Monday, August 31, 2015

Hunter's Design Studio Back to School Blog Hop

Sam Hunter of Hunter's Design Studio is hosting a Blog Hop!

Sam Hunter of Hunter's Design Studio is hosting a "Back to School Blog Hop" and it begins tomorrow! I will be participating in the blog hop later in the month as a guest blogger. It runs through the entire month and into October; and there will be lots of great information. Hop along to get tips and tricks for your quilting and sewing studio from some of our industry's pros...and me. :)

Here's the schedule:

Sept 1: Peta Minerof-Bartos of PetaQuilts – So, Does that Diagonal Method for a Pieced Backing Really Work
Sept 2: Cheryl Sleboda of – The Quilter’s Knot
Sept 3: Teresa Coates of Crinkle Dreams – The Importance of Pressing
Sept 4: Cath Hall of Wombat Quilts – Color Coding for Paper-piecing
Sept 5: Sam Hunter of Hunter’s Design Studio – How to Calculate and Cut Bias Binding
Sept 6: Melanie McNeil of Catbird Quilt Studio – Credit where Credit is Due
Sept 7: Mandy Leins of Mandalei Quilts – How to Keep a Perfect 1/4” Seam Between Different Machines
Sept 8: Rose Hughes of Rose Hughes – Fast Pieced Applique
Sept 9: Megan Dougherty of The Bitchy Stitcher – The Care and Feeding of the Domestic Sewing Machine
Sept 10: Lynn Krawczyk of Smudged Design Studio – Make a Mobile Art Kit
Sept 11: Susan Beal of West Coast Crafty – Log Cabin 101
Sept 12: Sarah Lawson of Sew Sweetness – Zipper Tips
Sept 13: Jane Victoria of Jolly and Delilah – Matching Seams
Sept 14: Jemelia Hilfiger of JemJam – Garment Making Tips and Tricks
Sept 15: Ebony Love of LoveBug Studios – Curved Piecing Without Pins
Sept 16: Misty Cole of Daily Design Wall – Types of Basting
Sept 17: Kim Lapacek of Persimon Dreams – Setting your Seams
Sept 18: Christina Cameli of A Few Scraps – Joining Quilted Pieces by Machine
Sept 19: Bill Volckening of Wonkyworld – The Importance of Labels
Sept 20: Jessica Darling of Jessica Darling – How to Make a Quilt Back
Sept 21: Debbie Kleve Birkebile of Mountain Trail Quilt Treasures – Perfectly Sized No-Wave Quilt Borders
Sept 22: Heather Kinion of Heather K is a Quilter – Baby Quilts for Baby Steps
Sept 23: Michelle Freedman of Design Camp PDX – TNT: Thread, Needle, Tension
Sept 24: Kathy Mathews of Chicago Now Quilting Sewing Creation – Button Holes
Sept 25: Jane Shallala Davidson of Quilt Jane – Corner Triangle Methods
Sept 27: Cristy Fincher of Purple Daisies Quilting – The Power of Glue Basting
Sept 28: Catherine Redford of Catherine Redford – Change the Needle!
Sept 29: Amalia Teresa Parra Morusiewicz of Fun From A to Z – French Knots, – ooh la la!
Sept 30: Victoria Findlay Wolfe of Victoria Findlay Wolfe Quilts – How to Align Your Fabrics for Dog Ears
October 1: Tracy Mooney of 3LittleBrds – Teaching Kiddos to Sew on a Sewing Machine
October 2: Trish Frankland, guest posting on Persimon Dreams – The Straight Stitch Throat Plate
October 3: Flaun Cline of I Plead Quilty – Lining Strips Up
I am honored to be included in the Blog Hop, and will be blogging about the importance of labels. That's a good topic for me. Most of the quilts I collect are not identified by maker and have no label. So, you are invited to follow along and go Back to School. There will be something good to learn each day.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

crazy Crazy Quilt

This crazy Crazy Quilt is one of my favorite 1970s quilts. It is one of the more complex, original designs. People often say it is like an Eye Spy. I agree There are all kinds of things you can find if you keep looking at it, and sometimes you'll spot things you hadn't noticed before.

Eye spy a camel...and I think I know something about the templates the quiltmaker used. :)

Eye spy a gingerbread man!
The quilt came from a seller in Florida. It is 72" x 93" and is made of mixed fabrics including cottons and synthetics. There is a "1776" Liberty Bell patch, something you might have seen in the 1970s around the Bicentennial. It is pieced and appliquéd, with decorative black stitching outlining each patch, and shapes jump out of the crazy patchwork. The whole effect is kaleidoscopic, psychedelic.

The quilt is part of my exhibition, "Modern Materials, Quilts of the 1970s" -- now on display at the Benton County Museum in Philomath, Oregon. For more information about the exhibition, location, hours,  and other venues showing quilts during Quilt County 2015, click here.

Friday, August 28, 2015

September 1st Giveaway - Enter to Win "Modern Materials" Catalogue

There is a catalogue for "Modern Materials, Quilts of the 1970s" and I am giving away a copy. Drawing will be Tuesday, September 1st, and entries are now open.

The catalogue is 22 pages, softcover, small square 7" x 7"and is printed in full color. It is available through Blurb in hardcover image wrap, softcover and PDF - for more details, click here. Enter to win by leaving one comment in the comments section below. A random winner will be drawn on September 1st. Good Luck!

"Happiness is..."

"Happiness is..." was a thing in the 1970s. I think the origin was "Happiness is a Warm Puppy" by Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz.

All we had to do was fill in the blank. Happiness could be anything we wanted. For me, happiness was a big bowl of Cap'n Crunch with Crunchberries and a Hanna-Barbera marathon.

Today, happiness is a vibrant, 1970s pictorial landscape quilt, part of my exhibition "Modern Materials, Quilts of the 1970s" now on display at the Benton County Museum.

The quilt is 68" x 90" and made of cottons. It has initials and a date inscribed in black embroidery, "With Love, JAM '77" and it is tied with black yarn. It came from collector Marjorie Childress of Albuquerque, New Mexico, who discovered it through Goodwill. I couldn't imagine giving away such a wonderful quilt, even if Goodwill is a good cause. The quilt is iconic. It captures the essence of the utopian, free-spirited 1970s.

"Modern Materials, Quilts of the 1970s" is now on display at the Benton County Museum in Philomath, Oregon. For more information about the exhibition, location, hours,  and other venues showing quilts during Quilt County 2015, click here.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

"I pledge allegiance to the flag..."

In 1971, I was in kindergarten at the Gould Elementary School in North Caldwell, New Jersey, and each school day began the same way. We all stood, right hands over our hearts, looking at the American Flag above the chalkboard, and we recited the Pledge of Allegiance in unison.

We learned about historical figures such as Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln and Betsy Ross. The significance of the American Flag was clear from the beginning. We were proud to be Americans and we looked forward to the Bicentennial in 1976.

American flag quilts are highly coveted objects in the world of antique quilts. This 13-star American Flag quilt was most likely made around 1976, so it is barely vintage; but I was still surprised nobody else really wanted it when it appeared on eBay a few years ago. There were a few bids, but the final price was only nine dollars. Shipping from Florida cost more than the quilt.

I guess that's how far off the radar 1970s quilts were when I first started collecting them. As time passes and 1970s quilts become more collectible, this quilt's stock will rise. It is machine pieced, hand appliquéd and hand quilted. It is 66" x 77" and is surrounded by a prairie point edge finish. It also includes bright red and blue colors-- not the exact same colors used in actual American flags, but they were popular at the time.

"Modern Materials, Quilts of the 1970s" is now on display at the Benton County Museum in Philomath, Oregon. For more information about the exhibition, location, hours,  and other venues showing quilts during Quilt County 2015, click here.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

a visit to the museum

Yesterday I hopped in the car and headed over to the Benton County Museum in Philomath, Oregon to see the completed installation of my "Modern Materials, Quilts of the 1970s" exhibition. Curator Mark Tolonen and I hung most of the quilts on Monday, but there was still a lot of work to be done.

Mark and the museum staff finished the installation the following day, and they did a superb job. I appreciated their attention to detail. The space was looking great when I got there.

I love this picture of the large tile block quilt from behind. A lot of behind-the-scenes work goes into a quilt exhibition, and it's all worth it!

"Modern Materials, Quilts of the 1970s" is now on display at the Benton County Museum in Philomath, Oregon. For more information about the exhibition, location, hours,  and other venues showing quilts during Quilt County 2015, click here.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The New Vintage

crazy block quilt, Hawaii, c. 1970s
Two years ago, I wrote a guest blog for "Why Quilts Matter: History, Art & Politics" called The New Vintage. It was about collecting quilts made more recently than those typically sought by other collectors. My focus was my childhood years, the 1970s, and in the blog, I told the story about the first quilt in my 1970s collection.

"Back in November 2010, I found a flannel-backed, tied spread, crazy block pattern, full of hot colors and wild fabrics from the mid to late 1960s and early 1970s. It was visually exciting, and way outside the box. It was the kind of thing you might find wadded up in a ball under a table at a tag sale, or used to wrap furniture when moving. But I felt it was better than that, much better. Would people laugh at me for thinking it was so great? Did I care?"

Starting with the vibrant, crazy block quilt in 2010, I quickly built a collection of more than 100 1970s quilts. Articles appeared in several magazines, and a research article on polyester quilts was recently published by the American Quilt Study Group in its quarterly newsletter, Blanket Statements.

Twenty quilts were exhibited at QuiltCon 2015 in Austin, Texas, and several others recently appeared in an exhibit at Modern Domestic PDX. Now, 22 quilts are on display at the Benton County Museum in Philomath, Oregon, part of the biennial Quilt County celebration. The exhibition runs through October 3rd.

QuiltCon 2015, Austin, Texas
My guest blog about The New Vintage pointed out characteristics of 1970s quilts, reasons why the quilts were relevant in today's world, and the closing comments briefly compared yesterday with today.

"Just like the quilts of other historical periods, quilts of the 1970s usually have a very specific look and feel. They are bold, bright, quirky, and made to be used. Not surprisingly, these quilts inform the work of the Modern quilters- a group that certainly embraces the new vintage. Back in the 1970s, the growing interest in quilts was very much a rediscovery of quiltmaking in America. Today, it’s more like a passing of the torch, and there’s something really great about that."

The biggest difference between the 1970s and today is the quilt industry. In the 1970s, there were no rotary cutters. Dress calicoes accounted for most of the scarce cotton fabrics available, but stores were stocked with polyester double knit. Only one publication, Quilters Newsletter, specialized in quilts. There was really no such thing as a "sewlebrity" in quilting.

Aesthetically, there are remarkable similarities between the quilts of the 1970s and today's Modern quilts. There are also significant differences. Comparing quilts juried in to QuiltCon 2015 with the vintage 1970s quilts on display in the same arena, there are similar tendencies in color and design, but not in materials and finishing. The quilts share the free-spirited use of color and sense of adventure, but the new quilts look a lot more polished.

Owls, c. 1970s, Ohio
The correlation between collecting and quiltmaking is intriguing. Do we collect things that inform what we make? The thought has crossed my mind. Owls are popular right now. They were also popular in the 1970s. Old quilts captured the imagination of American folk art collectors in the 1970s. Millions of people started making quilts around the same time. A select group of those quilts made their way to me.

Quilts of the 1970s caught my attention around the time The Modern Quilt Guild was gaining recognition among quilters. I'm sure it was no coincidence.

"Modern Materials, Quilts of the 1970s" is now on display at the Benton County Museum in Philomath, Oregon. One of the quilts in the exhibition is the first one, that 1970s crazy block from Hawaii, subject of The New Vintage blog. For more information about the exhibition, location, hours,  and other venues showing quilts during Quilt County 2015, click here.

Friday, August 21, 2015

installation pics

"Modern Materials, Quilts of the 1970s" at the Benton County Museum in Philomath, Oregon is on display now through October 3rd. Installation took place earlier in the week. Here are a few pictures taken while we were hanging the quilts.

All of these pictures were taken before we hoisted the quilts hanging from the ceiling. We got most of the exhibition hung in three hours. There were a few loose ends the following day, but the exhibition was ready to be viewed a couple days early, just like our 2011 exhibition of New York Beauty quilts in the same venue. It's fun to look back at those pictures and compare the two exhibitions.

2011 exhibition at Benton County Museum
on display now

Now Available

The catalogue for my exhibition at the Benton County Museum, "Modern Materials, Quilts of the 1970s" is now available through Blurb.


The modest little book is just 22 pages, brimming with remarkably vibrant quilts from a pivotal time. It was a fascinating period in American quilt history, but previously uncharted territory for quilt historians.

The book includes a brief introduction, photos and details about the quilts. It is available in softcover, hardcover, and electronically as a PDF.  I have done a few Blurb books with the 1970s quilts from my collection, but this is the very first one available for sale. To preview or purchase, click here

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

"Modern Materials, Quilts of the 1970s" press release

For Immediate Release: August 19, 2015
Contact: Mark Tolonen, Curator of Exhibitions
Phone: 541.929.6230

Modern Materials: Quilts of the 1970s

Philomath, Ore. – The 2015 Quilt County exhibition at Benton County Museum, “Modern Materials: Quilts of the 1970s from The Volckening Collection”, has turned the gallery into a kaleidoscope of brilliant polyester fabrics, American themes and phenomenon.  The exhibition is open through October 3, 2015.

The enthusiastic revival of quilting experienced across the United States during the 1970s created a colorful cultural snapshot of American life. The “Modern Materials” quilt exhibition is a space for visitors to immerse themselves in that era.  

Naturally, the American Bicentennial theme is well represented. Healthy doses of both Kesey-esque neon colors, and the infamous avocado green and harvest gold palate make their appearances in the polyester fabrics. One quilt from Hawaii is made from scraps left over from the production of Hawaiian shirts made for export.

"Klee" 1973 by Marsha Mccluskey of Eugene, Oregon

A 1973 quilted wall hanging by Eugene artist Marsha McCloskey is a response to Paul Klee’s 1928 oil painting “Castle and Sun”. Bill Volckening's blog for the Kentucky Quilt Project states that McCloskey’s artistry “…cleverly asks the question, 'are quilts art?'"

Portland collector Bill Volckening is an award-winning author and photographer and lover of all things quilt-related. Quilts from The Volckening Collection have been exhibited from New York to Tokyo, and appeared in various publications worldwide. His new book “New York Beauty, Quilts from the Volckening Collection” published by Quiltmania in France (2015) references his 2011 quilt exhibition at Benton County Museum.

During the month of September, Benton County, Oregon becomes Quilt County, presenting simultaneous quilt exhibitions in venues throughout Corvallis and Philomath.  A complete map and listing of events is available at

Enjoy a visit to Oregon’s past AND present!  The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 – 4:30. Admission is always free!   

Located six miles west of Corvallis on Hwy 20/34, at 1101 Main Street, Philomath, Oregon, the Benton County Historical Society operates the Museum facilities for the preservation of history and culture.  Its goal is to preserve the material culture of Benton County, Oregon.  It strives to enrich people’s lives through interesting exhibitions and educational programs.

Please call (541) 929-6230 or visit for more information.

Friday, August 7, 2015

for sale

I don't sell a lot of quilts, but I have one on eBay this week. It is a radiating fans design, made of silk; a very graphic, scarcely seen pattern. This type of design has begun to pop up in Modern Quilting circles. Recently, fellow Portland Modern Quilt Guild member Christina Cameli did a webinar on "wedge quilts" with The Modern Quilt Guild. Here are some of the photos. Complete details on eBay - click here!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

"Modern Materials, Quilts of the 1970s" opens Aug. 21 at Benton County Museum

"Modern Materials, Quilts of the 1970s" opens August 21st at the Benton County Museum in Philomath, Oregon. The exhibition is one of 22 quilt displays taking place during Quilt County 2015.

Every two years since 1991, Benton County has transformed itself into Quilt County in the Fall. Quilt County 2015 once again honors the art and craft of quilt making with 22 diverse exhibits. Quilt County is sponsored by the Marys River Quilt Guild and the Benton County Historical Museum, in cooperation with other Benton County cultural agencies, churches, shops and galleries.

My exhibition will showcase a select group of quilts from the 1970s. These quilts are full of whimsy, bold and bright as the day they were made, and full of great vintage fabrics. My collection currently includes 300 quilts made between 1760 and present day. More than 100 of those are from the 1970s. I began collecting 1970s quilts in 2010 around Halloween, when I found a magnificent crazy quilt at the big Antiques Expo in Portland. During the next four years, this part of my collection grew rapidly.

The upcoming exhibition will be the museum debut of my 1970s quilts. It will also be my second exhibition at the Benton County Museum. The first was "Beauty Secrets, 150 Years of History in One Quilt Pattern"  in 2011. That year, a record number of visitors came to the Benton County Museum during Quilt County.

Previously, my 1970s quilts were featured in a special exhibit at QuiltCon 2015; and in feature articles in American Quilter Magazine, Generation Q, Patchwork Professional (Germany) and Quilters Newsletter. Recently, a research article about polyester quilts was published in Blanket Statements, newsletter of the American Quilt Study Group.

"Modern Materials, Quilts of the 1970s" will be on display from August 21st to October 3rd at the Benton County Museum in Philomath, Oregon. There will be a full-color gallery guide available with pictures and information about the quilts, in print and electronic editions. Stay tuned for more details.

Quilt County 2015 - More Information

Marys River Quilt Guild:
Benton County Historical Museum:

Map of the sites