Monday, September 16, 2019


A couple years ago I went to Honolulu and found a lovely little Butterfly quilt in one of the vintage shops. The applique butterflies were made with Hawaiian garment scraps and outlined in rickrack.

Butterflies did not have particular significance to me. Even though I used to swim in competition, butterfly was not my best stroke.

Linda's Mom, Darlene, passed away about six years ago. She loved butterflies. One day when we were at the beach, a yellow butterfly floated by. "Perhaps it was Darlene," I thought. We took one of her rose bushes and replanted it in our garden before the family home was sold. It bloomed yellow. The butterflies love it.

Linda and I enjoy playing pinball together, and one of our favorite "older" machines is Butterfly, made by Sonic in 1977. It was one of two machines we rented last Christmas from Chris Rhodes of Wedgehead PDX. The other was Funhouse.

We had a family pinball tournament with 15 of us playing on Christmas. Linda won the tournament, beating her oldest brother Mike for the title...and she won playing Butterfly.

Last night our team, "Away Team Is Lit" from High Score Arcade played against Blackbird Pizza. They beat us in a tiebreaker last year. This time, we had Linda on the team and we had Butterfly-- the same machine that used to be at Wedgehead and spent a few days in our house. We love the way it sounds.

Linda and I won our match in the first round, I won my singles match, and at the end of the evening, our team had won. We had butterflies, but managed to keep our cool.

Linda's Mom, Darlene, made a needlepoint and crewel work butterfly many years ago. We found it when Linda and her family were cleaning out the house. I had it reframed. Recently, my Mom made another butterfly as a wedding gift. The two butterflies will hang together.

Butterflies are on my mind today. Isn't it amazing how a small but magnificent creature can lead to such a stream of consciousness?

Wednesday, August 28, 2019


We tied the knot! On Friday, Linda May McLaughlin of Tigard, Oregon and I got married at Blackberry Meadow, McMenamins' Edgefield in Troutdale, Oregon.

I was speechless when I saw her. She was wearing an exquisite gown made just for her by Sonia Kasparian of Urchin Bespoke Bridal. If the designer's name rings a bell, it could be that she appeared on the most recent season of Project Runway on Bravo.

It was a warm afternoon and there was Hawaiian music in the air when we walked in. Our guests let out a collective gasp. We were glowing with happiness and bursting with love. Several of the guests got a little misty eyed. We did, too.

Jake Ferreira officiated the ceremony, reminding everyone that they were, and would continue to be, our loving support system. There's a lot more we could say, but most of all Linda and I wanted to thank everyone who was involved; our family and friends, people who were working at the event, and all our friends and family who could not be there. Mahalo!

Monday, July 1, 2019

Now Showing- Love Blooms: Quilts from the Volckening Collection

Yesterday the quilts went up and today the show is officially open. "Love Blooms: Quilts from the Volckening Collection" is now on display at Latimer Quilt & Textile Center in Tillamook, Oregon. The show is up through August.

This show includes some of the finest and most exuberant mid-19th century floral applique quilts in my collection. There's a lot of red, white and green, but also some double pink, cheddar orange, oxblood and teal. 

The quilts have fanciful floral designs based on plant life, and there is one proud rooster in the garden-- maybe that's me. 

Having a group of masterpiece botanical applique quilts to display was really the last thing I intended to do. They accumulated over the years, and eventually I realized there were enough for an exhibit. The timing couldn't be better. The show will be up when we have our annual family gathering up the road in Seaside, and also when Linda and I get married in August. 

I hope a lot of people see the show, and for anyone coming to Oregon for Quilters' Affair and the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show, I hope you'll travel to Tillamook and visit Latimer Quilt & Textile Center. Just know there are great quilts waiting for you. Latimer Quilt & Textile Center is located at 2105 Wilson River Loop Road, Tillamook, Oregon 97141. Phone: 503-842-8622.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Love Blooms

several masterpiece quilts from the Volckening Collection
will be on display in July and August
In the middle to late 19th century, botanical applique quilts were popular throughout the Mid-Atlantic and southeast United States. Many quilts were made with white background fabric, lots of Turkey red, over-dyed green, cheddar orange and double pink. Fanciful floral motifs appeared in larger-than-life designs, and the quilts were often made with special purposes—for hope chests, dowries, as presentation pieces, and to celebrate happy occasions such as weddings and births.

The dedication and skill required to make these quilts would likely represent the makers’ best work. In that regard, the quilts were always considered masterpieces, but now they are antiquities as well as fancy, decorative bedcovers. Some of the quilts were well used, but most were only used on special occasions. It shows in the condition. This collection showcases some of the finest American needlework from the Civil War period. The quilts are elaborate, vibrant, masterful and full of love.

"Love Blooms: Quilts from the Volckening Collection" will be on display in July and August, 2019, at Latimer Quilt & Textile Center in Tillamook, Oregon. The center is located at 2105 Wilson River Loop Road, Tillamook, Oregon 97141. Phone: 503-842-8622.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Modernism in American Quilts

The Quilt Show #2409 with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims
Recently I appeared on The Quilt Show, episode #2409, talking with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims about modernism in antique and vintage American quilts.

a surprisingly modern design in an 1870s quilt
Modernism is the subject of my second book, "Modern Roots" (2016 C&T/Stash Books) - link.

When I look at old quilts, I see modernism. A lot of antique and vintage quilts do not seem as old as they really are. They look newer, more modern.

this quilt was made in the 1870s
The "surprisingly modern" aspect is one of the things that originally piqued my interest in quilts. If art history is the context for these quilts, as I feel it should be, they would be recognized as predecessors foreshadowing major movements in art history such as cubism and pop art.

1930s Mountain Mist "Jack 'O Lantern" quilt
These quilts are especially relevant today, given the popularity of "modern" quilting and its focus on aesthetics such as mid-century modern. It was nice to have the opportunity to share these quilts with Alex, Ricky and the whole Quilt Show audience.


The book shelves are crying for a good way. There's a whole shelf devoted to books that include quilts from my collection. Magazines, too!

I wrote three of those books. The latest one, "Inspired Free-Motion Quilting: 90 Antique Designs Reinterpreted for Today's Quilter" was co-authored with Mandy Leins. 

A few years ago, Bob Shaw published the second edition of his "American Quilts: The Democratic Art" coffee table book. A quilt from my collection was on the cover of the first edition, and was included in the new book with one other quilt from my collection-- a southern pieced quilt from South Carolina.

Sometimes I feel like the absent-minded quilt magnet. Last year, I was excited to hear Christina Cameli's latest book was coming out. The funny thing was I did not remember I had contributed to the book. Christina is a friend. She asked for photos, I said, "Of course!", sent them, and forgot all about it until the book was out.

In the last week, Victoria Findlay Wolfe's new book arrived and I received news of Linda Hahn's new book. I contributed to both of them.

One of my vintage 1970s polyester quilts is currently on tour with the "Modern Quilts: Designs of the New Century" exhibition. The quilt also appears in the book.

When I say I am not working on any book projects currently, that may not exactly be true. The good thing is, I love surprises. 

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Coming Soon: Appearance on The Quilt Show

Last summer, Linda and I traveled to Colorado, where I was part of the taping of two segments for The Quilt Show with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims. For the first appearance, I am delighted to be in the same episode as Barbara Black. Here is the trailer-- episode 2405.

The show will air Sunday February 24th 2019, and will be available to view for free March 3-10. Stay tuned to The Quilt Show website and YouTube channel for more details!

Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims bring the friendliest interactive online community for quilters worldwide! Join today to learn, share, create, connect and watch Alex and Ricky in brand new episodes of The Quilt Show.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Inspired Free Motion Quilting Giveaway Winner!

Thank you to all participants in the Inspired Free Motion Quilting Blog Tour. It is wonderful to see how creative people are using the designs from elegant, old quilts in their work.

Co-author Mandy Leins and I hope the book will be useful and inspirational for many generations, just like the quilts featured inside.

I am excited to announce the winner of an eBook copy of "Inspired Free Motion Quilting: 90 Antique Designs. Congratulations to Terry Lee Knott! Terry makes some of the most beautiful quilts. I love her work, and look forward to seeing how the book influences her work in the future.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Inspired Free Motion Quilting blog tour!

c. 1800 pieced quilt from Rhode Island with gorgeous quilting designs
When C&T Publishing first approached me with the idea to write a book about free-motion quilting, I wasn't sure how to react. The idea came out of left field. I'm much more of a collector than quiltmaker, and do not always see my collection as a quiltmaker would, but it gave me the opportunity to look at the collection with fresh eyes.

Mandy Leins, co-author of "Inspired Free-Motion Quilting"
I could choose any free-motion quilting expert as co-author, and Mandy Leins was the first person who came to mind. Mandy and I share a love for antique and vintage quilts. She is an outstanding quilter, and we chat about old quilts on Facebook instant messenger, sharing links for eBay and Etsy listings while dreaming about buying all the old quilts we love.

Luckily, Mandy was interested in the idea and available to tackle a book project. "Inspired Free-Motion Quilting: 90 Antique Designs Reinterpreted for Today's Quilter" was born.

The book includes inspiration quilts from the 18th and 19th centuries-- elegant, very old quilts with designs worth seeing; and free-motion line drawings with instructions on how to use the drawings for free-motion quilting. It's all about looking at old and seeing something new, and Mandy did a superb job with it.

We are happy to announce a blog tour, with eBook giveaways and a Quilter's Planner set as grand prize. On each stop of the blog tour, bloggers will share their thoughts and ideas about the book-- and we are looking forward to hearing what they have to say. Here is the list of blog tour stops:

Don't miss your chance to win! Keep reading along and follow the links to the blog posts! To win today's eBook prize from this blog, Wonkyworld, simply leave one comment in the comments section (below), and a random drawing at the end of the day will determine the winner. When commenting, please make sure to leave a way to contact you, and/or check back tomorrow to find out who won. Thanks for reading along. Enjoy the blog tour and enjoy the book!

Friday, January 4, 2019

how quilts taught me to love history

inscribed Spanish American War quilt, donated to the International
Quilt Study Center & Museum, University of Nebraska, Lincoln
I was the worst history student in high school. Just like all the other high school academic subjects, it was boring and didn't seem relevant. Fortunately, I had an interest in photography and got through U.S. History by writing a term paper about Civil War photographer Matthew Brady. After that, I didn't need to worry about history anymore...or so I thought.

More than 25 years later, I discovered a very interesting quilt on eBay. It was inscribed with many names, and in the center medallions of each block were the names of places, such as Spain. A quick google search led me to the realization that the center medallion inscriptions were not just names of places, they were the names of ships from the Spanish American War.

USS Concord, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
I always knew quilts were history objects, but the artistic and design elements were much more my focus. When I discovered the places inscribed in the center medallions were ships, it unlocked history for me. The quilt taught me how to love researching history.

The inscribed Spanish American War quilt is now part of the collection at the International Quilt Study Center & Museum at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. I donated it to the museum when they were planning an exhibition called "Covering the War" in 2015. I didn't realize it at the time, but Spanish American War quilts are quite rare. Why? As I learned from the quilt, it was a short, very one-sided war.