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Artist: Irene Kingsley Norris (1855-1948; Utica, New York)

Date: 1895-1900
Medium: Silk, velvet, brocade, with embroidery
Overall: 63 × 63in. (160 × 160cm)
Signed: "E N" in center. "E. Norris/195 Genesee St./Utica N.Y." in a corner block.
Credit Line: Museum Purchase
Object number: 76.37
Label Text
Made by Mrs. E. Norris of Utica, this quilt incorporates standard crazy quilt decorative devices. It was made in individual squares to facilitate "lap work" as opposed to the more cumbersome method of working on a single large piece of fabric. A finely executed center monogram is surrounded by a radiating sphere to command attention. A wide variety of embroidery colors and stitches add diversity to the overall design and exhibit the maker's mastery of needlework. Purchased patterns of birds, wheat, and flowers have been freely used.

Crazy Quilt Label Copy:
This quilt, and that by Mary Louise Fuller (on view in the first gallery), share more than the rich fabrics, fractured surface pattern, and jewel tones typical to crazy quilts, both have the initials of their makers at the center, both have embroidered pansies and daisies, and both use fan shapes in their corners. Interestingly, both quilts have an identical series of ducks embroidered on their surface. This similarity might at first seem strange, but crazy quilts from all corners of the United States display such correspondence due to the popularity of patterns marketed specifically for quilters in women’s magazines and via mail order. As the popularity of crazy quilts mounted, manufacturers and businesses created and sold patterns for all the popular images—birds, flowers, insects, household objects, as well as scraps of silks and velvets and embroidery thread used to construct them. There were even patterns for crazy quilt blocks that replicated the look of a freeform fabric arrangement. Despite such correspondences, no two crazy quilts are exactly alike; all feature some idiosyncratic image or arrangement of images. In Norris’s work we find several examples—a mirror, a vase, dogs, a shoe—and we are left to wonder how she chose each element.