Friday, October 2, 2015

"Levittown, Pennsylvania, After the Big Paint Sale"

Sometimes I give my quilts little nicknames. This 1970s House Quilt is one of those. I call it "Levittown, Pennsylvania, After the Big Paint Sale." For those readers who do not know Levittown, it was a planned community in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and only six models of homes were built, all single-family dwellings with lawns.

Levittown, PA (before the big paint sale) 
It probably would have been helpful to paint the house a distinct color when living in Levittown, where all the houses pretty much looked the same.

this quilt was once part of my collection and sold a few years ago
House quilts, also called Schoolhouse quilts, appeared some time around the third quarter of the 19th century. They are often two-color, red and white or indigo and white, and pieced. Sometimes they come in varied colors like the Schoolhouse quilt from New York, once part of my collection and sold a few years ago to a collector in New York. It is interesting to look at this quilt and the 1970s quilt side-by-side.
two house quilts, c. 1890-1910 (left) & c. 1970 (right) - see the difference?
The older example has more muted colors and each block is two-color. The newer one is more vibrant, with six different solid color fabrics in each block. The older quilt seems to predict Pop Art half a century early, even though it manages to have a traditional feel. The newer quilt seems heavily influenced by Pop Art.

Even though I joke about the quilt being Levittown, Pennsylvania, After the Big Paint Sale, it is not from Pennsylvania. It came from an eBay seller in Texas, part of the early wave of 1970s quilts I collected between 2011 and 2012. Being able to place it in historical context with other house quilts told me a lot about the 1970s. The quilt is 79" x 94" and made of cotton-polyester blend fabrics, all solids.

There are just two more days to see the exhibition "Modern Materials, Quilts of the 1970s" at the Benton County Museum in Philomath, Oregon. TODAY & TOMORROW - THROUGH SATURDAY ONLY!! For more information about the exhibition, location, hours,  and other venues showing quilts during Quilt County 2015, click here.

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