Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Story Time Stitches: Just So

It is unlikely that Rudyard Kipling's works are part of school curriculums anymore.  Imperialistic and racist, Kipling is an example of  bygone perspectives that are still being eradicated.

But here's the thing that you might already realize about children's literature:  the stories endure.  Growing up, most of us knew more of Kipling's works--like the poems, "If--" or "Gunga-Din" or books like Captains Courageous.

 Did you read Rudyard Kipling as a child?  I sure did.  To be honest, Just So Stories wasn't my favorite.  I loved The Jungle Book and in particular, "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi".

Children today may only know Mowgli from the Disney movies but at least they know some of the stories.

The theme of Story-Time Stitches is illustrators who inspired quilts based on children's books.  But there are a lot of other addendums we need to address.  In this installment, we are going to focus on illustrations that inspired a coverlet, although not illustrated by the original artist.

Just So Stories was originally illustrated by Kipling himself.  In 1934, two years before Kipling's death, a quilt pattern was published in Women's Home Companion magazine and featured the story "The Elephant Child" from Just So.

This quilt is rare.  Once many years ago, a vintage quilt from the pattern was auctioned off on Ebay and the price went off the charts.  Here is the best depiction I could find online for you.

But there was another Kipling inspired piece as well.  Advertised in Home Arts--Needlecraft in 1940, this coverlet had special significance for our research.  The designer of the coverlet had received "special permission from Mrs. Kipling herself."  

Many of the illustrations appear to be inspired by Kipling's original artwork:

The coverlet above and illustration below.

Other illustrations were softened so as not to frighten children.
Smiler the Whale from the coverlet:

is quite different from the original illustration:

Rather horrifying for a children's bed cover isn't it?

The coverlet is rare and perhaps it wasn't very popular.  I've never seen a completed version of it or even the blocks.  I've often wondered if the blocks were tinted but we just can't be sure.

Have you ever seen this?

Here's an interesting article on Kipling that you might enjoy.  Interesting fact:  Kipling was actually living in the U.S. when he wrote The Jungle Book!

Have a safe and happy day!

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