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PIECE ON EARTH: Multi-pieced Quilts Span Two Centuries

That pun riffs on the heartfelt sentiment we all feel about the world as this troubled year ends. It’s a way of drawing your attention to quilts that astonish and delight because of their intense construction. These multitudinous pieced quilts defy the imagination with their combination of thousands of small pieces of fabric measuring less than ½” to about 1” in size. Their internal designs achieved using color and tone contain from 1,000 to 40,000+ pieces. We have quite a few for you to savor, from the 19th and 20th centuries.

Often asked to name a favorite type of quilt, on reflection I think “these compositions made of tiny pieces rate high. What patience and fortitude they required to construct, foregoing fancy needlework in favor of a sculptural approach to composition.”

Putting together thousands of pieces into a coherent intricate geometric design is a quilt tradition dating from the 19th century forward, with a basis going back thousands of years in ancient cultures in the use of stone tesserae to create pictorial mosaics. In today's terms think of the pixilated color squares in computer imagery for a comparable look.

In a quilt pieced of squares or rectangles, the actual number is easy to count by multiplying the number of pieces along its length and width. But quilts that combine shapes- say squares and diamonds- sometimes defy enumeration. Multitudinous quilts are those made with 1,000+ pieces.

Examples range from those termed “charm” quilts if they do not repeat any fabrics to a superlative example of 44,370 pieces arrayed as concentric little squares.They are a remarkable aspect of our quilt making heritage. Among them are:*EIGHTEEN STARS combining patterns of Flying Geese, Log Cabin, Eight Point Stars, Diamonds and others in a dazzling unique combination; *DIAMOND IN A SQUARE TO INFINITY, a 1920s masterwork of 15,000 pieces arranged by light and dark tones to form a bold geometric;*CONCENTRIC SQUARES of 44,370 pieces less than 1/2" in size, made in Nassau County L.I., c. 1880s; *MOSAIC or HONEYCOMB quilts of wool or of cotton, a collection of various patterns all quilted using one inch hexagons; *SAMPLER based on an 1853 original with more than 5,000 pieces arrayed in more than 100 different geometric blocks; *LOG CABIN STRAIGHT FURROW and other Log Cabin variations incorporating one thousand or more narrow strips of wool challis prints 

FISHER HERITAGE gallery is always open 24/7 at with acclaimed antique quilts, hooked rugs, coverlets, braided rugs, rag carpet, textiles, American folk art and more. Contact 917/797-1260 or email for an appointment downtown.