Monday, February 1, 2016

Coming Soon

Coming soon: two quilts for the "New York Beauty" collection. I will be exhibiting quilts later this year, and thought it would be good to add a couple quilts to the collection. The first was made by Jim Brown of Bennington, Vermont. It is a dynamic, new New York Beauty in red, white, black and gray.

The second quilt is late 19th century, 1870s or 1880s, and includes a couple unusual elements. The appliqué buds between arcs are unusual, as are the sunflower cornerstones. Handsome colors, too. The gold color was probably another color originally, perhaps red or green. Here are a few more photos of both quilts.

Bennington Quilt Fest, Vermont, 3rd Place People's Choice

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Lucky Sevens

Whenever I am in Maine, most often during the holidays, Mom and I love to go antique shopping. She's collected antiques longer than I've been alive and has a real knack for it. Her favorite things are white ironstone and demitasse-size sterling souvenir spoons. She also has a good feel for quilts. I may have had something to do with that.

Last month when I was in Maine, Mom and I went to the Cabot Mill to look at antiques. The mill has a large, group co-op with many sellers, and there is always something interesting to be found. We saw a taxidermy trophy squirrel with front and back ends mounted on separate wooden plaques, but left that item behind.

There was a handsome Fans quilt, toward the back draped over a partition of some sort. Mostly wools, the quilt appeared to be from the early part of the 20th century. It had good colors, nice decorative feather stitching, and was in good condition. It wasn't the $25 bargain we all hope for, but it was reasonable, affordable. We thought about it, left, and came back half an hour later to get it. I'm glad we did. It's a nice one!

The quilt is 73 inches square. It has seven rows of seven blocks, each with seven patches of colorful fabric making the fan shape. All those sevens, I think I'll call it Lucky Sevens! There are several really nice wool quilts in my collection, and this one fits in well with the group.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Kalakoa: Dressed for Success

Vintage dress made by Kiyomi of Hawaii
In pre-contact Hawaii, garments were made out of a material called Kapa. Native Hawaiians created the material with bast fibers, or the inner bark of certain trees; using wood mallets to beat the bark into sheets of thin fabric after soaking it in water. Before contact, women would wear kapa wraps from the waist down and sometimes over the shoulders, but from the waist up they were often unclothed. Men wore kapa loincloths.    

Vintage dress made by Liberty of Hawaii, gift of Madge Ziegler
During the early 1800s, fabrics such as silk and cotton began to arrive in Hawaii through the trade ships and the whaling industry. Around the 1820s and 1830s, New England missionaries arrived, introducing garment making to the islands, both dressmaking and tailoring. Loose fitting dresses called "Mother Hubbards" were modified to fit larger frames, and as the style evolved, a dress-like undergarment called a muumuu eventually became an outer garment. Today a muumuu is considered to be a loose fitting dress that hangs from the shoulders, often made of bright, floral fabric or Polynesian prints.

Vintage muumuu made by Kiyomi of Hawaii
The wave of tourism following World War II fueled the industry producing muumuus. Iolani Sportswear, established in 1953, had its own women's line developed by Kiyomi Hirose, called Kiyomi of Hawaii. Two vintage pieces from Kiyomi of Hawaii are among the garments in "Kalakoa, Discovering the Hawaiian Scrap Quilt" now on display at Latimer Quilt & Textile Center in Tillamook, Oregon.

The inclusion of the garments is a link to the garment industry, which produced the scraps found in the quilts. "Kalakoa, Discovering the Hawaiian Scrap Quilt" will be up through February. Latimer Quilt & Textile Center is located at 2105 Wilson River Loop in Tillamook, Oregon. If you are planning to visit, please make sure to inquire ahead of time about their winter hours. For more information, call 503-842-8622 or visit their website.

Mod Satin Quilt Top, c. 1960, Iowa

This mod satin quilt top came from an eBay seller in Marshalltown, Iowa. It is 80" x 80", all satin in rich, solid colors, and it is edge finished with a binding but not backed. According to the seller, it came from an estate sale of a couple, and it was handed down to the wife on her wedding day. The couple was married for more than 50 years. There was no other information available. I love the shimmering fabrics, the bright colors, and the simple, modern design. Maybe I should hang it on the wall.

Friday, January 22, 2016

"Kalakoa, In Search of the Hawaiian Scrap Quilt" in Blanket Statements

It is not easy to jump back and forth between journalism and academic writing. They are almost like two different languages; one we see everyday in the news, and another we may not see as often, when looking at research. I got some practice with academic writing recently, publishing a research article in the American Quilt Study Group (AQSG) newsletter, Blanket Statements.

The article is called "Kalakoa, In Search of the Hawaiian Scrap Quilt" and it is my second article for AQSG. My first, "Collecting Polyester Quilts" appeared last year. The newsletter is available to members of AQSG. It is one of the primary member benefits, along with the annual "Uncoverings" journal featuring research papers.

It took some convincing to get me to write an academic article. Mary Juillet-Paonessa of CT Quilt Works, then Editor of Blanket Statements, was most encouraging with the first article on polyester. She asked me to do it. Mary was putting a muslin backing on my tile block quilt top from Louisiana. It piqued her interest, and I think my collecting activity caught her attention.

Mary guided me through the process of academic writing, and while we were working on the article, she began to transition duties to Jill Wilson, who is now editor. It is always a delight to work with Mary and Jill.

Both of the articles represent new research, which is partly how the newsletter serves the membership-- by publishing new research or research in progress. I am happy to contribute, and it is an honor to appear on the front page with a lead article again. Thank you, AQSG, and special thanks to Mary and Jill, for their encouragement and guidance.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Throwback Thursday: 2013, The First Book Deal

"New York Beauty, Quilts from the Volckening Collection" - click here for info

In the summer of 2013, I was getting ready for an exhibition of quilts from my collection at San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles when I received a message from Jane Lury, a New York quilt dealer who had recently sold me a Capper's Weekly Springtime in the Rockies quilt. She had friends from France who would be in Portland for Quilt Market, and they had a magazine. Her friends liked visiting homes with quilts to feature in the magazine. I had not heard of the magazine before.

As much as I appreciated the offer, I declined. The year before, there was a big feature article in Quilters Newsletter. That article was how San Jose found me. "Do I need more press?" I asked myself. "Not really," was the answer. Also, the house was a complete mess. That was my real excuse. I did not want a camera crew coming in when there were quilts piled up all over the place. In getting ready for the exhibition, it looked like a hoarder's house. "Maybe they can come the next time they're in town," I said in my reply.

They were persistent, and did not seem to want to take no for an answer. "Could we come at the end of the week?" they asked. In the meantime, I was asking friends on Facebook if they'd ever heard of the magazine before. It was called Quiltmania.

My friends urged me to let them come, so eventually I agreed to a visit. Three people from Quiltmania came to my home in the afternoon on Sunday, May 19th; Carol Veillon, Christelle Leveque and Guy Yoyotte-Husson. We looked at a lot of quilts together. Carol and Christelle took notes, and Guy took photos. I was very impressed with all of them; they were professional, fun and knew exactly what they wanted, especially Carol. That is why she is so successful.

The article appeared in the September/October 2013 issue of the magazine, but that was not the only thing we planned the day of the visit. I would write a coffee table book about my collection of New York Beauty quilts and have an exhibition of 50 quilts at the 2015 Pour l'Amour du Fil in Nantes. Book copy was due in September, 2014.

no, not good enough!
About five months before my deadline, I received a note asking if I would do all the photography for the book. I would receive extra compensation, and it would resolve the dilemma of having to ship quilts so far in advance of the Pour l'Amour du Fil. I agreed to do the photos, thinking I'd already done the work, but when I looked at the photos I had, they were not good enough.

much, much better!
Around the same time, I photographed a quilt in my loft during the late hours of the afternoon, when sun was pouring in through the front window and bouncing off the wall toward the loft wall, with more light from a skylight above. When I looked at the photos, and realized how much better they were with almost perfectly balanced light revealing quilting detail in the full view, I started rephotographing all 70 quilts.

It took a whole month, including photo editing. which really took most of the time. The best light for shooting was only available for an hour or two each day. The remaining time was spent editing. During this period, which included an additional month writing, I barely left the house. The Washington County Museum was having a lecture series and quilt exhibition, so I would go once a week to hear the lectures. Other than that, I only left the house for food.

The following month, June, I wrote all the descriptions of the quilts. All of those, and all the photos, were delivered two months early. I sent in the foreword, written by Shelly Zegart, and my introduction a bit later, closer to the deadline. When I wrote the descriptions, it was important to make sure everything I said was the truth. I made no assumptions about quilts made by unknown makers. This approach eliminated romanticism. The people who enjoy that kind of thing were left to find it elsewhere, but that did not weigh on me. It was more like a weight lifted off my shoulders.

At some point in the process, I received a note from Quiltmania, asking if they could use an image of one of the quilts on a bag. They would give be a bunch of bags in return, so I said yes. I didn't give it much thought until I was in Nantes and saw people carrying the bags around at Pour l'Amour du Fil.

The book was beautiful. Quiltmania does a superb job with its publications. The books are well designed, well printed and a pleasure to read. My book was over 300 pages, hardcover with partial sleeve, and bilingual. I think for the rest of my life, when people mention the book I will say, "My first book!" and will always feel a sense of disbelief that my first book was that book.

Mom and I traveled to France together in April for the Pour l'Amour du Fil. My sister, Libby, could not make it. She will soon have a hip replacement. We missed her, but spent time with my longtime high school friend, David Nemitz, and his wife Ninette in Paris. They could not make it to Nantes, but we were in the same hotel as other exhibitors. Kaye England was one of them. Mom and Kaye really hit it off. I love Kaye and was so happy to get to know her.

The event was magnificent. Carol Veillon and her staff put on a fabulous event. One of the most interesting things I learned was there were not as many fabric and notions shops throughout Europe, so people relied on events like the Pour l'Amour du Fil to stock up for the year. The vendor area was a madhouse! I stayed by my exhibit, signing books and greeting the people who came by. I tried my best to speak French, with varying degrees of success.

When I returned home, it seemed like a dream. It was hard to believe what just happened. I even posted a message on Facebook, "Wow, that really happened!"

So, that is the story of my first book, the first book deal, and where it took me. There was a little luck, but as the saying goes, "luck is when preparation meets opportunity."

When you come out of nowhere the way I did, people sometimes think all kinds of strange things. That's OK. They can do that. I'll do this. To buy the book, click here. Thank you for reading!