Sandi Fox,
Cats on Quilts
(Harry N. Abrams, 2000)

Sandi Fox, an American quiltmaker, quilt scholar and museum curator, pairs together 51 color photographic images of cats sewn onto quilts and bedcovers with feline-relevant text that quotes poetry and prose by a variety of notable authors. Cats on Quilts begins with an introductory essay that relates the history of cats -- (from worship as a divinity in Pharoanic Egypt to revilement as demons and witch's familiars in Medieval Europe to the status of cherished pets in the present day) -- to the ways in which writers portray them and then in turn to the depictions of felines as an artistic subject, specifically as a domestic companion appearing on numerous quilts, equating the coverings and the cats as sources of maximum comfort! Fox goes on to discuss how the styles and techniques of quiltmaking changed over the past century, noting the sources of the various designs which feature cats and kittens in all manner of poses, activites and interactions (sometimes anthropomorphised).

The author draws on a wide range of poems, rhymes and musings from Pliny the Elder, Henry David Thoreau, Lewis Carroll, Emily Dickinson, W.B. Yeats, T.S. Eliot, Anne Morrow Lindbergh to Theodore Roosevelt and more. So do the quilts, dating from 1840 to the mid-20th century, deriving from a variety of regions in the U.S.A., from the More children of Oakland, California, c. 1893, and a descendant of Pocahantas in Virginia, c. 1900, to a grandmother working a ranch in the prairies of Nebraska, late 1940s. The textiles themselves are diverse, too -- here are rare and never-before-seen baby quilts, crazy quilts, floral applique and geometric pieced work, embroidered and iron-on transfer quilts -- a history of superb American quiltmaking in a visual panorama.

Cats on Quilts, a compact, square, glossy hardcover, is a beautiful book that vividly showcases the artistic objects that are its subject matter. Whether as a holiday/birthday gift for a loved one or for oneself, this volume is widely appealing to cat lovers, quilt collectors, crafts enthusiasts or anyone with an appreciation of aesthetic beauty. By combining charming written passages with vibrant images, this delightful publishing effort can't fail to please -- felines are fascinating in just about any form!

[ by Amy Harlib ]

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