Monday, November 1, 2010

Chalice / Goblet Quilt, c. 1910, from Missouri

Chalice / Goblet Quilt, c. 1910, from Missouri
About a month ago, I blogged about the Goblets quilt pattern and the Drunkard's Path. Both patterns had been identified as symbols of the Women's Christian Temperance Union as anti-alcohol messages, and it didn't make sense to me that these patterns were invented by the WCTU as such.


The discussion trailed off with a theory I presented to the group discussing these patterns, and it was that I felt the WCTU adopted pre-existing patterns as vehicles for their political messages. Others seemed to agree. The basis for my theory was the way the imagery was presented, the celebration of the Goblet, the humor in the trail blazed by the Drunkard's Path.

I looked at these patterns in this way because my orientation toward quilts is as a student of art history from a family of collectors, and as a lover of art. I see quilts as great works of art, and feel quilts are truly the most indigenous form of American art expression. I feel the quilt makers, not the painters, invented modernism and non-objective art. I feel quilt makers invented pop art, decades before the pop art movement.


This Chalice / Goblet quilt came from Ann Durley of Mostly Quilts in Independence, Oregon. Originally, it came from Missouri. I had seen it last summer at the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show in Sisters, Oregon but couldn't buy it because my bank account was really tapped out at the time. Luckily, when I attended the Palmer/Wirfs Antique Expo over the weekend, Ann was there and she had the quilt. It had even been marked down from $225 to $185. Once again, lucky me!! I love this quilt because the goblets are facing both right side up and upside down.


Earlier today, I was speaking with a friend and I asked her, "Why me? Why do these great quilts just seem to find me? Why do the amazing stories fall into my lap the way they do? What in the world did I do to deserve such good fortune?" She told me it is because my heart is open. What a wonderful thing to say. If my heart wasn't open already, it is now.

7 comments:

  1. I read somewhere that these "goblets" also could be read as decanters, as in wine decanters when turned on their heads. Do you agree? or did I make this up?

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  2. LOL, you may have read it in my Oct. 11 blog. Someone else told me the upside-down goblets looked like biscuit cutters, a "southern" thing on this side of the pond. I <3 this quilt because there's no need to flip it. You can see both directions when it is displayed on a wall.

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  3. Sounds to me you like rescuing the obscure that has a story to tell- If only we ever knew what that story was for real.

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  4. I think it is researchable based on pattern publication dates and WCTU historical notes, but I'll leave that to someone who specializes in those topics. It's likely that the first publication of the pattern was by Carrie Hall or the KC Star. if pattern publishers had any political agendas, they probably didn't match those of the WCTU.

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  5. Just found a reference to the "tumbler" block. It might be of interest.
    http://quilthistorytidbits--oldnewlydiscovered.yolasite.com/drunkards-path-and-t-quilts.php

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  6. Hi Lynn, thank you very much for the link. Author Wilene Smith is the person who had initiated the group discussion that I was part of, and the date of the article is from around the time of the discussion. So it's good to see what she was able to discover. Since learning about the WCTU and the theories about these quilt patterns, I've doubted the theories because it seems to me that any political or social message would be much more overt than it is in any of these patterns.

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  7. I have a quilt with this pattern and it's old but I don't know how old. I don't know how to post a photo of it or I would. Mine also has the goblets pointed both directions and is on a background of blue.

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