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Redwork: A Textile Tradition in America

Extended through January 2, 2008
Heritage Gallery

Image of Redwork: A Textile Tradition in America ExhibitRedwork, a style of "art needlework," began to emerge following the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. A major exhibition of needlework was shown, impressing both critics and the general public. American women became intrigued with the ornamental embroidery on exhibit. A trend emerged to decorate all sorts of objects with embroidery as a means of adding beauty and serving as an artistic expression. One style of needlework that became especially popular was known as redwork in which designs were rendered in colorfast Turkey red cotton floss on to a white or off-white cotton or linen background. The origins of redwork are closely related to crazy quilting, which also emerged from the Centennial Exposition and shared many of the same influences. The exhibition will draw on objects, ephemera, and archival material from the historical collections of the Michigan State University Museum and, in particular, from the Deborah Harding Redwork Collection. Deborah Harding, a textile scholar, amassed a collection of embroidered textiles (quilts, splashers, chairbacks, laundry bags, and doilies), patterns, and ephemera for Red & White: American Redwork Quilts and Patterns, the landmark study on this textile form.

For more information:

Redwork exhibit on the Quilt Index, national research and reference web site

Podcast tour of "Redwork: A Textile Tradition in America"


Image courtesy:

2001:160.7, Nursery Rhyme Quilt, Maker Unknown, ca. 1910, 74" x 78", Deborah Harding Redwork Collection