07 May, 2014

Overdyed Quilts

Go read this, then look at the pictures here, and come back for a conversation.

Blasphemous or creative? Destructive or rejuvenating?

Talk amongst yourselves.

49 comments:

elle said...

hmmm! They have a certain beauty that the hodge podge of colours hides. I might prefer a different colouring but I do like them/

Jenn said...

I like them enough...but not enough to pay a couple hundred bucks for them. They're not my style, and I think it's sort of a waste to completely dye an old quilt...

Toni Macomb said...

No thank you! I think it is destructive to do this to old quilts. That was not the quilters/artists intention when she worked hours on a quilt. IF this appeals to you, make your own quilt and then over dye it. I can see the attraction of these quilts but please....not on the oldies!

Cory said...

I agree with Toni. Please don't do that to antique quilts. If you want and like that look, make a new quilt and overdye it. Thank you for bringing this to our attention. Take care and God bless, Cory

Tina Short said...

I'm with Toni - there is so much history in the old quilts, they should be valued for what they are, part of our heritage. I can see the appeal of indigo dyed quilts and I love 'modern' quilting but I think that old quilts are worth more in their original state.

Svetlana said...

not sure if dyeing old quilts would be the route I'd choose but it does make me want to make a black/ very dark quilt.

Andrea said...

I completely agree with the above re the artistry, etc, but I'm going out on a limb here. I freaking love them!! I think if they are stuck in a box in an attic and not being appreciated, then bring them out and give them a facial. When we move into someone's old house, do we keep the original floors and counter tops? Do we keep those original curtains? What about those small tiny closets and the bathrooms? NOPE! No one argues about resanding and replacing the floors, or banging out a wall for more bathroom or closet space. What about those arborite counters? - yep, marble or granite! We still keep the 'bones' of the home, but we modernize it - to appreciate the bones,and be able to keep them out and open for others to enjoy as well. So, why not keep that quilt and it's wonderful intricacies of hand quilting and piecing, and give it a fresh update for people to appreciate more? I HOPE my quilts get an indigo wash one day in the far future! LOL

Brenda said...

I'm unsure what I think.I don't really like the look of the indigo-overdye, since it seems very dark. I was just at a quilt show where the quiltmaker overdyed her new quilt to make it look old. The cynical part of me thinks this is all marketing -- old ripped quilt -- worth $20, old dyed quilt, worth $400.

Staci said...

Personally, I don't like the look of it. I would not want this in my home.
Although I know that not every old quilt is an heirloom, and many are in terrible shape having been stored away in attics or used like a rag these photos make me feel so SAD.
It would make ME sad is some one took a quilt I made and did this too it, so I guess it is a good thing I'd be long gone when my quilts hit ANTIQUE stage!

I can't imagine this dying process is good for antique fibers either. Most antique quilts are already in a fragile state.

mjb said...

I think it adds new depth to quilts that may have been considered unusable due to staining, fading, etc. Plus, they could be repaired with newer fabrics and the differences would be hidden.

Emily C said...

I don't care for the color, but I can see where this is a kind of upcycling. My father used to buy old cast iron frying pans, and clean them, then resell them for a profit. Some people like this sort of thing, I assume (since many are sold out), but I think it is a shame to lose all those beautiful antique colors.

Josie McRazie said...

What a shame! What would the Mona Lisa look like if we did this? If you want a quilt that looks like that (some of them look beautiful) then make one! Don't dye these beauties and call it anything more than what it is... distruction!

stitchinpenny said...

I don't like it, but I don't like some quilts that other people make. I am sorry her base is a quilt that may have greater value to me before dyeing, but some people may think I am wasting fabric the way I make quilts. Art is such a personal thing. The quilts are being sold at a price that she feels comfortable risking to buy them, so someone else that had less respect for them may have used them for something even less palatable to me. Lady in my town bought a vintage quilt for her dog who is a nervous traveler - he chewed it up. I am very torn in the good and bad.

Maureen M said...

I will go with blasphemous on this one. May they look better in person, but to my eye they look ruined.

MariQuilts said...

Sorry....they just look like a bunch of dark quilts to me. Maybe the photographs don't do them justice but I'm not impressed.

Anonymous said...

They're just quilts. I think people get too uppity about old quilts. Yes, some antique quilts have incredible value. Many (most) others do not. Antique does not mean priceless or precious. It just means old. Some people will like the overdyed effect, some people will not. That definitely doesn't make them "blasphemous" (which is a very different thing than "unappealing".) Also, it seems kind of presumptuous to assume that the original quilt maker would be offended. Maybe he or she would love it! My rule about the quilts I make is that once one is out of my hands the owner is free to do whatever he or she wants with it.

Becky (My Fabric Obsession) said...

hmm... my initial reaction is to cringe. But I'm thinking of quilts that have value to me aka - my grandmothers. I suppose if the quilt doesn't really have a value (sentimental or monetary) then it would be okay with me. They sure are selling like hotcakes!

Nell's Quilts said...

I like the ones that look like they have been made from a chambray but not the ones that have muddied the original colours. Not all antiques are of equal value. Anyone who watches Antiques Road Show realizes that some antiques have sentimental value not monetary value. If the quilt is an antique and being sold off it can't have sentimental value for the seller and the buyer/overdyer is creating a new art form and attaching a value to the "new" quilt. I think this new style might appeal to someone who is looking for a dramatic statement or has eclectic tastes.

JJ said...

The owner of Shark Tooth has obviously been collecting these antique quilts for some time. They must have been cast away by their owners or left behind. I think she is just trying to breathe new life into these quilts so that they can be enjoyed by a new set of owners. Everyone has the option to collect antique quilts, so if you don't like the over-dyeing process, collect your own and do what you like with them.

audrey said...

Very interesting. I can see why they might have a certain appeal to people not interested in the traditional look. For myself though, I'm pretty ecstatic to see the original fabric prints/colors in all of my quilts.:)

Barbe said...

i like the idea, though maybe not on vintage. but i myself have in the planning a quilt that i am going to over dye black. i was planning on making a quilt for my mom, fabric and pattern planned, she died in Dec. before i could start it so now my plan is to make it with the fabric dyed black. i like how the shades of the different colors make it look.

Mary Stanfield said...

I've seen old linens and laces dyed and reused. Those seem wonderful to me. But ... there's something almost "sacreligious" about overdying the whole quilts. Maybe it's because I feel a connection to quilt makers, their hands, their choices, their lives.

liz said...

I agree with Andrea who said,
"I think if they are stuck in a box in an attic and not being appreciated, then bring them out and give them a facial. When we move into someone's old house, do we keep the original floors and counter tops? Do we keep those original curtains? What about those small tiny closets and the bathrooms? NOPE! No one argues about resanding and replacing the floors, or banging out a wall for more bathroom or closet space. What about those arborite counters? - yep, marble or granite! We still keep the 'bones' of the home, but we modernize it - to appreciate the bones,and be able to keep them out and open for others to enjoy as well. So, why not keep that quilt and it's wonderful intricacies of hand quilting and piecing, and give it a fresh update for people to appreciate more? I HOPE my quilts get an indigo wash one day in the far future! LOL"

This is kind of my life philosophy too - better done imperfectly than undone, awaiting "perfection" of a skill. If it extends the life of the quilt, I think it's fine. I think a lot of the joy for a quilter is in the act of creation.

Dianne said...

Re-purposing of something no longer deemed "useful" (for whatever reason)is at the heart of the quilting tradition. Giving these unused quilts a new lease on life is wonderful.

Christina Wakefield said...

Well, it is certainly a way to get the more lurid quilts of the 60s-80s back into use in a more modern household, and some of the ones on the website look really interesting, but others just look bad. With inconsistent results like that, I would be afraid to dye anything really good. That being said, my grandma made a whole lot of wholecloth quilts, many of which were well used and have been stained over the years, dying them would make them usable again and would not ruin the quilting, which was the focus of the quilt anyway.

Sewing In CT said...

I have a quilt that I bought for $20 at a thrift shop. It was made in the 40's. It has a certain charm but is a drab olive-ish color partly because it is so faded. I keep it because I am sentimental, but I don't love it.
I am not opposed to doing this to old / ugly quilts that people don't use - it will give them a second life. I believe in re-purposing things.
I am not sure I like the blue color - some of them seemed dark and depressing. Maybe if it was dyed with woad...?

Lauren M. said...

Well, this certainly sparked a conversation! I think I would like them better, seeing them 'live' as opposed to on a screen. I ended up doing something like this a few years ago and did like the result. And some of those old quilts wouldn't fit in many rooms.

Sewing In CT said...

To: Barbe
Re your post: So sorry about your loss. Love your quilt idea.
I hope it brings you comfort.

Jennifer said...

oh, dear! I don't think I'm a fan of this, have to say... I wouldn't want that done to my quilts. but, then again, it's only fabric, and as someone said, most old quilts are not "valuable" they're just old... interesting- but I would not do this. (or buy one. I think they're drab)

Mary-Kay Colman said...

Do I like this? NO! It looks so drab and colourless, like looking through dark tinted glass. Who wants all that darkness when quilts are so bright and colourful. And if I wanted a quilt that coloured, I would make it that coloured. Actually they look like the fabric ran. What a shame to ruin those old quilts!

CitricSugar said...

I'm of two minds on this - equally excited and horrified. It would depend, of course, on the quilt in question. If it has value, leave it be. If not, why not? You wouldn't turn a first edition David Copperfield into a book safe or decoupage with its pages, you wouldn't paint the trim white in a Frank Lloyd Wright, or reupholster a pristine vintage Eames chair BUT the eighth reprint of Lester and Janine Solve a Mystery is fair game. As are the baseboards in most houses, and any non-value vintage furniture.

Mind you, having seen what people can do by making blocks only in shades of one colour, I'm more likely to make a quilt doing that than dying it and risking indigo rub-off on my furniture and bed linens. More power to the dyers as long as they dye responsibly. :-)

PS - anything made with those fabrics with the photo-realistic veggies and fruits printed on them probably should be over-dyed. Where did those come from and why won't they go away?

lmno said...

Horrors. To my eye quite a shame. Thanks for enlightening me.

Lynda Halliger Otvos (Lynda M O) said...

I like them. The brightness of scrap quilts can be a turn-off for some and this way of tempering the colors can make them more palatable for those with a more refined taste for decor. What a cool idea !~!

Rose said...

Awful... I'm thinking she's going for a whole cloth look and they just look horrible to me. That Grandmothers Flower Garden IMHO is ruined and the crazy amount of work that some one put into that quilt. Ugh! I'm really just appalled and someone pays for these? Holy Moley... nuts! I think if she actually did whole cloth work on indigo.. then that would be lovely.

Elsa said...

Oh no, I don't like them. So sad to see all these lovely old quilts ruined.

Victoria said...

I'm totally cool with it. I love the idea of adding another "layer' to the quilt's evolution. I'd much rather see a quilt kept whole and intact like this, then cut up and made into a pillow. And I'd much rather see a quilt get out of the attic and the box and be used, hung, viewed and appreciated.

I think our tendency to want to enshrine the originals, (keeping them pristine at all costs, even if that cost means out of sight) is a damn shame. Quilts have souls, and to keep them in protective bubbles is to not allow that soul to breath and live, to age and grow, and to evolve. Quilts tell a story, not just of their conception and birth, but of the life that they have lived. I say bravo to her for breathing new life into these quilts and giving them a second chapter.

I also think that these quilts will be even more visually interesting over the years to follow, as the dye color fades, either from sun exposure or washing, thus allowing a bit more color variation to come forth. I can just imagine the exciting beauty of them at that point.

Great discussion Cheryl, thanks for starting it!

Cristina Hogarth said...

I think they look really cool, but as a quilter and historian it is sad. These are works of art, and looking at the original textile says a lot about the culture in which it was made. This is similar to painting over a master work on canvas with milk paint, simply because the picture is "outdated". Also, she is charging a lot for what is simply a dye job. I would like to know if she is a quilter or not. If she is, she should have more appreciation for the work that was put into those quilts.

GO STARS! said...

I personally think they're ugly! And to think that someone made them in colors that have been lost. Sad. Not art at all. Upsetting to me. It's like taking a work of art and painting over it with house paint.

GO STARS! said...

They're not quilters themselves - they call them "blankets"! Look at the care instructions.
This makes my blood boil.I can't even look at them. Walking away to calm down.

Patti said...

I had two reactions when I saw the quilts too. The initial reaction was dismay. But as I scrolled through the thumbnail pics, the ones that hinted of colour and pattern really spoke to me. The quilts that read as one colour and only show texture can be done without over-dyeing. But the quilts whose colour and pattern peek out from the shadows are really cool. Typically, I'm not overly-sentimental about things. I agree with the comments from Citric Sugar. As long as your not painting over a Van Gogh, what's the harm? Super interesting topic. Thanks for posting this Cheryl!

charlotte said...

I think they are interesting, but I would never do that to an antique. I think that they found a way to take a quilt that may have been in rough shape and make it acceptable to a certain audience. Can't believe people are buying into this for so much money. What a waste.

roxi said...

nope, not for me at all! my favourite thing about quilting is the COLOUR COLOUR COLOUR!!! I sure hope this never happens to any of my quilts

Janet said...

I love colour and can't see myself ever wanting to have an overdyed quilt. Unless it was made with really ugly fabrics. But even the most ugly often look good when in patchwork. I do like indigo fabrics but I'd rather have the real thing than these.

Judy said...

No, those quilts leave me wondering the colours they may have been, and a vintage quilt regardless of condition is far more beautiful than those. My question is how much indigo colour wears off after the die bath. Glorious colour will always WIN

Malka Dubrawsky said...

I think it's new and different and forces you to look at these quilts in a unique way.
I'm a big fan of anything that steps outside the traditional box.

sulu-design said...

I read several of the above comments, but I'll admit - not all. So I may be repeating someone else here. To those who feel like works of art are being ruined by the dye process, I'd say this: the quilt-makers I know love for their quilts to be used and enjoyed, not put on a pedestal to be admired from afar. That's one of the big differences, I think, between quilts and other forms of visual art like the Mona Lisa. I personally think that the dye process has a beautiful end result and if it makes old quilts that are damaged/stained/unappealing color-wise/etc. newly enjoyable, it's great.

Stephanie D said...

I love the quilts I make, and put a lot of care into them. But I also realise that the fabrics I used won't me in fashion forever. I make my quilts for them to be used and loved, but if they're just sitting in a box somewhere, I' rather them be updated and used rather than be forgotten. If it was an art quilt though, I'd feel more like it shouldn't be touched.

Stephanie D said...

I love the quilts I make, and put a lot of care into them. But I also realise that the fabrics I used won't me in fashion forever. I make my quilts for them to be used and loved, but if they're just sitting in a box somewhere, I' rather them be updated and used rather than be forgotten. If it was an art quilt though, I'd feel more like it shouldn't be touched.

quiltytherapy said...

I have a few scrap pieces left over from unfinished projects picked up from estate sales. I appreciate the work and hours that went into making these pieces. However I have two thoughts:
1. The family didn't want it, wouldn't they want their grandmas items getting used?
2. I'm giving these pieces new life.

I agree with the poster earlier that commented when we buy an old house we don't keep everything exactly the same. I love my 1927 original hardwoods. Hence my dad on his hands and knees for hours sanding them. I appreciate the original glass blocks in our bathroom despite the terrible colors. Walls of plaster and lath need to go. We needed to update this house to fit us. I want to update the pieces to fit today.

I won't be selling any of the finished quilts that I repurpose. Instead keep as gifts to brighten someone's day and have a great story to share.