LS: Art of Quilting Column November 16, 2008

Chintz collection traces textile markets, trade

So important were cotton fabrics to men and women in the late 1600s that the British government banned their import from India. Those politicians, much like our 21st century legislators, found themselves in a pickle over trade agreements.

At first the printed cottons were used in bartering for Indian spices. But the cloth with its glazed or polished finish became so popular in England and France that those countries’ wool and silk markets began to suffer, according to research from the International Quilt Study Center of Lincoln,

That’s when Britain’s government said, “no more.” Meanwhile, European manufacturers worked hard to develop dyeing methods to produce their own version of these fabrics, which were called chintz. By the mid-1700s, Britain had cornered the market.

Chintz is characterized as a print with rich colors of flowers and foliage on a neutral background.

Today, we are likely to see this fabric as large-scale florals with a glazed finish used in home décor.

American quilters made chintz appliqué quilts with British fabric until the 1830s when U.S. factories started producing affordable materials.

Now these 19th century quilts are highly regarded for their craftsmanship and vibrant colors and are some of the largest quilts ever made in America.

An exhibition of 21 of them is scheduled Nov. 22 through May 17 at the International Quilt Study Center and Museum on the east campus of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Titled “Chintz Applique: From Imitation to Icon,” the display showcases quilts made circa 1790–1850 from Philadelphia, Baltimore, Virginia and the Carolinas.

Several programs also are planned to coincide with the exhibit. Kriss Moulds, a teacher certified by the National Quilting Association, will teach a Chintz Applique workshop from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on March 7, 14 and 21. The cost is $50 for members, $55 for nonmembers.

At 5:30 p.m. May 1, Rosemary Crill, senior curator in the Asian department at Great Britain’s Victoria and Albert Museum, will lecture on “Chintz: Indian Textiles for the West.” Admission is free.

Public guided tours of the exhibition are at 11 a.m. Wednesdays and at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturdays. Tours are free with museum admission. These should be scheduled at least four weeks in advance by calling 402-472-6579 or e-mailing .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Seeing the museum itself would be worth the trip to the Cornhusker capital in my opinion. It opened in its new location earlier this year, where more than 2,300 quilts are housed in the largest publicly held collection in the world.

It’s one destination that’s definitely on my travel agenda.

E-mail Sherida.Warner


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