Saturday, June 27, 2015

Help Charleston Modern Quilt Guild Make Emanuel AME Church Quilt!

Most of the time I don't talk about national news, but after the horrific events last week at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, I wanted to do something. I just wasn't sure what. Then today I spotted a link shared by "Why Quilts Matter, History, Art & Politics" from the Charleston Modern Quilt Guild, and I had my answer.

Gina Pina's wonderful signature quilt from QuiltCon 2015
Using inspiration from Gina Pina's wonderful signature quilt seen at QuiltCon 2015 in Austin, the Charleston Modern Quilt Guild is asking quilters from all around the world to make an inscribed block and send it in by August 1st.

From the Charleston MQG website:

The Charleston Modern Quilt Guild is collecting blocks to be assembled into a quilt for the Emanuel AME church to show our love and support for their members.  Requested blocks are simple brick style and measure 3.5” tall by 6.5” wide (to finish at 3” x 6”).   Please make sure all text is inside the 3” x 6” area.  Each block should prominently show the maker’s city and state – or city and country! – and the maker’s name. Recommended pens for fabric are Sharpies and Micron, but most permanent markers would likely work.  Blocks should be a single piece of fabric and in a solid or print that reads as a solid.  The location and name of the maker should be clear and easy to read.  Completed blocks can be mailed to Charleston Modern Quilt Guild, PO Box 723, Sullivans Island, SC 29482. 

Requested deadline for receipt of blocks is August 1.  We thank all of you in advance for your help in making this quilt happen!

Special thanks to Gina Pina of Austin, TX for providing pictures of her amazing quilt as inspiration!

more book appearances

My collection of books grew a lot over the last five years. One of the bookshelves is devoted to publications that include me and my quilts. It looks like I need to get another bookshelf soon, a happy dilemma. Two new books arrived this week: "Craftivism, The Art of Craft and Activism" by Betsy Greer, and "In War Time: A Study of Civil War Era Quilts, 1850-1865" by the American Quilt Study Group. Both books include quilts from my collection.

Susan Beal wrote a perfectly lovely chapter about Charity Quilting in "Craftivism" and she included the 1931 American Legion Auxiliary inscribed fundraising quilt from my collection. I wrote about the quilt in a blog post for "Why Quilts Matter, History, Art & Politics" - click here to view.

The quilt is truly remarkable, and I am so happy people will be able to read about and learn more when they see it in the book.

The second new book is the catalogue of study quilts from the American Quilt Study Group 2014 Civil War Quilt Study. It includes 50 exquisite quilts inspired by Civil War quilts, and one of those is a quilt inspired by my very first antique quilt, an 1850s masterpiece from Kentucky.

The inspiration is a red, white and green quilt made with the complex design known today as New York Beauty. This quilt is the oldest in my New York Beauty collection and book, "New York Beauty, Quilts from the Volckening Collection" (Quiltmania, France). I purchased the quilt from Shelly Zegart in 1989.

the inspiration: an 1850s masterpiece from Kentucky
Christine Turner's small-scale study quilt - amazing!

Christine Turner of DuPont, Washington did an amazing job with the small-scale study quilt. She was very inspired by the quilt, and imagined how challenging it would be to make it in the 1850s, without today's technology and tools. I am happy to say Christine is also working on a quilt for my next book, a project book from C&T Publishing with 12 projects inspired by quilts from my collection. It is due out next Spring.

Are all of these things really happening? Or am I just dreaming? Someone pinch me, please.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Happy Monday!

What a happy way to start the week. I was quickly scrolling through items on Etsy before heading out to the garden, and there it was...and the seller is here in Portland. Wild and wooly, I just love it. The center is like a gem mine frozen at the center of the world. I'm hoping the seller will let me go pick it up, I'd love to see it today. Happy Day, Happy Monday!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Time Travel

My senior year high school roommate, Tom Sabga, is turning 50, and his wife, Shelley, asked his friends to get in touch with him on an assigned day. Of course I had to send a gift, and I think it drove Tom a little crazy knowing there was a package from me, but he couldn't open it until today.

It was a green gurgling fish jug from Dartmouth, Devon, England; an object of special significance. We had one in the dorm room. It came from my grandparents' summer home in East Hampton. As an element in the dorm room decor, it was part of our Peddie School experience. Shelley asked if there was a picture of the dorm room, but we didn't have one, so I wrote a description for her:

"Our dorm room was on the third floor of an old house, Rivenburg - we were the Rivenburg "Froggies" - and the ceilings were angled on both sides, so the room was almost triangular. There was a small closet next to the door. We had Indian tapestries on the walls, the kind you might have found at Spencer Gifts, old upholstered chairs, an orange rug from Sears, and bunk beds cutting the room in half, which blocked the view of the seating area from the door. I had a stereo set up with a Pioneer tuner and a Technics turntable, some kind of cassette player and big speakers. Tom found a small, square refrigerator, which we kept covered with something fabric, maybe another tapestry; we used it as an end table. Dresser at the foot of the bed, bottle of Scope sitting right on top in plain view. There were two old brass lights made out of boat lamps, port and starboard, a Stork Club ashtray and the green Devon fish jug. On the far wall in the center of the seating area was the only window. We kept a fan there, to keep air circulating in the small space."

I have collected gurgling fish jugs over the years and knew exactly where to find a green, Devon jug- eBay! Isn't it amazing how a very specific object can transport you to a completely different time and place? I am so happy Tom enjoyed his gift, and the time travel. Happy (early) Birthday, Tom. Ala Viva!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

63 Ducklings!

This adorable quilt came from an Etsy seller in Alabama. It is 63" x 77" and is made of cotton; with 63 appliquéd ducklings in nine rows of seven. I am not sure exactly when it was made, but I'm guessing some time in the mid century, maybe 1960s or 70s. Some of the ducklings look like they might be pecking the ground for feed. Silly, sweet ducklings!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Double Wedding Ring Quilts

This incredible 1970s Double Wedding Ring came from an eBay seller in Colorado. It is 91" square, and made of cottons, most likely with some cotton-polyester blend fabric in the mix. The quilt has a mind-boggling assortment of 1970s calico prints, the kind originally used for clothing before the quiltmakers got hold of it.

Double Wedding Ring was not an easy pattern, but it was a popular one. A quick search of eBay turned up more than 400 results; and the Quilt Index had more than 1500 results from the search for Double Wedding Ring. With its romantic name and pattern of interlocking rings, it was quickly adopted as a wedding quilt design.


I have three other Double Wedding Ring quilts in my collection: a blue one from he 1930s, and two others from the 1970s. One is made of a scrappy assortment of prints and solids, with its deconstructed looking pattern appearing and disappearing in the overall design. The other is all polyester, mostly solid color fabrics in many bright colors.

The Double Wedding Ring design is the subject of two books in my library. The first is "The Romance of Double Wedding Ring Quilts" by Robert Bishop (1989), and the other is the recently published "Double Wedding Ring Quilts - Traditions Made Modern" by Victorian Findlay Wolfe. If you love this design, both books are a must! You can also read more about Double Wedding Rings at Why Quilts Matter, History, Art & Politics - click here.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

are you a fan of fans?

Another fan quilt arrived recently, and this one may look familiar. It appears on page 134 of "Unconventional & Unexpected: American Quilts Below the Radar" by Roderick Kiracofe.

The quilt is attributed to Lori Apo. It is 72" x 90" and is thought to have been made in Hawaii or California (I'm betting on Hawaii) in the 1970 to 1980 period (I'm betting 1970 - it just has that look). It has lots of great Hawaiian fabrics, including the back fabric, with its surfers, hula girls and palm trees.

The quilt was formerly part of the collection of Eli Leon before appearing in Kiracofe's book, and there's more than one way to look at it. I think I like it as a vertical, but it was horizontal in the book. It could be displayed either way and look great. Clearly, I have a thing for fans. Here are a few others in my collection.

Snake Trail Fans, c. 1890, Pennsylvania
Radiating Fans - "The Thrifty Wife" c. 1900, Wisconsin 
Layered Fans, c. 1920, New York
Radiating Fans, c. 1920, Texas
Fans, c. 1960, Texas
I like fans because they are somewhere between New York Beauty and Double Wedding Ring, two favorite designs. Fan blocks can be used in a lot of different ways-- an intriguingly versatile element in patchwork quilts. Are you a fan of fans too?

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Throwback Thursday: RISD Freshman Foundation 1984

1984: in the drawing studio at Rhode Island School of Design
In 1984, I was a freshman at Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island. All freshmen took five courses, Drawing, Two-Dimensional Design, Three-Dimensional Design, Art History and English Composition & Literature. Drawing was a lot of fun, even though I was planning to declare Photography as my major. I remember being one of just a few students who got an A in Victor Lara's Drawing class. Same with Gerald Immonen's Two-Dimensional Design class.

one of my first Nature Lab drawings, Victor told me to loosen up!
a later drawing, and I had loosened up a bit 
an unfinished portrait study - planes
When it came time to receive our grades in one-on-one meetings with the teachers at the end of the semester, Victor Lara asked what my major would be. When I said Photography, he seemed disappointed. He thought I should paint.

Nina Zitani, a cyanotype portrait made during wintersession
During wintersession we could take an elective, and I took Antique and Alternate Processes with Paul Krot, inventor of Sprint photo chemistry. Krot was an amazing individual. He once told us the chemicals needed to develop film could be found in a supermarket. Hair dye could be used to develop film. To prove his point, he dyed his hair with photo chemicals. He did not like the smell of photo chemicals, so his formulas included vanilla extract. One time he told us punk was male liberation music. His grand philosophy of life revolved around the symbolism in the Wizard of Oz; he rode a motorcycle and hung out at the hipster/biker bar downtown.

Providence, Rhode Island, 1985, infrared, gelatin silver print 
Providence, Rhode Island, 1985, infrared, gelatin silver print
I enjoyed trying the different photographic processes, and it's interesting to consider the standard process of the day, black & white "gelatin silver" printing is now among those antiquated, alternative processes. We learned cyanotype, Van Dyke Brown, platinum, gum arabic and others. In my spare darkroom time I enjoyed experimenting with infrared photography. I liked landscapes a lot.

Moorestown, New Jersey, 1984, gelatin silver print
The Johnson's Laundry, Moorestown, New Jersey, 1984, gelatin silver print
When I was home for the holidays, I shot a memorable photo in our neighbor's back yard. Mrs. Johnson left the laundry out all night and it was out hanging on Christmas Eve. I guess it was warm enough to hang laundry during the day, but the whole thing seemed a little odd to me. It is an odd photo.

Collage from Two-Dimensional Design in 1984
Looking back, it's really great to have some of the things I made that year. I feel like I have something to show for my experience, but more importantly, I've got reminders of the many valuable lessons learned. An education in art and design seemed like an alternative choice compared to a liberal arts education, but that choice was one of the main reasons for all of my success.

Collage from Two-Dimensional Design in 1984
It was an education in creative problem solving and communication. We learned to use whatever materials were available or assigned. We learned how to do very good work on a very tight deadline, and we had fun. Occasionally I enjoy pulling out the work from freshman foundation at RISD, to reminisce about being in such an extraordinary creative environment with so many talented, young people.