Domino Quilt (81" x 97") by Eugenia Mitchell. Photo courtesy Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum, Golden, Colorado.
I’ve written before about my fascination with the origins of traditional quilt pattern names. Our quilting forebears found seemingly endless sources of inspiration for translation into quilt patterns. Apparently, nothing was too mundane to get their creative juices flowing. One such “muse” was the domino game piece.
According to the website, www.domino-games.com, “Dominoes, like playing cards and dice, are something of a generic gaming device. They are simple building blocks that can be assembled in innumerable ways to create a large variety of games, ranging from the simple to the complex, from games in which the gameplay is almost mechanical, to games that require great skill and strategy.
“Dominoes evolved from dice and are believed to have originated in China in the 12th century, though Egyptian or Arabian origins are also theorized. Dominoes appeared in Italy in the early 18th century, and spread to the rest of Europe throughout the remainder of the 1700's, becoming one of the most popular games in both family parlors and pubs alike. The word ‘domino’ appears to have derived from the traditional appearance of the tiles—black dots on a white background—, which is reminiscent of a "domino" (a kind of hood) worn by Christian priests. Today, dominoes are played all over the world.”
Dominoes are particularly popular in the southern United States. The World Championship Domino Tournament has been held annually in Andalusia, Alabama for decades, and the domino game known as “42” was officially proclaimed by the 82nd Legislature of the State of Texas as the official State Domino Game of Texas.
If I were a betting woman, I’d wager that the quilter who came up with the traditional Domino and Square(s) pattern hailed from the South. Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns dates Domino and Square(s) back to the Ladies Art Company Catalog, #278, published in 1897.
Nancy Cabot came out with a version of the pattern in 1934. The pattern is similar to a log cabin type of design and the blocks can be rotated to create different variations.
And then there is Eugenia Mitchell’s wonderful Domino Quilt that was her own original design. Made in 1980 in Golden, Colorado, it was one of 101 quilts donated by Eugenia Mitchell to start the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum.
Mitchell lived to be 103, and her story is remarkable. She was born in Brazil to Lutheran missionary parents, the oldest of 12 children. Her mother taught her to quilt when she was ten, and she continued to quilt well into her 90s.
Her life was one of hard work and making do with little, and it would seem that she would have had little time for playing games. However, she, like the anonymous designer of the traditional Domino and Square(s) pattern, nevertheless found inspiration in the simple rectangular gaming piece, and gave us yet another reason to marvel at the bottomless well of creativity frequented by quilters.
Click here to return to top.
Column 117: How WWI Changed the Color of Quilts in the United States
Column 116: Wagga—The Bushman’s Quilt
Column 115: All in the Family
Column 114: The Alabama State Quilt
Column 113: Balloon Quilts of Albuquerque
Column 112: The Family That Quilts Together, Stays Together
Column 111: Two Rivers, Three Sisters
Column 110: Quilters Helping Quilters
Column 109: Community Cookbooks and Fundraiser Quilts—Parallel Histories
Column 108: Quilting to Freedom
Column 107: National Quilting Day
Column 106: The Airing of the Quilts
Column 105: A Call for a National Juneteenth Commemorative Quilt
Column 104: Dominoes
Column 103: 1936 Texas Centennial Bluebonnet Quilt
Column 102: Helen Blackstone, A Texas Quilter
Column 101: Montana CattleWomen Anniversary Brand Quilt
Column 100: 100th Suzy's Fancy Column!
Column 99: Montana Stockgrowers Anniversary Brand Quilt
Column 98: The Tobacco Sack Connection
Column 97: Meet the Sisters Who Are State Fair Quilting Queens
Column 96: The connection between fairs and quilts.
Column 95: Her Mother Pieced Quilts
Column 94: Rebecca Barker’s Quiltscapes
Column 93: The Thread and Thimble Club Mystery
Column 92: The Ballerina Quilter
Column 91: Grandmother's Flower Garden Comes Alive at Texas Quilt Museum
Column 90: Leitmotif for a Lifelong Love Affair
Column 89: Quilting in The Bahamas
Column 88: Joan of Arc: A Quilter's Inspiration
Column 87: Home Demonstration Clubs and Quilting
Column 86: Linzi Upton and the Quilted Yurt
Column 85: A Bounty of Quilts
Column 84: Desert Trader
Column 83: Quilts and the Women’s Liberation Movement
Column 82: Replicating the Past: Reproduction Fabrics for Today’s Quilts
Column 81: Why So Many Quilt Shops in Bozeman, Montana?
Column 80: Southeastern Quilt and Textile Museum
Column 79: 54 Tons of Quilt
Column 78: Ollie Steele Burden’s Quilt Blocks
Column 77: Quilting with AMD
Column 76: Maverick Quilts and Cowgirls
Column 75: The Modern Quilt Guild—Cyberculture Quilting Ramps Up
Column 74: The Membership Quilt—Czech Quilting in Texas
Column 73: Maximum Security Quilts
Column 72: Author: Terri Thayer
Column 71: The Christmas Quilt
Column 70: New Mexico Centennial Quilt
Column 69: Scrub Quilts
Column 68: “Think Pink” Quilt Raises Funds for Rare Cancer Research
Column 67: Righting Old Wrongs.
Column 66: 100 Years, 100 Quilts - More on the Arizona Centennial.
Column 65: Arizona Centennial Quilt Project
Column 64: Capt. John Files Tom’s Family Tree
Column 63: The Fat Quarters
Column 62: Quilt Fiction Author: Clare O’Donohue
Column 61: Louisiana Bicentennial Quilt
Column 60: The Camo Quilt Project.
Column 59: Thread Wit
Column 58: Ralli Quilts
Column 57: Preschool Quilters
Column 56: The Story Quilt
Column 55: Red and Green Quilts
Column 54: On the Trail
Column 53: Quilt Trail Gathering
Column 52: True Confessions: First Quilt
Column 51: Quilted Pages
Column 50: Doll Quilts
Column 49: More Than a Quilt Shop
Column 48: Las Colchas of the Texas-Mexico Border
Column 47: Literary Gifts
Column 46: A Different Way of Seeing
Column 45: Sampling
Column 44: Hen and Chicks
Column 43: A Star Studied Event
Column 42: Shoo Fly Pattern
Column 41: Awareness Quilts
Column 40: Tivaevae
Column 39: UnOILed UnspOILed Coast Quilt Project
Column 38: Katrina Recovery Quilts
Column 37: Quilted Vermont
Column 36: The Labyrinth Quilt—A Meditative Endeavor
See other archived columns here