Crazy Quilt

Dublin Core

Title

Crazy Quilt

Description

Multi color abstract "crazy" quilt or patchwork. Backing is salmon or copper silk handpieced with two seams and light steel green or turqoise fuzzy dots tacked on. Edges are finished with a knife edge then a half inch twisted cording was attached all the way around with three loops at each corner. Quilt patches or panels are made with silks, velvets, watered silks, damasks, ribbon, chenille thread, and embroidery floss. In upper left corner is a spider web, upper right is a multi colored fan, in lower rights is a union jack, in lower left is a horseshoe. Throughout crazy quilt are Utah motifs of a skep beehive, the Salt Lake City LDS temple, Eagle Gate on State Street, a sego lily, and a 1847 pioneer cabin. Other symbols include the pioneer press, a golden harp, an anchor, birds, flowers, leaves, and abstract patterns.

This intricate and unique Utah-themed “crazy quilt” was created by Emma Green Bull, a Utah pioneer from Birmingham, England. Bull came to Salt Lake City in 1853 and worked as a seamstress and actor for the Dramatic Association that performed at Salt Lake’s Social Hall. She married Joseph Bull in 1854 and they had three children.

“Crazy quilting” was a common pastime among wealthy women in the late 19th century. The first crazy quilts appeared at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Initially inspired by Japanese asymmetrical art, they were displayed as symbols of luxury and class rather than used as blankets. Not only were they a way to use scraps of valuable fabrics, the intricate herringbone and feather embroidery techniques took hours of labor and implied to the viewer that the quilter had a wealth of free time and great expertise.

Common symbols used in crazy quilts include natural “fairyland” themes incorporating flowers, butterflies, and birds. Another hallmark is the spiderweb, which could be a symbol of good luck. The most important symbols of crazy quilts, however, are those that are unique to the maker and tell a story of their life. Upon creating this quilt for display at the 1893 Chicago Colombian Exposition Women’s Building, Bull used some symbols from her personal history as an immigrant from England, like the British Union Jack, a gold harp, and an anchor. She also incorporated symbols from Utah to represent her pride as a Utah resident and pioneer: the skep beehive, sego lily, LDS Temple, and Eagle Gate.

After being exhibited in 1893, this quilt came to the Historical Society as an early acquisition sometime before 1960.

Creator

Bull, Emma Green

Source

0000-227-001

Publisher

Utah State Archives

Date

1890

Contributor

Utah Division of State History

Rights

Copyright All Years. Utah Division of State History. All Rights Reserved.

Format

72 x 84 (in)

Collection

Citation

Bull, Emma Green, “Crazy Quilt,” Utah Folk Arts, accessed April 18, 2024, https://utahfolkarts.omeka.net/items/show/78.

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