Monday, July 20, 2015

Fumiko Nakayama's Magnificent Molas

One of my favorite exhibits at Salon Pour l'Amour du Fil 2015 in Nantes, France was a jaw-dropping display of molas by Japanese artist Fumiko Nakayama.

Molas are typically made in South America, particularly in Panama and Colombia. They are traditionally part of Kuna women's clothing, and also made as small panels and sold in the tourist trade. I spotted one in a Portland antiques shop, and it reminded me that I wanted to do a blog post about Fumiko's work.

framed mola in a local antiques shop in Portland, Oregon
Having seen many molas, I must say I have a huge crush on Fumiko Nakayama's work. Her molas are magnificent! The scale, the color, and the amount of appliqué and reverse appliqué is stunning. Here are some pictures from Salon Pour l'Amour du Fil.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Civil War Quilt from Paducah, Kentucky

If this quilt looks familiar, it should. It was one of the most memorable discoveries of the Kentucky Quilt Project, America's first statewide quilt documentation project conducted in the early 1980s. During the last three years, it was touring with the "Homefront & Battlefield: Quilts & Context in the Civil War" exhibition; and more recently, it arrived at its new home, my home.

The quilt was first published in Kentucky Quilts, 1800-1900. In the book, the quilt appears to have a large water stain, which is no longer present. At some point the quilt was professionally cleaned and backed with white fabric, and a strip of velcro sewn on one edge of the newer backing. I may remove it and go with a standard sleeve, but there is some information on the back worth preserving.

The quilt toured extensively around the United States with the Kentucky Quilt Project's traveling exhibition in the 1980s. It was also published in "Shelly Zegart, Passionate About Quilts" on the back cover.

Shelly and her husband Kenny are visiting Oregon, and yesterday we looked at quilts together. We mostly viewed things they had not yet seen in person, but toward the end I brought out a couple of the that came through Shelly, and I asked questions. This quilt, a new arrival to my collection, was the top of my list.

There is a label on the back. Of course, I wanted to know who Hardin Pettit was, and Shelly told me the whole story. He was the owner of the quilt at the time of the Kentucky Quilt Project and subsequent publication and touring exhibition.

"I met Hardin at the Paducah quilt day in 1981 and spent time visiting with him over the years when I would get to Paducah," Shelly said when the quilt was listed for sale on her web site a few years ago. "Hardin was an avid collector of many things American and Kentucky. He was a great storyteller and had a very interesting life full of adventures."

You can tell just by looking at this remarkable quilt, Mr. Pettit had a great eye for whimsical folk art. The quilt was made by Mrs. M.E. Poyner of Paducah, Kentucky in the middle nineteenth century. It includes bold red flowers flanked by leaves with red leaves or flowers sprouting from the tops; and stuffed work berries in four colors.

In a press release for the "Homefront & Battlefield" exhibition, the following description appeared:

Luck and/or ingenuity saved many heirlooms that were packed up and buried or hidden to keep them from both enemy and friendly troops. Quilts, coverlets, and carpets were particularly at risk, as they served soldiers for bedding, overcoats, tents, and saddle blankets. One Union woman anxiously observed the fighting in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley in July 1861 as it seesawed back and forth across her town. After a few days of flying rumors and passing soldiers, she and her neighbor packed a few boxes of silver and other goods, which they buried. Each kept a carpetbag with a few essentials at hand, “so as to fly at a moment’s notice.” The Poyner family in Kentucky buried their most precious appliqué quilts in expectation of Union depredations. They were lucky—their belongings survived intact.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Help Charleston Modern Quilt Guild Make Emanuel AME Church Quilt!

Most of the time I don't talk about national news, but after the horrific events last week at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, I wanted to do something. I just wasn't sure what. Then today I spotted a link shared by "Why Quilts Matter, History, Art & Politics" from the Charleston Modern Quilt Guild, and I had my answer.

Gina Pina's wonderful signature quilt from QuiltCon 2015
Using inspiration from Gina Pina's wonderful signature quilt seen at QuiltCon 2015 in Austin, the Charleston Modern Quilt Guild is asking quilters from all around the world to make an inscribed block and send it in by August 1st.

From the Charleston MQG website:

The Charleston Modern Quilt Guild is collecting blocks to be assembled into a quilt for the Emanuel AME church to show our love and support for their members.  Requested blocks are simple brick style and measure 3.5” tall by 6.5” wide (to finish at 3” x 6”).   Please make sure all text is inside the 3” x 6” area.  Each block should prominently show the maker’s city and state – or city and country! – and the maker’s name. Recommended pens for fabric are Sharpies and Micron, but most permanent markers would likely work.  Blocks should be a single piece of fabric and in a solid or print that reads as a solid.  The location and name of the maker should be clear and easy to read.  Completed blocks can be mailed to Charleston Modern Quilt Guild, PO Box 723, Sullivans Island, SC 29482. 

Requested deadline for receipt of blocks is August 1.  We thank all of you in advance for your help in making this quilt happen!

Special thanks to Gina Pina of Austin, TX for providing pictures of her amazing quilt as inspiration!

more book appearances

My collection of books grew a lot over the last five years. One of the bookshelves is devoted to publications that include me and my quilts. It looks like I need to get another bookshelf soon, a happy dilemma. Two new books arrived this week: "Craftivism, The Art of Craft and Activism" by Betsy Greer, and "In War Time: A Study of Civil War Era Quilts, 1850-1865" by the American Quilt Study Group. Both books include quilts from my collection.

Susan Beal wrote a perfectly lovely chapter about Charity Quilting in "Craftivism" and she included the 1931 American Legion Auxiliary inscribed fundraising quilt from my collection. I wrote about the quilt in a blog post for "Why Quilts Matter, History, Art & Politics" - click here to view.

The quilt is truly remarkable, and I am so happy people will be able to read about and learn more when they see it in the book.

The second new book is the catalogue of study quilts from the American Quilt Study Group 2014 Civil War Quilt Study. It includes 50 exquisite quilts inspired by Civil War quilts, and one of those is a quilt inspired by my very first antique quilt, an 1850s masterpiece from Kentucky.

The inspiration is a red, white and green quilt made with the complex design known today as New York Beauty. This quilt is the oldest in my New York Beauty collection and book, "New York Beauty, Quilts from the Volckening Collection" (Quiltmania, France). I purchased the quilt from Shelly Zegart in 1989.

the inspiration: an 1850s masterpiece from Kentucky
Christine Turner's small-scale study quilt - amazing!

Christine Turner of DuPont, Washington did an amazing job with the small-scale study quilt. She was very inspired by the quilt, and imagined how challenging it would be to make it in the 1850s, without today's technology and tools. I am happy to say Christine is also working on a quilt for my next book, a project book from C&T Publishing with 12 projects inspired by quilts from my collection. It is due out next Spring.

Are all of these things really happening? Or am I just dreaming? Someone pinch me, please.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Happy Monday!

What a happy way to start the week. I was quickly scrolling through items on Etsy before heading out to the garden, and there it was...and the seller is here in Portland. Wild and wooly, I just love it. The center is like a gem mine frozen at the center of the world. I'm hoping the seller will let me go pick it up, I'd love to see it today. Happy Day, Happy Monday!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Time Travel

My senior year high school roommate, Tom Sabga, is turning 50, and his wife, Shelley, asked his friends to get in touch with him on an assigned day. Of course I had to send a gift, and I think it drove Tom a little crazy knowing there was a package from me, but he couldn't open it until today.

It was a green gurgling fish jug from Dartmouth, Devon, England; an object of special significance. We had one in the dorm room. It came from my grandparents' summer home in East Hampton. As an element in the dorm room decor, it was part of our Peddie School experience. Shelley asked if there was a picture of the dorm room, but we didn't have one, so I wrote a description for her:

"Our dorm room was on the third floor of an old house, Rivenburg - we were the Rivenburg "Froggies" - and the ceilings were angled on both sides, so the room was almost triangular. There was a small closet next to the door. We had Indian tapestries on the walls, the kind you might have found at Spencer Gifts, old upholstered chairs, an orange rug from Sears, and bunk beds cutting the room in half, which blocked the view of the seating area from the door. I had a stereo set up with a Pioneer tuner and a Technics turntable, some kind of cassette player and big speakers. Tom found a small, square refrigerator, which we kept covered with something fabric, maybe another tapestry; we used it as an end table. Dresser at the foot of the bed, bottle of Scope sitting right on top in plain view. There were two old brass lights made out of boat lamps, port and starboard, a Stork Club ashtray and the green Devon fish jug. On the far wall in the center of the seating area was the only window. We kept a fan there, to keep air circulating in the small space."

I have collected gurgling fish jugs over the years and knew exactly where to find a green, Devon jug- eBay! Isn't it amazing how a very specific object can transport you to a completely different time and place? I am so happy Tom enjoyed his gift, and the time travel. Happy (early) Birthday, Tom. Ala Viva!