Friday, September 30, 2011

Enormous 1840s Wild Goose Chase

Enormous 1840s Wild Goose Chase, Eastern United States
As if the wholecloth chintz quilt wasn't impressive enough, there was another quilt in the same package - an enormous 1840s Wild Goose Chase in red, white, and green. The quilt came from an eBay seller in Ohio, but a handful of quilt historians and I think it looks like a New Jersey quilt. One historian called it "sorta Delaware Valley" and another said it had that "dark, diagonal, no border New Jersey look" to it.

I wondered how I'd photograph this monster as it hung over my banister
The quilt measures a whopping 110" x 113" - the largest in my collection - and includes a dazzling combination of early red and green prints with solid white, which has aged to an off-white. The yellow has faded out of some of the green fabric, leaving behind a lovely blueish green. It appears as though the quilt had been exposed to water at times, as there are multiple water stains on the back.

There are water stains all across the back of the quilt

The red fabric is a small-scale print with white diamonds outlined in black
The green fabric is a small-scale over-dyed floral print
The binding is 1/4" straight grain, rolled from back to front
A friend asked why people thought it was a New Jersey quilt, and my response was that it reminded me of a lot of the quilts I've seen that were made in New Jersey in the 1840s. The quilts were very large, often without borders, often set on the diagonal, and were simply quilted, finely bound, elaborately pieced with geometric designs in simple color schemes such as red, white, and green - but white is not the predominant color.

All signs seem to point in that direction, but even though I believe it's likely to be from New Jersey, I'm designating its location of origin as Eastern United States. It's a biggie, and it's a beauty. 

Early Wholecloth Chintz Quilt

Late 18th or early 19th century wholecloth chintz quilt with tape binding
Yesterday my doorbell rang and the postman had a certified letter for me to sign. It was from the U.S. Postal Service, hazardous materials division. They had a package for me, but weren't allowed to deliver it because it was in a liquor box. So I drove across town to get the package from the office near the airport. It was the package I'd been expecting from Ohio, with two old quilts. One of these was a very old wholecloth chintz quilt.

Click to enlarge and see the spectacular quilting design
The quilt is in fair condition, probably good considering its age and the delicate materials used in its construction. The chintz fabric is paper thin. The backing is very fragile, thin silk, and the quilt is surprisingly lightweight. I found it on eBay from a seller in Ohio, but I think it probably came from one of the east coast colonial states.

Striped silk on the back, check out the quilting design!
The fabric looks French, as does the style of presentation. If you look closely at the full view, there is an elaborate, medallion style quilting design, framed, with wandering feather vines along the outer edges. You can see the design even better on the back. The center medallion appears to be a circular feather wreath surrounded by double-line diamond grid fill, with smaller diamond grid fill inside the circle. There is a rectangle framing the center. Click the pictures to see enlarged views.

Dertail of back with quilting and striped silk fabric that has changed color
Detail of chintz fabric, lines of diamonds make blue striped background
Couldn't you just see this quilt in a very well appointed colonial bedroom, with matching curtains and pillows, on an ornately carved canape bed? So, that's one of the two quilts in the package. What else was in the box? Stay tuned...

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Some New Old Things

"Founding Father" art quilt wallhanging, c. 1976, Texas
Early 19th century quilt top with rare vibrant green patches
I've been finding a lot of fun quilts and textiles on eBay lately. Here are some of the things I've found.

Funky 1970s orange and blue quilt, complete with fat binding!
Early 20th century strippy Bars quilt top from back east
The first of two wonderful 1940s New York Beauties
...and the second...
Early 19th century patchwork quilt found in Oregon
An 1830s four-post "Robbing Peter to Pay Paul" from New England
...and just for fun, a 1970s "Silly Goose" Log Cabin crib quilt
Most of these new old things were bargains, and there are a few more arriving soon. Then it will be time to start selling off other quilts I've had for a long time to make room for all the new ones. I'm working on a new web site called "Willy Wonky Quilts" where I will be selling and consigning lots of great quilts, so stay tuned...

Treasures in the Trunk Exhibit

Quilt historian and author Mary Bywater Cross has done it again! Her book "Treasures in the Trunk: Quilts of the Oregon Trail" was published in 1993, and quilts from the book had been exhibited a few times around Oregon, but not for many years. Now, an exhibit called "Treasures from the Trunk: Quilts and their Makers after the Oregon Trail Journey" is on display at the Willamette Heritage Center at the Mission Mill in Salem, and it's up until December 24th. Here are some pictures from the exhibit.

This exhibit is definitely worth a visit. It has some wonderful quilts and great stories about the people who made them, with many connections to family journeys across the Oregon Trail. Also a good reason to pick up a copy of Mary's book, if you haven't got a copy already. The Willamette Heritage Center at the Mission Mill is located at 1313 SE Mill Street in Salem, and is open Monday through Saturday from 10AM to 5PM. Free admission on Tuesdays, so check it out!!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Those 70s Quilts

Polyester Pinwheels
As my New York Beauty exhibit is winding down, I've found a new obsession. 70s quilts! Last year I found one that I call "Wild Thing" and I blogged about it. At the time, I was baffled by the quilt because it was so far removed from anything I'd ever collected. Then I realized why I was drawn to it. I was born in the 60s and grew up in the 70s. Double-knit polyester may not be "the fabric of our lives" but it was the fabric of my childhood.

The quilt I call "Wild Thing"
I brought one of the recent acquisitions for show and tell at the last Northwest Quilters meeting, and I think people were puzzled but amused. One friend sitting toward the front made a funny face, as if she'd just bitten into a lemon. The quilt was wonderfully kitschy, very bright and colorful, and as I mentioned to the group, there's not much need to store it in archival materials. As long as I keep it away from an open flame, we're good.

The quilt I brought for show and tell
Even though I'm sure many quiltmakers might be horrified by the idea of double-knit polyester being a thing of beauty, there's something very optimistic about these quilts. I can envision a whole museum space full of them, and the effect it would have on viewers.
Nine-Patch made of double-knit polyester
Double-knit polyester "Windowpanes" string quilt
Some folks wouldn't even consider 70s quilts to be vintage, but as I've said before, "All new quilts become old quilts, and everything old is new again!" These quirky, kitschy quilts are tomorrow's antiques. So I'll be looking at the bottom of garage sale piles, in Goodwill, and on eBay for more of those 70s quilts.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Some Expo Favorites

One of several gorgeous landscapes by Marjorie Post, Northwest Quilters
The Northwest Quilting Expo at the Portland Expo Center was a great success, and it appeared as though everyone really enjoyed it. I was there on Friday and Saturday to do lectures, and today I strolled through the quilt exhibit with my mother, who's still here visiting from Maine. There were some amazing quilts, and we loved it. Here are a few of the quilts that caught our eye.

Best In Show: "The Magical Mermaid's Castle" by Claudia Pfeil
"Darwin's Diamonds and Flowers" by Ronda Beyer
The hookah smoking caterpillar, a quilt I first saw in Sisters,
part of the Cover to Cover Book Club Quilters display.
"Key Lime Pie" by Jenny Bonynge of Emerald Valley Quilters
My wool quilt, c. 1810, was the oldest ever displayed at Expo.
"Emiline" by Pat Kuhns was a winner in the "small" category
I didn't get the info on this rooster, but he was a head-turner!
A big thank you to all the folks who made this year's Expo possible. Special thanks to Shellie O'Donnell, who invited me to be a part of the show, and her husband, Jim, who was on his feet all weekend helping in every possible way. Mom and I were very impressed with the whole show. We ran into several people who had heard me talk about Mom during my lectures, so that was fun, too! ;) I was definitely exhausted by the end of the day today, but had to share some pictures. Enjoy!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Three Days: Three Lectures

An early four-post bed quilt, part of my "Discovering Old Quilts" lecture
When it rains, it pours...but I'm not talking about the weather. It's a perfectly sunny day in Portland, and Day Two of my crazy "three-lectures-in-three-days" schedule. Last night, I spoke to the Mary's River Quilter's Guild at the Benton County Museum in Philomath, Oregon - the site of my "Beauty Secrets" exhibit. It was a full house in the Moreland Auditorium, and several familiar faces including my mother, who is visiting from Maine. It was the first time Mom had ever heard me lecture. I also got to meet Debra Kerns of Lafayette, Indiana, who was in Oregon visiting. Kerns is the maker of the "Oriental Express" quilt in the exhibit, and it was great to meet her in person!

The Moreland Auditorium was the location of last night's lecture.
After a lovely introduction from the Mary's River Quilt Guild programs coordinator, Monique Lloyd, I opened with, "Don't you just love how I decorated this space?" and we were off and running. The lecture began with four items that didn't quite make it into the exhibit, including a rescue quilt - the one with two large chunks missing. As expected, there was a collective audible gasp from the audience when the damaged quilt was revealed.

I also showed a woven coverlet in the New York Beauty design, a large Depression era quilt, and a modern day example that was made with a Karen Stone pattern. The program started around 8pm, so I thought it would be a good idea to keep things interactive. So after some talk about how the collection and exhibit came to be, I asked audience members to pick a favorite quilt in the exhibit, and I would speak about it. We did several quilts this way, I took some more questions at the end, and I was very impressed by the types of questions being asked. I was also very impressed with the guild and hope to visit them again in the future.

Twenty quilts from my collection are on display at Expo through Saturday
That was Day One. Today and tomorrow I'm lecturing at the Northwest Quilting Expo, a large quilt show with many vendors at the Portland Metropolitan Exposition Center. The topic for both days is "Discovering Old Quilts" and it's being run as a class with sign-ups done in advance. There is also a display of 20 antique quilts from my collection, representing the period from 1810 to 1910.

"Discovering Old Quilts" - Victorian silk "Bars" 
I have no idea how many people will be there for my class/lectures, but I've planned to show a wonderful group of quilts representing 100 years of history from 1830 to 1930. One of these quilts is a huge "Robbing Peter to Pay Paul" or "Lemon Peel" quilt, made around 1830 in New England (pictured at top). It just arrived on my doorstep yesterday, so I'm excited to share it! Some of the quilts in the lecture and exhibit will soon be available for sale. In October I'm planning to launch a web site called "Willy Wonky Quilts" where I will sell and consign quilts. Stay tuned...

Monday, September 19, 2011

In Search Of: Andrea Balosky

"Salute to the Sun" 2011, AAQI quilt by Andrea Balosky
One of Andrea Balosky's quilts in the Bits and Pieces exhibit in Salem
I feel a little guilty for not blogging so much during the last couple months. It's been busy here. My mother is visiting from Maine for three weeks, and I've had a lot of quilt related activities on the calendar.  In the midst of all this activity, my friend Nyima Lhamo, aka Andrea Balosky has popped up once again - in two places. Three of her quilts are part of the Bits and Pieces Exhibit at the Bush Barn Art Center in Salem, Oregon; and several new quilts are on the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative web site.

"Piet Meets Rube" by Andrea Balosky
Pueblo, by Andrea Balosky
Two of the three quilts in the Bits and Pieces exhibit are smaller, along the lines of the doll quilts in the Small Wonders exhibit earlier this year at Latimer Quilt and Textile Center in Tillamook. The third quilt is a full-size piece, and it is really the first thing I saw when I entered the gallery. The quilt is made of simple strips and squares, but somehow creates a dazzling optical illusion, as if each of the four quadrants is bulging out toward the viewer. I don't know how she did it, but it's epic!

"Quadrille" 2011, by Andrea Balosky
Recently, I was very pleased to find NINE new quilts by Nyima (Andrea) on the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative web site. Of course, I wanted them all...and I'll be bidding when they're up for auction. The quilts are every bit as lively and exuberant as her previous work, and looking at them makes me happy. The quilts made by Balosky in 2011 are her first since she left the United States to live in the Himalayas around 2004, and with the second batch this year, it seems she's really hitting her stride. I don't think I can do them justice with words, so I'll just share some pictures of the quilts, courtesy of the AAQI web site.

"Hithertoo Squares" 2011, by Andrea Balosky
"Lost in Poem" 2011, by Andrea Balosky
"Monsoon Polka" 2011, by Andrea Balosky
"Patch 22" 2011, by Andrea Balosky
"Sudoku Serenade" 2011, by Andrea Balosky
"The Brill" 2011, by Andrea Balosky
"The Three Sisters" 2011, by Andrea Balsoky
Every time I see something she's done that I hadn't seen before, I'm blown away. The quilts at Bush Barn Art Center were made before she left the U.S., and the AAQI quilts were made in India. They are all wonderful in my opinion, and there's something enchanting about the new quilts. These are very small quilts. Most are the size of a standard piece of letter paper, yet they are packed with color, design, and movement. What started out as a chance meeting has grown into a die-hard love and appreciation for this newly rediscovered artist. I'm a big fan, and can't wait to see what she does next!