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American Folk Art Museum: Year of the Quilt

The American Folk Art Museum has named 2011 the Year of the Quilt. Learn more about three quilts from its collection. 


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Appliqué Clues

These appliqué templates cut from newsprint were found with Bird of Paradise (dated 1858–1863), the quilt top they were used to create. See the quilt top. Because a template of a male figure is part of the collection but was not incorporated into the design, Elizabeth speculates the Civil War Era quilt was intended for a wedding that may never have taken place. Some of these templates, such as the elephant, suggest the quiltmaker may have been influenced by a traveling circus. Later findings have verified that an elephant named Hanible traveled in a circus in the Hudson Valley region of New York state, where the quilt most likely was made, during the same time period.

Photo: Bird of Paradise templates. Artist unidentified. Vicinity of Albany, New York; 1858–1863. Gift of the trustees, 1979.7.1. Courtesy of Rizzoli and the American Folk Art Museum.