Monday, December 31, 2007

Ardis& Robert James; International Quilt Study Center 2008

This couple has given so much to the world of antique quilts, for study and for pleasure. We owe them in large part for the development of the International Quilt Study Center. Many people associated with the University of Nebraska in Lincoln NE have helped bring this org. forth and to every one of them I say a big thank you. The International Quilt Study Center was founded in 1997 when native Nebraskans Ardis and Robert James donated their collection of nearly 950 quilts to the university. It has since become the largest public collection of its kind. It currently holds more than 2,300 quilts, with four major collections that include three other private collector's contributions.Once the James ball got rolling, it become greater and never stopped. What will 2008 bring?

On March 30, 2008 there will be a grand opening celebration of their new Museum, gallery, education and storage building. The glass and brick building, designed by the internationally renowned Robert A.M. Stern Architects of New York. The international study center is dedicated to the research, preservation and display of important quilts from cultures around the world. The $12 million facility is privately funded through contributions to the University of Nebraska Foundation, including a lead gift from the Robert and Ardis James Foundation of Chappaqua, N.Y. In addition to the Ardis and Robert James Collection of antique and contemporary studio art quilts, the collection also includes the Cargo Collection of African American Quilts, and the Jonathan Holstein Collection, which includes the seminal Whitney Collection and an unparalleled group of Pennsylvania Amish quilts. As part of the IQSC grand opening activities on March 30, famed quilter Nancy Crow will lecture on contemporary quilts at 4 p.m. in the Harding Center Auditorium located nearby.

"Uncovering the Quilt"is a newspaper article about how Ardis and Robert James became interested in collecting quilts and building their enormous and gorgeous collection which they have been donating to the International Quilt Study Center in Lincoln, Nebraska.

A current article tells us about their motivation and interest in collecting contemporary ART Quilts the James' have also donated to IQSC. The January 2008 issue of Arts and Antiques contains an article by Suzanne Smith Arney "Stitches Across Borders" with great photos and details about the James' and the art quilt movement.

I suggest you make a 2008 resolution to frequently visit IQSC's web pages A Virtual Quilt Gallery will be available at both the IQSC and online at It will provide multimedia, interactive experiences for visitors of all ages. Individuals may design a quilt, inspect details of quilts from the thousands of archived images and videotape their own quilt stories on topics including family memories, artistic inspiration, technical challenges and historical facts. These Web-based services will allow visitors to share their experiences via e-mail.


Needled Art Online

First and foremost, HAPPY NEW YEAR to you all! 2008 will be great is my motto for this upcoming year. I can feel it- can you?

Recently I came across some remarkable quilts made in the ART style, not contemporary, but ART. I see a big difference between the two types, and like them both. I can and have made contemporary quilts, but want to push my limits this year by making some art quilts. So in the search for ideas I found these quilts online and will share the links with you.

An online exhibit of about 15 art quilts by acclaimed artists including their thoughts, materials used and a mini-bio.

A patchwork quilt top made of 2"x 2" sampler-style sqs. made by many women. Each block is dedicated to the memory of their friend in beading, Barb Davis. This quilt is made 100% from beads. Barb's work

An exhibit of merkins which quilt artist Linda Gass curated gets my award for the most unique challenge topic, not only of the year, but the entire course of quilt history! Do you know what a merkin is? Linda puts it into the category of intimate apparel

Dee Clements embroiders old hankies with comic-style pictures and words that tell stories.

Arle Skylar-Weinstein used digital photos to make a layered effect on her quilts. Her quilt offers a great deal of variance in topics, colors, and themes.

Remember PBS will start their Art quilt TV program in January. See my Nov. 2007 post for link and more info about it. And see the Houston Quilt Festival post while there for the link to their art quilt exhibit online.

Cheers to a happy quilt filled, historical year for us all.

Piece, Kim

Suffrage quilts

Chris posted this question after viewing the Lindbergh redwork quilt (See Nov. 2007 for photos)

Have you done any posts or articles about suffrage quilts? WCTU and drunkard's path suffrage quilt? Have you done any posts or articles about suffrage quilts? WCTU and drunkard's path suffrage quilt?

I have casually looked into the use of quilts in women's rights and Temperance movements. WTCU, Women's Christian Temperance Movement, began in the 1870s during the Reconstruction period, after the suffrage movement was well under way. And there was a suffrage movement for the equal rights of African Americans, which culminated in the 15th amendment ratified in 1870, which stated that a man could not be prevented from voting because of their race, color or previous condition of servitude. The feminists were disappointed their rights were not included in this amendment.

Quilts did not seem to play a role within the women's suffrage organization, as in fundraising or raising awareness, however Susan B. Anthony chose to make her first speech at a quilting bee! The suffrage movement began in the 1840's which is somewhat before women were quick to turn their quilt making into fundraisers. In the middle to end of the century more quilts were made to reflect political and social causes and to raise funds, especially for the CW. The women's right to vote came around 1920 and I am not aware of any historical quilt made public that reflects this. I hope someone will post of they know of such quilts!

It's an interesting state of affairs, that women would not turn more to their needle and thread for their own fight. Perhaps it was the very fact that sewing was considered a women's job or role in the 19th century anyway, that made her turn away from engaging in that role to stand on a new ground as a equal and viable citizen.

Signature quilts were made for the WTCU from the beginning to serve as endorsements for the cause. Patchwork quilts were made in the shape of T's, drinking goblets, and the curved drunkard's path block seen in a variety of formations. The White Ribbon was the logo for lack of a better word for WTCU, and so it too was made into a pieced block. Fundraising quilts and "Chapter" quilts were made and signed by regional chapters of the national WTCU starting in the 19th century. I have a very large, approx. 20"x 20" WTCU commemorative handkerchief depicting a map of the US (in orange ink on a white ground) marking all the places Frances E. Willard, the most important leader of the org., spoke for the cause. Around the edges are line drawings of her home and buildings where she spent time.

For more information about a Temperance quilt made near the end of prohibition, see AQSG's journals "Uncoverings 2003" for a paper by Sarah Rose Dangelas, The Cultural significance of the Block Island Woman's Christian Temperance Union Quilt of 1931.

Thank you for your question. Please feel free to post any information you have about this.

Piece, Kim

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Nancy Crow

I think quilt artist Nancy Crow would wholeheartedly agree with Julia Cameron's words "For many of us, our artists [within our self] have been waiting to speak with us for years....We are spiritual beings and when our spirit grows larger, so must we. There will be no comfortable resting in yesterday's definition of ourselves." WALKING IN THIS WORLD.

Nancy's new book is; CROSSROADS Constructions, Markings and Structures. It is a beautiful book showcasing her latest work showing 25 new quilts, never before seen outside Nancy's studio. This is actually a catalog for a 2008 exhibit which will continue to move about the country. Nancy works in series, and this book covers three series. All of the quilts were created over a two-year span and mark a new direction in Nancy's work, including her experimentation with screen- printing and direct-to-fabric blocking. The quilts are shown in incredible detail. Work-in-progress shots taken inside Nancy's studio, along with excerpts from her private sketchbooks provide unique insight into the life and work of this incredible artist. It was this that I most liked about her 2007 book, NANCY CROW. CROSSROADS cost less than half as much at $22.95, as that one but the photography is just as beautiful and the impact is too. This book shows quilts that are completely different from her earlier quilts, and the other book is a retrospective.


Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Victorian Gala

Last weekend I was fortunate to be a volunteer at Heritage Square Museum's Victorian Christmas tour. This is an annual event, but my first. It won't be my last.

The Hale House, ca. 1886

Heritage Square is essentially a museum of old and architecturally important structures, mostly houses, moved to a park-like property north of Los Angeles to restore and preserve them. Guided tours are offered, and period furnishings and decorative arts fill many of the rooms. Everything has a story and the docents are very knowledgeable. They love to dress up in costume, hair and all, to partake in period events like this one. They converse frequently about historical events and such, with ease and flair- conversations there are so different then the usual ones going on in southern California!

Being there Saturday evening was like a step back in time, for me, heaven. My clothes were not old, but authentic reproductions. Natalie,(far left) is the creator of my outfit and runs the costuming at the museum with her extensive knowledge and deep felt passion for historical sewing and dressing with authenticity.

Natalie chose a 19th century woman's wool suit and a high neck lace blouse for me to wear.(far right) Denise and Rene are in the center.

Boy did I need it on that cold night. I worked reception and greeted people outside, so when the temp got in the low 50s they gave me a black velvet hooded cape with pink satin lining to wear. Suddenly images of Little Red Riding Hood overtook Victorian lady!

We got to dress upstairs in the Hale house, a high style Victorian. This area is off-limits to tours, but is sometimes used for TV or movie sets. I couldn't wait to see it up there. We were surrounded by gorgeous tester beds, chests, and dressers with big mirrors in three rooms, with movable racks of clothes everywhere you looked. This happenstance scene reminded me of "Little Women."

Used for covers on one of the beds or should I say unnoticed on the bed under all the girl-stuff were quilts from the Civil War era. Had there been time and not so much to move I would have taken full photos of them, but that day will come, I promise you that.

I will tease you with these photos for now-

LeMoyne Star pattern with sashing and cornerstones, ca. 1865 (left)

A srappy Irish Chain pattern, ca. 1840 (above & below)

Here are some more beautiful costumes and the outside of the mid-19th Perry House.

A big thanks to Ken Johnson for use of his photos (the two above and the Hale House at top) and to Heritage Square Museum for their permission to use them here. HSM is open all year long and worth a visit when you are near LA or Pasadena CA.

Monday, December 3, 2007

John Hewson Textile

I have some wonderful news to share with those of you interested in the 18th century printer, John Hewson.

In my research article "The Man of Many Vases: John Hewson Calico Printer," FOLK ART magazine of the American Folk Art Museum, (Fall 2007), I describe the 2005 acquisition of a Hewson printed panel by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC. This textile brings the total number of documented individual panels to 4. (their measurements vary but average around 30" X 30") Previous to the auction, it was in a private collection in NJ. A very exciting find and now you all can see it.

A photo of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Hewson printed panel is now on their website!

I describe 28 textiles that contain printing by Hewson. They are the only ones known to exist at this time. The article includes several large photos and details of his work, including one quilt never seen publicly and one panel seldom seen before. The first half of the 11 page article is biographical, including new information.

To order the magazine call the museum: 212-265-1040, ext.124. You can view the magazine's article list here FOLK ART. When you join the museum, the magazine is included, so consider that option too.

After viewing the photos, if you realize you have one of these in your closet or if ever see one not listed in the article, let me know!!


Sunday, December 2, 2007


Think of what art quilters could do with this image.

Beginning Jan. 2008 "Quilting Arts TV" will be a show on PBS. Patricia Bolton is the host to a long list of big names in the fiber art community. Should be excellent! Check your local listings for times and dates or quiltingarts