Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Stars in a Time Warp 45: Corals & Seaweeds


Becky Brown had two colorways of a seaweed print
for her early star reproduction.

Detail of a quilt from the
 International Quilt Study Center and Museum.

Early roller prints contain many examples of prints based on botany. We're most familiar with the floral vegetation on the right, but other plant life forms were also popular subject matter. A coral or seaweed on the left?


Chintz quilt with a mossy trail stripe in the sash and a check border.
Connecticut quilt project. Picture from the Quilt Index

Among the popular patterns “for the spring of 1823 were chiefly mossy trails, stripes, and checks,” recalled Benjamin Hargreaves. Perhaps you could date the quilt above to the early 1820s by the description, but it's probably a Connecticut quilt, so one has to consider a lag time between what was happening in Hargreaves's Britain and America's importation of that taste.

 In 1960, British curator Peter Floud described examples of "lightly printed fern-like attachments or ‘mossy trails’ which were introduced in 1826 and lasted until 1839." He also described late-18th-century dark-ground woodblock prints with "Brightly coloured flowers...set off against moss and fern sprays ....a kind of moss or spray hanging down in great quantities.”

Design from fabric by William Kilburn (1745-1818)
Leafy skeletons or sea moss?

From Susan Greene's collection
Coral? Moss?

A mossy trail?
Block from Fourth Corner Antiques

Another block from the same source.
This was one frugal piecer!
We could classify the largest piece as a mossy trail
or a serpentine stripe.

A vintage Mossy Trail?


Vintage stars set with mossy trails or serpentine stripes.

Coral in the border.

Mid-19th-century family

Other period names were parsley prints, coral prints and seaweed prints.

Becky Brown's repro features seaweed or corals from
two of my reproduction collections for Moda.

Terry's reproduction star. A parsley print in the center?

Parsley or Coral?
End of the 19th century print, same subject matter.
Is that California gold bleeding into the coral print?
Could happen.

A coral print from an early English quilt
in Sally Bramald's collection.

Ackermann's Repository for January, 1811
included a swatch of a coral print on a net ground.
Whether it was a print or an embroidery is unclear from the picture.

A coral print (looks more like kelp) with a rainbow background.
There is a lot going on in this 1840's print
A plaid, a stripe, a rainbow, a check and some underwater vegetation.

Becky's going for the fashionable pattern overload look
of the 1840s here.

 In 1889 American Lucy Larcom recalled a scrap of cotton from a quilt as a "delicate pink and brown sea-moss pattern on a white ground."

A sea-moss print perhaps. Lucy was recalling the mid-19th century.

Fashion for these feathery fern-like plants began
in the 18th century.
And continued into the mid-19th century.
Above and below detail and dress about 1860 from the
collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The scale is remarkable.

The fashion for huge underwater prints faded but as small prints they remained a classic.

Block about 1870-1900
You could see them as something viewed through a microscope.

Moss and seaweeds were revived in neon novelty style about 1900.

Reproductions
Di Ford's Miss Porter's Quilt repro uses one of mine from a line called 1862 Battle Hymn



Di has her own line. of early repros. Look for Cloverdale House
currently in shops.

Randy from Barrister's Block used a serpentine stripe or mossy trail from
 In the Beginning's Circa 1825 collection.

One of my all time favorites from twenty years ago from Pilgrim & Roy

Wrappers by Betsy Chutchian

Lately Arrived from London

What to Do With Your Stack of Stars
Border Them With a Zig-Zag

Here's a glimpse of a star quilt from the mid-19th-century.
The border is unusual but not hard to figure out.

The quilter set her stars on point and alternated with a pink calico.
She cut edge triangles out of the same pink calico.

Cut edge triangles from squares 12-5/8"


Using the same size triangles she made a dark and light border and stitched
the pink side of each border to the field of stars


I drew it in EQ7, using a border design called Points Out.


49 stars = about 67-1/2" square


The corner triangles are cut from 6-5/8" squares.
The four outer corner squares should be cut 4-1/2" (I think!)


One More Thing about Seaweed Prints

Woman in a seaweed dress about 1850
It is hard to believe how fashionable these outrageous prints were.

8 comments:

Debra said...

I love these prints in quilts.. they add a nice texture. I never knew what they were called. Thanks again, Barbara!

Wendy Caton Reed said...

Love the seaweeds. Must be a Maine thing. Lately Arrived From London is one of favorite lines of yours so this will be a fun one. I can't believe that nearly a year has passed. I will be sad to see the stars disappear, but I am looking forward to seeing all the completed quilts in the coming year. I have a special plan for mine which I hope to reveal soon. Thanks so much for your inspiration and dedication to all the quilt history lovers of the world!

The Civil War Quilter said...

Great post! Moss and seaweed prints have always fascinated me in old quilts and tops. Good to know the dating of them. Ah, Pilgrim Roy...I have/had some of their old seaweed prints. They were some of my very favorites. I wish they would be reproduced since I've used some of them to the last bit. Back then the selvage didn't say reproduction, but you just "knew" by the look of them.

Suzanne A said...

Your zig zag border quilt -- is that an example of an antique quilt in which the greatest dimension is the width rather than the length of the quilt, because the top of the bed was so high off the floor and the side overhangs were long? So no zig zag border where the pillow was? If so, I think that placement of the head of the bed is unusual in a quilt's design, if not in the actual orientation of quilts of that period. It's an example to remember.

Gypsy Quilter said...

You bring up a very good point with this interesting article. Where did the influence come from for people who did not have Better Homes and Gardens, TV, internet, etc. Godey's Lady's Book of course was available from 1830-1878, but were there many other publications/sources that influenced color and pattern in clothing and home decorating?

Cynthia@wabi-sabi-quilts said...

These prints are wild and pretty - Thank you Barbara for this wonderful series!

Barbara Brackman said...

Gypsy---there were several fashion magazines in England that were undoubtedly brought to America. See Ackermann's Repository in the post. Very influential.

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