Thursday, October 31, 2013

the back

There have been many requests to see the back construction of the spectacular polyester top with rick rack, so here it is. Looks like it was done with hand stitching over the rick rack to hold the patchwork together. Interesting!

I've really appreciated all the comments from people who didn't think they would like a polyester quilt, but like this one. That makes me happy.

Happy Halloween From Mom

Happy Halloween! When Mom was visiting Oregon in September, she was working on this adorable needlepoint project with a black cat, jack 'o lantern and bat. She finished it quickly. This week it came back from the finishers, looking great, just in time for Halloween! The needlepoint canvas was made into a large button on the pillow, beautifully done with coordinating trim and orange plaid ribbon. Love it!

A few years ago Mom made another festive fall pillow with black cats in a pumpkin patch. My cat Boo was around when Mom made that pillow, but now it's Lulu. I guess I have a thing for black cats. I've always liked Halloween, too, but since I usually end up with too much leftover candy, I'm skipping the candy this year. Both pillows are out on display, and that's how I'm celebrating Halloween this year. Thanks, Mom! Happy Halloween!!

Sorry, Lulu, no Halloween candy for you!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


This 1970s polyester double knit top with rick rack came from an eBay seller in Louisiana, and I think it's sensational! Monumental in size, 112" x 120", it was a little tricky to get a full view picture.

The top is finished on the edges and stitched together with black rick rack, which gives the piece the look of a large tile mosaic. It is also reminiscent of the paintings of Piet Mondrian, although the colors are more of the psychedelic ilk. 

If you look at it carefully, you can see the blocks, but they are put together in a way that creates the illusion of more complicated patchwork. There are also areas of saturated colors blended with areas of more pastel colors, a nice overall balance. I shared it on Facebook, and even some of the people who don't usually like polyester quilts enjoyed this one. Winner!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Great Experience!

Got back late last night from San Jose. Sunday was the last day of the exhibition, and yesterday the volunteers and museum staff had the show down in quick order. I was on the road with all the quilts by 1:30 and got home a little after midnight. I didn't stop often, Lulu was patiently waiting at home, but I did have time to savor the whole experience of exhibiting at the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles.

It was a great experience, from start to finish, and I have nothing but good things to say about the museum and everyone who is involved. Such a nice group of people, and highly capable. Special thanks to exhibitions curator Deborah Corsini, collections curator Nancy Bavor, executive Director Christine Jeffers, and all the museum staff and volunteers. Job well done!

It was such an honor to fill the museum with quilts for three months, and to bring so many people in the front doors. I think everyone enjoyed it, but nobody enjoyed it as much as me. Sharing the quilts- that's what it's all about! I look forward to many returns to San Jose. 

Tongue-Tied Tuesday

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

get the catalogue

The exhibition is almost over, but there's still time to get the catalogue for "Collecting New York Beauty Quilts: Bill Volckening's Passion", which was on display over the last three months at the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles. The catalogue is self-published, 40 pages, full-color, softcover, 8" x 10" size, and includes images of many of my favorite quilts, plus information about the collection.

My first exhibition catalogue for this collection, "Beauty Secrets: 150 Years of History in One Quilt Pattern" is now out of print, and "Collecting New York Beauty Quilts" will only be available for a limited time, so get your copy before it's too late. For more information, click here.

"Collecting New York Beauty Quilts" ends this week

All good things must come to an end, and this is the last week of the three-month-long exhibition "Collecting New York Beauty Quilts: Bill Volckening's Passion" at the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles. It's been a good run, lots of people have enjoyed the exhibition, and there's still time to get there if you haven't seen it. Also, if you can't get to San Jose, a printed catalogue is available with pictures of many of the quilts.

pieced quilt, c. 1860, Kentucky
pieced quilt, c. 1865, Kentucky
"Springtime in the Rockies" c. 1935, New York
"Cinco de Mayo" 2008, by the Buda Bee Quilters, Texas
The exhibition includes approximately 35 quilts and ephemeral objects charting the history of the New York Beauty, one of the most complicated pieced quilt designs. Sunday is the last day, so go see it if you can. For more details, visit the museum's web site- click here.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Quilts of Valor on the NBC Nightly News

There was a wonderful surprise on last night's NBC Nightly News. A report about the Quilts of Valor, and the group from Georgia that made the quilt draped over the wounded officer, thought to be unconscious, who valiantly saluted when receiving his Purple Heart recently. It was the salute seen round the world. And I thought, "Quilts and quiltmakers in the news? Yes please!!"

Brian Williams talks about quilts and quiltmakers making a difference
This photo of Corporal Joshua Hargis saluting recently went viral

this quilter was prepared for TV - perfect nails! 
a quilt block done by a child
This volunteer works to pay tribute to her late husband, a veteran. She
sews a piece of fabric from his favorite shirt on each quilt.
a grateful quilt recipient
Joshua Hargis is out of the hospital and recovering. His dog is happy, too!
I was happy to see the Quilts of Valor and the local group recognized on the national nightly news. It's the kind of story we should see every day. Well done, quilters!! For more information about the Quilts of Valor, click here.

Monday, October 21, 2013

one white, one cream

Willow Tree 1 (left) and Willow Tree 2 (right)
The Willow Tree quilt is dry, and it's not quite as white as the other quilt. It may have started out as a cream colored fabric. After washing, the pair is a much closer match.

I'm pleased with how they both turned out, even if the fabrics aren't quite a match. Makes sense that the fabrics would differ if the quilts were made separately at different times.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

back to being white

Willow Tree 1 on the drying table
The Willow Tree quilt is out of the wash, on the drying table, and it looks like it is back to being white. Most of the 200 years of soil washed out. Just like the other quilt I washed, it is a light cream color when wet, so I expect it to be a brighter white when fully dry.

first soak: the water turned yellow from the soil washing out of the quilt
after rinsing: the water is clear, most of the staining is gone
This quilt is the first one purchased, but the second one washed. The other quilt had no fringe and was in much better condition, which was why I was brave enough to wash it. With that experience under my belt, it was only a matter of time before I washed this quilt. Even though I was worried about the fragile fringe, there was no need to worry. It didn't get tangled, twisted, or further damaged.

Willow Tree 1 before washing: much discoloration and staining 
side-by-side: washed Willow Tree 2 (left), unwashed Willow Tree 1 (right
Willow Tree 2 before washing: stains and discoloration along folds
Willow Tree 2 after washing: back to being white
When you look at the side-by-side picture of the washed and unwashed quilt, the amount of soil and discoloration in the unwashed quilt is very pronounced. When the second washed quilt is dry, the pair of quilts will be a much closer match.

looking better!

Almost time to pull the Willow Tree quilt out of the bath and get it on the drying table. It's looking better. Water is running clear. Still some small spots, but I'm not sure if all of them will be visible from the front. Stay tuned...

Saturday, October 19, 2013

another act of bravery

It's getting easier washing very old whitework quilts and bedcovers, but it's still an act of bravery any time you immerse an antique textile in water. Fortunately, I had some practice with the candlewick spread and the other Willow Tree quilt.

candlewick spread after washing and drying

In case you missed the story, there are two Willow Tree quilts, which share many design elements such as the large willow tree in the center of both quilts. They came from the same estate in Massachusetts, from a collector who bought them both from the same dealers in New Jersey, but the quilts were auctioned at separate times by the same auction house, Skinner, several months apart. I was the lucky winner both times. OK, well maybe it wasn't luck, as much as it was the routine of watching the internet like a hawk.
before washing - the first Willow Tree quilt came to me last fall
The first Willow Tree quilt is the one I'm washing today. A few weeks ago I washed the other quilt, which was easier because it was in much better shape. The one I'm washing today has fringe around three edges, some damage, and it was a lot more soiled than the other one.

before washing - the second Willow Tree quilt (no fringe)
after washing - the second Willow Tree quilt (no fringe) 
The thing I worried most about was getting the fringe all tangled and twisted, but I had a plan: I folded the quilt with the fringe on the inside, and kept it folded while soaking in the tub. Since it was filthy, I soaked it in the mild sodium perborate solution, 1T per gallon of water, for 24 hours rather than 12. The water was yellow after that, and the quilt was looking a lot better. It's on the second rinse and soak right now. Can't wait to see it when it's dry. I wonder how closely the white will match the other quilt...

another great eBay find

This quilt top is pretty fab! It's all polyester patchwork with applied rick-rack!! As Pat Sloan says, "Rick-rack, it isn't tacky anymore."

It's almost a Mondrian or Partridge Family Bus moment. Phenomenal. Can't wait to see it in person!!