Friday, January 27, 2012

Be@Home Best of the Web Blog

A little over a week ago, I got a note from one of the editors at Be@Home, a home décor blog that features anything from interior design tips to room trends and crafting-related content. He had just come across my blog and wanted to feature it in their weekly Best of the Web Blog, so this week there's a link to my blog. 

Of course, I was happy to be included, and couldn't resist sharing comments about using quilts as part of interior decor. Here's what I had to say.

“A great quilt can be an interior designer’s best friend, whether displayed on a bed or the wall. A quilt can make a house a home. When displayed on the walls, quilts are great for acoustics, and can dull the echo in a large space just like a rug on a hardwood floor. Quilts are also much more economical than other types of art, such as paintings, for covering a big wall space. If I have a message for interior designers, it’s just that.” 

I've always enjoyed home decor and think everyone will enjoy the blog, so here's the link - check it out! To view the Be@Home Blog, click here.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Quilts in the Attic, by Karen Musgrave

"Night Flight" 1982 by Andrea Leong Scadden, aka Andrea Balosky
I'm so excited about the new book "Quilts in the Attic: Uncovering the Hidden Stories of the Quilts We Love" by Karen Musgrave. It's not just because one of the quilts in my collection is included in the book, it's really the whole idea of it. All quilts have stories, whether we know the whole story or not, but I don't think anyone has done a quilt storybook the way Karen has.

The book description from Amazon says, "As both history and art, quilts help express the human experience and can lead quilters to discoveries about themselves, about the past, and about the artistic creation as a whole. Quilts in the Attic features 30 heartwarming stories of great quilt discoveries - from bidding on a breathtaking quilt at an estate auction in Virginia to uncovering a little-known art form in France to finding and repairing a priceless heirloom quilt that had been used, neglected, and damaged, these stories from everyday stitchers and well-known quilters alike reveal the mystery and meaning of the quilts we love."

One of these stories is "An Unexpected Gift" and is about the day I was given two important art quilts by a mysterious woman who emerged from the crowd at the 35th Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show in Sisters, Oregon. The woman, who turned out to be known quilter Andrea Balosky, gave me so much more than a pair of quilts that day, but you'll have to read the book for the whole story.

Most books about quilts are really more like picture books. Some include text about the quilts, their makers, and other information to contextualize the quilts. Karen's book is really a storybook. It includes a color plate of each quilt, but it has much more text than pictures. As it turns out, there's a lot to say about each of the quilts in the book! Available on Amazon, to preview and order, click here.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Going to the AQSG Seminar - What to Bring?

New York Beauty with Nine Patch Cornerstones, c. 1940
Each year, the American Quilt Study Group has a Seminar. The Seminar brings quilt enthusiasts and scholars together for a weekend engaged in quilt study. In addition to the presentation of research papers chosen for publication in Uncoverings and a renowned keynote speaker, Seminar offers pre-conference tours, study center sessions, poster presentations, and roundtable discussions all directed toward the interests of quilt lovers. Other events include book signings, live and silent auctions, show-and-tell, exhibits and vendors.

Block detail, Florence Caldonia Corley Shealy's quilt, c. 1870, SC
I've never attended the Seminar before, but I've wanted to for a few years. In 2009, I was just becoming a member and found out about it too late. In 2010, I was signed up to do a poster presentation, but had to back out. In 2011, I was booked to do lectures and an exhibit at the Northwest Quilting Expo before I realized it was the same weekend as Seminar. But 2012 is going to be a whole different story. This year, the Seminar is in Lincoln, Nebraska - home of AQSG and the International Quilt Study Center and Museum. There, I will lead a study center on my New York Beauty quilts.

New York Beauty, unknown maker, c. 1940, Ohio
Say what? Did I really sign myself up to lead a study center at my first Seminar? Shouldn't I just do like other first-timers probably do, and sit in the back, wide-eyed, madly scribbling down notes?

From Texas, the late 19th century tan fabric was once another, deeper color
The biggest question of all is, "What to bring?"

C. 1870, unknown maker, Southeastern U.S.
Since I've got 50 New York Beauties at this point, and a few other quilts I'd love to share during show-and-tell, part of me just wants to load up the car and drive to Nebraska. Am I crazy for thinking that?

Another recent acquisition, c. 1940
Well, I guess I've got time to decide. Thank you to AQSG for this exciting opportunity. I can't wait! All suggestions about what to bring are welcome!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday the 13th: A Lucky Day!

New England Linsey Woolsey / Calamanco Whole Cloth Quilt, c. 1800
Today, I proved to myself that Friday the 13th can be a lucky day!

Back when I first discovered eBay, more than ten years ago, I used to get a big rush when bidding in the last moments of an auction. As I entered my one sniper bid hoping to win without paying too much, my heart raced as I clicked the bid button and refreshed the screen. It was an exhilarating moment, but since then, it's really become routine. I've won 100% of the eBay auctions I've bid on for several years running, and I can't recall the last time I didn't win.

But Live Auctioneers is relatively new to me, and I've never bid on any auctions through their site until this week. Sue Reich had notified me about a quilt to be auctioned off at the end of the month, and that got me poking around. There aren't a lot of quilts, but I found a rare one listed as a coverlet. It's a tan New England Linsey Woolsey / Calamanco Whole Cloth Quilt, T-shaped for a four-post bed, made around 1800. It was being auctioned through Pook & Pook.

Quilts like this don't come around very often, so I bid to win, and win I did. As the bids climbed from $150 to almost $1000, I wasn't sure my bids were going through, but at $1100 I ended up the high bidder. It was over in an instant, and once again, I had that exhilarated feeling! Can't wait to see this old, rare quilt in person. I could tell from the picture, it's a keeper. What a lucky day Friday the 13th was this year!

Why Quilts Matter

This late 19th century Pine Tree / Tree of Life quilt appears in the series
I feel a strong connection to "Why Quilts Matter: History, Art & Politics" - the nine-part documentary series exploring quilts, which has recently aired on PBS stations across the U.S. I'm a big fan of the subject, and creator Shelly Zegart, who sold me my first antique quilt. I made a contribution to support the production, my name (Bill Volckening) appears in the credits, and two quilts in my personal collection appear in the series.

The critically acclaimed series was recently recommended by Educational Media Reviews Online (ERMO), as reviewed by Winifred Fordham Metz of UNC at Chapel Hill, and Lori Widzinski at the University of Buffalo, State University of New York. An ERMO recommendation is a very big deal, but I'm not surprised knowing Shelly. If you don't know her, she's essentially a guru of antique quilts, and has done it all. Just google her!

So, one day last May, I received an e-mail from Shelly, who was frantically looking for a pieced quilt with a "humility block" - an obvious mistake - to illustrate the highly romanticized notion that quilters made intentional mistakes because only God was perfect.

As always, she knew just the right person to ask. The Pine Tree / Tree of Life quilt hanging on the wall just two steps away from me would work perfectly. It's in Episode 9: Quilt Scholarship: Romance and Reality. The other quilt, which popped up in another episode, is the quilt on the cover of my "Beauty Secrets" catalog. Apparently, Shelly had sold it to Susie Tompkins of Esprit in the early 1990s, but still had a picture of it.

This quilt also made a cameo in the series.
Naturally, I feel a strong connection to Why Quilts Matter, but starting this month I'll have another connection. I'll be doing guest blogs on the Why Quilts Matter web site. In fact, my first blog will also be the first guest blog. In the blog, I tell the story of my "eureka moment" - the moment back in 1989 when I first realized why quilts matter. It's no coincidence that Shelly Zegart was present that day. 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

What's the Deal with Zazzle's Shoes?

I've got some interesting news for all fans of Willy Wonky quilt shoes. Zazzle has temporarily halted all sales of Keds sneakers because they will soon be introducing a whole new line of shoes. My Zazzle buddy Cathleen Savage, who sells iPhone cases and other items, alerted me to the news seen in this forum post.

If you've tried to view the shoes in my collection, you've likely run into a page that says, "Zazzle, the leading innovator in product customization and co-creator of the world’s first 100% customizable shoe is changing the shoe game again. Coming in 2012, we’re launching the next generation of completely custom shoe styles with new silhouettes, features, and styles."

According to the forum post, Zazzle will make an effort to incorporate current designs into the new shoes, which would be helpful to me. I had designed over 70 pair of shoes! Still fresh in my mind, they can be recreated if necessary. Here's what that post says: 

"We have some very exciting news to share and wanted to broadcast it to a wide audience here first. As some of you will start to notice, your shoe product pages will soon be adorned with a Coming In 2012 message and will be hidden from view. We are making this change in order to make room for an expanded, self-branded shoe offering in 2012. Rest assured that we will do everything we can to migrate your existing shoes to the new styles coming in 2012."

So, that's all the information I've got. I'm sorry Zazzle won't be able to deliver product right away, especially after I'd promoted the shoes here and piqued the interest of so many readers. Some people were lucky to get the shoes before the holidays. Others will unfortunately have to wait. Even though it's beyond my control, I'm excited to see what's next. I may have to design some other types of items in the meantime! The coffee mugs were well-received by my family at Christmas...maybe I'll offer some of those. To visit my Zazzle shop, click here.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Phyllis George Quilt

New York Beauty, c. 1890, from the Phyllis George collection
The Quilt Complex has done it again! Julie and Jean always have such wonderful things, and just before Christmas they had a "New York Beauty" quilt that was formerly part of the Phyllis George collection, from her book, "Living With Quilts: 50 Great American Quilts" published in 1998. Here are some pictures. Images courtesy of The Quilt Complex.