Sunday, September 29, 2013


The Willow Tree Quilt is now on the drying table, and it looks like the washing was a success. Most of the discoloration and staining is gone. When it's dry, it'll be interesting to compare it with the other one, which is still unwashed, stained and discolored. Glad I did this one first- the one with the fringe will require a lot more care. More pictures when it's dry.


The first experience washing my candlewick spread was a success, so I thought I'd give one of the Willow Tree Quilts a wash. I chose the second one because it's in much better condition and will withstand a wash better than the one with the fringe. It also had the best potential to improve with a washing, with only some minor discoloration and stains. So far it looks like it's going well.

Just like the candlewick, I soaked it overnight in a very dilute sodium perborate solution- 1T per gallon. Some sources recommend using six times as much, but I've gone with Mom's much more conservative recommendation and it's worked beautifully.

This morning I began the process of rinsing it at least five times, again per Mom's recommendation. That will help get the residual dirt and sodium perborate out. Each rinse includes 30 minutes soaking. When working with the quilt I'm using rubber gloves to avoid getting any of the residual chemical on my skin. After each rinse and soak, I drain the water with the quilt rolled back from the drain, and gently press out excess dirty water with the quilt rolled in the center of the tub and water streaming down either side of the rolled quilt.

Lulu has a lot to say about the whole thing

The quilt will come out of the tub and go to the drying table around noon. I have several plastic tables pushed together in my loft, covered with clean white towels and a sheet over top. After about 12 hours with the quilt drying on top of the towels and sheet, I will remove the damp linens and let the quilt dry on the bare plastic tables, with any excess moisture evaporating.

before washing
After washing
I had fans circulating the air in the space to assist the drying- and it's important to use new, clean fans when drying whitework. You don't want any soot flying off a dirty fan on to your clean textile. When it was about 75% dry, I flipped the quilt over and let the underside dry. It took a couple days to dry completely, and looked so much better after washing. 

farewell to summer

near Multnomah Falls
In Oregon, we have two seasons- summer and rainy season. Summer arrives in early June and usually ends in September. Then we have eight wet months. No complaints though. I love the rain. It makes everything green, and green is my favorite color. Another sublime summer in Oregon, and as a farewell, I thought I'd share a few of my favorite images from the summer of 2013. Enjoy!

Outside Bridal Veil Post Office
Pittock Mansion gardens, Portland
view near Manzanita
Latourell Falls
at the Japanese Garden, Portland
International Rose Test Garden, Portland
Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach
Washington Park, Portland
moss covered tree in the Columbia River Gorge 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Three Quilts to Appear in Westside Quilters Show

Three Depression Era quilts from my collection will appear in the Westside Quilters Show, October 5th and 6th at Tuality Hospital Educational Center in Hillsboro, Oregon. I don't have too many quilts from this period, so I had to figure out which ones to lend for the display. One of my favorites is a multicolored Barn Raising Log Cabin on white- very modern looking.

The two others are also wonderful- a Blazing Broken Star, which happens to be available for sale, and Double Wedding Ring with an uncommon blue background. 

Latimer Quilt & Textile Center will also be there doing bed turnings with antique and vintage quilts. If you're in the area, stop by and say hello. Should be a great show. The Westside Quilters are a fun group. I've lectured for them two times and look forward to visiting them again in the future. For more information about the show, visit the Westside Quilters website.

Still Collecting New York Beauty Quilts

It's raining in Portland, Oregon, and I'm happy. Found this quilt on Etsy. Had to have it. Price was reasonable, maybe a little too reasonable for such complicated piecing- but I'm not arguing. It is 60" x 70" and is coming from Mesa, Arizona.

the next exhibition in Nantes, France
Most of the New York Beauties in my collection are now on display at the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles. After the exhibition, the quilts will get some rest for at least the next year, and the next exhibition will be in Nantes, France.

Now on display at San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles

I always try to look at the balance of this collection with a critical eye, and one thing I'd like to see is much more depth in the "new" quilts group. There were four of them on display in San Jose, but if you compare the number of new quilts being made with the old ones that have been discovered, there are far more new examples than old. That's why I'm excited about the quilt I found on Etsy. After all these years, I'm still collecting New York Beauty Quilts.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Chintz Counterpane Included in "Uncoverings 2013"

If you've followed this blog or my guest blogs for "Why Quilts Matter: History, Art & Politics" over the last year, you're probably aware of the extraordinary appliqué counterpane with cut out chintz, thought to be part of the Achsah Goodwin Wilkins group. I discovered this object in a Skinner auction through Live Auctioneers last year, and was the lucky winner- but at first I didn't realize just how lucky I was.

If you missed the whole story or need a refresher, click here.

At last week's American Quilt Study Group Seminar in Charleston, South Carolina, noted quilt historian and author Merikay Waldvogel presented a groundbreaking paper called "Printed Panels for Chintz Quilts: Their Origin and Use" - and the chintz counterpane from my collection was included in the paper and presentation. I was very sorry I couldn't be there in person, but heard it was top notch- and I was very impressed with the paper in Uncoverings 2013. Superb work!

"Uncoverings" is the annual journal of the American Quilt Study Group (AQSG). The journal is edited by Lynne Zacek Bassett, who is an outstanding editor, and the publication comes as a membership benefit for those who join AQSG. Many of the back issues are available online, and may be ordered through the AQSG web site.

For lovers of chintz, Uncoverings 2013 also includes a second excellent paper about chintz- "Lowcountry Chintz: The Townsend/Pope Quilt Legacy" by Sharon Fulton Pinka. Sharon is another amazing historian whose work I admire.

Last year, when I did my study center at the AQSG Seminar in Lincoln, I was very honored to have Sharon introduce me. When she pulled out a line from my interview in Quilters Newsletter, I was impressed with her eye for detail and keen sense of humor.  I had been quoted as saying I'd love to find a good example of "Broderie Perse" for my collection. In her introduction it was noted that evidently my goal was well-achieved. That spark of humor helped me feel relaxed and welcome, so I really appreciated it!

Hearty congratulations to all paper presenters and contributors to Uncoverings 2013!

Exhibition Featured on The Quilt Show Blog

What an honor it is to be included in The Quilt Show Daily Blog for a second time. First time was a couple years ago when I had my first exhibition of New York Beauty quilts at the Benton County Museum. Many thanks to Mary Kay Davis for the interview and video. It was a lot of fun. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting Mary Kay in person, and especially loved seeing pictures of the magnificent quilts she creates. I hope this exhibition was an ideal source of inspiration for Mary Kay. She incorporates New York Beauty blocks into a lot of her own quilts. Blew my mind a little. :)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

irresistible: indigo resist

I've always liked resist printed indigo textiles, but lately I've found them irresistible. The other day I purchased a Japanese boro quilted textile- my first foray into boro. The piece could have been intended for use as a rug or other functional household item. 

It is made of hand loomed and hand dyed indigo katazome cotton and its dimensions are 49" x 52". The piece is reversible and has a checked ikat fabric on the reverse side. It is quilted with a basic sashiko stitch. 

The fabrics are Meiji period, over 100 years old, and the indigo floral print depicts chrysanthemums. Katazome is a traditional Japanese resist dye technique. Before dying, resist paste was applied through a stencil, or kata. Japan's mended and patched textiles are called boro, or ragged- and the first time I saw these remarkable objects, I was very drawn to them. It was an exhibit called "Mottainai: The Fabric of Life" at the Japanese Garden in Portland, and I posted two blogs about it!


While I was shopping, I picked up another lovely textile- a piece of hand loomed, hand dyed katazome with fanciful floral motifs including flowers that look very much like lotus. 

The fabric could have been used as a futon cover or for another everyday, utilitarian purpose. There are patches on the back- evidence of the boro style of patched and mended "ragged" textiles.

It's no surprise that I'm finding indigo so irresistible. I live in indigo garments- American denim jeans- Old Navy and Lucky Brand. Most of them are ragged at the cuffs, and a few have holes, but in the Mottainai spirit, they will be worth reusing when I'm through wearing them.

Monday, September 23, 2013

"Roots of Modern Quilting" Opens October 10th

Two quilts from my collection are now on loan to the New England Quilt Museum for their upcoming exhibition "Roots of Modern Quilting" - scheduled to open on October 10th. Lucy Mingo's "Bible Story" from 1979 is one of them, and the fabulous 1970s polyester "Woven Pattern" is the other.

Last I heard, they were trying to figure out the best way to hang "Bible Story" since it is not a straight line across the top and is kind of wonky. Hope it makes it in to the show! For more details, visit the New England Quilt Museum website.

a very special quilt

This outstanding 1930s pictorial quilt from Ohio is very special for a lot of reasons. It comes to me from longtime friend and mentor Shelly Zegart, and it was part of her personal collection of pictorial quilts- a very strongly focused collection. The bulk of the quilts are now part of the permanent collection at the Art Institute of Chicago, but this quilt had remained with Shelly.

It's an iconic, early example of the pictorial quilt- made in a manner seen more often in the last 40 or 50 years than in the earlier 20th century. There's a log cabin, a flagpole with a printed 48-star American flag, a garden path lined with flowers, the sun, a rainbow, trees and mountains, and even a picket fence. In many ways it represents the American dream, the homestead, and order.

Although the folky manner might suggest an untrained artist, the handwork is very fine and the maker was clearly skilled in sewing. The combination of elements such as hexagon flowers, diamond-pieced trees and pieced star cornerstones suggests a connection with quilt tradition, but the way these elements were combined was clearly a departure.

This quilt was part of Shelly's 2008 exhibition and catalogue "Shelly Zegart: Passionate About Quilts" at the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft. It was also displayed as part of her Antique House Quilts exhibition at the 2005 Tokyo International Great Quilt Festival. I'm both honored and grateful that Shelly would want me to have this very special quilt. Thank you, Shelly!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

a little more about indigo resist

The 2004 edition of Uncoverings, the annual journal of the American Quilt Study Group, includes a paper about 18th century indigo resist prints. 

The paper is called "Eighteenth-Century Indigo-Resist Fabrics: Their Use in Quilts and Bed Hangings" by Mary Gale and Margaret Ordoñez. It includes photos of two indigo resist prints that match prints in my collection. I think the quilts are the same ones that appeared in "Printed Textiles: English and American Cottons and Linens 1700-1850" by Florence Montgomery. I mentioned that wonderful book in an earlier blog post.

my quilt, c.1760-1800, possibly New York

Page from 2004 Uncoverings - quilt from Shelburne Museum
detail view of my quilt
Page from 2004 Uncoverings - quilt from Shelburne Museum
detail view of my quilt 
Good reading! If you're interested in learning more about 18th century indigo resist, I recommend both resources. And of course, there's nothing like seeing the objects in person. I plan to go to the Rhode Island Historical Society and the Shelburn Museum to see their quilts, possibly next year. It'll be interesting to see how those quilts compare to the quilts in my collection.