Saturday, March 03, 2018

Celebrity Autographs Quilt (1856–ca.1863)

In 1856, seventeen-year-old Adeline Harris of Rhode Island decided to make a quilt incorporating hundreds of celebrity autographs.

Adeline Harris, around the time she began the quilt. 

She posted small diamonds of white silk to celebrities far and wide with an explanation of her project and a request that they sign and send it back to her. She created a trompe l’oeil tumbling block design quilt from the returned autographed fragments. She received 360 signed pieces in total, including those from such luminaries as Jacob Grimm, Alexander von Humboldt, Charles Dickens, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Abraham Lincoln (one of eight American presidents represented).
“She stitched the individual diamonds into blocks, then connected the blocks into columns, and finally seamed the columns together across the entire width. In total, she cut and stitched 1,840 individual silk pieces to create the quilt… [and used] more than one hundred and fifty different silk fabrics." 
The quilt is now part of the Metropolitan Museum’s collection of American quilts and coverlets.
More: The Public Domain Review


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