Thursday, September 5, 2013

Barbara Brackman - Quilt Historian

Barbara Brackman

Over twenty years ago at an antique show and sale I fell in love with textile history.  The show was housed in and for the benefit of an historic house in a small New England town.  As a member of our local quilt guild, I was attending a booth selling quilt publications.  Also a vendor who was a fellow guild member  sold vintage textiles including a very impressive selection of vintage quilts.

What I was especially intrigued by was the description of each quilt with its approximate date of creation.  While I could see the obvious distinction between 20th  century pastel and “cute” printed fabrics and the more formal, somber characteristics of 19thC quilts, I didn’t understand the more subtle nuances that allowed for accurate dating.

When I commented on this to a friend and said I was really interested in dating quilts, she recommended the first resource book I ever purchased on textile history: Clues in the Calico by Barbara Brackman.

My background was in science and medicine and I was familiar with research material.  I found to my delight Brackman’s approach was very user friendly, written for the interested reader, not necessarily, the expert.

The more I studied textiles, the more I realized that the subject of textile history was a perfect fit for me and I have enjoyed every course, workshop, conference and reference article I have encountered since.  After those twenty years I still find enormous information to research and immense quantities of textiles to examine.

My hero, Barbara Brackman, was always interested in history and preservation.  She was a member of the National Trust and a founding member of the Kansas Grassroots Art Association in 1974.  Her passionate interest in quilt history lead her to become a founding member of the American Quilt Study Group, and was inducted into the Quilter’s Hall of Fame in 2001.

Brackman has written over a dozen books on the topic of quilt history and currently designs reproduction vintage fabrics for Moda.

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