Sunday, April 29, 2012

Road Trip!

New York Beauty, 2010, by Nancy Tanguay, Warren, Connecticut
What to bring? What to bring? That's always the question when I'm going to do my "Beauty Secrets" lecture. I'm headed to Roseburg tomorrow. It's few hours south of Portland, so I've got to make sure everything is packed. I will be speaking for the Umpqua Valley Quilters Guild on Tuesday morning, my first time visiting the group, and I'm planning a head-spinning display, with more incredible New York Beauties than they've ever seen in one place. Ho-hum!

Beauty Secrets exhibit at the Benton County Museum last year
It's been a while since I thought a lot about these quilts. Last year, at this time, I was planning the Beauty Secrets exhibit and getting ready to release the show catalog. This year, I've been occupied with plenty of other things- several new appraisal clients, guest blogs for "Why Quilts Matter" and I'm even starting to make quilts. That's the main reason why I'm not thinking New York Beauties lately. It's a quilt I wouldn't dare to attempt.

Mountain Mist New York Beauty, c. 1930
At this point, I could pretty much do this lecture in my sleep, but trust me, nobody in the building will be dozing off during my lecture! As usual, it will cover the period from 1850 to present, the life story of the quilt pattern. I'll be back Wednesday to post a recap. :)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Projects, and Paducah Webcasts

In between webcasts from Paducah, I decided to quilt "House of Wonky"
Very early this morning, I was trying to sign up for the webcast of Pat Sloan's lecture from the American Quilter's Society Show in Paducah, Kentucky...but I encountered a glitch. The ticket number wasn't working, so I called customer service at Clear Sky Webcasting and spoke with an agent named Jim.

After two unsuccessful attempts to resolve the issue, Jim decided to grant me full access to all the presentations in Paducah, just for my trouble. Wow!! How lucky am I?? It probably didn't hurt to tell him I just wanted to watch my friend Pat Sloan, who had me on her radio show last year. :) But I never expected him to give me a full-access pass. I was overwhelmed, and very thankful.

My block with peach, for Victoria Findlay Wolfe's color challenge
I've been working on appraisal reports all week, so it was nice to take a little time to watch the lectures. Last year, I was in Paducah, and the one thing I did outside the classes was go to visit Caryl Bryer Fallert in her studio, just a few blocks from the museum. I enjoyed chatting with her. When I told her about my art background and fear of trying to quilt, she immediately wanted to teach me how.

experimenting with different color quilting threads
Caryl, if you're out there reading this, it took me almost a year to muster up the courage, but I'm learning to quilt!! That's what I did in between the webcast lectures. All day I alternated between watching the lectures and playing on the sewing machine. I quilted "House of Wonky", did a peach color challenge block going along with Victoria Findlay Wolfe's weekly color challenge, and experimented with different colored threads on a small wholecloth batik quilt that I'm hoping will eventually be good enough to send to the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative.  What a day, right?

It was great seeing Alex Anderson lecture again. I hadn't seen Pat lecture before, and she absolutely blew me away. I sent her a note to let her know how inspired I was, and how I'll be thinking about her as I prepare a lecture for next week. If I can do half as well as Pat did today, it'll be a huge success! Can't wait for tomorrow's lectures. All the webcasts are available at the time of the lecture, and on demand afterwards. So if you missed any of the lectures, you can still see it online. For more information visit the AQS web site.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Small Wonders Revisited

My third quilt: "Julie Silber" named in honor of the birthday girl!
I think I'm starting to get the hang of this quilting thing. This quilt is my third completed quilt, and I was having trouble deciding what to call it. When I found out it was Julie Silber's birthday, I thought, "why not name it after Julie?"

Naming quilts after admired ones is something Andrea Balosky did in her unbelievable series of doll size quilts in the original "Small Wonders" exhibit and catalog. She made more than 100 quilts over a five year period, and named each one. There is now a "Small Wonders" challenge that's part of the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show, and while it isn't officially connected, I think it was really inspired by Andrea's Small Wonders.

I sent a picture of this quilt to Andrea, who now lives in the Himalayas and goes by the name Nyima Lhamo. She was very encouraging, and suggested that quilters were probably shocked and surprised by my quick progress. We laughed about that, mostly because we're a lot alike. When we get ideas, watch out!

Making this quilt was a surprisingly relaxing experience. Even my old Featherweight was giving me fewer problems than usual. I like using orange and blue together. It's an eye-popping color combination, and although I didn't originally set out to make a "Julie Silber" quilt, per se, when I think of eye-popping quilts she comes immediately to mind.

So, it seems I may be starting a "Small Wonders" series of my own. Many of Andrea's quilts were named after people who never knew a quilt was being made and named after them, but I think I'll take a slightly different approach and include the step of letting the person know whenever possible. Julie was very gracious, and thanked me. I enjoy that she knows about the quilt. :)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

House of Wonky

Here's the top for my second quilt, "House of Wonky"
I had so much fun with my first quilt, I just had to play around some more, so I broke out a pack of Michael Hoffman Bali Pops and made this top. It's called "House of Wonky" and was inspired by the work of Jean Wells Keenan. This quilt is more architectural than most of Jean's work, which tends to be more organic and connected to nature. This is more like an imaginary dwelling, built of fabric...where Willy Wonky might live.

First draft: it was a bit narrower and squared off
Jean likes to place bits of small-scale patchwork into larger areas of color, which produces a dazzling effect of bright little gems hiding in nooks and crannies. Her work is magical. I tried to work in a similar way, using smaller bits of patchwork, oddly shaped pieces, and form with practically no geometry.

The back: here's what's going on back there
For the most part, I tried to maintain a 1/4" seam allowance when piecing. The top just about the size I wanted. After the "first draft" I added to the sides and cut it to make a slightly irregular shape. Will probably push that further when finishing it. Jean's quilts are knife-edge finished with free motion directional quilting, and that's what I've got in mind for this piece.

Little Boo is verrry curious about this quilting thing...
The only drawback to the whole idea of making quilts is the mess I've made in my kitchen. Threads everywhere! Piles of Bali Pops fabric and random scraps, some usable, some not. It's a good thing I've got appraisal reports to finish up this week, otherwise I'd have a king size quilt!

I realize this scene doesn't look messy to some...but I know how it goes!
What a mess!
So, what do you think of my second quilt project? Should I keep going and make bigger quilts? Should I buy a long-arm machine? (just kidding!!) I do have a destination in mind for "House of Wonky" but I'll divulge that later, if I can meet the deadline!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

My First Completed Quilt

Escape from Palm Beach, 2012
Last night, I was looking through quilts on the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative (AAQI) website, making a wish list of the quilts I wanted to buy. I was so inspired by all the wonderful quilts, I started to imagine what it would be like to make one. That led me to the attic, where I retrieved some old batik fabric I'd bought about ten years ago. At the time, I tried making a quilt block. It was a disaster, so I put the fabric away.

The batiks were a little musty, so I threw them in the wash and figured out how to set up my Featherweight. I had just washed a pair of old, black pillowcases. They were originally going to Goodwill, but I thought black would be good with the batiks, so I took a rotary cutter to one of the pillowcases. Less than 24 hours later, I've got my first completed quilt.

I pieced the top last night, late nite!
I finished the binding by hand. The rest was done by machine.
It was a lot more fun than I thought, and I'm happy with how it turned out. Even though it's not a great quilt, it's not a bad one either. I stitched the binding to the back by hand, and probably shouldn't have used black thread, since you can see it. But I used the black thread because I could see it. All these years I've been running around telling people I couldn't thread a needle, and it's still true! Threading the needle was the most difficult part.

Reverse: I was lazy and did just two fast finish corners
This quilt was inspired by the people I've known who have made quilts for AAQI (you know who you are!!), and all the people I know who make quilts and love quilts. I intend to donate this quilt, my first completed quilt, but first I'm going to enjoy showing it off. I'll probably make others, too.

If you've never made a quilt, but thought about it, making a small quilt for AAQI is a good way to start. I can do it, so anyone can. For the more seasoned quiltmakers, if you haven't made any quilts for AAQI, or haven't made any lately, it's time to get to work! 

Friday, April 13, 2012

A Few of the First 10,000

"Blue Skies" and "Green Tangent" 2011, by Andrea Balosky
The Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative (AAQI) recently received its 10,000th donated quilt, "Shhhh..." by Kristin Shields of Bend, Oregon. The quilt is an original design inspired by a class taught by Jude Hill, and the quilt represents thousands of generous quiltmakers who have supported AAQI, which has raised $716,000 since 2006. That's an extraordinary accomplishment, and of course, I couldn't just sit and watch!

"No Rhyme or Reason" by Lori Dejarnatt
A friend recently suggested that three makes a collection, so it looks like I've got a collection of AAQI quilts. I've got three of their first 10,000 quilts: #6392, Blue Skies, 2011, by Andrea Balosky of Mungpoo, Darjeeling, India; #6393, Green Tangent , 2011, by Andrea; and #9484, No Rhyme or Reason, 2012, by Lori DeJarnatt of Madras, Oregon. I almost had a fourth one, #6396, Tuesday and Sunday, 2011, by Andrea, but someone else had already bought it just before my order was processed.

Tuesday & Sunday - the one that got away!
All three of us are connected. I first met Lori in Sisters, Oregon, during a quilt documentation day. She volunteered at the photography station, and we had a blast. At one point, she brought in a sensational album quilt she'd made, which had been published, and it blew me away. I met Andrea about two weeks later, also in Sisters during the 35th Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show. It was the day she appeared out of nowhere and gave me a quilt she'd made that had been in Quilt National. Andrea and Lori knew each other from years earlier. Lori had taken a class with Andrea, and had seen her quilts when Andrea lived in Camp Sherman.

Andrea made "Ribbon Sutras" and Lori won it
More importantly, by participating in the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative, Lori inspired Andrea to make quilts for the first time in many years. Andrea has a relative with Alzheimer's and was moved by the cause. Lori's mother also has Alzheimer's, as did my grandmother. Lori also happens to be the lucky winner of #6397, Ribbon Sutras, by Andrea. Both Lori and Andrea have donated several quilts to AAQI, and I'd wanted one of Lori's beautiful quilts. I recently got my wish when Lori posted an announcement on Facebook that "No Rhyme or Reason" was up for sale. That's the quilt that "sold" three more times after I had bought it.

So, these are a few of the first 10,000 quilts donated to AAQI. All of them are connected in very special ways, as are the three of us in our desire to support such a worthy cause. Kudos to Ami Simms, all the folks at AAQI, and all the quiltmakers who have generously donated so many wonderful quilts. To learn more about AAQI, click here.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Fun with Instagram

Little Boo enjoys a snack
Over the last few months I've enjoyed seeing other people's Instagram pictures on Facebook and Twitter, so I decided to check it out for myself. Instagram is an application used with mobile phones equipped with camera and internet access, and the application offers a variety of filters to make pictures look more artistic.

Self portrait captured from image on computer screen
Filters may alter the color to simulate a faded vintage photo. Brightness, contrast and saturation can be manipulated in a variety of ways, and the effects include a variety of edge treatments reminiscent of fine art photography. The rough black border in the picture of Boo (at top) is the same effect you would get if you printed a photograph the old fashioned way, with an enlarger and trays of chemicals in a darkroom. That particular effect is from printing full frame with a negative carrier that's been filed out. I did a lot of printing like that back in the day.

My living room, looking very retro like an instamatic photo
Boo, faded portrait with film edges
It was pretty easy and free to get Instagram set up on my iPhone. All I did was go to the app store and download it. Took just a few moments, and I was up and running.

Outside the Japanese Garden, Portland
Ever since I was a photography student, I've enjoyed manipulating photos. While studying at Rhode Island School of Design, I took a class in Antique and alternate processes and discovered a wonderful book called "Breaking the Rules" by Bea Nettles, which led to much experimentation.

Time for a grilled cheese sandwich
That's why Instagram is so much fun for me. I can almost instantly share artistic looking pictures with a sense of age and history, but I don't have to come into contact with any chemicals. No affiliation, just a fun app I enjoy using. To learn more about it, click here.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Family Pictures

Haulin' ass on Rangeley Lake, August, 1971. I was five years old. 
Today, I was looking through an old photo album and I came across one of my all-time favorite pictures, taken in a favorite place. I'm sure Dad took it. We're all in the boat on Rangeley Lake in Maine, and I was five years old. Looks like we're really moving! Mom is on the right side, with the chic Wayfarer sunglasses, and that's our babysitter, Holly Smith, to the left. Holly traveled with us that summer and helped with my sister Libby and I. It was a lot of fun looking through the old photos. I found a few pictures from Easters past.

Easter Sunday, 1968, North Caldwell, NJ - I was two. With my sister, Libby.
Easter Sunday, 1969, North Caldwell, NJ - I was three. With Libby.
Easter Sunday, 1971, North Caldwell, NJ. We had inflatable bunnies.
Easter Sunday, 1973, Palm Beach, Florida.
Mom gave me this photo album last Christmas. She kept albums for me and for Libby, and there are actually two "Billy" albums. It's wonderful to have a collection of memories in family pictures. I'll post more some time...

Happy Easter!

Easter is a Christian feast and holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day after his crucifixion at Calvary as described in the New Testament. It is also a day when children receive baskets of candy, devour chocolate bunnies and hunt for Easter eggs.

Some people think of the Easter bunny in April
Some people think of the Easter bunny, the "mascot" of Easter, who is like Father Christmas, bringing gifts, candy and Easter eggs to children the night before the day of the feast.

1930s Double Wedding Ring
In the world of quilts, when we think of Easter egg colors, we think of the quilts of the Great Depression. The soft, pastel colors are one of the prime characteristics of quilts of the era.

New York Beauty, c. 1930
No matter how you celebrate Easter, whether in church, waiting for the Easter bunny, gorging on chocolate, or pondering Easter egg color quilts, I want to wish all the readers of Wonkyworld and all your friends and family a Happy Easter!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Clark County Quilters Show

"Daisy Gone Wild" by Gladys Blanchard
The Clark County Quilters show is going on this weekend at the Vancouver Church of Christ in Vancouver, Washington. The show will be open one more day, Saturday April 7th from 10am to 5pm. I went to the show today, and saw a wide variety of eye-popping quilts. I also saw many friends from the Northwest Quilters checking out the show. I think half our guild was there! So many wonderful quilts. Here are a few that caught my eye.

"Cactus Rose" by Joanne Adams Roth
"Sky Lights" By Kathy S. Baumann
"Bursting with Joy" by Terry Knott
"Dragonfly Moon Kimono" by Cathy Erickson
"A Burst of Spring" by Virginia Weinberg 
"A Rhythmical Rabbit Hole" by Dianne Kane
"Imperial Blooms" by Diana Tatro
"Applique Delight" by Linda Lynn
"Rose-Anna's Garden" by Roseann Bulone Leverich
"Travel on to Avalon" by Louise Allyn Beckman
"Off Centered Log Cabin" by Jill Dykehouse
Great show! Well worth seeing, and there were lots of vendors all throughout the venue. It was my first time seeing this show, and I learned it's been going on for 37 years. Very impressive!! For more information about the show, click here.

Are you up for the challenge??

To my surprise, this quilt caused a lot of talk on Facebook recently
I've always liked this Basketweave / Lattice variation on the Log Cabin, but didn't realize how much it would intrigue others until I posted a picture of it on Facebook recently. Boy, was I surprised! To be perfectly honest, I've never really put much thought into this quilt. I got it from eBay in 2005. It wasn't very expensive, but I thought it was neat. I displayed it at home for about 6 months., and after that, it went on a shelf and was almost forgotten.

Last week, a bunch of us who are part of the Quilts- Vintage and Antique group on Facebook had an impromptu virtual Log Cabin exhibition, and I think I may have instigated the whole thing. There was a comment about an auction someone had been bidding on, and a Japanese bidder was winning a lot of things that day. Another person pointed out how popular old quilts are in Japan, and referred to the exhibits of antique American quilts she'd seen in Tokyo. She knew some of us in the group had quilts in those exhibits, and that's when I said one of my quilts had been in the Log Cabin exhibit.

Here's the quilt that was displayed in Tokyo
So, I posted a picture of the silk Barn Raising Log Cabin that was displayed at the Tokyo Dome. Julie Silber posted a picture of one of her quilts, which was part of the same exhibit, and we were off to the races. During the week, dozens of fabulous Log Cabins were posted to the group. Noted authors, dealers, collectors, connoisseurs and quiltmakers all posted pictures of their best ones. The avalanche of amazing Log Cabin variations that would follow was insanely great. At one point, I suggested we should rent our the Armory in New York and mount an "Infinite Variety: Log Cabins" exhibition.

People like Julie Silber, Darwin Bearley, Laura Fisher and Roderick Kiracofe were posting pictures of the best log cabins they had. A stunning display, indeed, and if it really was a museum exhibit it would be one of the best ever. But eventually things started to slow down. I posted the picture of the Basketweave quilt without any comments, thinking I was just adding another last-minute quilt as the activity waned. But it got people going once again.

"OMG! All those partial seams. Only by hand." said longtime friend Judy Grow. I had no idea. Apparently, the construction is a little tricky because it's interlocking rather than a straightforward block design, but when I see things like this I'm not thinking like a quilter. I don't always imagine how difficult it would be to make the quilt. Judging by the comments, some quilters are even a little intimidated by the idea of doing a quilt like this with so many partial seams. Again, I had no idea.

The thread evolved into a quilt throwdown between Siobhan Furgurson of Martinez, Georgia - who has already completed a Russian Sunflower top from a rescue quilt in my collection; and John Kubiniec of New York, New York - who was a finalist in the 2010 McCall's Design Star Competition.

Siobhan Furgurson is already working on her quilt
John said he'd considered doing a quilt like the Basketweave, but had resisted because of the thought of all the partial seams. My quilt made him want to do it, and he asked if he should. Siobhan replied, saying it wasn't so bad. "It just takes a bit of patience, some pins, a good piece of marking chalk, and a large glass of wine." I egged them on, of course, and now they're each going to make a quilt. Siobhan is already working on hers, and posted this picture on her blog.

So, I feel a little silly about how much I underestimated this quilt. Who knew? I'm actually blown away that two such outstanding quiltmakers are going to be making this quilt, and I'm thinking maybe I should invite others to do it, too. The squares are 3" and the strips are mostly about 1" x 8 & 1/2" with some variation. Shorter strips in places, it fits together like a puzzle.

So, are you up for the challenge? If you're inspired to tackle one of these Basketweave / Lattice quilts, please comment, blog about it, and send pictures!!