Thursday, May 31, 2012

Quilts, by Roderick Kiracofe

Oh, Happy Day! Roderick Kiracofe's new book has just been released. I've been eagerly anticipating it for several months, since I learned about it from him through Facebook. Recently, I learned he would be self-publishing the book through Blurb, and that got me even more excited! The book is simply called "Quilts" and it's the first book we have seen from Kiracofe since 1994, when he authored "Cloth and Comfort: Pieces of Women's Lives from Their Quilts and Diaries" (Clarkson Potter).

The previous year he authored the seminal book, "The American Quilt: A History of Cloth and Comfort 1750-1950"(also Clarkson Potter). Kiracofe also wrote the introductions for "A Quilter's Wisdom" (1994, Chronicle Books) and "Going West! Quilts and Community" (2007, Smithsonian American Art Museum). And of course, he also produced five editions of "The Quilt Digest" with Michael Kile, between 1983 and 1987.

The new book examines the visually sophisticated, improvisational quilts of the second half of the 20th century, and it's full of eye candy! In the introduction, he calls the quilts "the extraordinary made from the ordinary" and considers their context within the world of art.

"Much has been made of the particular threshold between a consideration of quilts as artworks and their value in the home as masterpieces of make-do that bring warmth and beauty to a quotidian context," said Kiracofe in his introduction. "This presentation of quilts, representing the different dreams and different voices of the makers, is absolutely in the interest of feeding the momentum of the ever-expanding appreciation for the innovative quiltmaking and allowing the conversations to continue with all the nuance that these works of art merit."

I agree, wholeheartedly.

The book is available in hard cover, soft cover, and e-book, and you can order it through Blurb. To preview and purchase the book, click here.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Flashback: My First Block

Several years ago, I decided it would be fun to try to make a quilt block. So I went to the fabric store, bought several batik fabrics, and made a block. Just one block. It was a disaster. I think I was trying to make an Ohio Star. After forcing the thing through my machine, I looked at it and thought, "This is not good." So I stashed it away and pretended it never happened.

Just last night I found the block in a file with receipts of quilts I had purchased. I have no idea why I put it there, but there it was. Still bad, after all these years, although I do like the colors. I suppose the front of the block isn't that terrible, but the real story is on the back of the block.

Oy vey! What a mess!! Now you all know why I was reluctant to start making quilts. It's kind of funny looking at it now. Not that I'd do any better at an Ohio Star block today, but at least I've learned enough to know not to try it again until I've learned a lot more!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Tidal Treasures: Tillamook Quilt & Fiber Arts Festival

Best in Show - quilt by Gail Desjarlais
The Tillamook Quilt & Fiber Arts Festival took place on Saturday and Sunday at the Tillamook County Fairgrounds, and I was there doing a lecture each day. It's a wonderful event, which includes a quilt exhibit, demonstrations by local artisans, vendors, raffles, and lectures. I had done one lecture at this event a couple years ago, but this time I did one each day. At the end of day two, I finally got a chance to look at the quilts, and I saw a lot of quilts made by friends who served on the Board of the Friends of Latimer Quilt and Textile Center during my time as a board member.

"Line Art" by Carol Weber
"Frosty Friends" by Cathie Favret
"Favorite Quilt" by LaRayme Woodward
"Spring Flight" by Faye Jacques
"Concentricities" by LaRayne Woodward
"Button Baskets" by Cathie Favret
I'm always pleasantly surprised when I get to see the quilts made by people I know. Usually I don't get to see their quilts until long after I've gotten to know their makers, and my reaction is often, "You made THAT? Wow!!" The back corner of the space is where I did the lectures, and I had a couple of the quilts on display most of the weekend.

It's a nice size show, held every other year, and I'm considering being a vendor in the future. There aren't enough appraisers around, and I think it would be a nice addition to offer the service at the show. Good thing about that is the booths are affordable and I don't have a lot of inventory to bring in and set up. I could hang a quilt or two, pull up a couple tables and chairs, and I'd be in business.

Once again I would like to thank the Tillamook County Quilters for including me in a wonderful weekend, and a special shout out to Faye Jacques who assisted holding up quilts during the lectures. Great job, all!!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Weekend at the Oregon Coast

I stayed in Oceanside, and the beach was maybe 100 yards from the cabin
The Oregon Coast is sublime any time of year, but until this weekend, I hadn't spent much time there in the late spring. I was lecturing as part of the Tillamook County Quilt and Fiber Arts Festival at the Fairgrounds - more about that later - and was staying at a cabin in Oceanside. The town of Oceanside is a lovely little community nestled in a bay, with a steep hill overlooking the bay. Perfect for parasailing!

I took these pictures standing on the front steps of the cabin in Oceanside
Here's what I could see from the front door at the cabin.
Tillamook is like a great big dairy farm by the sea, and a short drive from the sweeping vistas of the Pacific is farmland, cows and all. For anyone who doesn't know Tillamook, it is home of the Tillamook Creamery, where they make cheese, ice cream, wonder I love Tillamook so much! It is also home of the Latimer Quilt and Textile Center. I drove around a little, and the color of the landscape just took my breath away.

You can't find color like this just anywhere, but you can in Tillamook.

Oh yes, there are cows. Lots of 'em! This one seemed to like Sergio Mendes.
There were cows near the road, so I stopped for a moment to take a picture. Sergio Mendes was blasting from my car stereo, and the cow kept looking at me as I took her picture. I think cows like Sergio Mendes. Others seemed like they were headed toward the sound of the music. Since the cow was looking, I waved, and off I went.

The lectures went well. I spoke about the New York Beauty quilts again, and did mostly 19th century on Saturday and mostly 20th century today. I also took lots of pictures at the show, which I will post this week. It was a great weekend, and I thank the Tillamook County Quilters for asking me to be a part of it. Special thanks to Carol Weber, who arranged for the cabin and other goodies. Thank you, thank you, thank you - and job well done!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

100,000 Views! & Memory Test

Bonus: Where was I when I saw this wonderful piece of redwork?
Today I reached a milestone with my blog - 100,000 hits! I started the blog on October 5th, 2010, so it's taken less than two years to reach this milestone. I'm happy so many people have seen the blog, and to celebrate, I thought I'd offer a fun challenge. It's called "memory test" and all the pictures here have appeared at some point in my blog. Can you remember what the following pictures are all about?

#1 - where did I see these paw prints?
#2 - what day was this?
#3 - what exhibit included this quilt?
#4 - this fabric is on the back of what quilt?
#5 - on what quilt can these clowns be seen?
#6 - where was I when I spotted this bird?
#7 - it looks like a Gee's Bend quilt, but what is it really?
#8 - when and where was this quilt made?
#9 - whose mark is that on the bottom of this beautiful vessel?
#10 - an easy one: what's my cat's name?
So, did you remember any of them? If not, go back and read some of the blogs you may have missed. Loads of pictures, and always something interesting and creative. Thank you, readers, for helping me reach the 100,000 mark. Onward!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The garden

It's a little wet outside today, otherwise I might be out in the garden. I haven't spent a lot of time out there over the last few years, but I it still cleans up fairly well. I was thinking about it after seeing Tim Latimer's garden update. My garden is naturally lush because we get a lot of moisture year round, but Tim is miles ahead when it comes to gardening.

My back yard garden is really a lovely little space, fairly secluded, with a stone path. There was once moss growing between the stones, but it hasn't done well. It mostly tries to grow over the stone and succumbs to weeds where there's dirt. Now, there are violets trying to grow in the path, and as much as I love violets, they're going to have to go somewhere else.

There's a trick to getting the whole yard done, and it involves timing the yard debris pick-up, which is only every other week. On the first pass through the garden a week ago Saturday, I got to the end of the yard on the main level, and the yard debris bin was full. Collection was the following Thursday, so I had to remember to get the bin to the curb. Easy enough when you're in the routine, but normally, I don't have a lot of recycling or yard debris. I'll fill the large bins a few times a year, but that's about the extent of it.

As a reminder, I left the bin in the middle of the yard where I'd see it every day. Of course, with each passing day I wanted it to go away more and more. So I remembered. Perfectly timed. I'm using the same idea with recycling. The large bin is full after I went through the mess in the attic, and the bin will go out to the curb tonight.

In case you haven't already guessed, the flurry of activity around the house is to prepare for a visit from Mom in a few weeks. She's coming from Maine, and hasn't been here since last September, when we celebrated her 80th birthday. She's actually a very good gardener, but if possible, I'd like my garden to be somewhat presentable by the time she arrives. All depends on the weather.

There was a visitor in the yard the other day.
So, I'm doing the indoor-outdoor tango. One week, fill the yard bin. The next week, fill the recycle bin. It's been nice to break up the bigger jobs this way...makes those tasks seem less overwhelming. Fill a bin, get something else done, rinse and repeat. Right on schedule, but it's a good thing I have a few weeks!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Playing with Prairie Points

Prairie points are kinda fun, if you like ironing!
On Facebook, there is a wonderful group called "Quilts- Vintage and Antique" where than more than 500 members read about quilts and post pictures of them. It's a virtual museum, but it's so much more. Just a great open dialogue. If someone posts a picture with a question, it's likely an expert will chime in quickly. We "oooh and ahhh" over masterpieces, and giggle about the quirkies.

Marjorie Childress' quilt, c. 1960s
Recently, Marjorie Childress posted a picture of a marvelous, offbeat quilt with rows of prairie points. Just before she posted the pictures, she'd been half-jokingly lamenting the feeling of being completely outclassed by the group, and this group routinely comes up with one jaw-dropping masterpiece after another. The tables turned as soon as we all saw this quilt. Everyone was raving about it. I said I'd buy it, and Roderick Kiracofe said there would have to be an auction. Obviously, a bunch of us were coveting it.

Flower Power and Pocketed Prairie Points
It's not hard to see why we were all going ga-ga over it. Then, we found out there was another one, the quilt's fraternal twin, sold to Marjorie by the same seller. We haven't seen pictures yet, but I'm already green with envy. That's why I decided it would be fun to play with prairie points. Maybe I could use the idea in a quilt somehow. Making prairie points is great fun, if you like ironing. I didn't think I liked ironing much, but have come to enjoy it. A hot iron with a lot of steam is a good thing when making prairie points. If you're interested in giving it a try, check out this tutorial. I watched it, and was off to a running start.

So I'm not sure what I'll make, but I hope it's half as great as Marjorie's quilt. And Marjorie, I was serious...if you want to sell it, you know where to find me...(call me!)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Anna Showalter Trissel's Quilt

Every once in a while I decide to sell a great quilt, and I've been thinking about finding a new home for this one for a while. It is a best 1880s Double Irish Chain Quilt from Virginia, with complete provenance - and published! This quilt was made by Anna Showalter Trissel in Rockingham County, Virginia.  It is pictured in the book, “A Treasury of Mennonite Quilts” by Rachel and Kenneth Pellman. The powerful story behind this amazing quilt is in the book, along with many other great quilts and their stories.  

Anna Showalter Trissel was widowed when her youngest son, David, was three years old. She died two years later, when David was five. Before her death, she made this quilt for her young son. David grew up and married Lily Hess. He died eight months later. Lily was remarried to David's brother, John Trissel, in 1910. They gave this quilt to their daughter, Iva, the second of six children.   

This quilt is one of the best of its kind, a Double Irish Chain in turkey red, dark indigo and bright white, It is skillfully hand-pieced with a small amount of treadle or machine applique of the corner squares finishing each block. The hand quilting is very fine and even, 10-12 stitches per inch, sometimes more! There are elaborate feathered wreathes in the white patches and double diagonal rows elsewhere. There is no wear to this quilt at all. The narrow 1/4" binding is turned from the back and hand-hemmed.      

The quilt is clean, thin, crisp, and bright.  Cotton debris can be seen in the thin batting when held to the light. There are some tan stains on the back that do not show through. Measures  75” x 85”.  An amazing patriotic quilt, can now be yours before Memorial Day and July 4th! Don't miss this wonderful collector's quilt. To view the listing on eBay, click here.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Lisa Ellis and Healing Quilts

Escher's Needlepoint 
Lisa Ellis
Lisa Ellis of Fairfax, Virginia, came to speak at the Northwest Quilters Guild meeting today, and she spoke about Healing Quilts. When I read about the program on the NW Quilters website, there was a link to Lisa's web site, so I clicked through and learned that Lisa is involved with charities such as the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative (AAQI). All the while, I thought her name was ringing a bell. Were we Facebook friends? Was she one of the people posting on the AQSG Yahoo Groups? Had I seen her work somewhere? Why did I recognize the name Lisa Ellis? I wasn't sure. But I grabbed all the charity quilts I'd bought over the last few years, including three Alzheimer's quilts and my own first quilt made for AAQI, hoping to have a chance to meet Lisa and share the quilts with her since we both support the cause.

Beta Cell
I said hello to Lisa before the meeting, and told her I'd brought Alzheimer's quilts, including my first quilt ever, which was made for AAQI. She did a powerpoint presentation with quilts from the various charities and causes she's been part of, including a wonderful group of Alzheimer's quilts. The room was a little too light to see the slides really well, so I've posted a few of the ones she showed with this blog. You can see larger images, read about them, and see more quilts on Lisa's website. She also brought a big table full of Alzheimer's quilts, including a small group she'd bought and a larger group of ones she'd made. I wanted to buy all of them.

Running Out of Time
Connecting the Dots
I enjoyed Lisa's lecture and her quilts very much, and at the end of the meeting, we had show and tell, so I brought up my little collection of charity quilts. I showed Nyima and Lori's AAQI quilts, and one from the Alliance for American Quilts made by Nanette Fleischmann. I even showed some of my own, including my first quilt, which was made for AAQI. The other quilt was made by Mary Kerr, who I met in Paducah last year.

Mary Kerr's Pilgrim/Roy Challenge quilt, "A Star in the Garden"
Mary's quilt was made for the Pilgrim/Roy Challenge and auctioned off in a benefit for the National Quilt Museum. Lisa recognized the quilt and spoke up. Mary is one of her dearest friends, and Lisa is part of Mary's Vintage Revisited book, which is in my book collection.

THAT's why the name Lisa Ellis rang a bell!

It was one of those humorous moments of realization for me. One of Lisa's quilts is on the cover of Mary's book, and I love that quilt. It's Uncle Sam juggling balls, and is made out of old fan blocks. Love the book, love Pepper Cory's foreword, and I am the one who suggested bringing the exhibit to the Latimer Quilt and Textile Center, where the quilts will be displayed in 2013.

OMG, talk about six degrees of separation. I only wonder where Kevin Bacon fits in.