m on a mission this year to look for inspiration in art, I thought I’d share my finds with you. I can’t promise one every week, but I’ll try. First up is the recent “War and Pieced” exhibit that features quilts made of military fabrics by soldiers during wartime, principally the 19th century. Military fabrics then were scraps of wool felt from uniforms.
The use of wool felt allowed makers to butt pieces together without seam allowances. The felt pieces used are extremely small, some no more than one inch square.
Artist unidentified, Soldier’s Mosaic Stars Quilt (Found in Germantown, Pennsylvania, late 19th century), wool, 77 1/4 x 62 3/4 in (Collection International Quilt Study Center & Museum, University of Nebraska-Lincoln)
It seems hard to believe that soldiers had the time and inclination to take on such large projects, but I have to recall that 19th century warfare was different than today’s. The bright colors used for uniforms were to help soldiers identify the locations of their own troops, not to conceal like today’s camouflage outfits. The painting below seems to indicate that sewing helped some convalescing soldiers while away the time.
Annette Gero, an Australian whose collection forms part of the exhibit, has published a 2015 book, “Wartime Quilts: Appliqués and Geometric Masterpieces From Military Fabrics,” which traces a history of war quilts. I don’t know who carries it in the U.S. Amazon certainly doesn’t.
While I’m thrilled that these quilts are in the spotlight, the 1970s feminist side of me thinks, wouldn’t you know it, the big ticket exhibit features quilts made by men.
The exhibit, which was at the American Folk Art Museum in New York City, just closed, but you can catch it next at the International Quilt Study Center & Museum, University of Lincoln–Nebraska from May 25–September 16, 2018.