Thursday, September 24, 2015

Throwback Thursday: My First 1970s Quilt

"I don't really intend to collect vintage 1960's or 1970's quilts, unless it's something very unusual like an early art quilt." 

- Bill Volckening, 2010


The first 1970s quilt in my collection made such an impression on me, I can tell you exactly when and where I discovered it. I was strolling through the Portland Expo Center during the fall antiques and collectibles show on Saturday, October 30th, 2010.

When I go to these shows by myself, I move very quickly up and down the aisles. Even though the Antiques Expo in Portland is an enormous show, the scant selection of quilts is usually disappointing. Ordinary, overpriced or in poor condition is not what I'm looking for, but that's often what's there. So, I walk by most of the quilts without even stopping. Heartless, I know, but I always approach big shows with the same laser focus. Otherwise, it's much too easy to get distracted.

Nearing the end of one of the center aisles in the first building around lunchtime, I saw a flash of hot pink. It was a quilt, wadded up under a table, with only a bit of the edges showing. "Let's see what this is..." I thought, not seriously thinking it would be anything much. The seller helped me open it up, and each of us held an edge. "Very interesting," I thought.

It was bright, that's for sure, kind of psychedelic, but it was not at all what I collected. Up to that point, I turned my nose up to most anything that wasn't 100 years old or older. So, even though I was intrigued, I left without it. After obsessing about it overnight and not knowing why, I went back for it first thing in the morning on Sunday, the last day of the show. It was also Halloween. The quilt was still there, and I bought it.

The next day, I blogged about the quilt. In the blog, I said,

"I don't really intend to collect vintage 1960's or 1970's quilts, unless it's something very unusual like an early art quilt."

What. A. Riot.

Well, so much for keeping that promise...

The quilt launched a collecting spree that turned out to be a complete feeding frenzy for me. At an alarming rate, I acquired more than 100 quilts, most of them significantly undervalued. Within a few years, articles began to appear.

American Quilter Magazine 2013 
Generation Q Magazine 2013
Quilters Newsletter Magazine 2015

When I started making noise about 1970s quilts, the polyester haters came out of the woodwork. Many of them would eventually begin to love the quilts, or at least appreciate them.

QuiltCon 2015
The quilts were displayed at QuiltCon 2015, and are currently on display in their first museum exhibition at the Benton County Museum in Philomath, Oregon.

The crazy block quilt is still one of my favorites. It came from Hawaii and was foundation pieced on fabric with no batting and a flannel back. Dimensions are 65" x 77" and fabrics include cottons and synthetics. The spiraling, improvisational crazy block design has much movement within each block, but also an underlying sense of structure in the squared block edges.

This quilt is part of an eye-opening group of barely-vintage quilts, currently on display in  "Modern Materials, Quilts of the 1970s" 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.

1 comment:

  1. What a fabulous, beautiful quilt! So much going on and so much gorgeous color. Such a great find! Thank you for sharing how your wonderful collection began.