African American History Images, Housetop Quilts
In Gee’s Bend, a quilt dominated by concentric squares is called a "Housetop." It begins with a medallion of solid cloth, or one of an endless number of pieced motifs, to anchor the quilt. After that, "Housetops" share the technique of joining rectangular strips of cloth so that the end of a strip's long side connects to one short side of a neighboring strip, eventually forming a kind of frame surrounding the central patch. Increasingly larger frames or borders are added, creating a visual exchange between the work’s edges and what is inside until a block is declared complete. The all-around simplicity of the Housetop hosts many experiments in formal reduction and, at the same time, offers compositional flexibility unchallenged by other multi-piece patterns.