Wednesday, November 27, 2019

a rare gathering

At Thursday's Portland Modern Quilt Guild meeting, photo by Karen Lee
The November meeting of the Portland Modern Quilt Guild last Thursday night was a rare gathering. The guild, one of the largest local modern quilt guilds in the world, has meetings once a month at St. Andrews church on Alberta, and plenty of other activities during the year. As expected, the November meeting was a beehive of activity, but this time, I was the featured speaker.

I shared 27 quilts form the collection

I haven't been on the lecture circuit in years, but thought it would be fun to do another lecture for the guild. Linda and I are both members, but Linda hadn't seen one of my lectures before. The first time I lectured for the guild was several years ago when Christina Cameli was President, and the group met in a small room at the Pacific Northwest College of Art in the Pearl District. I did another lecture on the 1970s quilts a few years later, but that was three or four years ago now.

The appearance was rare, and so were the quilts. I brought 27 quilts representing the history of quiltmaking in the United States from the pre-Revolutionary War period to present day. The oldest piece was a blue resist quilt made with 1760s fabric featuring a whimsical floral design. Only a few museums have examples of this type of quilt, but the one I have is especially remarkable with a binding made from a second blue resist fabric.

During the lecture, I pointed out that my collection has its strengths and weaknesses. There are a lot of mid-19th century quilts, both pieced and appliqued, but not a lot of Victorian Crazy quilts.  That's not to say there aren't any Victorian period quilts. The quilts I have are just a little more unusual than the examples we're used to seeing.

There are also a lot of 1930s and 1970s quilts, but throughout 30 years of collecting, I tried to collect with one eye on the unusual and the other eye on modernism.

These days, I don't do lectures often, but speaking to the group brought back happy memories of sharing quilts with large groups of mostly women; necks craning to get a better look, and audible gasps whenever another spectacular quilt was unfolded.

Thank you to the Portland Modern Quilt Guild, the officers and volunteers, and everyone who attended the meeting. Although it is rare to see me doing a lecture, it was a pleasure to share the quilts, and I hope everyone had as great a time as I did.