Appraisals–Continuing Education

Appraising art quilts can be very challenging because the techniques and the materials used in them are constantly changing and evolving.  One of the ways that I keep current is to take classes from successful art quilters.  I was privileged to take a class from Norma Riehm on fabric layering techniques.  She provided us with kits in several different color ways which included everything but our sewing machines.  Each quilt was beautiful and despite having the same things in each kit, each of the quilts made during the class looked different.

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This was the first time I worked with Angelina fibers, roving, yarn, silk flowers, beads, and crystals–all together in one piece.    Norma discussed the sources for her materials and impressed me with her bargain hunting ability!  I am sure that I will be checking out garage sales for art supplies once the weather gets warmer.

We started with a typical quilt sandwich and then layered fibers and flowers onto it, finishing with a layer of tulle.  The next step was to quilt it.  In future works I might try using some wool batting because it has the ability showcase quilting well.  I loved adding crystals to the piece with the hot fix crystals and the aid of a pin.  Norma then taught us how to bead so that the beads would be shown off to the best advantage and so that they would be securely attached.

The biggest takeaway from the class for me was her attention both to the craftsmanship and to the artistry of each piece.

Thank you Norma!!

 

Crazy for Crazy Quilts!!!

In 1876 the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition showed Japanese ‘crazed’ pottery (cracked glaze) and asymmetrical design to the United States.  In addition, it demonstrated fine English Embroidery.  Soon the Godey’s Lady’s Book and other periodicals were encouraging their readers to make crazy quilts.  Most crazy quilts consist of irregular patches sewn onto a foundation (there is usually no batting, so, technically speaking, they are not a ‘quilt’).  The crazy quilts from the Victorian era (late 1800s) were made from silk, velvet, satin and ribbons.  They were embellished with paint, embroidery, beads and buttons.  Many included ‘cigar silks’ ribbons included as a premium with cigars and souvenir ribbons (perhaps from the fair, or cities).

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The above example has ribbons, embroidery motifs and a lacy edge.  Most crazy quilts were never intended to  be used on a bed, rather they were used as a decorative element in the living room.  The presence of a crazy quilt showed off the household’s wealth–the maker did not have to do housework so she had time to do ‘fancy’ work and she had scraps of expensive materials, e.g. silks, velvet’s, and ribbons.

s-l500-3Most crazy quilt embroidery is on the seams utilizing combinations of stitches, such as herringbone and fly stitch.  Motifs embroidered in the patches include flowers, birds, spider webs, and animals.  Many crazy quilts have fan blocks or spider web blocks.

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By the end of the 19th century, lady’s magazines were actively discouraging crazy quilts, decrying the waste of time involved in making them.

However, quilters continued making crazy quilts (albeit in smaller numbers).  Many crazy quilts made around the turn of the century were made from wool and cotton.

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Stitching became more utilitarian and the use of souvenir ribbons decreased.  Generally speaking the individual pieces were larger (although there are exceptions, such as the quilt above, ca. 1910).

Crazy quilts from the 1930’s and 1940’s show off the pastel color palette of the new aniline dyes although the embroidery continued to simplify.  s-l500

They were either constructed in blocks as above or sewn utilizing a sheet as the foundation.  It is not unusual to see a crazy quilt with fabrics from a large range of time periods because most of them were made with scraps.s-l500-6

I have even seen crazy quilts made with polyester double knit fabrics from the 1960’s and 1970’s, such as this example:il_fullxfull-1110677381_sa3o

Preserving crazy quilts from the 19th century can be difficult because many of the silks ‘shatter’ (disintegrate) over time due to the mordants (dye fixatives) used.  Unfortunately, there is nothing that can be done to stop the process.  Treat your crazy quilts gently, and shelter them from dust and light.

Art with Fabric Blog Hop–Landscape with Birds

I have always loved the artist, Paul Klee, so when Alida invited me to join the Art with Fabric Blog Hop, I jumped at the chance.  Alida asked us to choose ‘a’ work of art to inspire our textile creations.  I couldn’t choose just one!!

Instead, I chose two pieces by Paul Klee:

The first is titled, “Landscape with Yellow Birds,” and the second is “Fire in the Evening Sky.”(Museum of Modern Art, New York).  Of course, one can’t have two without three so I found a poem on Jill Berry Design‘s blog which really spoke to me about hope.

LANDSCAPE WITH YELLOW BIRDS
Shuntaro Tanikawa (1931-    )

there are birds
so there is sky
there is sky
so there are balloons
there are balloons
so children are running
children are running
so there is laughter
there is laughter
so there is sadness
so there is prayer
and ground for kneeling
there is ground
so water is flowing
and there’s today and tomorrow
there is a yellow bird
so with all colors forms and movements
there is the world

Paul Klee’s ‘Fire in the Evening Sky’  inspired me to construct my landscape with horizontal lines.  Our beautiful sunsets over the Mississippi river this summer gave me a color scheme.  My birds are drawn from the ‘Birds in Air” block:

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I inserted triangle birds into my landscape–red, for the cardinals which visit my yard, and a yellow bird to add color and hope.

 

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I chose a quilting design which also used horizontal lines and triangles.  In addition, I drew yellow and red birds with big stitch hand quilting.  Finally, I added some random big stitch quilting lines to add spark and interest.

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I used pearl cotton thread and a chenille needle to do my ‘big stitches’.  I also used a thimble–which, in my opinion, is necessary when doing any type of hand quilting.

Please visit the other bloggers up today:

Bea @ beaquilter (http://www.beaquilter.com/)

Heather @ heatherquilts (http://www.heatherquilts.blogspot.com/)

On my longarm today–White on White??

I look all over for inspiration for my own quilting.  I found this amazing piece when visiting the nearby town of Winona, Minnesota. I love the way that the borders and center are different, yet all are related to one another.  Notice the graceful curves and organic shapes.

Who is this amazing quiltmaker??

Perhaps this photo will give you a clue:

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Yes, it is the embossed tin ceiling of the Winona Art Center.  Tin ceilings were popular in buildings beginning in 1880s as an economical way to decorate a room’s ‘fifth’ wall.  Many historic buildings still exist with their tin intact. Don’t forget to look up for design inspiration!!

The History of the Olympics…and Quilts

I watched the Olympics this last week with interest–yes, there was some yelling going on at my house as we cheered our favorite athletes to victory.  My mind and the internet combine with, sometimes, curious results.  I originally thought that I would write about quilts and the Olympics.  For example, during the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, each athlete received a quilt, pictures of which are published in this book:  Olympic Quilts.  However, I thought I’d go a little further back in time to the 17th century.  Yes, there were Olympick Games in Cotswald, England starting in 1622, the games included sledgehammer throwing, horse racing, jumping, fencing, and, my personal favorite, shin-kicking.  I had no idea that shin-kicking was a sport, I thought it was just a game we played in school while waiting for the bus to pick us up.  Yes, it is real and it is still played today…they even have a Youtube video:

Padding the shins in ‘modern’ shin-kicking is seen as essential–the sport has set aside the more extreme elements of the rules such as steel toed boots and winning by breaking the leg of the opponent.  Likewise padding was seen as essential in many of the fashion trends of the 17th through 19th centuries.  Waistcoats and petticoats for women and doublet’s for men were quilted both for warmth and to show off the wealth and status of the wearer.  In fact, some of the earliest quilts in the Americas were items of clothing.

Men’s Doublet 1635-1640, Victoria and Albert Museum
Women’s Waistcoat, quilted silk satin, ca. 1700. Collection of Colonial Williamsburg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These quilted pieces were valued by their owners and were recorded in household inventories and wills.  I get inspiration from looking at many of these items.  Of course on cold winter days here in Wisconsin I often yearn to wear a silk quilted petticoat!!

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Quilts with Rounded Corners

I sometimes see quilts with rounded corners come across my appraisal table.  The gently curved bound corner is as tricky to sew as a mitered corner.  I tried curved corners on my ‘We Support You’ quilt which you can read about here.IMG_1278020415_1

The curve is easy to accomplish with the aid of a binding cut on the bias.  The bias tape should lay flat with no puckers and the corner shouldn’t pull the corner of the quilt toward the front or back.  I also would recommend curving your corners if you want to use the binding attachment on your sewing machine.

According to Barbara Brackman there are not many quilts made prior to the 20th century with bias binding, yet there are many examples of curved corners.  I wondered if the number of curved corners in the 20th century increased as a result of the use of bias binding, so I went to the Quilt Index to find out.  The Quilt Index has a huge database of many quilts from all time periods.  We can thank the many volunteers who have collected pictures and information through state documentation projects, museums, and collections.  In addition the many organizations who have funded this massive project.  It is a wonderful resource for both information and inspiration; and a great place to browse through on a lazy summer afternoon!

19th century quilts from online auctions with rounded corners.

I started my quest by doing a search on ’rounded corners’.  The results came back with close to 900 quilts!  Since I wanted to compare the trends between 10 year periods of time, I removed those quilts with no dates, no images, and duplicates from the search results.  I also deleted from the search the quilts with shaped edges, i.e. scalloped, jagged, zig-zags, notched; and the quilts which were not shaped like a rectangle or square, i.e. octagons and circles.  Removing those quilts from my search results brought the number of quilts with rounded corners down to approximately 500.  I was very surprised by the small proportion of quilts in the index which have rounded corners. I guess I’m in the minority who think that rounded corners are easier to sew!!!  20160812

Next, I compared the percentage of quilts with rounded corners across the decades to the total number of quilts from those decades.  I expected the percentage of quilts with rounded corners to increase in the 20th century because using bias binding became more common.  I know that I’ve seen more quilts from the 1930’s with rounded corners, but I think that is because I’ve seen more quilts from that period of time.

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In the chart above, notice how the number of quilts entered into the Quilt Index varies a great deal by decade.  You can see the peaks of the 1880/90, 1920/30, and the 1970/80 quilt revivals.  According to the chart above, the percentage of quilts with rounded corners entered into the Quilt Index has not changed over time.  We may think that rounded corners increase in the twentieth century simply because we see more quilts from that period of time.  I did find that there were more scalloped, zig zag, and jagged quilts from the 20th century.

20th century quilts from online auctions with rounded corners.

I’ve run across certain blogs that say that rounded corners in an antique quilt are an indication that the quilt is from the southern United States.  I did a ‘quick and dirty’ look through the Quilt Index and found that there did not appear to be a relationship between rounded corners and region where the quilt was made.  However, the search form does not allow a specific search for ‘location made’ and ’rounded corners’, so I searched through the entire index using ’rounded corners state’.  This method appeared to be working until I got to Michigan…a great number of quilts have ‘Michigan’ in their records because that is where the Quilt Index is housed–University of Michigan.  My curiosity was frustrated!  I would be interested to know if anyone has further insight and evidence into regional differences and rounded corners.

In the meantime, I’m thinking up future searches of the Quilt Index and many more hours looking at beautiful quilts.

Have fun on your quilting adventure!

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On my longarm today….(a blast from the past)

I have a quilting bucket list and this log cabin quilt checked off one of the items on that bucket list.  Looking back helps gives me (re)inspiration for some of the quilts I’m making today.  In this log cabin, made entirely from scraps, I used a central red square, scrappy white/off white shirting, and darker scrappy logs.

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I loved quilting this on my longarm because I was able to use different quilting designs in each of the diagonal sections of the triangles.  I used a design by Kathy “Beany” Balmart at Quilty Pleasures from her Cascade bundle.

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I loved trying it out on my log cabin.  Designs like this would work really well on many pieced blocks which have strong diagonal lines across the quilt top.  Do you have one in your bucket list?

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