Sunday, March 27, 2011

More Spring Cleaning eBay Auctions!

Vintage Tulips Quilt, starting at $9.99, no reserve!
More spring cleaning, and more auctions listed on eBay. Here are just a few of the items I'm selling. To see all of my listings, click here.

Antique Kerosene Lamp, starting at $9.99, no reserve!
Vintage Wool Housetop Quilt, $300, no reserve
SWIM Magazines, 99-cent starting bids, no reserve!
One of two antique engravings, $9.99, no reserve

Charming Silk Rescue Quilt

Have you ever changed your mind about something you thought you wanted to sell? Yesterday, I found this charming little silk quilt when going through things I wanted to list on eBay. Originally, I was going to list it for sale, but then I took a good look at it and decided I liked it too much to sell it. So, I'm keeping it! :)

The quilt is 48" x 49" and has a pleasing selection of multicolored silks. Even though I'm calling it a keeper, it may not be a keeper to all collectors because of its condition issues. A few of the blocks show some shredding to the silk at the seams, and there is some bleeding of the dye in the black fabric.

I've had this quilt for a long time, and wasn't really sure what to do with it. When it surfaced again I immediately realized it was a rescue quilt, and so I'm going to add it to that group of quilts in my collection. The quilt is charming, colorful, displays well, and is a pattern I haven't seen elsewhere. I call that a keeper!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Spring Cleaning eBay Auctions

Cyanotype print on paper, no reserve, start price $9.99.
It's spring cleaning time, and I'm starting some eBay auctions this weekend. So far, I have listed three antique/vintage quilts including a silk Bars (pictured below), a cotton Schoolhouse quilt with provenance, and a wonderfully quilted cotton stars quilt. As a benefit for the Northwest Quilters, I have also listed two recently made quilts by noted Oregon quilt makers.

Silk Bars Quilt, $425 Buy-It-Now!!
If you like to sew or collect sewing machines, I've listed a 1954 Singer Featherweight sewing machine with accessories and case (pictured below). Also listed is a men's size XL Blueseventy wetsuit with Quintana Roo hothead cap.

1954 Singer Featherweight, with accessories, $695 open bid, no reserve.
Another fun item I've listed is a cyanotype print on paper (pictured top). The cyanotype is one of the oldest photographic processes and was discovered by Sir John Herschel in 1842. The sword ferns botanical print was found here in Portland some time in the last ten years. More items to be listed throughout the weekend. To check out all the listings, click here.

Friday, March 25, 2011

When Everything is "Right" About a Quilt

Those who watch Antiques Roadshow may be familiar with an expression the appraisers sometimes use to acknowledge the authenticity of an object. "Everything is right," they say, referring to the characteristics a buyer wants to see in the object. A recent discussion among the American Quilt Study Group's Yahoo list danced around this expression. The group was discussing a quilt which had been erroneously identified as something it clearly was not.

When comparing the visual characteristics to the attribution, everything was not "right" about the quilt. One of the most intriguing labels was "Amish". Not accounting for the present day cottage industries and other exceptions to the rule, what images come to mind when we think about Amish quilts? When is everything right? A good example is this Tumbling Blocks trundle quilt (pictured), once part of the Esprit Collection. The quilt was made in the 1940's by Lidian Hostetler of Wayne County, Ohio. It is geometric. It is pieced, and includes dark, rich, solid colored fabric. It comes from an identified maker and was made in an Amish region. All signs point in the right direction.

This week, after announcing the arrival of an early 1800's quilt from Rhode Island, several people asked me how I knew what I was looking at. Trading through eBay can be tricky, especially if you lack the necessary interpretive skills. But all signs pointed in the right direction, even though there are relatively few comparable examples. A description of a quilt either corroborates its origins or refutes them, and when considering quilts made in the early 1800's, everything was right about the glazed wool, large scale, T-shape for four-post bed, pieced pattern, quilting design, and signs of age.

Quilt study is a window to greater understanding about possible origins of any given piece. Part of the learning process is the broad understanding that certain characteristics and qualities are associated with specific movements, time periods, and regions. Generalizations, yes - with nuances that only solid research can discern - but rightly so. It's not particularly scholarly to say pastel colored quilts were prevalent in the Depression, or that red and green on white quilts were made around the time of the Civil War. However, in many cases it would be correct.

It all boils down to some good advice my mother gave me about how to buy antiques when I first started collecting. "Know what you're looking at," she said.

Her advice has served me well.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Rhode Island Quilt Pictures

The Rhode Island quilt has arrived, and I have to say, it's pretty amazing. Several elements are more pronounced in person, such as the richly glazed wools, lush decorative quilting, and the large scale. I've realized there are a lot of folks who'd like to get a better look at it, so I thought I'd share some new pictures. Click on each picture to enlarge. Enjoy!

Friday, March 18, 2011


Painting on fabric from around 1990. Could it be quilted?
Around 1990, I was a graduate student living in Brooklyn and was experimenting with stencils and spray paint. I had an old futon cover, which I ripped open on the sides and made into a long canvas for the painting. I splashed some acrylic paint around for the background, which caused the canvas to stiffen somewhat, making it difficult to roll. I had no idea how to flatten it, finish it and display it. Couldn't exactly put it on wooden canvas stretcher bars. The painting is 13 feet long and about 4 1/2 feet tall. It's been rolled up in my attic for years.

The tsunami in Japan has weighed heavily on me over the last week, and for some reason the images of the water rushing over entire villages made me think about this long, sweeping painting. My mind wandered to the marvelous creations I'd just seen at the NW Quilters Show, and I began to wonder what would happen if I tried to finish the painting like a quilt. Would the bumpiness "quilt out"?

The futon cover is made of a canvas-like material, possibly hemp. With mind wandering to Japan once more, I considered Sashiko stitching. "You're crazy," I said to myself, wondering if it really could be done. It seems the actual canvas would be easy enough to get the needle through, but what about the areas with thicker acrylic paint? And then there's the size? Where on earth could you display such a thing? Don't quilt shows have rules with size limitations?

Couldn't get it off my mind, so I went up to the attic today, pulled it out, and took some pictures. I must be completely bonkers to imagine finishing such a huge thing as a quilt when I've never actually made a quilt. At the same time, something tells me if I practice a little first, go slowly, and do a little bit at a time, I might actually be able to pull it off. I realize Sashiko is traditionally done with white thread, but I'm considering a darker color, something that'll pop without standing out as much as the fish do. I've got a large wooden quilt frame that could definitely handle the job.

So what do you think? Have I lost my mind? Or are all things possible if you dream? Please comment.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Important Rhode Island Quilt

I've been trying to keep the news under wraps until the quilt arrives on my doorstep and I can get better pictures of it, but just couldn't contain myself. Last Friday, in a thrilling eBay auction that saw the bid skyrocket from $765 to $5,167.89 in the last ten seconds of the auction, I won a very important quilt from Rhode Island. It was a bidding war, for sure, but I was ready. Something told me I'd be going up against other snipers and the quilt would reach the $5000 range. Sure enough, there was another sniper who bid $5088.88 in the final six seconds. Snipers like to use odd numbers.

My thought: "Worth. Every. Penny."

The quilt was made around 1800, and it is made from glazed wool, with the same shiny appearance seen in calamanco wholecloth quilts. But this quilt is an extremely rare surviving pieced quilt. The glazed wool was often made of fabric with a linen warp and a woolen weft, commonly referred to as linsey-woolsey, or with worsted wool. I'm not sure which type of wool it is, but it shines with a glaze that could have been done with wax, albumen (egg white), or most likely heat and pressure.

I'd never seen another quilt like it available on the open market and don't expect to see another one any time soon. The quilt is in very good condition with light moth damage on the top - after all, it's something like 200 years old and made of wool - and a few minor water stains. The quilt was made for a four-poster bed and is a "T" shaped cutout. The central panel is a watermelon or coral color with five multicolored eight-pointed star blocks including a larger block in the center.

All solid fabrics, the center panel is bordered on four sides with a harlequin-like design made of watermelon colored squares and multicolored half squares. The cornerstones are eight-pointed, LeMoyne stars, and the side flaps are brilliant royal with feather vine quilting. The quilting design also includes a four-petaled, elliptical botanical design with two rows of quilting running through the center of each of the four connected ellipses. I've seen a similar quilting design with the elliptical shapes called pumpkin seed, but these may look more like laurel leaves. The quilt has a plain light/white back fabric and a knife-edge binding.

After scouring the internet for more information about early pieced glazed wool quilts, I found only a few comparable quilts. One is in the American Folk Art Museum in New York - the famous "Harlequin Medallion" quilt, also from New England. Two others, found in the Quilt Index database, are from Rhode Island.

I am just delighted to know this quilt is headed to Oregon. We don't see objects like this here very often, if at all. It's not at all what you find at the typical Oregon estate sale, auction, or antique dealer. The bulk of the market here is essentially very ordinary looking Depression Era quilts. The quilt is rare, old, vibrant, and probably one of the most important quilts I've ever bought. I'm especially pleased that it's coming from Rhode Island. For two years from 1984 to 1986 I attended Rhode Island School of Design in Providence. Perhaps this quilt could go to the RISD Museum in the future.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Northwest Quilters Show Pictures!

Viewer's Choice Award, "At First Light" 2011 by Jo Barry and friends.
The 37th Annual Northwest Quilters show was a huge success, and this year's show included a diverse range of wonderful quilts. It was my first year volunteering for the show, and it was awe-inspiring to watch all the volunteers in action. This year, I went around the hall and photographed all the entries in the show including the ID tags, and I wanted to share the pictures, so I posted them in a Flickr gallery. This blog contains just a few selections from the show. If you would like to view the complete gallery at Flickr, click here.

"Crazy Constellation" 2010, by Rita Young-Kilstrom
"Spinning Star" 2011, by Tony Haas
"It's a Tony" Challenge Quilt, 2011, by Featured Artist Paula Chipman
"Beautiful Nonsense" 2010, by Wendy Mamattah
"Dancing Curves" 2010, by Karan Brooks
"Red & Yellow Barn Raising" 2011, by Bill Crane
"Experiment with Teals" 2010, by Sue Hatt
"Finally...the Circles" 2010, by Kathleen Swick
What a great show it was!! I very much enjoyed meeting people and getting to know others I'd met before. To view the complete gallery from the 37th Annual Northwest Quilters Show, click here


Several weeks ago, Ohio quilt dealer Mark French sent me a picture of a quilt he thought I might be interested in seeing, and he called it New York Beauty-ish. Mark sells a lot of quilts through eBay and wanted me to see the quilt before it was listed, because he thought it was something I would want to buy. He was right.

"Ish" is a suffix used to form adjectives from nouns. It can describe anything that has shared characteristics of other, more pure examples. If it's not exactly red, it can be reddish. "Ish" is also used as a stand-alone idiom, expressing mild or non-committed feelings between like and dislike.

In the case of this quilt, the "ish" refers to the desire to categorize the pattern despite the sense of not knowing exactly what it is. It's not a New York Beauty - it's New York Beauty-ish. What makes this quilt "ish" is mostly the sashing and the use of points around the curved seams of each of the four circles.  We might call it a Sunburst or Wheel design, but the exact pattern name is a little elusive.

The quilt is a four-block quilt with white background, cheddar orange, over-dyed green, and a brownish color that has faded from its original color. Ish, once again. The overall design with four-block configuration and hearts in the center of each circle, is reminiscent of a quilt with Pennsylvania "Dutch" or German origins. Each block is echo quilted, Hawaiian-ish. However, the quilt's true origins are unknown.

So, even though this quilt is a bit of a mystery - an "ish", so to speak - there's nothing "ish" about the way I feel about it. I just adore it.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Wild Thing, Part 2

In my November 1st blog, I wrote about a quilt I call "Wild Thing" - in reference to the famous song covered by the Troggs in 1966. "Wild Thing, I think I love you," were the lyrics that came to mind when  I looked at that crazy block quilt in psychedelic colors. Today's blog is Wild Thing, Part 2, because this quilt has the same spirit and same wild colors. But this quilt is as close as I've come to discovering a 1970's New York Beauty style quilt.

This quilt, a Fans variation summer cover that actually has no quilting, is set the same way as a traditional New York Beauty, with pointed quarter circles wedged in all four corners of the block. Calling it a New York Beauty may be a bit of a stretch, but I'm not sure anyone was really making New York Beauties in the 1970's. It may be the closest thing there is to a 1970's New York Beauty.

The original "Wild Thing" - c. 1970
Both quilts are very "Brady Bunch" in their color schemes, bright, wild, and decidedly psychedelic. The Fans variation has sashing made of single strips of fabric, both neon pink and caterpillar green with pink and light purple polka dots. Each fan is constructed of five pieces, which look like little, fat neckties, set on a bright pink quarter circle.

Interesting discovery, I think, and I'll add it to the New York Beauty group until I'm slapped on the wrist and told that's the wrong thing to do. I do what I'm told some of the time, but when it comes down to it, I'm really just a wild thing.

Monday, March 14, 2011

A Pair of Beauties

A few weeks ago, I was viewing pictures of an unusual red and white quilt on the Facebook page of Oklahoma quilt dealer Cindy Rennels. The picture was a mobile upload from a show display, and there was a pink and white New York Beauty in the lower left corner of the picture. Of course, I asked Cindy right away if the quilt was available, and it was. 

Shortly afterwards, Pepper Cory commented, saying she thought Cindy had a second quilt of this pattern that was available. Sure enough, she did. It was an earlier red, white, and green quilt with some cheddar orange. I bought both quilts.

The quilts arrived on my doorstep this past week, but it took me a couple days to post a blog about them because I was volunteering at the Northwest Quilters Show during the week, and was documenting quilts with the Oregon Quilt Project over the weekend at the show. 

The pink and white quilt is a 1930's New York Beauty from Austin, Texas. It has great symmetry, wonderful decorative quilting including feathered wreaths, and solid pink fabric flanked by a small-scale floral pink print used for all the spikes. The print fabric, in contrast with the bright solid, gives the spikes a softened appearance. Very appealing, even though I don't usually collect pink and white, and a certainly a big boost to the Depression Era quilts in my collection.

The second quilt appears to be from the 1870's and is from Ohio. It has solid red, over-dyed green print, and some cheddar orange in the cornerstones. The rectangular quilt has six full blocks and three half-blocks on one side, with border sashing on three sides. It is unusual for its inverted spikes tapering inwards, and quarter circles wedged in squares in the cornerstones, which aptly reflects the basic block design. Both quilts are wonderful - a pair of beauties - and I'm very pleased to add them to my collection!