Thursday, September 22, 2016

velvet & the little red house

There's something about velvet, the way it catches the light. I love velvet quilts and often wonder about the makers. The quilts have such character.

velvet crazy quilt top, c. 1900, Ohio, 78" x 88"
This velvet crazy quilt top came from an eBay seller in Holmesville, Ohio. There was no information about its origins, but it was so intriguing to see a single red house at the center of organized chaos. The little house stands out against the mostly dark velvet.

During the year I picked up a few other velvet quilts, all head turners, in my opinion. Here they are


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

some new things

polyester string quilt, Chicago, Illinois, c. 1970, 62" x 74"

Hello, blog readers! It's been a while. Kind of a crazy year. Not as much collecting as previous years, but a few new things trickled in recently. I'm starting to get a little more particular, with more than 400 quilts in the collection, 150 of them from the 1970s.

polyester strip quilt, Houston, Texas, c. 1970, 67" x 89"
Two of the new arrivals are polyester. One is from Houston and the other is from Chicago. Both quilts are exceptionally vibrant, a hallmark of the fade-resistant polyester quilts of the period.

rainbow quilt, Cincinnati, Ohio, c. 1975, 87" x 107"
The third one is a tied rainbow quilt made of seven different gingham fabrics: purple, dark blue, light blue, green, yellow, orange and red. Light blue gingham always reminds me of Dorothy Gale, but this quilt is really somewhere over the rainbow.

I use Blurb BookSmart to self-publish catalogues of quilts
Sometimes it's hard to keep track of all these quilts, so I am putting together a catalogue with images and basic information about each quilt: pattern name, maker's name and location of origin if known, materials, dimensions and circa date.

The book will be for internal use only, so I will not be offering it for sale. I make a lot of these books documenting my collection, but many are never offered for sale. They are very helpful, though. It's great to be able to pull a book off the shelf and look up information whenever I need it. 

Thursday, August 4, 2016

quiltmakers, originality, inspiration and tradition

three original quilts, connected by inspiration and tradition
I love it when yesterday's quilts inspire today's quiltmakers. Earlier this year, I enjoyed pictures of a Double Wedding Ring quilt made by Tara Faughnan of Oakland, California. The quilt was a prizewinner in the Handwork category of QuiltCon 2016.

Tara Faughnan's prizewinning Double Wedding Ring quilt
photo: Tara Faughnan
I recognized the inspiration right away, and it made me happy. It was a pair of vibrant, vintage 1970s quilts made of polyester double knit.

1970s polyester quilt, collection of Roderick Kiracofe
photo: The Quilt Complex
One of the quilts was in the collection of Roderick Kiracofe, and the other was part of my collection. Both quilts came from an estate sale in Altadena, California, and both came to the quilt market through The Quilt Complex.

1970s polyester quilt, the Volckening Collection
Faughnan's quilt was a beautiful tribute, an eloquent study inspired by the two vintage quilts. Her quilt was the most visually well-balanced of the three, and she made thoughtful, effective choices in updating and resolving the design. It was today's quilt, made with yesterday's inspiration.

the vintage block was one large unit with a solid square anchoring the center
Faughnan used four smaller units with a four-patch connecting the center
Double Wedding Ring is a traditional design shared by thousands of quiltmakers for almost a century, but if the same pattern was given to 100 quiltmakers, the result would be 100 different quilts. That's the thing about quiltmaking. Inspiration is traditionally shared, but individual makers are always deeply present in their quilts.

Like many other aspects of quiltmaking, originality is often subtle, but it is there if you look closely enough. By putting their own spin on things, quiltmakers show what makes them unique. Thank you to Tara Faughnan and all quiltmakers who would never make the exact same quilt as the next maker.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Upcoming Exhibition

Some news from the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum

July 28 through October 25, 2016
Opening reception 5 - 8:00 pm, Friday August 5 
Monday through Saturday 10-5 pm; Sunday 11-5 pm

Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum
1213 Washington Avenue
Golden, CO  80401
Contact Karen Roxburgh, Executive Director

“New York Beauty quilts are rare – hard to find and harder to make,” says collector Bill Volckening. “They are highly prized and representative of America’s finest patchwork. Over the years, the pattern has been known by a number of names, including Rocky Mountain Road and Rail Through the Rockies.  For this exhibit, Volckening selected an array of quilts which spans a century and a half and demonstrates the enduring popularity of this historic pattern.  New York Beauty quilts are very rare and RMQM is excited to host this beautiful collection.

New York Beauty: Quilts from the Volckening Collection, a book by Volckening is available at the RMQM Gift Shop and provides more insight into this collection.

Rocky Mountain Road is sponsored in part by QUILTmania.


Monday, July 18, 2016

Thank You, Quilters Newsletter!

Quilters Newsletter feature, August/September 2012

Back in 2012, I received this e-mail from Mary Kate Karr Petras, Associate Editor of Quilters Newsletter Magazine:

Dear Mr. Volckening, 
Greetings from Quilters Newsletter magazine! I am writing to let you know that we are interested in featuring you and your collection in a future issue of QN. We would want to interview you, possibly by phone, and also include a number of images of your quilts..."


I wasn't sure how they found me. I had collected for more than 20 years, but nobody knew about it.

When I started sharing the collection through social media, I didn't realize I was doing anything out of the ordinary...but Quilters Newsletter realized. 

Quilters Newsletter feature, August/September 2012

The first feature, "Collecting Beauty" by Mary Kate Karr Petras appeared later that year, along with a pattern for one of the quilts. I was surprised by the generous number of pages devoted to the article. I thought, "They like me, they really like me!"

Quilters Newsletter feature, February/March 2015

In 2015, Quilters Newsletter published another article about my collection. It was about 1970s quilts, and I wrote the article and provided the photos. We planned ahead, and the article appeared at the same time as my special exhibit of 1970s quilts at QuiltCon 2015 in Austin.

Several of my quilts have appeared in other issues of Quilters Newsletter. It's been a pleasure to contribute, and I was always happy to get them whatever they needed right away. 

Quilters Newsletter, December/January 2016,
"Readers' Quilt Show - Celebrate Hand Quilting"
"Cheddar Quilts" by Pepper Cory June/July 2014
Quilters Newsletter, October/November 2015

I pitched ideas, and several of them were picked up and published. Every once in a while I was asked to write an article. The recent feature about Tom Korn was one of those, and I was the one who originally pitched the idea. 

Quilters Newsletter Magazine, April/May, 2016,
"Tom Korn's Remarkable Ribbon Quilts"

Most recently, I wrote an article about the Hawaiian scrap quilts. It's in the latest issue.

"Kalakoa! Surprising Hawaiian Scrap Quilts"
Quilters Newsletter Magazine, August/September 2016.

Quilters Newsletter holds a very special place in my heart. Quilting enthusiasts have enjoyed the magazine for 47 years, but last week, I learned the magazine will no longer be published after the October/November 2016 issue. I was sad to hear the news.

Quilters Newsletter played a significant role in my quilt journey. The magazine also documented the history of quiltmaking during the rise of the quilt industry from the 1970s through today. The catalogue of magazines is, and will continue to be, a valuable historical document. Thank you, Quilters Newsletter. We will miss you, but knowing where to find a complete collection of the magazines, it's not really goodbye!