Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sensational Scrappy Stashbusters

Scrappy Crazy Block Sampler, c. 1900, Michigan
Today, a Facebook friend asked if I could provide more information about the quilts in the pictures I'd posted. In particular, she wanted to know if the quilts were all part of my collection, or if they were just interesting ones I'd found elsewhere. When I said they were all mine and I usually posted pictures whenever I received new quilts, she said, "Wow. Seems like you get a new one almost every day. The UPS truck must know the way to your house!"


Scrappy Bars Crib Quilt, c. 1970, Pennsylvania
This week I've had four new arrivals including two from eBay and two I found in Centralia, Washington, on my way back from my lecture in Tacoma. The theme of the week seems to be sensational scrappy stashbusters. I still need to take pictures of one of the pieces from Centralia, so there are three pictured here in this blog.

The first is a scrappy Crazy Block Sampler from Michigan, found on eBay, which absolutely sparkles with color. The quilt includes some orphan blocks and wonderful contrast between darks and bright colors. The second quilt, also found on eBay from a seller in Pennsylvania, is a scrappy Bars crib quilt. Even though it is a small piece with a very simple pattern, the use of color is lively and visually sophisticated.

Housetop Strips with Courthouse Steps, c. 1970, WA
The third quilt is one of two I found in Centralia, Washington on the way back from my lecture in Tacoma on Tuesday. I was driving down I-5, and saw a sign for an antiques district, so I pulled off and had a look around. I almost missed this quilt in one of the last shops I visited, but when I was lingering and chatting with the shop owners, I spotted this quilt tucked away, low to the ground. Didn't even have to unfold it to know I wanted it, but we opened it up quickly just to check the condition.

I'm not sure exactly what to call this quilt. It's like an irregular Housetop design made of strips, and includes elements of the Courthouse Steps Log Cabin design. The fabrics and colors scream 1970s. All of these quilts are scrappy. All would serve as great ideas for quilters who want to pare down a stash, and in terms of visual impact, all of them are sensational!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Masterpiece Quilts: Road Trip!

Today, I took a road trip to Tacoma, Washington, to speak to the Puyallup-based Comforter Quilt Guild. It was my fourth lecture in the last two weeks - and the third time I've given my "Masterpiece Theater" lecture in this period - but each lecture was its own thing, and it kept me energized. Today, I brought eight quilts, mostly from the 19th century, for the hour-long lecture. Here's what I brought.

I began with three album or sampler quilts, all vastly different. There was the Mary Couchman Small Album with Lyre from West Virginia, c. 1850; the Album with Rooster by Hannah J. Swin of Bergen County, New Jersey, 1868; and the Sampler with Birds and Wreaths, which I just received during the past week.

The next group included three pieced quilts, all variations on the pattern most widely known as New York Beauty made in the mid-to-late 19th century, before the New York Beauty name was coined.

I wrapped up with a modern looking wool utility quilt and Lucy Mingo's Bible Story quilt from Gee's Bend. Both quilts represented my evolving idea of what a masterpiece quilt could be. During the talk, I also shared some books, including Shelly Zegart's "American Quilt Collections: Antique Quilt Masterpieces"; Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedias of pieced and applique quilt patterns; Eileen Trestain's "Dating Fabrics" and a few others. It was another fun day, a great group, and I hope to have the opportunity to visit them again in the future! Last lecture of 2011 will be on December 12th at the Northwest Quilters meeting. That'll make 14 lectures for the year. It's been a great year!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

More Pictures from "Mottainai: The Fabric of Life"

I found a few more pictures from "Mottainai: The Fabric of Life" - on display one more day, today, at the Japanese Garden in Portland. It's open from 10am-4pm today, and then it will be gone! These pictures include some of the garments made out of natural materials such as Wisteria, textile samples and bags, and I tossed in a couple shots from the garden at the end. Even on a grey day, the Japanese Garden is glorious. I like to go there at different times of the year - always a new experience! Enjoy the pictures, and for more info about the exhibition click here.

...and if you missed the pictures I posted yesterday, click here

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Mottainai: The Fabric of Life

Recently, I had the great pleasure of seeing "Mottainai: The Fabric of Life" at the Japanese Garden in Portland. This exhibition of antique Japanese folk textiles from the Meiji period (1868-1912) is comprised of selections from the private collections of Stephen Szczepanek of Sri in Brooklyn, and Kei Kawasaki of Gallery Kei in Kyoto.

The exhibition demonstrates the remarkable ability of the Japanese to not only make do with the very little they had, but to make art with it. Here are a bunch of pictures from the exhibition. Don't miss the detail shots, and more info at the end. Click pictures to enlarge.

These garments are turned inside-out to show the remarkably pieced linings.

This garment was made of Kudzu, a naturally water-repellent material 

Indigo materials were common because of the native indigo plants

Not a scrap was wasted. 

These objects were absolutely fascinating, and reminded me very much of the denim work clothes quilts from Gee's Bend. Sadly, there is only one day remaining in the exhibition. Tomorrow (Sunday, November 27th, 2011) is the last day. If you're anywhere in the vicinity, just get there. It's worth it! For more info, click here.

Fundraising Quilts

AAI Family Tree Quilt - in progress
Recently, I had the pleasure of photographing a wonderful fundraising quilt for the Adoption Advocates International. I thought it would be a good blog topic because there is a long, intriguing tradition of fundraising quilts in the United States. Fundraising quilts were first made in the 19th century, and by World War I, communities all across the nation were making them. Many of these quilts were inscribed with names, often done in ink or with embroidery, and some included actual signatures.

American Legion Auxiliary Fundraising Quilt, Salem, Oregon, 1931
In these signature quilts, each donor would be represented with their name on the quilt, and completed quilts were often raffled off. Sometimes, raffle winners would donate the quilt back to the charity and it would be raffled again.

The 1931 American Legion Auxiliary quilt from Salem, Oregon, is a great example of this type of quilt. It includes a center medallion prominently featuring the Auxiliary logo, and rows of embroidered names around the medallion. Leaders of the organization received prime positions on the quilt, with names and titles appearing around the inner circle closest to the logo. Two names of deceased supporters appear with gold stars embroidered next to their names.

Spanish American War Commemorative Inscribed Quilt, c. 1915
Another terrific example is an inscribed red and white Spanish American War Commemorative Quilt found in Seattle. This quilt has 784 names including names of ranked military and notables such as Colonel Theodore Roosevelt and Clara Barton. Each block has a center disc with historical references to names of battleships and events in the Spanish American War. The quilt was made around the time of World War I, and is presumably part of an effort to raise funds for the war.

Adoption Advocates International, a Port Angeles, Washington based international adoption agency had a great idea for this year's fundraising quilt. For the past few years, AAI volunteer and quiltmaker Barb Patton has made an annual quilt to raise funds for Layla House, a child care facility operated by AAI. These quilts were raffled off and the proceeds supported the agency's humanitarian mission. This year, AAI is trying something unique and different - a family tree quilt.

Here's what the Family Tree looked like as an unfinished top
Supporters can add leaves and other elements with inscribed names

This quilt is waiting for just one thing before completion - the names of families and supporters on the leaves, branches, trunk and background. There are birds, butterflies, snails, squirrels, rabbits, and even shooting stars - and each supporter makes the quilt more fun and lively. Since I am adopted and have such admiration for my parents and those who adopt, I made a donation for a leaf with my family's name. November is National Adoption Month, so it's a great time to support AAI's efforts by helping them fill the landscape surrounding their beautiful family tree. To learn more about the AAI Family Tree Quilt, click here.

"On a Quilted Breeze" by the Oregon Coastal Quilters
"Before I-84" by the Northwest Quilters
Of course, I couldn't blog about fundraising quilts without mentioning the remarkable quilts being created all across Oregon. Sisters always has an amazing raffle quilt, and the incredible "On a Quilted Breeze" from the Oregon Coastal Quilters Guild was recently on display in Houston. My guild, the Northwest Quilters, is raffling off a sensational covered wagon quilt called "Before I-84" celebrating the journey across the Oregon Trail. For more info, click here.

So, the tradition of fundraising quilts is alive and well and today's quilters, taking a page out of the notebooks of their ancestors, are making creative, important quilts. If you see a raffle quilt or other type of fundraising quilt, I hope you'll participate in the benevolent tradition of beautiful and unusual American quilts. I know I do. I've got stacks of old raffle tickets. Maybe I'll get lucky one day. :)