Sunday, March 1, 2015

QuiltCon Photos! #PMQG

Three layers of PMQG, ribbons made by Elizabeth Hartman
Giveaway Quilt pieced by Jen Carlton-Bailey
vintage 1970s quilt display by me 
It was great to be part of such a strong guild as an attendee at QuiltCon 2015 in Austin. Portland Modern Quilt Guild was just about everywhere, especially the winner's circle! "The Dishes Can Wait" by Rachel Kerley of Hillsboro won second place in the appliqué category. Rachel had four quilts in the show, and I managed to get pictures of three. Her quilt "I'm a Fan of Fabric" was sold! PMQG was part of every winner at the show, as Elizabeth Hartman made all the gorgeous ribbons. Saw her there briefly, I think she was busy teaching a lot of the time.

"The Dishes Can Wait" 2nd Place Appliqué by Rachel Kerley, PMQG
"Bowls and Balls 2" by Rachel Kerley
"I'm a Fan of Fabric" by Rachel Kerley, PMQG - SOLD!!
a dreamy-eyed Rachel receives her award
"Spiced Chai Quilt" by Katie Blakesley, PMQG
Katie Blakesley is a new member of the guild. She has co-authored a book called "Vintage Quilt Revival: 22 Modern Designs from Classic Blocks" with Lee Heinrich and Faith Jones. Her quilt "Spiced Chai" was in the show, and her vintage inspiration was evident in her stunning quilt.

Jen Carlton-Bailey's work was also very much present. She pieced the magnificent Giveaway Quilt, which was displayed near the Best in Show and my exhibit, near the entrance. Jen's gorgeous "Capsule" quilt, which was quilted by Nancy Stovall and appeared on the cover of Modern Patchwork last Spring, was also in the show.

"Capsule" by Jen Carlton-Bailey, PMQG
Susan Beal was also present, teaching and lecturing. I attended her lecture about documenting modern quilts, and she did a beautiful job. We had discussed quilt documentation at length in the past, and she remembered everything we talked about, and more! Plus, she included images of quilts from my collection and told their stories. I was really proud of Susan, and PMQG, for being the first to document Modern quilts.
This quilt from my collection was part of Susan Beal's lecture.
She used it as an example of the importance of documentation and
saving our quilts' stories. The maker of the quilt is unknown.
It was thrilling to represent Portland Modern Quilt Guild, reportedly the largest Modern Quilt Guild local/chapter group in the world, with a special exhibit of 1970s quilts called "Modern Materials, Quilts of the 1970s". If you have followed my blog, you probably saw the photos already, but if not, keep scrolling through the blog posts over the last couple weeks and you'll find them.

There were 20 quilts in the special exhibit, and I gave tours on three days, plus two lectures. It was a phenomenal experience, and at certain points I could be seen wearing my sky blue PMQG T-shirt from Phantom Chicken, PMQG member Gail Weiss ("the Hexie Queen") and her husband Gregg.

There were several other guild members in attendance. and I stopped to chat whenever I recognized someone from the guild. There may have been other people and other quilts I missed, but I included as much as possible in this blog post. Next year's event will be held in Pasadena - west coast!! - so we can certainly look forward to another great showing from Portland Modern Quilt Guild. 

Ten Tunes (from the 70s)

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Polyester, the wonder fiber

Textiles are big part of researching the quilts of the 1970s. Polyester, most often associated with uncomfortable, outdated garments such as double knit leisure suits, was prevalent throughout the period. Its popularity in garments spanned middle of the 20th century, into the 1970s, but faded with an increasing demand for cotton, "the fabric of our lives".

the three quilts in the center of this display are all polyester
The development of polyester began around 1930 with Wallace Carothers of DuPont. Carothers was also experimenting with nylon, and DuPont pursued the invention of nylon prior to polyester. That circumstance was likely due to the instability of polyester, which in its early stages of development would revert back to a solution state rather than producing a stable fiber.

Generally speaking, polyester fabrics appear in quilts of the 1960s and 1970s, but especially the 1970s because many people wore the garments in the 1960s and later repurposed them. Quilts were made new with all polyester double knit fabrics, which were more readily available than good quilting cottons. The patriotic polyester pop art "Grandmother's Fans" quilt displayed last week at QuiltCon was a great example of a quilt made from newly purchased fabrics.

patriotic polyester pop art - fabrics purchased new for the quilt
If you come across a handmade quilt made with polyester material, it is likely to be from this period, and if you see DayGlo, it is likely from the middle 1960s or later. DayGlo, like polyester, has a very interesting history.

DayGlo fabric, upper right-hand block
Research about polyester and polyester quilts has now begun, whether or not the world is ready. These domestic objects made by everyday women and probably a few men, represent a narrow and very specific period in history; and they connect clearly with the work being done today. When the science behind the remarkably colorfast fabric is revealed, as well as the cultural factors contributing to a surge in the popularity of quiltmaking in America, the polyester quilts of the period are clearly more than just flashes of color. 

Ten Favorite Things (in the 1970s)

I had a blue Panasonic Toot A Loop Radio, and my sister had a red one
Disk-Go case for vinyl 45's (singles/records)
the coolest record player ever - the Concert Hall! (thanks Mom & Dad!)
The Futura Light, by Visual Effects - I got mine at Spencer Gifts in the mall
sweet ride - the Raleigh Chopper! had the red, couldn't get the purple
All the kids on Hemlock Drive in North Caldwell, NJ had these
another method of transportation, better than a bicycle in some situations
The SSP King Cobra was the ultimate race car - my fantasy ride.

Big Jim and his Sports Camper - out in the woods
I was way too obsessed with the Coleco Electronic Quarterback - omg!

Friday, February 27, 2015

"Modern Materials, Quilts of the 1970s" Web Seminar Endnotes

Today I presented a web seminar "Modern Materials, Quilts of the 1970s" in a live broadcast, and afterwards I had a few more thoughts to share. I showed the following series of slides toward the end of the web seminar, and they launched a new discussion about the relevance of 1970s quilts today.

In comparing "You Can't Rush Art" by Amanda Jean Nyberg to the 1970s polyester Rail Fence quilt, I pointed out similarities and differences between vintage and modern. The overall image, use of color and design share distinct similarities. However, the finish in the modern quilt is far more refined and polished.

Sometimes antique and vintage quilts have a sense of anachronism. They seem to predict the future. This vintage, 1970s Double Wedding Ring has a deconstructed appearance, and layers. The sense of peeling back the layers is also evident in Victoria Findlay Wolfe's masterpiece Best in Show quilt from QuiltCon 2013, "Double Edged Love". Not surprisingly, Victoria is inspired by antique and vintage quilts, and slept under polyester quilts made by her grandmother while growing up in Minnesota.

"Lite Brite" by Marie Shell is a direct reference to a popular toy first marketed in the late 1960s and hugely popular in the 1970s.

It is thrilling to see the similarities in color palette between Shell's quilt and the vintage 1970s Tile Block, and even more exciting to see the title refer back to the vintage inspiration.

The construction and finishing details in modern quilts also have roots in quilt history, but not the 1970s-- more like the middle 19th century. At the beginning of the web seminar, I talked about collecting antique quilts for 20 years before falling in love with my first 1970s quilt. The quilts from the middle 19th century are among my favorites, and they are thin, crisp, cotton quilts with great quilting-- a finish you could also expect to see in a lot of modern quilts.

At the end of the web seminar, I included a small tribute to Spock, Leonard Nimoy. Just before I went on the air, I heard he had passed away. He was part of my 1970s experience. Star Trek was on after many of my other favorite shows, such as Batman, Gilligan's Island, Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie. Today, I still love Star Trek. To quote longtime friend Chris Vacek of Boulder, Colorado who posted about Spock on Facebook today, "RIP Spock. Your passing is....illogical."

For those who missed the live event, and even for people who attended my morning tours and lecture on the 1970s at QuiltCon, I recommend checking out the web seminar because it includes some epiphanies such as the relationship between vintage and modern quilts. As soon as it is available for rebroadcast, I'll make sure to announce it. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

20 More 1970s Quilts!

Because people loved the 1970s quilts so much at QuiltCon, I thought I'd share some more. Pictures only-- no captions or info right now. Enjoy the groovy quilts!