Presenters 

Virginia Gunn

McCall’s Role in the
Early Twentieth-Century Quilt Revival


Virginia Gunn

The McCall Publishing Company, one of the nineteenth-century pioneers in the paper pattern industry, played a significant role in the 1920s and 1930s quilt revival under the leadership of Elisabeth May Blondel, who edited the company’s needlework magazine from 1924 to 1952. This paper traces the history of the company from its formation in the early 1870s to the mid-1950s, with analysis of the company’s responses to changing challenges and opportunities and with special emphasis on those related to quilt offerings. The decisions and related publications gradually became an important component of its pattern business. The company attracted and kept leaders and editors who responded quickly and in positive ways to trends and to readers changing interests. The “fashion business” foundation James McCall established in the 1870s and 1880s proved to be a strong one.

Virginia Gunn is a professor of Clothing, Textiles, and Interiors in the School of Family and Consumer Sciences at the University of Akron in Ohio. She teaches courses on the history of costume and fashion, the history of interior design, and material-culture studies. She holds a B.S. in home economics education from Kansas State University, a M.S. in applied art from Syracuse University, and a Ph.D. in history from the University of Akron. She is a past president (1990-93) and board member (1984-94) of the American Quilt Study Group and edited Uncoverings from 1994 to 2003. Her publications focus on quilts, coverlets, and women’s history.

Pamela Weeks

One Foot Square, Quilted and Bound
The Search for the Origin of Potholder Quilts


P Weeks

The search for the origin of potholder quilts, made by finishing blocks individually and sewing them together to make a quilt, began with the author’s accidental acquisition of a silk quilt dated 1847, and the need for information about this unusual construction technique. Continued acquisition and research produced a rich grouping of quilts and blocks made before 1950. Examples were found in books and exhibit catalogs, by interviewing collectors and by posting on internet sites and web-based discussion groups dedicated to quilt history.

Potholder quilts originated in New England, most certainly from Maine, and are a part of the signature quilt fad that began in the second quarter of the nineteenth century. They are also a subcategory of quilt-as-you-go, a method of making quilts in smaller sections that are joined to make a larger quilt. While a written source for a pattern or technique was not found, many clues are presented here that make further potholder quilt research necessary.

Pam is a quilter and fiber artist and is a state-juried member of the league of NH Craftsmen. For eight years she was the executive director of ABC Quilts in Northwood, NH. ABCQ‘s dual mission was to send handmade quilts to babies and young children around the world born HIV positive or drug affected.

She is a quilt historian and in 2004, with co-author Lorie Chase, published in Uncoverings, “A Blue Hills Quilt—To Miss Charlotte Hawkins”.

Her volunteer experience includes membership and past-president of the Weeks Brick House Association of Greenland, NH, the Historic District Commission for the Town of Durham, and the Durham Historical Society.

Pam lives Durham, NH, with partner Jerry Chase for part of each year, and for the rest, travels in the US in an recreational vehicle.

Anita Loscalzo

Prussian Blue: Its Development
as a Colorant and Use in Textiles


Anita Loscalzo

The discovery of Prussian blue, the first mineral color, around 1706, initiated a quest to develop it a sa pigment for artists and as an alternative to indigo for coloring textiles. Its popularity as a colorant for textiles coincided with improved printing and dyeing processes developed in Europe and adopted in the United States during the first half of the nineteenth century. American and European fabrics printed or dyed with Prussian blue appear most frequently in quilts made in the United States between 1830 and the mid-1850s, correlating with the textiles found in women’s dresses for everyday use. Scattered remnants appear in pieces quilts made in the United States after the Civil War. This paper traces the development of Prussian blue from a chemical curiosity to a major colorant of textiles manufactured in the nineteenth century, and its subsequent appearance in quilts.

Anita B. Loscalzo, an independent quilt historian and exhibition curator, is the former Curator of the New England Quilt Museum in Lowell, Massachusetts. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Art History from the University of Pennsylvania, a Master of Science degree in Library Science from Drexel University, and a Master of Arts degree in Textiles, Clothing, and Design from the University of Nebraska. She is a member of the American Quilt Study Group and the Alliance for American Quilts. She has previously published in Uncoverings, was a contributing author to Massachusetts Quilts: Our Common Wealth, and has organized the exhibition, “Contemporary Broderie Perse,” which will be shown at the New England Quilt Museum and the National Quilt Museum in 2010.

Nao Nomura

The Making of Japanese Quilts: Development of Quiltmaking in Japan since the 1970s


Nao Nomura

This paper discusses how quilts, a form of material culture perceived as quintessentially American by many Japanese quiltmakers, became localized in the Japanese cultural context by examining the development of contemporary quiltmaking in Japan in three phases. The first is the “Introduction” phase when American quilts were widely introduced to Japanese audiences in the 1970s. This was followed by the “Dissemination” phase when quiltmaking became popularized through the establishment of “quilt schools” in the 1980s and the subsequent “Localization” phase when some Japanese quiltmakers began to explore their own aesthetic values in the 1990s and afterwards.

Despite the conspicuous presence of Japanese quiltmakers in the current quilt market in the united States and around the world, their quiltmaking style today was adopted from American quilting traditions only about 40 years ago. I argue that Japanese women, once rather passive consumers of American culture, have become active agents who now participate in the making of a new and more hybrid quiltmaking culture that is being formed as a result of the global circulation of the knowledge and information of quilts as well as the movement of quiltmakers and quilts.

Nao Nomura is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Area Studies at the University of Tokyo, Japan. She holds an MA in Textile History/Quilt Studies and Museum Studies from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Before returning to her home country to pursue an academic career, she served as Collections Manager at the International Quilt Study Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln from 2004 to 2007. She is a recipient of the 2010-2011 Fulbright grant for doctoral dissertation research with affiliation at Temple University and the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown College. During her Fulbright tenure, she is conducting research and fieldwork in several Lancaster County, Pennsylvania Amish settlements to explore change in the aesthetics and function of quilts within the Amish community since the late twentieth century.

Jonathan Gregory

Wrapped in Meanings:
Quilts for Families of Soldiers Killed in the
Afghanistan and Iraq Wars


Jonathan Gregory

There are three grassroots quiltmaking projects that endeavor to make a quilt for the family of each American service member who was killed in the Operation Iraqi Freedom - the Iraq War - (and also Operation Enduring Freedom - the Afghanistan War - in the latter two cases): Marine Comfort Quilts, Operation Homefront Quilts, and Home of the Brave Quilt Project. The projects are national in scope and have similar missions. An oral history project was conducted with the founders of each project and eight other persons, each active in one project, to gain insight into the meanings quiltmakers found in amking and giving quilts and the meanings of the quilts to the makers. A careful reading of interview transcripts reveals thematic similarities across the projects regarding the meanings of the quilts and quiltmaking. These meanings are imbedded in a process that translates quiltmakers’ strong emotional responses evoked by the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq into messages of comfort and care expressed toward grieving military families. The messages take the form of words and symbols that are integral to the quilts and through the inherent meanings of quilts as an iconic cultural form.

Jonathan Gregory is pursuing a Ph.D. in Human Sciences with a specialization in Textiles, Clothing & Design at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He has served as curatorial assistant at the International Quilt Study Center & Museum at UNL since 2007, where he contributed to American Quilts in the Modern Age, 1870-1940 and co-curated the accompanying exhibition. He is curator of an American war-time quilts exhibition scheduled in 2012 and an exhibition of Nebraska quiltmaker Ernest B. Haight’s quilts in 2013.

Gregory is the author of “The Joy of Beauty: The Creative Life and Quilts of Rose Kretsinger,” in Uncoverings 2007, and a chapter on war-time quiltmaking in Speaking the Unspeakable: Maternal Experiences of Trauma (forthcoming). Gregory earned an MA in Textile History with an emphasis in Quilt Studies from University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a BS in Human Resources Management from Friends University, Wichita, Kansas. He entered the field of textile history after a career in human resources and business management.