Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tree of Life

While walking the aisles and aisles of hundreds of vendors at International Quilt Festival Houston last October just as I was about to plop exhausted in the nearest chair I was stopped in my tracks, my heart skipped a beat and my 18th century soul swooned. I was staring at the most perfect reproduction of an 18th century chintz medallion quilt built around a totally charming Indian palempore "Tree of Life" panel. On the table in front of me were piles of crisp glazed cotton chintz all reproductions of the 18th century fabrics brought back from India by the Dutch East India Company. 

This fabulous fabric collection was in the Den Haan & Wagenmakers booth manned by two charming Dutch ladies who told me that for more than  25 years Den Haan & Wagenmakers have been  reproducing the 17th and 18th-century indian chintzes which every student of European decorative arts knows revolutionized 18th century clothing and textile styles and European interiors. These fabrics are absolutely faithful copies of the originals, printed in the Netherlands on beautiful quality heavy 100% glazed cotton. They are sold online through their website at      www.dutchquilts.net/  and from their store in Amsterdam.  The store looks so charming It would be worth a special trip!

I made my purchases (in Houston, sadly, not in Amsterdam) which included the Tree of Life panel and a pile of fat quarters of small multicolored floral prints not knowing what I would do with it, but just as surely knowing I had to have it all.... Not an inexpensive purchase, mind you! I also skittered off to the Cherrywood Fabrics stand to buy another pile of their wonderful sueded color saturated hand dyed solids in those great "old" colors that I knew would mix so well with the chintz.

So I've just finished my small quilt with these luscious fabrics. I surrounded the center panel with 4" square in a square blocks which have those great florals as their centers. I free motion quilted the panel following the printed design and added scrolling feathers in the deep burgundy border. It was such a pleasure working with these gorgeous fabrics bringing textile  history a little closer....