Monday, September 11, 2017

Ocean Wave: Category Five

An Amish version of the Ocean Wave

While watching storm coverage during this horrid hurricane season some of us quilt nuts have been posting pictures of Ocean Wave quilts on a social site.

Questions include just what is an Ocean Wave.
I always have an opinion and here's what I think.
The pattern appeared about 1875 and was quite popular during that era of scrappy calicoes.

About 1900
The large squares could be set on the straight

From Laura Fisher's inventory

About 1900
Or on the diagonal.

Fifty years later Ruby McKim defined the design and name in the late 1920s. She showed it 
as a block but you can see by her dotted lines that she was a little iffy as to whether that was the best way to show you how to make one.

If you made it as a square like McKim showed it
you'd have a nice enough design but the traditional quilts were not constructed like this.

This one might have been made from McKim's block with the corner
triangles in green making another square as a secondary design.
But there are no seams in those green squares.

Everybody knew it wasn't a traditional square block.

After 1880

That unpieced white square was a good place to put some feather wreaths.


It is a hexagonal block---a long six-sided shape.

The standard Category 1 Ocean Wave blocks have 24 half-square 
triangles like McKim's sketch .

Set with squares.

Mary Madden holding up one from the collection
of the Kansas Museum of History.

Many quiltmakers used a strong dark/light shading pattern for those 24
triangles whether they were using scraps or a
two-color palette.

From Buckboard Antiques

You could vary the shading to get different effects.

Two quilts that look to be from Southeastern Pennsylvania.

Pinwheels in the waves.

So 24 triangles seems to be the standard.
But there are other categories....

Category 2 
 42 triangles per six-sided block. 
Square smaller in proportion

Category 3--lotsa triangles

I gave up counting

Category 4 - More triangles.  Notice the pink pinwheels in the center of each X

Category 5
Susan McCord's version in the collection of the Henry Ford Museum

Here's the scale.

Annette Curran Ratzenberger made one inspired by McCord's.

She says it has over 10,000 pieces.
Category 5.

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