ALOHA FROM JENNIE: A favorite 2011 movie among our seniors is “The Descendants”, starring George Clooney, because it takes place in Hawaii and depicts a Honolulu attorney coming to terms with his wife’s infidelity prior to her being disconnected from life support after a boating accident.
The final scene shows the attorney and his two daughters, after having scattered his wife’s ashes, curling up to watch television under a Hawaiian quilt that had been used on her hospital bed. The fictional movie characters were descendants of Hawaiian monarchy, but in present day Hawaiian households, quilts as a form of artwork are common regardless of lineage.
Hawaii is considered a melting pot of cultures, and its Western, Asian and Polynesian influences have all played a part in the evolution of Hawaiian quilting. Quilting was thought to have first been brought to Hawaii by American missionaries in the early 1800’s. Europeans introduced the craft of stitchery, and Chinese fabrics became available as island trading increased.
Hawaiians were already skilled in the creation of clothing, for example, the muumuu wrap, from pounding bark into textured sheets which were then colorfully dyed. Different quilting techniques were developed from those taught by the missionaries. Instead of patchworking from fabric scraps, Hawaiians created entire appliqués from whole pieces of fabric, using symmetrical designs similar to snowflake cutouts.
Rather than set geometrical patterns, Hawaiian quilts may also reflect the use of outline stitching around mural-like designs showing ocean waves, mountains and clouds. Using only two contrasting colors in a quilt, typically red and white, remains popular. However, there are also spectacular multi-color creations that celebrate an event, such as a monarch’s birth.
Hawaiian designs reflect its unique environment, including our flowers, as well as symbols that are dear to the quilters, such as flags and crests. A variety of designs are shown above. Does anyone have Hawaiian quilt collection photos to share?