Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Naturalist Quilt

My husband didn't actually use the word "overkill," but his look said it all. Not surprisingly, I'm not even sure that I like how this "quilt" came out. I did the whole thing over a period of three days--this included finding images, ironing (*lots* of ironing), quilting, binding, and...hmm...adding stuff when I wasn't satisfied with how my "draft" was looking. (I went through some of my vintage clothes to find the 1940s stocking and handkerchief; I "distressed" [ha ha] the handkerchief with some tea and lipstick.)

On its own, it's certainly not overkill, but my whole reason for making the thing was so that I could show my students that I was willing to do the kind of work that I was asking them to do. I do hope that some of them got as lost in their work as I did in mine, but given just how "generous" my enthusiasms are, I have to keep in mind the likelihood that they didn't.

A lot of the text comes from academic Home Economics articles from the 1920s through the 1940s, and from the Delineator magazine (which Theodore Dreiser edited in the 1910s--I think he was long gone by the time this material was published.) The Delineator ran a section on how credit and installment buying were changing American consumption patterns, with articles that painted (relatively) easy access to credit as either the savior or the potential downfall of the U.S. public. Alongside the didactic materials on home management and budgeting, I used lots and lots of images from pulp novels and magazines, along with some government notices about food and cloth rationing, and blown-up, fragmented snapshots of American women (from the "vernacular photography" site Square America). The quilt is bound with a comic strip print--it's what I had around, but I liked it because it has the words "I'll get you next time!," which seems to fit the hell-in-a-handbasket spirit of American naturalism.

1 comment:

Tony said...

I love this quilt, and it's SO you. It reminds me of all those cool school-box jewelry cases you used to make with the covers of novels shellacked onto them. (And of course my treasured coffee can, decorated with all your Red Rocks tickets, pictures of X, the B-52s, etc.)