Harriet’s quilt

Day 26 – the colours used to describe this quilt are pumpkin, merlot and slate grey..

I follow an artist/designer called Este MacLeod who often suggests different colour combinations for artists to play with, that she has found through studying the work of historical artists. Recently she chose the above combination and the quilts of Harriet Powers.

Harriet Powers was born in 1837. She made the quilt below and at least one other after she was freed from slavery. She used an applique technique with dyed and printed cotton fabrics stitched onto cotton. The quilt is made up of 299 pieces of fabric, divided into eleven picture panels that each tell a biblical story. When she had to sell the quilt for five dollars because of financial difficulties, she told the buyer what each of the panels represented. This is known as the Bible Quilt.

I enjoy the simple narrative style of this quilt and the overall use of muted colours with the contrasting slate blue grey and the touches of merlot red and pumpkin.

Her other known quilt is the Pictorial Quilt which is divided into fifteen panels , some of which are biblical and some of which relate to contemporary historical incidents.

We again find the same significant blend of colours and simple design. It’s a soothing restful combination with just the contrast of the brighter pumpkin orange catching the eye here and there.

Here are three examples of other artists who have now combined this blend of colours into their own unique design.

SOL22

6 thoughts on “Harriet’s quilt

  1. Every one of these artworks is just magnificent. I can read those Bible story pictures…profound in their simple depiction. Like you, the earthy color palette appeals to me.I wonder what those quilts are worth now?? Earlier this week I read Kim Johnson’s slice about totems in Alaska as homage to the preservation of stories; to me the totems seemed to express honor and gratitude. I have that sense again now with these quilts. Deeply spiritual. The flowers here, so stunning – what people can create takes my breath away. Thank you for the spiritual artistry.

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    1. Thank you for reading again and commenting at length. Apparently there are only two of her quilts still in existence and they are in the Fine Arts museum in Boston, so I guess they should be priceless, even if only made with simple cheap fabric. Yes, the Bible story pictures are very clear and dramatic. Like you I am in awe of people’s powers of creativity.

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  2. You have me thinking about other art forms that tell stories. . . I’m also a quilter, but I haven’t made time for in in years. Like the examples you share here, I prefer to create my own designs rather than replicating more pattern-based quilts. There is something about the colors of quilting that fills me up as a creative person. Thank you so much for sharing this today!

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  3. Thank you for teaching us a bit about both Este McLeod (what a cool focus — historical colors!) and Harriet Powers! I love the color palette of slate gray/pumpkin/merlot — so unexpected and chic. Very cool how you looped in the other works of art at the end, too. Circular and meaningful. Great slice!

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    1. Thanks for reading again, Amy and your appreciative comments. Yes, I love colour combinations presented through the eye of an artist, because who ever would have thought of combining those colours?!

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