Friday, April 25, 2014

Portland Modern Quilt Guild, 1970s Quilts

Yesterday, I presented a trunk show about 1970s quilts for the Portland Modern Quilt Guild (PMQG). I have not been doing many lectures this year because I am focusing on writing a book about New York Beauty quilts. In fact, I have turned down a at least a dozen invitations to speak over the last six months (sorry, folks!), but when PMQG President MaryAnn Morsette asked me if I could come do a talk, it was impossible to resist. I adore MaryAnn, by the way. :)

Portland Modern Quilt Guild is a dynamic group. I am a member, and I last night learned PMQG is the largest Modern quilt guild in the U.S. with 175 members! Phenomenal, especially considering the guild is just a few years old. So many talented people belong. For the talk, I wanted to offer a preview of the quilts I am planning to display at QuiltCon in Austin next year. The theme was "Modern Materials, Quilts of the 1970s". It was a lot of fun, and I hope everyone enjoyed the quilts as much as I enjoyed sharing them. Thank you to Susan Beal (westcoastcrafty) for the Instagram pictures.

I started with an old quilt, to offer some perspective on where I came from as a collector. For the first 20 years collecting quilts, I would rarely look at anything that was less than 100 years old. So I opened with the "Start the car!" quilt, the 1860s appliqué masterpiece found just this week in Sellwood. When I said how little I paid, there was an audible gasp from the audience- that's what I love!

Here are a few of the quilts I shared.

"Wild Thing" - the first 1970s quilt I ever acquired, This quilt
was displayed at the International Quilt Festival of Ireland, 2013.
After sharing the old appliqué quilt, I showed the quilt that started me collecting 1970s quilts- the one I call "Wild Thing". Musical interlude...

After that, I showed some crib quilts, including the "Alphabet Quilt" mad of calico prints. 

Alphabet Quilt, c. 1970
Then I launched in to the big, dynamic, polyester double-knit quilts. I think the audience loved them. Must thank the volunteers who held the quilts up. It was a workout!! 

"Fans" c. 1975
Diamonds, c. 1975
"Double Wedding Ring" c. 1975

"Woven Pattern" c. 1975
Several people came up afterwards, and said they enjoyed the talk. I was happy they enjoyed it. The quilts of the 1970s may be barely vintage, but they are so exuberant and fun! I am very much looking forward to the opportunity to share these quilts at QuiltCon, next year in Austin, Texas. 

When the first QuiltCon took place in 2013, Roderick Kiracofe displayed 15 quilts in a special exhibit called "Modern Historical Quilts" - I was very envious, but at the same time, inspired. When I saw he was exhibiting vintage quilts, I wanted to follow in his footsteps. Lucky for me, I was able to do that. (Thank you, Rod!!). Looking forward to QuiltCon!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

the "Start the Car" quilt

applique quilt, c. 1860, found in Sellwood, 74" x 94"
Mom and I enjoy going to antique shops together, and there's always an amusing dialogue. She will say, "There's a lot of it!" and "Hard to believe someone bought it the first time." We always have a good time with antiques.

Yesterday, I learned a new expression from Madge Ziegler, who heard it from Karen Dever.

"Start the car!" 

Karen is a quiltmaker, collector and historian who lives in Moorestown, New Jersey, where my family lived for years. We met through mutual friends in the quilting community, and I have enjoyed our Moorestown connection. According to Madge, Karen's original version of this expression was "Harry, start the car!" I think Harry is her husband.

What a hoot! The reason for learning this wonderful expression yesterday was a quilt I found at an antique shop in the Sellwood district of Portland. Sellwood has some fun antique shops, although there are fewer shops than when I first visited the neighborhood 16 years ago. I get there a few times a year, and usually don't find much. The antiques shops in Portland are mostly vintage, and the selection of available quilts is usually pretty sad.

oh look, a quilted "fylfot"
Yesterday's outing was really just to get out of the house for a few hours. I thought I would look for items with sun motifs, since I am hoping to include something about the motif in my book. The sun is really the central motif in the New York Beauty design. Before I left the house, I found a neat little Civil War snuff box on eBay.

Civil War snuff box found on eBay
I never find quilts in Sellwood, and wasn't even looking for quilts. So, imagine my surprise when I spotted this stunning 1860s appliqué quilt. That's where the "Start the car!" expression comes in.

When I saw the price, I nearly fell over. It was a steal! Without going into too much detail about that, I can say I have spent a lot more money on dinner for two than the quilt. It was really hard to believe. I was flabbergasted!

Trying to contain my excitement, I looked around to make sure I wasn't on Candid Camera, tucked the quilt under my arm, and headed toward the register with a poker face. The clerks were nice to hold up the quilt so I could get a picture of it, but they really had no idea what a remarkable find it was.

I quickly paid and left, and dashed to the car as soon as I was out of view. It was raining, so hopefully I didn't look too out of place running with a package in my arms, but passers by must have wondered why I was beaming. If something like that ever happens to me again, it's good to know there's a suitable expression for it. Thank you, Karen and Madge! When Mom comes to visit this summer, she'll know exactly what I mean if we're looking at antiques and I say "Start the car, Mom!"

More info about the design: Sandra Starley shared a link to a wonderful blog by Barbara Brackman, where you may see several examples of the motif. Click here

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

I collect books...

after receiving the 1995 Uncoverings, there are only two editions missing
from my collection
I collect books, and guess what? I read them! Well, you didn't think I just looked at the pictures, did you? (L.O.L.)

The 1995 Uncoverings received yesterday from Audrey Waite is simply wonderful. I just read Merikay Waldvogel's remarkable paper about Mountain Mist. Pattern "X", the New York Beauty is still a bit of a mystery, but it was fascinating to read about Frederick J. Hooker, Margaret and Ruth Hayes, Phoebe Edwards, and the letters saved by Margaret Hayes.

bookshelves, around 2008
In the summer of 2008, my home was remodeled and the design for the great room included some book shelves. At the time, I did not know how I would fill those shelves. As it turned out, I should have built more shelves. Perhaps when the other half of the house is remodeled...

bookshelves, 2014
Those shelves are nearly full now, and what a joy it has been collecting all those books! Many of the books were written by people I have met. Many are personally signed. In 2008, those authors were just names. Now they are friends, acquaintances and colleagues. The top shelf on the left includes self-published books, magazines with articles about my collection, and books with quilts from my collection. I'm sure it will also be full soon.

I am still looking for the 1996 and 1999 editions of Uncoverings, by the way. If anyone out there has duplicate copies available, I would love to buy them.

Monday, April 21, 2014


Previously published information is always helpful, even if it does not reveal any new information. Publications have dates and show research progress at specific points in time. The April 1981 Quilter's Newsletter Magazine article, "The Great American Quilt Classics, New York Beauty" contained a lot of information that was later disproved. A 1995 Article by Barbara Brackman was much closer to today's research.

Mountain Mist New York Beauty, c. 1930
I received the January/February 1995 issue of Quilter's Newsletter Magazine today, and was very interested in Barbara's article, "New York Beauties, from the Rockies through Tennessee and Texas". It was illuminating, in more ways than one. The article showed exactly where quilt history research about the New York Beauty design was almost 20 years ago, and the research was much closer than it had been in 1981.

Today, I also received one of the few editions of "Uncoverings" I had been missing, the 1995 edition. Audrey Waite was very kind to offer it to me when she saw my post about collecting all the American Quilt Study Group research journals. The 1995 edition includes a paper about Mountain Mist by Merikay Waldvogel, whose research is impeccable. I'm looking forward to reading it.

Did you know I was an avid collector of periodicals, research materials and ephemera? Today I also received a 2006 booklet called "New York Beauty" by Cheryl Phillips and Karla Schulz, which included plexiglas templates. Very cool!

If you're reading this blog and know of any other periodicals that may support my research, I hope you'll let me know. I want to send a big thank you to all the people who already have directed me to good information. It improves the quality of my research, and will ultimately be reflected in my upcoming Quiltmania book about New York Beauty quilts. Thank you, thank you, thank you!