Traditional quilts serve many purposes over the course of a useful life. Beginning as a beautiful bed covering, a quilt may later function as a ground cover at picnics until years of wear relegate it to someone's ragbag for scrap uses. Observing this life cycle led authors John Forrest and Deborah Blincoe to the idea that quilts, like living things, have a natural history that can be studied scientifically. They explore that natural history through an examination of the taxonomy, morphology, behavior, and ecology of quilts in their native environment—the homes of humans who make, use, keep, and bestow them. The taxonomy proposed by Forrest and Blincoe is rooted in the mechanics of replicating quilts so that it can be used to understand evolutionary and genetic relationships between quilt types. The morphology section anatomizes normal and abnormal physical features of quilts, while the section on conception and birth in the life cycle discusses how the underlying processes of replication intersect with environmental factors to produce tangible objects. This methodology is applicable to many kinds of crafts and will be of wide interest to students of folklore, anthropology, and art history. Case studies of traditional quilts and their makers in the Catskills and Appalachia add a warm, human dimension to the book.
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