Friday, October 11, 2019

"...rainbows are so overdone..."

Recently, I heard someone say, "...rainbows are so overdone..." when discussing trends in modern quiltmaking. The interesting thing is, while many quilts have all the colors of the rainbow, rainbows as pictorial elements are uncommon in quilts, especially in examples made before the 1960s or 1970s.

This pictorial hexagon quilt from Pennsylvania has a unique rainbow, which comes to a point like a roof. It is one of several intriguing elements in the larger image. The quilt was made some time around the turn of the century, c. 1900, and seems to represent secular Christian beliefs.

Another pictorial quilt, made in the 1930s in Ohio, has a rainbow in the upper left, arching over a green mountain. The quilt combines a variety of patchwork elements seen in block style quilts, creating the image of a log cabin with an American flag flying out front. The rainbow is representative of an idealist image of the American homestead.

Rainbows start to appear in quilts more often in the 1960s and 1970s, but they are still uncommon. This 1970s pictorial quilt has a rainbow emerging from a cloud in the sky, with the sun, snowcapped mountains and a field of green at the base. Like the 1930s quilt, the image is representative of idealism, Shangri-La, a perfect world.

Another 1970s quilt with a rainbow is most likely a published pattern or a kit. I have seen several of these quilts around. They were made as wallhangings. Even though they look like one-of-a-kind originals, they are not.

Next week, one more quilt with a rainbow motif will arrive. It is coming from an eBay seller in Connecticut, and although it is a block style quilt, the blocks are pictorial with moons, stars, suns and rainbows.

rainbow fabric I made using Spoonflower fabric printing on demand
Over the years, I have acquired almost every antique and vintage rainbow quilt I've seen for sale. These quilts always jump out because they are so unusual. So, to the person who said rainbows are "overdone", that may be the case with today's quilts, but it's a rarity among antique and vintage quilts.

1 comment:

  1. What an odd thing to say! As an element of nature, this would be like saying, "Flowers are so overdone." As a color combination, this would be like saying "Muted colors are so overdone." It sounds like someone just doesn't care for rainbows personally and is trying to justify their displeasure by calling it "overdone." Kind of a Quilt Police phrase, hm? :)