Wednesday, June 29, 2011

"Beauty Secrets" Now Available

I am pleased to announce the bookstore is open, and the catalog is now available for my upcoming exhibit "Beauty Secrets: 150 Years of History in One Quilt Pattern" at the Benton County Museum in Philomath, Oregon from August 5th to October 1st, 2011. The exhibit will be part of their biennial Quilt County, a countywide celebration of quilts.

The book is 80-pages, full-color, and includes images of 41 New York Beauty quilts spanning 150 years. During the process of creating this catalog, I placed the quilts in a chronological timeline and a story began to surface about quilt history and changing times in America. The quilts range from pristine masterworks of American needlework to rescue quilts.

I took a very visual approach to the catalog, and that makes sense for me. In my mind, quilts are works of art first and foremost. There is enough text to suggest ways of thinking of what the collection means as a whole. A quick read, and visual kaleidoscope. It is the life story of the New York Beauty. A big thank you to the many encouraging people who have watched this project unfold.

Price: $29.95. If you would like to preview or order the book, click here.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Totally Mod String Quilt - Pictures

The totally mod string quilt arrived today, and it's everything I expected. Circa 1970, the top is made completely of polyester fabric. It is bright, graphic, and very cheerful. A most intriguing bargain for $19.99. I hope you'll enjoy these pictures.

Friday, June 24, 2011

AQS Blog of the Week & Top Ten Most Viewed Posts

Today I was honored to learn my blog was selected as the American Quilter's Society Blog of the Week. Many thanks to the fine folks from AQS for this recognition. To celebrate, I thought I'd take a walk down memory lane and recap some of my most popular posts. I started this blog in October, 2010, and since then, the blog has been viewed over 41,000 times. I enjoy using Blogger because it provides statistics like that, and it's really easy to use. So, without any further adieu, here are my top ten most popular posts in descending order. Please click the links to view the blogs.

#10- Preparing for a Noteworthy Guest
10. Preparing for a Noteworthy Guest, November 30, 2010 (231 page views): This post is about getting ready for a visit from Ronda Beyer, one of the finest machine quilters anywhere to be found. Ronda has received some major awards for her work this year.

#9- Elongated Diamond Sashing - A Regional Trait?
9. Elongated Diamond Sashing - A Regional Trait? February 22, 2011 (272 page views):  I have a couple quilts with long, narrow diamonds pieced together in rows as sashing, and was wondering about other quilts with similar characteristics. In this blog, I speculate about whether or not the element could have originated in North Carolina. Six quilts with this element, found on the Quilt Index, were all from North Carolina.

#8- Four Exquisite Flower Pots
8. Four Exquisite Flower Pots, December 2, 2010 (284 page views): There have been many musings on my blog about the Mary Couchman Small Album Quilt with Lyre Medallion, and in this blog I offer a close-up view of the four exquisite flower pot blocks in each of the four corners of the quilt. Take a look, and click the pictures to see enlarged views of the remarkable detail.

#7- NW Expo Display in September
7. NW Expo Display in September, March 3, 2011 (285 page views): I've been receiving a lot of invitations to participate in quilt events lately, and in this post I talk about the invitation to display quilts and lecture at the NW Quilting Expo in September, and of course, what to bring. I'm excited about the opportunity to display antique quilts in this venue. I think it may be the first time antique quilts will be displayed in this venue.

#6- Small Wonders at Latimer Quilt and Textile Center, Tillamook
6. Small Wonders at Latimer Quilt and Textile Center, Tillamook, February 4, 2011 (290 page views): It was my first time in the role of curator, and what a wonderful experience it was. The Small Wonders exhibit included over 80 doll quilts by visionary quilt artist Andrea Balosky, aka Nyima Lhamo. She made the quilts between 1999 and 2003 in Camp Sherman, Oregon, but she now lives in the Himalayas. The exhibit included a double clothesline display across the stage as a tribute to the artist's quilting group, the Pine Needlers, who displayed these quilts on clotheslines back in the day.

#5- Rhode Island Quilt Pictures
5. Rhode Island Quilt Pictures, March 22, 2011 (332 page views): One of my most auspicious acquisitions in recent memory was a circa 1800 glazed wool Star Medallion quilt from Rhode Island. This quilt is very old, very rare, and quite extraordinary!

#4- Miraculous. Important. Divine.
4. Miraculous. Important. Divine. October 29, 2010 (333 page views): In this post I talk about the discovery of Andrea Balosky's Small Wonders doll quilts. I was absolutely blown away by the experience of viewing the quilts as a whole body of work, and the realization that it was a very important group of quilts.

#3- Inspired by Karen Stone
3. Inspired by Karen Stone, February 27, 2011 (341 page views): This quilt, "Lady Liberty Goes to Hawaii" by Marita Wallace of San Diego, California, was the subject of the post. This modern-day New York Beauty was inspired by the work of Texas quilt artist Karen Stone.

#2- Important Rhode Island Quilt
2. Important Rhode Island Quilt, March 17, 2011 (354 page views): I simply couldn't contain my excitement after winning this amazing quilt on eBay. It was a fierce, last-second bidding war, and rightly so. I'd never seen another quilt like it available on the open market.

#1- Separated at Birth: My Virtual AQSG Poster Presentation
1. Separated at Birth: My Virtual AQSG Poster Presentation, October 13, 2010 (711 page views): This post is my virtual poster presentation for the American Quilt Study Group. I'd been selected to present at the annual Seminar in Minnesota, but when I couldn't make it, I still wanted to do my presentation, so I did it online. The subject is a masterpiece Album quilt and its long lost relative from West Virginia.

So, there you have it, my top ten most popular posts since starting the blog in October, 2010. It's been an amazing year, so far, and I have a feeling it will only get better! Thanks again to the American Quilter's Society for recognizing my blog, and special thanks to those who have been reading along!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Clean-Up Time!

The third draft of "Beauty Secrets" arrived yesterday, and I've been working on the final draft. It's clean-up time - the last big sweep before I publish the catalog and make it available to the public.

I found a way to add the "Funky Kentucky Beauty", also received this week, and now the catalog includes images of all 41 textile objects in my collection of "New York Beauty" quilts. It took a little juggling around, changing page numbers and assigning new plate numbers, but I'm glad I got the quilt in the book. It would've been sad to exclude only one.

The catalog is packed full of pictures and information, but still needed a little breathing room. At the beginning and end of the last draft, I had included full-page collages of the blocks. When those pages were printed, I didn't like how the blocks ran off the pages, so I got rid of them. I also took out another accent page with four corners of different quilts assembled to make one, and made the page blank. Ahhhh...deep breath!

The block comparisons remain, and since there wasn't an easy place to put the 41st block, I included it at the end with the acknowledgements. It will be a simple little surprise at the end. While I was going through the book, I made adjustments to several of the photos that weren't looking as good as I wanted in print. Fortunately, I didn't need to re-photograph anything!

My goal was originally to have some copies in hand by the time I went to Sisters, but I think I want to see one last proof before ordering sale copies. So, while I may not have print copies in time for Sisters, it's possible the catalog will be available online in the first week in July. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Funky Kentucky Beauty - Pictures

My funky Kentucky beauty arrived today, and I thought I'd share a few pictures. It appears the quilt top was made in the 1860s or 70s and finished closer to the turn of the century. The red fabric used in the blocks is what I'd call a "Turkey" red, with a faded, slightly bluish appearance. The fabric in the border is a deeper, warmer red, not as faded, and looks like a later synthetic-dyed red.

It has wonderful sunburst cornerstones and a very interesting machine-quilted grid design, which is unusual in this type of quilt. The overall condition is fair. It has large stains in a few places, and a few popped stitches, but it has held together well over the years.

The binding is about 1/4" wide, turned from the back to front. The fabric is a check print, slightly finer weave than similar fabrics seen in earlier quilts. I think it's from the last quarter of the nineteenth century. The binding is also done with machine.

Although it wasn't being sold as a cutter, I consider it to be a rescue quilt because of the condition issues.  Somehow, it maintains all of its integrity despite condition. The quilt is a work of art, meant to be preserved. All at once it is visually sophisticated, folky, and a great cultural relic. 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Totally Mod String Quilt

OK, so it's technically not a quilt. It's a tied comforter. But since it's got a pieced top, I think most people would call it a quilt. This totally mod string quilt was made in the 1960s or 70s, and is coming from an eBay seller in North Dakota. I haven't seen it yet in person, but I'm sure there aren't a lot of natural fibers involved.

This quilt is 66" x 76" and was machine pieced and tied with red yarn. The batting is high-loft, and the backing is flannel. According to the seller, the binding was hand sewn, but there were no details about what type of binding. I'm thinking probably knife-edge.

What really drew me to this quilt was its optical effect. The dark bands of fabric combined with the colorful, geometric pieces create an optical illusion. It has the effect of a view through beveled glass windows. The view is distorted, but something very colorful is on the other side. That's the visual effect it has in a small photo, but I'd say it's the same effect it might have in a large gallery space with the quilt displayed on a wall.

I'm starting to develop a thing for these Flower Power generation quilts, as kitschy as they are. Since I'm a child of the 60's, I can relate to the aesthetic, and the fabrics are familiar. There's something comforting about double-knit polyester. It's retro, it's cool, and although I would never wear it or sleep under it, the fabric will probably last longer than an unwrapped Twinkie.

By the way, I got it for $19.99.

Friday, June 17, 2011

South Carolina Quilt Pictures

I was napping on the couch when the doorbell rang yesterday. Normally I'd just roll over and go back to sleep, but I knew it was probably UPS with the package from Stella Rubin. So I jumped up, trying not to disturb the cat, and answered the door. Sure enough, UPS - a nice young lady holding a package, asking for a signature, curious about how to pronounce my last name. I get that a lot.

"Wow!" I said out loud when I got the quilt out of the box and spread it out to have a look. "That's amazing!" The quilt looked great in pictures, but even better in person. It has alternating color points throughout the block, sashing, and cornerstones, which gives it a dazzling optical effect.

There was a receipt with notes. Florence Caldonia Corley Shealy of Saluda County, South Carolina made the quilt around the 1870s. Exciting! Very few of the nineteenth century quilts in my collection have maker's information. You can bet I'll be taking a spin through today.

Some technical details: the quilt is 77" x 78" with 16" x 19" blocks, 6.5" wide sashing, and 1/4" binding rolled from back to front. It is all hand pieced and hand quilted, with ditch, echo, and elbow quilting. Some quilters know elbow quilting as the "Baptist Fan" design. The overall effect of the quilting is movement through texture and repetition, which plays nicely off the movement in the alternating color points. It sings and dances! Once again, thank you Stella!!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Funky Kentucky Beauty

I discovered this funky Kentucky beauty on eBay yesterday with just a couple hours before the end of the auction. Good thing I didn't have plans or the evening. Sniping on eBay is serious business! If you're not familiar with eBay snipers, they are bidders who place bids in the last seconds of an auction. These bids are typically much higher than the current bid, which often ensures that the sniper will win the item.

Over the years I've had great success sniping auctions on eBay, and I've known some of the people who bid on items I've won. The most frequently asked question I get is, "Do you use sniper software?" I've never tried it. I bid manually, the old fashioned way, watching the countdown in the last 15 minutes of the auction. In the last minute, I bid, and usually have time for just one bid.

Sometimes I go up against other snipers, as I did in the auction for this quilt. In this auction, the bid was under $200 going in to the last minute. I entered my bid, and when the auction was over I'd won the quilt for $343.88. The other bidder entered a bid of 338.88, and since I bid higher, the system automatically entered an incrementally higher bid of $5 more than the other sniper's bid. Easy peasy.

The quilt is from Kentucky. The top was made in the third quarter of the nineteenth century, and it was machine quilted most likely at a later time. The way the grid quilting goes across the whole quilt is probably not what the maker of the top would've done, but it's interesting and has held the quilt together. There are a couple of large stains on the quilt, so it's kind of a rescue quilt. I may try to work on those stains.

It's also a time-span quilt, and I can't wait to see it in person. The border, which could possibly be a synthetic red rather than a "Turkey" red, may provide some clues about when it was quilted. The back fabric, which appears to be rolled to the front as binding, may have other clues. The life of this quilt intrigues me, and I'm sure it has many stories to tell. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


This is my first blog in Japanese. Please share it with our friends in Japan. To translate, copy text and click here for Google Translate.

こんにちは日本!これは日本語で書かれた私の最初のブログです。私は日本語を流暢に書いていない場合は、私を許してください。私は私のカタログの日本語版を作成していますことを発表して書いてみませんか。この本は、"美は の秘密、"私の写真やキルトの情報のコレクションを持っています。

私は20年以上のキルトを収集している。 最近まで、これらのキルトは世界に知られていなかった。 非常に少数の人々は、これらのキルトを見ていた。二年前、私は人々とそれらを共有するようになった。それ以来、私は多くのことを学んだ。





カタログには、すぐに利用できるようになります。 発行元:Blurb.


Seeking Origins of Manufactured New York Beauty

Has anyone seen this quilt before? It's a New York Beauty, but it was mass-produced. I'm looking for leads on the manufacturer. When I bought the quilt on eBay a few years ago, I had a feeling it was one of those quilts made overseas for distribution in the United States. Originally, I thought it might be a 50's quilt, but the trend toward manufacturing quilts was more of an 80's thing.

The quilt is totally symmetrical with a very streamlined pattern and a telltale knife-edge binding. Many of the quilts produced overseas were finished with this type of binding, so it's an important clue. A small section of the binding was pulled open, presumably where a tag had been. Although the colors are right for an early 20th century quilt, other details such as the size and the binding are wrong. It is sparsely hand quilted, but still feels mass-produced. To my eye, the quilt has a rather cold, mechanical look.

During the last year, I saw another one just like it on eBay, confirming what I'd thought all along. I was tempted to buy it, but decided I'd just try to research it. Now I'm looking for any information that would lead to the name of the company that manufactured the quilt. If you've seen it, happen to have one with a tag, or know of anyone who researches this genre of manufactured quilts, please send me a note.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A note from Stella

Pieced quilt, c. 1870, South Carolina, images courtesy of Stella Rubin.
The other day I received a note from Stella Rubin, a well known quilt dealer from Maryland who had something she thought I might like. It was a quilt made around 1870, possibly even a little earlier, and was coming directly from the maker's family in South Carolina. Stella wanted to know if I was interested in purchasing the quilt.

Of course I was!

She included three images of the quilt, which is truly magnificent. One of its most unique characteristics is the use of alternating color points around the arcs and in the sashing and cornerstones. From the pictures, it appears to be teal and red on cream, but I'm still waiting to see it in person to get a sense of the exact colors.

I absolutely love it when someone sees a "New York Beauty" quilt and thinks of me. Several dealers and other people in the quilting community around the US have been notifying me about quilts lately, and it's a privilege I genuinely appreciate.

The quilt will be the 40th textile object in my New York Beauty collection, and it seems like 40 is a good, square number as I finish the catalog for my summer exhibit at the Benton County Museum. This South Carolina beauty may be a latecomer to the party, but I think it has a good chance of making it in to the exhibit.

Thank you, Stella!