Friday, January 31, 2014

star treatment

As a novice quiltmaker, I was pleasantly surprised when my quilt "Center Star" was juried into MANifestations, the twelfth biennial juried exhibition of quilts made by men at the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum.

I was even more surprised when the invitations arrived, and my quilt was one of two featured on the card. The surprises continued this week, when my quilt turned up again on the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum home page and current exhibition page.

Talk about star treatment. Thank you, Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum! Exhibition opens today. If you're in the Denver/Golden area, go see it!! For more details, click here.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

three old blue & white gems

whole cloth quilt, c. 1825, New York
An auction a couple weekends ago produced three blue and white gems- one quilt and two coverlets, all old and all from New York. The quilt is a wholecloth, c. 1825, and was documented by the New York quilt documentation project, according to a label on the back. The print is a blue toile on white.

A friend who lives in New York state said the records for the New York Quilt Project are in storage in a warehouse in Brooklyn, but they are not yet on the Quilt Index.
 The two woven coverlets appear to be overshot, narrow loom about 34" wide, each two panels. At first I thought they might be 1830s, but there is a good chance they are earlier. I saw similar examples made from 1810 to 1820 when I searched online. My first official coverlets, and it looks like they are nice and old. Both need a little work on the center seams, but should be an easy fix.

Monday, January 20, 2014

your thoughts?

This quilt has generated a lot of discussion today on Facebook, so I thought I would also ask my blog readers for their thoughts. The quilt is c. 1950, and came to me through eBay from Kyra Hicks, the previous owner. Hicks is author of "Black threads, An African American Quilting Sourcebook", and the quilt appears as plate G in the center of the book.

How do you react to this quilt? Do you like it? Hate it? Is it charming? Or are you offended by it? And why? Weigh in below in the comments section.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

strange symmetry

This 1970s polyester double knit quilt from California has a strange sense of symmetry. It could be called a one-patch or a nine-patch variation, but it has the effect of a geometric medallion. If you look at it as a nine-patch, the blocks do not seem symmetrical. But the mirror image placement of these asymmetrical blocks creates an overall symmetry. The quilt also includes some interesting fabrics.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Invitation for MANifestations

What a nice surprise I got today, when I opened the mail and found invitations for the upcoming MANifestations exhibition at the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum. Even better, my quilt is one of two pictured on the invitation. "Center Star" is the background, and the sidebar listing the artists is nicely color coordinated. The pictorial quilt, "Marmalade's First Snow" was made by David Taylor of Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

MANifestations is the 12th biennial exhibition of quilts made by men. Opening reception is Friday, February 7th, from 5pm to 8pm. The selected artists are: John Scott Alden, JC Barr, Don Beld, Steve Bowley, Ken Casey, David Charity, Brian Clements, Roderick Ferry, Michael Gold, Geoff Hamada, Luke Haynes, Timothy Latimer, Gerald Legan, Don Linn, Michael Marsh, Mike "Mac" McNamara, William Meek, Michael Michaelski, Scott Murkin, Wendell Perkins, John Plutchak, Cliffor Rininger, D.M. Sanford, Carmon Slater, Jim Smith and Andy Brunhammer, Kerby Smith, David Taylor, Ricky Tims, Bill Volckening (hey, that's me), and Dennis Wain.

The exhibition was juried by Bill Gardner, Editor in Chief of Quilters Newsletter. Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum is located in Golden, Colorado. For more information about the exhibition, click here.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Tour of the "New York Beauty" Group

Here are 30 quilts from the "New York Beauty" group in my collection. Roughly speaking, they appear in chronological order. The earliest quilt was made around 1850 in Kentucky, and the latest was completed in the last year. This group of quilts includes over 50 examples of the complicated patchwork design. There are more than 250 quilts in my collection. Enjoy the quilts!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Video Tour of "Collecting New York Beauty Quilts"

For anyone who missed my exhibition last year at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles, this video will give you a tour, plus other exhibits at the museum. Thank you to curator Deborah Corsini for the walk through. Enjoy!

Monday, January 6, 2014

"Gift of…"

applique counterpane, c. 1815-1820, Achsah Goodwin Wilkins
Exciting news! This chintz appliqué counterpane from my collection, attributed to Achsah Goodwin Wilkins, will be part of an exhibition at the DAR Museum in Washington, D.C. later this year. The exhibition, "Early Quilts of Maryland and Virginia" will feature 30 pre-1860 quilts, mostly from the DAR's magnificent collection.

Today, I am very happy to announce the DAR Museum will be the permanent home of the Achsah Goodwin Wilkins appliqué counterpane. Many thanks to curator Alden O'Brien, and special thanks to Mom. The exhibition will open on October 3, 2014 and run through August, 2015. For more information, click here.

Saturday, January 4, 2014


Donald Waters is alive and well, and his daughter came to see the quilt
As if I did not already believe in karma, another good thing has happened as a result of putting something good out there in the world. And just as karma is said to work, the good came back tenfold.

If you have followed my blog or the "Why Quilts Matter: History, Art & Politics" guest blog series, you may remember this quilt. It was made in 1931 by members of Post 9 of the American Legion Auxiliary in Salem, Oregon. A couple years ago, I sat down with Mary Bywater Cross, transcribed the names, and posted them on my blog. We began to learn more about the quilt after Mary lectured about it in Salem, and my "Why Quilts Matter" blog was published, but recently more information has surfaced.

Liz with the quilt that has her father's name on it
Deb, a Salem-area genealogist was helping her friend Liz, who is part of Tabitha Moffat Brown's family tree, with a DAR application.

Tabitha Moffat Brown - the Mother of Oregon!

When searching for family names, the "Why Quilts Matter" blog came up. I received an e-mail from Deb, asking for more information. We e-mailed back and forth and soon set up a meeting.

Yesterday, Deb and Liz came to see the quilt, and I learned that Liz is the daughter of Donald Waters, whose name is on the quilt. Donald was 5 when the quilt was made, and he does not remember it, but he is still alive and doing well- still driving his car. Mae Waters, who was also known to the family as Lizzie Mae, was one of the ringleaders in the creation of the quilt. Liz was named after Lizzie Mae, and they had known each other when Liz was a small child.

Deb and Liz knew many of the names on the quilt, family members, friends, and some of their stories. I was delighted to let Liz explore the quilt, running her fingers over the embroidered names, and I did not make her wear white gloves!

There is something to be said for letting history unfold, allowing it to present itself rather than trying to ferret it out. Put something good into the world, and see what happens. This approach may seem too undisciplined to produce any worthwhile results, but I believe in it. When Mary Bywater Cross and I sat down to transcribe all the information on the quilt, we talked about how wonderful it would be to have relatives discover the information and get in touch- but it was just a wish. It was far beyond anything we ever expected to have a relative of Tabitha Moffat Brown turn up as a result.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

touring in 2014-2015

This wonderful Oak Leaf Variant, c. 1860, made by Mrs. M. E. Poyner of Paducah, Kentucky, will be touring in 2014 and 2015. It is part of the "Homefront & Battlefield: Quilts & Context in the Civil War" exhibition, launched by the American Textile History Museum in 2012.

From the museum's web site:

The American Textile History Museum (ATHM) is contributing to the nationwide conversation on the sesquicentennial commemoration of the American Civil War (1861-65) through Homefront & Battlefield: Quilts & Context in the Civil War, an intriguing and absorbing look at the most divisive period in American history.
When civil war broke out in America, the very fabric of life was altered. ATHM showcases this pivotal period in American history through a new lens, reflecting the personal sacrifice, heroism, mourning and reconciliation that changed the course of our country.
The quilt and its story are placed in a broader context through the use of textile-related artifacts, relevant images (including paintings, photographs, prints, and ephemera), and quotations from diaries and letters. Each object represents a deeply moving and insightful personal story, from the noose reportedly used to hang abolitionist John Brown to a mother’s quilt stitched with the uniforms of her two sons, one who fought in Confederacy gray and the other in Union blue.
Over a period of three years, guest curators Lynne Bassett and Madelyn Shaw identified and selected more than 150 artifacts and graphic reproductions to be included in the exhibition, as well as authored an accompanying book.

According to the authors’ introduction to the Homefront & Battlefield book: “The project is intended to encourage visitors to view the war not in isolation or through stereotypes and simplifications, but in its complicated and uneasy place in the context of American history. Through a wealth of artifacts drawn from around the nation, each with a strong provenance and embodying project themes, audiences will be able to see and acknowledge the human experiences beneath the veneer of Blue and Gray.”
Homefront & Battlefield connects deeply moving and insightful personal stories about the war with the broader national context and history and examines how textiles were both an expression of and a motivating force behind American politics and culture during the Civil War. As stated in the book:
Following its run at ATHM in Lowell, MA, the exhibit will travel throughout the country. Future destinations include the New-York Historical Society, New York, NY, April 4 – August 31, 2014; Shelburne Museum, Shelburne, VT, September 20, 2014 – January 1, 2015; and the Nebraska State Historical Society, Lincoln, NE, February 1, - June 30, 2015.
Funding for Homefront & Battlefield was provided in part by grants from The Coby Foundation, with additional support from Mass Humanities and the Stockman Family Foundation .
Next stop, New York Historical Society. For more information, click here.

2013 - phenomenal

my exhibition at the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles
I could probably write a book about the year 2013. To call it eventful would be an understatement. It was phenomenal. If it is possible to have a year in which only good things happened, 2013 was the year. There were exhibitions: "Off the Wall: Maverick Quilts" at the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame & Museum in Ft. Worth, Texas; "Feeling Groovy" at the International Quilt Festival of Ireland; "Roots of Modernism" at the New England Quilt Museum; and "Collecting New York Beauty Quilts: Bill Volckening's Passion" at the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles.

Julie Silber welcomes visitors to the Maverick Quilts exhibition at the
National Cowgirl Hall of Fame & Museum in Ft. Worth, Texas
Three of my New York Beauties were part of the exhibition 
"Wild Thing" c. 1970 was exhibited in the "Feeling Groovy"
exhibit at the International Quilt Festival of Ireland
Three quilts on display at the Westside Quilters Show in Hillsboro, Oregon
Lucy Mingo's quilt (right) across from Elda Wolfe's quilt in the "Roots of
Modernism" exhibition at the New England Quilt Museum. Elda Wolfe was
Victoria Findlay Wolfe's grandmother. Mingo is from Gee's Bend.
There were more publications: American Quilter Magazine published an article I wrote about the quilts of the 1970s; Generation Q published an article about Victoria Findlay Wolfe and I, the Double-Knit Twins; Quiltmania published an article about my collection (and me); and I was mentioned in Merikay Waldvogel's groundbreaking paper about chintz panels in Uncoverings, the annual journal of the American Quilt Study Group.

In 2013, I celebrated the one-year anniversary of making my first quilt, finishing two quilts started at the 2012 Folk Art Quilting Retreat with Sue Spargo and Gwen Marston in Sisters, Oregon. Both were displayed at the Northwest Quilters annual show in the spring. My only goal was to participate in the show as a first-time quilt maker. Later in the year, "Wild-Eyed Susans" received an honorable mention at the Pacific West Quilt Show in Tacoma, Washington- my first judged show. "Center Star" was recently accepted in MANifestations, the upcoming exhibit at the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum featuring the work of men who make quilts. Both quilts were also published in Quiltmania Magazine.
"Center Star" 2013
"Wild-Eyed Susans" 2013 

And of course, there were quilts- lots of them!

When asked to choose a word for 2014 by some of my Facebook friends, the word I chose was "thriving"- really a carry-over from 2013. There was some luck involved, and opportunities came out of the blue, but it was not accidental. I worked hard, and the success was meant to be. Thank you, 2013, for another great year!