This is a post of discovery.
Have you ever seen a quilt or a pattern for that quilt you thought you’d seen before and it is now packaged differently? This is a tale of a Bear Paw block pattern I saved way back in 1996 when I was just beginning my quilt making journey. Back then I subscribed to Quilter’s Newsletter Magazine and in April 1996 I fell in love with the cover quilt, Chaco’s Paw. You can see it below…isn’t it amazing?
Well, kind of a side story, remember a few weeks back when I went to an Estate Sale and picked up lots of fun quilting stuff?
That Scrap Quilt book, the one in the middle by Judy Martin, was one of the three books I picked up. So I was lying in bed browsing my newly acquired acquisition when I flip through the opening of the book (good stuff by the way) and the first quilt photo is this…
Whoa! I KNOW this quilt! That’s Chaco’s Paw! Or was it?
Wait. When was this book written? I checked the publishing date and it is 1985.
Huh. That is 11 years earlier than Chaco’s Paw from the Quilter’s Newsletter Magazine of 1996. I read the print underneath the photo and discover this is referred to as a Bear Paw Variation estimated to be made sometime between 1875-1890, at the time of the book (1985) this quilt was in the collection of the Levi Strauss & Company art collection. So second thought there to myself was wondering if that blue is denim, but that was beside the point here. I was completely dumb struck. I kept thinking I’d seen this quilt before. Judy Martin created a pattern for it, available in the book as well…
Now wait a sec I thought. This looks identical to the pattern in Judy Martin’s book. Let’s read the print, upper left…
“Laurie Evans of Austin, Texas, made our bright and cheerful cover quilt. She patterned her quilt after a late 1800’s Bear’s Paw variation in the Levi Strauss & Company art collection as shown in Judy Martin’s Scrap Quilts book….
Ah Hah!!! So this was from Judy Martin’s book. But I wonder why Quilter’s Newsletter Magazine didn’t SAY this was Judy Martin’s PATTERN? The only add on to Judy’s pattern were the prairie points. I mean, the pieces are completely identical.
This book was published in 2004 and the description of the quilt makes absolutely NO MENTION of the Judy Martin quilt pattern NOR the Levi Strauss original. Just simply it was patterned after a late 1800’s Bear’s Paw variation.
So do you see where I’m going here? Yeah. It is the quilt credits. At what point in the inspiration phase of a quilt do we stop crediting the original inspiration? In this particular instance I believe the original inspiration was Judy Martin and her pattern she did for the Bear Paw in 1985…
based on that antique quilt. Laurie used Judy’s pattern and added her own twist to it, she referenced Judy in the original publishing but then now 20 years later Judy has been dropped and only a tiny reference to a quilt from the late 1800’s, making it seem to the reader of this 2004 edition that Laurie was completely original.
Which really was what I’d thought all along.
So isn’t that an interesting bit of history?
There was one other quilt that caught my eye, but only briefly, which was this log cabin. In both Judy’s book from 1985 and the From the Cover book of 2004…
I didn’t even want to go there so I just made a mental note to self.
So. Two books, 20 years apart and some interesting history about a Bear Paw variation pattern.
What are your thoughts about the standards for referencing history? How do YOU reference your own quilts? I think this subject is an interesting one and I’d like to hear your thoughts.
Have you discovered your own version of my chance encounter with quilt history?