On September 18, 2020, Ashley Callahan, specialist in modern and contemporary American decorative arts and craft, presented a virtual program on the history and process of making chenille. Callahan who lives in Athens, GA, is the author of the definitive book on chenille: Southern Tufts: The Regional Origins and National Craze for Chenille Fashion, which received the Lilla M. Hawes Award from the Georgia Historical Society and was named one of ten “Books All Georgians Should Read” by the Georgia Center for the Book in 2016.
Callahan described how early twentieth century enterprising women hand-tufted candlewick bedspreads that sold through department stores and roadside businesses. She explained the Colonial Revival’s importance to the development of the craft, Georgia’s contributions to fashion history, and the influence of automobile culture. Callahan also discussed the mechanization of the craft and its evolution to chenille and eventually the carpet industry.
Submitted by Gail Goodwin