Illustration by Nancy Page
June 7, 1938, The Hartford Courant
(Page suggests that a black be included in the color scheme to suggest the soot in the chimney, see the highly-energetic tiling pattern below)
CHIMNEY SWEEP was first recorded in Ruth E. Finley's OLD PATCHWORK QUILTS AND THE WOMEN WHO MADE THEM (1929, plate 72),
where it is set on the diagonal as a diamond block, otherwise similar to Page's illustration left, except that Page adds a slight whirling or windy effect, created by the alternating squares and rectangles (see Jinny Beyer, p. 207-1). Finley writes a touching history of the work done in olden times by young boys as chimney sweeps. The hardship they endured to earn a small income for their families is very much worth honoring or remembering, amidst the living history of quilt designs. Finley says (p.132):
"For such readers as in their youth missed the precarious joy of climbing on roofs and thus becoming intimate with chimney tops, it may be of interest to add that the blocks of the "Chimney Sweep," made of brick shaped patches and squares, have a not unduly far-fetched resemblance to the opening at the top of the oldest type of American house-chimney. These enormous four-flued masses of brick or stone were placed in the center of the house. Around them four rooms were built into each, of which a corner fireplace opened. Such chimneys took up a great deal of space and occasioned what in time came to be considered illy proportioned rooms. [...]
Barbara Brackman appended a beautiful introduction to the Finley reprint in 1992, she says: "Old Patchwork Quilts has endured because it is a basic course in the folk art of quiltmaking set in the context of women's lives and American history. The chapters on patterns are an important reference on the names and structure of the designs."
"It was down such wide throated flues that undernourished little boys known as chimney-sweeps were accustomed to slide, dislodging the long strings of soot that were so often the cause of dreaded fire. These little human mops happily are of the past, but thus again memory of a long-gone custom survives in the name of a bed-quilt."
Other designs at this site from OLD
PATCHWORK QUILTS AND THE WOMEN WHO MADE THEM include:
CRAZY ANN (with Helen Frankenthaler)
A THOUSAND PYRAMIDS (with Paul Klee)