Thursday, August 31, 2017

"Beauty in Brown" by Karen McTavish

Recently a few quilts made by Karen McTavish were offered for sale on Facebook. How could I resist? The quilts were from her "Whitework Quilting" book, published in 2004. The quilt I purchased is called "Beauty in Brown" and was created especially for the book, a seminal tome that explored traditional wholecloth quilting motifs while revealing new creative possibilities in free-motion machine quilting.

The quilt is 48" x 48" and is quilted with light brown thread in the motif areas. The background quilting is done with white thread, matching the fabric. The book includes much more information about this quilt and others, such as details about materials, technique and what inspired the quilts. Many thanks to Karen, and special thanks to Frank Palmer for running the auction-style sale. Lucky me for being the high bidder on this beauty!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Thank you, IQSCM!

My exhibition at the International Quilt Study Center & Museum concluded last weekend, and I wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone for a job well done. The exhibition, "Off the Grid, The Bill Volckening Collection" was on display from May 24 to August 27, and thousands of visitors from around the world got a first look at this select group of polyester quilts of the 1970s.

Tour groups and other visitors passed through the galleries each day. My favorite group was this flock of young girls, who came to see the quilts and dress their dolls in cool, handmade hippy duds. Seeing children so enthralled by the quilts was wonderful!

with curator Marin Hanson during the Facebook Live segment
The museum staff and volunteers are top notch. We first met in 2012 when I visited for the American Quilt Study Group Seminar, and I met new Executive Director Leslie Levy at QuiltCon in 2015. It was wonderful to see retired Executive Director Patricia Crews at my lecture. We cannot thank her enough for her lead role as founding Director of the museum.

Special thanks to the Nebraska Arts Council, the Nebraska Cultural Endowment and the Nebraska Arts Council, a state agency supporting the exhibition through its matching grants program funded by the Nebraska Legislature, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Nebraska Cultural Endowment. It takes many hands to build a village, and I am grateful for everyone who had a hand in the exhibition. Looking forward to returning to Nebraska.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

after the eclipse

After the eclipse I felt completely energized and rejuvenated, but since I'd already planned on making it a vacation week, I stayed close to home and spent a lot of time at the beach. 

During the eclipse, I sat outside with a large Herkimer diamond. Opa gave it to me when I was five. As the sun went dark, there was a bright blue spark inside. Soon, the spark exploded into pinkish purple light. 

The stone is charmed, I think, and so am I. At the end of the week I went over to Nordstrom to pick up my new slim fit Hugo Boss suit. With the Magnanni shoes and Zegna tie, I think it's a winner. Thank you to my friend Matt Frank at Nordstrom. He has great taste. Lulu approves, too.

Monday, August 28, 2017

the beach

Good beach weather lately. I am savoring a new book written by a friend from high school, "A Marvellous Party" by Ian Elmslie, and relaxing in the hot river breeze. Although I do not consider myself a nudist, I spent most of the past week wearing only sunglasses and sunscreen.

I got a blue "Super Brella" umbrella tent on sale. What a great thing it is-- a large umbrella with an adjustable pole that has a spiked end. It is designed to rest on the ground and be anchored in to the ground, and includes spikes and cords to secure it in the breeze. There are two window vents, and they zip closed if you need to block out the sun. The inside is a silvery material, which can either block the sun or reflect it. 

The beach is sandy and goes for miles. The sand has a lot of micah in it, so it sparkles in the sun.

What a relaxing way to wrap up the summer. Long walks, lots of cold, bottled water and snacks. Yesterday an ice cream boat pulled up playing the Hokey Pokey. That's what it's all about.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

"I love you!"

During my Facebook Live segment with Marin Hanson at the International Quilt Study Center & Museum last week, two curious women walked into the shot and started checking out the Tile Blocks quilt. I hope one or both of them are following my blog because I have a message for them.

"I love you!"

The whole thing started innocently enough. Marin was interviewing me, and everything was going normally...

...then the pair wandered into the shot and started checking out the Tile Blocks...

I loved what they were wearing, but I especially loved how they were checking out the piece.

They weren't just checking it out, they were trying to discreetly get a look at the back...well, maybe it wasn't so discreet...

Did they realize they were on Facebook Live? Probably not, and that was part of what made them so awesome. They were keeping it real.

In case they're reading along and were still curious about the construction, The piece is an edge-finished spread with a backing that was added later for the purpose of wall display. The colorful polyester patches were not pieced together with the black rick rack over the top as an embellishment. The patches were actually stitched to the rick rack withthe rick rack joining them. I know, crazy!

Thank you to this wonderful pair of ladies. I enjoyed seeing how enthralled you were, and hope to find out some day who you are. If you're reading along, say hi! To view the whole Facebook Live segment, click on the video below.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Russian Sunflower

Some wonderful things arrived in the package from Siobhan Furgurson last week. The magazine in yesterday's blog post was one of them, but the big prize was a quilt top she made.

It was inspired by an 1840s rescue crib quilt from my collection. The center block was a design known today as Russian Sunflower, but there were many names for it, all coined long after the inspiration quilt was made, around the 1840s.

The sunburst design was also a cornerstone in a few of the "New York Beauty" quilts in my collection. The original quilt is in poor condition, but it has value s a study quilt. Siobhan did a wonderful job with it.

Siobhan finished the top in time for the 2012 American Quilt Study Group Seminar in Lincoln, Nebraska, where we had our picture taken with it. She hoped to hand quilt it, but ultimately decided to send it to me. I will make sure it is beautifully hand quilted and finished, and maybe some day we will make a pattern available. Thank you again, Siobhan! You'e a gem.

Friday, August 11, 2017

cracking the code

"I get by with a little help from my friends."

My friend Siobhan Furgurson was downsizing and getting ready to move to a new home. She sent me a box of goodies this week. One of the items in the box was a copy of Simplicity's Quilts & Patches magazine from 1979.

When she was sorting through the periodicals, she found the design source for a mystery quilt in my collection and sent it my way. What a lovely, thoughtful thing to do.

The quilt was called "Village Scene" and it came with a design for a pillow and ideas for making cutains and a lampshade.

There it was in the pages of the 1979 magazine. It was made around the time I thought it was. My guess would've been the 1970s or possibly the 1980s.

I almost fell out of my seat when I saw the pattern and the other items that were meant to go with the quilt. In the notes at the back of the magazine, the design is credited to Joann Mann Neville. Cracking the code of the design source took a little time but it was worth the wait. Many thanks to Siobhan for such a kind, generous gift! Stay tuned for more details about what else was in the box.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Throwback Thursday: #HeartHealth, Yesterday and Today

Before and After: February 2016 and August 2017
Want to have more fun in bed? Improving your heart health is a great way to do it.

There I was in a hospital bed in February 2016. I had a heart attack, missed QuiltCon in Pasadena, and received a stent for a blockage in my left anterior descending (LAD) artery. My Body Mass Index was 31, and I weighed 255 pounds. At 6'4" tall, I was in fact obese according to the BMI calculator. No fun.

Today I am actually a little below my goal weight. I was shooting for 185 pounds but slipped past that mark while I was traveling last week and landed around 180. My Body Mass Index had dropped from 31 to 21.9, from obese to normal weight.

Everyone wants a guru, a magic pill or a fad diet. My advice for those people is: Stop it!! And start paying attention to what goes in your mouth!! That's all I did. It wasn't anything more complicated than that. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute offers lots of wonderful resources, such as the BMI chart.

"...we want recipes..." and "...when is your cookbook coming out?"

Every time I post something about my health and weight loss journey, people want specifics. They want recipes, they want me to write a cookbook. They want more information. Usually I offer one bit of helpful advice for getting started:

Map out the supermarket, and you might notice all the fresh, whole foods are on the perimeter of the space. The processed foods are in the center aisles. Follow the road map to good health by staying on the perimeter and avoiding the heart of the jungle. It's only rocket science if you make it that way.

As you can probably imagine, it's much more fun to be in bed without the hospital gown, IVs and heart monitors. Although my cardiologist is a nice guy, I never want to see him again while I'm in bed. Being a normal weight -- some people might even say "slim" -- is much more fun than being obese. Having improved heart health is much more fun than dying.

And finally, the best advice I can offer is: if you are looking to improve your health by eating healthier and losing weight, don't ask me how to do it. Ask your physician!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Facebook Live with Marin Hanson

In case you missed it, I did a Facebook Live segment on Friday with curator Marin Hanson of the International Quilt Study Center & Museum at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. We had a nice visit in the Center Gallery, site of my "Off the Grid" exhibition, which is up through August 27th, 2017. The segment was recorded, so if you missed it you can still watch. Don't miss the phone call from Mom somewhere in the middle. Thank you Marin, and special thanks to Laura Chapman for making the segment possible.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Polyester in 2017

Polyester was a widely used fabric in quilt making in the 1970s, but nobody would use it to make quilts today, right? Wrong! Today at the International Quilt Study Center & Museum there was a woman named Janet in the gallery when I was there taking photos, and we struck up a conversation. 

She told me she was part of a Lutheran church group about three hours away in Nebraska, and they made quilts for people in the Caribbean, South America and other moist climates. The charities that receive the quilts request polyester because cotton gets mildew and rots. So, the polyester is ideal for their quilts. I'd never heard that before, but it was nice to hear polyester quilts were not completely a thing of the past.

Thinkin' Lincoln

Temperatures are climbing into the 100s in Portland this week, so where am I? Lincoln, Nebraska! It's much cooler here. I finally made it to see my "Off the Grid" exhibition at the International Quilt Study Center & Museum at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. I felt warmly welcomed, seeing my name in lights on the sign in front of the museum, and having a visit with the staff last night over happy hour. The exhibition runs for a couple more weeks and tomorrow, Friday at 5:30pm I will give a powerpoint lecture about the quilts.

For more information, go to the IQSCM website - click here.