I’m very excited about heading up to Seattle for Urban Craft Uprising on Saturday!
And from 2:30 to 3:30, Kristen Rask and I will be doing a super fun crafty demo together, Button Mania! You can make yourself some button hairclips or sewn accessories in your favorite colors — we’ll have all the stuff you need for both projects and you can wear your new fanciness home!
There will be tons of other crafters and authors there, too, including Diane Gilleland, Becky Stern, Jenny Hart, Jennifer Worick, Brookelynn Morris, Tonia Davenport, and Moxie. Check out the crafty demos and author signings schedules for all the details. I’d love to say hi so please come by if you’re free!
Hope to see you Saturday!
I have a copy right next to me and I can attest that it is just gorgeous. The array of projects is lovely, and Diane did such a nice job making the techniques and embellishments clear and easy to understand. I made my first kanzashi a few days ago with vintage fabric and a moonglow button, and it was so much fun. (More on that next week, with lots of photos…)
Check out her pretty new book site, too! Congratulations, Diane!
I have to run, this morning is the first day of my class (after an amazing weekend in the same space piecing quilt squares and thinking about color all the time) but I’ll be back with more about the Denyse Schmidt workshop soon and I hope to see you tonight!
If you go:
Megan Nicolay at Powell’s
tonight (July 20) at 7:30 pm
1005 W. Burnside
Portland, OR 97209
I’m so happy that the Summer of Making is finally here — the craft portion begins tonight, when Denyse Schmidt is giving a lecture at the Museum of Contemporary Craft! She’ll describe her work, her process, and her approach to craft, and share images of new and in-progress projects… including a very special sneak preview of her upcoming Hope Valley fabric line! Denyse’s talk starts things off before her two-day workshop this Saturday and Sunday — which I am thrilled to be taking.
I had a chance to speak to her for a few minutes yesterday about the workshop, her current projects, and her thoughts on contemporary quilting.
Can you tell me a bit about the two-day workshop? I know you usually teach one-day classes.
Denyse: Yes, this is a new experience — more a combination of the regular and advanced Improvisational Patchwork classes. There’s so much more time that I think we’ll be able to take things quite far. Everyone will be working quite hard, and hopefully we’ll be doing some really cool stuff! I’m glad everyone in the class is giving themselves the gift of time to focus on making.
What have you been working on lately?
I’ve recently completed some quilts and and I have some others in progress. I’ll be sharing images of all of them at the lecture, as well as previews of my new Hope Valley fabric line! I don’t have fabric in hand yet but I will be able to show the designs. [Hope Valley will be coming out this fall - check out this tantalizing preview post at True Up for a bit more on the line!]
What are your thoughts on quilting these days?
There’s such a powerful interest in quilting now. I started my business 12 years ago and in the last 5 years I’ve seen interest build on the do-it-yourself end. There was such a renaissance of knitting a few years ago, and it seems to have carried over into “domestic crafts” now. Quilting has some built-in challenges, like the time factor and the need to use a sewing machine, so it’s been great to see the interest in it grow.
The Gee’s Bend quilts have been a big influence, too. And before that, there was a pivotal show of quilting at the Whitney in the 70s (“Abstract Design in American Quilts,” 1971), and I ran across the show catalog, which was a whole book of images, when I was starting my business. Jonathan Holstein wrote the introduction. He (and Gail van der Hoof) collected American quilts and in this show they were treated like contemporary paintings — put on the wall to view in that context for the first time.
Not all of them were masterpieces, not all were well made, some were quirky and simple, but they were so individual. In a world of traditional quilt shows and art quilts, they were really making a statement. And the Gee’s Bend show that opened in Houston and then went to the Whitney in 2002 was the first time since then that quilts were shown that way.
Design and the straightforward approach are what’s so interesting to me. I always make it up as I go along — the work seems more true that way.
Thank you, Denyse!
The lecture is free and open to the public. Hope to see you there!
My three-day whirlwind of quilts wound down on Sunday with our visit to the High Desert Museum south of Bend. I have never been to a museum quite like it — it’s tucked back in its own world, well off the road, at the end of a long and winding drive.
The Patterns from the Past exhibit drew plenty of Sisters quilters eager to see the collection of antique quilts from the Susan Lewis Cockrell collection! Everyone commented on border patterns, fabric choices and humble blocks and snapped tons of pictures. Most were displayed hanging on the wall, so we could see the details of the entire quilt, but some in more fragile condition were folded in glass cases.
The seventeen quilts, all made by Southern women between the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, show the fascinating progression of patterns, fabric colors, political messages, quilting styles, and available materials as the fortunes of the South rose and fell dramatically during these quilters’ lifetimes. Signs all around the space added fascinating historical details, as well as speculation about the origins or inspiration behind the patterns, since 16 of the 17 are uncredited to their makers after so many years. It felt like an education in a room, learning this history and seeing these lush and beautiful quilts that could have been made by our great-great-grandmothers (give or take a few generations) — and at the same time somehow looked as fresh and lovely as if they had been pieced and stitched this year and shown in Sisters.
Just a note — the High Desert Museum graciously gave us all permission to take non-flash photos, but these delicate antiques are only displayed in low light, so some of my pictures are out of focus or harder to see detail on (especially the smaller print on the signs, which is a shame, because the curators did an outstanding job framing these pieces with vivid historical background).
My whole set of Patterns from the Past photos is here — I spotlighted six of the quilts, but there are eleven more exquisite pieces in the collection (which is owned by the Benton County Historical Museum), and if you have the chance to visit Bend, I wholeheartedly recommend seeing this show in person!
Star of Many Points – circa early 1800s
This quilt’s humble blocks (in the sign below, there’s a great description of the tradition) are so striking within the otherwise beautifully symmetrical geometric pattern.
Whig Rose – Applique – circa 1830s-50s
I could not believe the condition of this beautiful, bright quilt after at least 160 years. The design was breathtaking up close (particularly the exquisite hand-quilting patterns) and the colors were incredibly well preserved!
Album Applique – circa 1850s
Each square of this quilt was created by a different seamstress, in a style that was popular in the Victorian era and inspired by autograph albums. The colors are much softer than most of the others in the collection.
Pomegranate Applique Album – after 1850
Some of the fascinating details revealed on the placard: this beautiful quilt was also made in the communal album style (with a repeating instead of assorted block pattern like the one above), spotlighting the pomegranate — which symbolized fertility and love — along with the use of “daring new colors” like Cheddar yellow and Navy blue.
Northern or Carolina Lily – circa 1850s-60s
This lovely design displays a political message through the quilter’s decision not to twine the Northern Lily and Southern Rose, and her choice to “break” the vine may mean she advocates secession from the Union.
Log Cabin – 1865
This strikingly simple quilt top (it is only pieced and backed, not fully quilted and bound) is the only one in the collection with a definite history. It was made by Susan Cockrell’s grandmother in 1865, using the pattern most closely linked to President Lincoln, the Log Cabin — with some variants in her red, white and blue color choices suggesting a nod to the tradition of the humble block, while at the same time ushering in the radical new era of the modern scrap quilt.
As a complement to the antique quilts on display, there was a newly made quilt on a frame for visitors to add their quilting and stitching to. I added a few tenative inches of hand-quilting, and felt even more amazed by the 14-stitches-to-the-inch delicacies surrounding me!
And outside the main entrance, there was a table set up to create your own quilt pattern, with lots of little angled pieces to arrange and rearrange into blocks.
After we left the museum, we headed north through Redmond and Madras (with a beautiful view of Mt. Bachelor the whole time), wound around the gorgeous open canyons of Warm Springs, and finally skirted the south side of Mt. Hood to come back to Portland. I’ve never felt more lucky to live in Oregon, with the chance to appreciate all these beautiful things in just a few days — but somehow seeing so many quilts by Southern artists (from these unknown women of the 19th century to the Quilters of Gee’s Bend) out here in the West was very much like coming home, and made me feel like part of a family of quilters.
I grew up in North Carolina and have always loved our family quilts, from the antique postage-stamp black-velvet-and-colored-silk confection (so beautiful, but sadly showing its age) to the hand-quilted green calico workhorse that’s still holding strong. Their fabrics and colors tell such a story! I don’t know exactly which women in our family made them, just like in the ones in the Cockrell collection, but next time I visit my mom’s house I’ll be seeing them in a whole new light. I hope generations from now someone’s enjoying my quilt just as much!
I’ve heard so many great things about the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show for years and never had the chance to go before — so on Saturday, Andrew, Pearl and I headed south to Salem and then east through the majestic Deschutes National Forest to find ourselves in the packed-tight town of Sisters, with all major streets closed for quilt purposes! We found a shady spot a little ways out and one thorough application of sunscreen later, we were on our way into the heart of it all.
Through the luck of the draw, as we were walking the very first block we came to was anchored by The Stitchin’ Post, Valori Wells‘ fantastic independent fabric store — I’d been looking forward to seeing it and it was circled on my little map. But there, out front on the store’s porch, were seven of the Gee’s Bend Quilters, being filmed for a documentary — talking about their lives, their community, their inspiration for quilting, how their paths had changed so wonderfully with the chance to show and sell their work nationwide, and even singing three songs together, with one woman leading each time and the others joining in. I was starstruck listening to them talk, and in tears while they sang — it was an amazing surprise. From what I’d seen on the show schedule, they were leaving after teaching workshops on Friday, so I thought we’d miss them (and their quilts) completely, but there they were.
After the interview, they stayed to sign books and talk to quilters, and I got to quickly say hello and how much I loved their work as a collective, and that I’d gotten to see their Portland show this week. I wish so much I’d had my copy of The Architecture of the Quilt with me, but since it weighs about ten pounds I don’t casually take it out to the desert, oh well — and I couldn’t budget an extra $50 for The Quilts of Gee’s Bend on the spot, though it’s at the top of my wishlist. But they were kind enough to sign a copy of the Gee’s Bend journal I bought — and even had a compliment for my husband’s patience in minding the baby in the heat, while I got to talk quilting for a luxurious few minutes… thank you, Andrew!
Later, when we peeked into the (packed with happy quilters) Stitchin’ Post to see Valori’s new Del Hi fabric line (beautiful), Pearl got smiles and waves from several of the Gee’s Bend ladies! It was a fantastic beginning to the day of quilts.
The side of the Stitchin’ Post had over a dozen quilts made by the shop’s employees, all inspired by the Gee’s Bend quilters. I thought they were gorgeous! Here are some closer shots…
So now might be a good time to mention what we were rapidly discovering after leaving the bliss of the small Stitchin’ Post-Gee’s Bend corner of the show: this festival is absolutely huge, and the whole town is covered with quilts for the Outdoor Show. Every business, from City Hall to the tanning salon, has quilts hanging on the porches and fronts and sides of the buildings! I guess I was picturing a couple of blocks of wonderful-ness, but the town was decorated from one end to the other — we made a pretty big loop and I still don’t think we saw more than 2/3 of the whole amazing collection. I took photos of some of my favorites, most of which are credited to the artists, but in the heat and with a toddler in tow, I missed some of the close-ups of the tags! So I’ll post the pictures with some quick descriptions, and all of my Sisters photos are here if you want to see them…
There was not only a quilted ArtCar, but a quilted ArtMinivan.
This was probably my absolute favorite quilt — a tribute to Charley Harper. The stitching and details were beautiful!
I love log cabin (and its infinite strip-quilt variations) most of all designs, and there were some beautiful ones in the show… this Barn Raising Brown + Beige quilt was lovely, with narrow strips and loopy quilting!
This Four Square used such similar colors for such a different effect… and I loved the details the quilter shared on the tag about its creation.
This graphic Straight Furrows Logs and Labels quilt went in an entirely different direction, with repurposed clothes tags adorning the center of each elongated block, as well as the sashing all around the main design…
And this nature-inspired It’s Gotta Be Green quilt tipped the traditional light-and-dark log cabin squares on point for a diamond effect. I also loved the angled, geometric quilting all over the design.
I love vintage quilt patterns, and seeing this sweet, inviting hexagon and nine-patch together in a pairing made me very happy!
After a couple of hours of quilt-admiring we got a second pleasant surprise: the Sisters Library was having a free book sale, with donations accepted, and we found some good treasures, including a stack of vintage Sunset books! So after one last loop back, and a second Nalgene and sippy-cup refill of cold, refreshing water courtesy of the fire department, we headed for our hotel in Bend and relaxed in the pool. Then I mapquested the High Desert Museum, we went out for Mexican food, and we got ready for day 2 of our mini-vacation, quilt edition!
On Friday, Pearl and I headed over to Elizabeth Leach to see the Quilts of Gee’s Bend show and met up with Jamin, Angelina, Lee, Pete, Star, Josh & Sarah there. Having the chance to see these beautiful pieces and appreciate the hand-quilting and binding and color and details in natural light in that luxuriously open gallery space is amazing. When I saw the larger Gee’s Bend show at the DeYoung in San Francisco, it was so popular and so crowded that it was hard to just enjoy looking at each quilt — so if you are in Portland (or can get here this month), don’t miss it!
The Elizabeth Leach Gallery generously gave me permission to take photographs, so all of my images are courtesy of them — the quilt and print snapshots are first, then the artist’s details, and all of my photos are here.
There is also a collection of exquisite aquatone etchings — signed and numbered limited edition prints in simple, appealing frames that capture the lushness of the quilts in a calmer medium. I had never seen anything quite like these and I thought they were mesmerizing…
There are so many pieces (quilts and prints both) that I didn’t photograph, but one last thing I did catch was this statement from the gallery:
What a treat! We all headed over to get ice cream afterwards and it was such a nice end to the busy week.
I am so eager to see the show again — a weekday afternoon is my favorite time to visit a gallery, and I will be right in the neighborhood all next week! And I’m still hoping to make it down to Ashland, too…
I saw so many beautiful quilts over the last few days — as I mentioned last week, I was lucky enough to visit the Gee’s Bend Quilts show at Elizabeth Leach here in Portland, the Outdoor Quilt Show in Sisters, and the “Patterns from the Past” show at the High Desert Museum in Bend! It’s going to take me a little while to get the zillion photos I took on to my flickr, but for now here’s one Sarah snapped of me and Pearl in front of our favorite quilt in the Gee’s Bend show…
The quilt image is courtesy of Elizabeth Leach Gallery, and the quilt itself is Blocks by Loretta Bennett, 2007. If you are local, this show is fantastic and I hope you get a chance to see it this month!
OK, see you tomorrow with lots more photos…