Susan Slesinger – Series#2 – Architecture – Hollyhock House

Hollyhock House, located in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles, was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for Aline Barnsdall.  Ms Barnsdall asked Wright to design a house for her in 1916, even though she did not have a location for it.    In 1919 she purchased Olive Hill, a thirty six acre site on which she wanted to build the house and an arts complex including a 1,250 seat theatre.  The house was constructed between 1919 and 1921.  It was the first house that Wright designed for Southern California, and he used a style he termed California Romanza, also referred to as “Mayan”.  Ms Barnsdall’s favorite flower was the hollyhock, and Wright incorporated a stylized hollyhock design throughout the house, including on the roofline, walls, columns, planters and furnishings designed specifically for the house.

hollyhock motif

Taking advantage of the dry, sunny climate, the 17 room house and its extensive gardens provided for indoor/outdoor living, with the major rooms opening onto the gardens, and roof decks.  Frank Lloyd Wright’s son Lloyd Wright and Rudolph Schindler supervised the construction, as the senior Wright was preoccupied with work on  the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo.  Two smaller residences were built on Olive Hill although Barnsdall’s vision for a theatre was never fulfilled.  After the house was completed, she decided that it was not to her liking and she lived in House B, one of two smaller residences built on Olive Hill.  The other proposed buildings were never constructed.  In 1927, she gave eleven acres of Olive Hill, including Hollyhock House, to the City of Los Angeles as a public library and park.  The grounds are still used as a park and arts centre, and parts of Hollyhock House are open to the public.

This quilt uses a view of the house from the rear garden towards the living room.  Originally there was an indoor water feature in front of the fireplace and an outside pool. Ms Barnsdall had the indoor pool removed, but visitors can see the empty garden pool.

The house has undergone numerous renovations and repairs.  Some of them made significant changes to theappearance of the house.  The most recent renovation was completed in 2015, restoring the house close to its original appearance.

Techniques:  Photo transfer, machine applique, machine quilting

Materials: Commercially printed cotton fabric, hand painted cotton fabric, cotton satin, cotton batting, cotton, polyester and silk threads.



Quilts in the Series:


Quilt 1                                Quilt 2

  1. carolinehiggs

    What an interesting building! Lovely quilting techniques.

  2. yes I agree with Caro, it is not easy to interpret buildings with the different angles and perspective. Cheers

  3. Chantal Guillermet

    It is an interesting building, in it there is Something of the Aztec temples. Your machine stiches and quiting are very effective. Well done !

  4. An interesting story about the house. and a great interpretation.

  5. The back-story on this piece is really fascinating! And…I grow hollyhocks (they are favourites of mine from childhood), so it was interesting to see how Mr. Wright interpreted them in his architecture. I’m not surprised the resulting building didn’t charm its owner, however — it is so boxy and angular, not at all cozy — and your interpretation shows this to great effect.

  6. joanbrailsford

    I like the way that your quilt has an almost photographic element to it (as your first piece also had). You have found a lovely way to represent architecture, and your stitching really compliments this. well done.

  7. You have chosen another very unusual building and made an interesting design. The quilting is very effective.

  8. Very interesting building and I love to read the history of it. Another really nice architecture piece with effective quilting.

  9. Lovely to see how your photo transfer fits in the whole quilt. Nice story.

  10. I’ve never heard of this building, but I’ve visited ones in Illinois and Arizona. Very interesting and good use of the techniques.

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