Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Joyce Gross & Her Quilts

The quilting gods were shining on me when I received an invitation to the private reception held in honor of Joyce Gross at the International Quilt Festival in Long Beach, California, this past weekend. It's not possible to tell you all that Joyce has contributed to our understanding and flourishing of antique quilt study nationwide, but here are some of the contributions Joyce made when this field was only a thread thick in existence. As an early quilt historian and collector of all things connected, she was editor and publisher of Quilter's Journal, founding member of American Quilt Study Group with Sally Garoutte in Northern California in 1980, a Quilter's Hall of Fame inductee in 1996, an exhibitor of her quilt collections, co-author with Cuesta Benberry and contributor to Uncoverings Journal. Suffice it to say, Joyce is a legend in her own time.

You can imagine her quilt collection would be magnificent, but it is better than that. She owns some of the quilts recognized as among the best 100 quilts of the 20th century and other well-known quilts made by prize-winning quilters from our past. She also collected books, catalogs, ephemera, and wrote reams of research on related topics.

Joyce recently decided that her entire collection would go to the University of Texas at Austin, and within it is The Center for American History and the Winedale Quilt collection.

The reception was held in the evening after the quilt show had closed. Joyce was beaming all evening, her eyes twinkled and her hands were almost never without another hand inside. Each of us in the small group of privileged invitees waited our turn to sit next to Joyce and talk with her personally, face-to-face. Her voice was strong, her eyes smiling; she loved every minute and every person. The feeling was mutual. Her close friends and family were present. It was a love fest.

This event was the highlight of my time there and will be important for the rest of my life. She wore her Quilter's Hall of Fame medal and talked with us about her quilts on display. "Which one do you like best?," she asked, and then told us hers. She was in her element. It was so heartwarming and meaningful.

The women from the U of TX and The Center were so happy to be the recipient of Joyce's years of collecting and study. After sharing our enthusiasm, I am so happy to tell you that they are facilitating an article about Joyce, with photos and descriptions of the quilts in this exhibit and what the future holds since they acquired her collection to be featured on my Website http://www.antiquequiltdating.com/ soon. The Winedale Quilt Collection, of which The Joyce Gross Quilt History Collection is now a part, is a major quilt center in the West, I am so happy to say. Currently part of their collection is in the Alliance's Quilt Index via digital images which spans more than 200 years. Joyce's quilts are to be added as well. Twenty more will be on display at the Houston Quilt Festival this year.

Amy E. Milne from the Alliance for the American Quilt, was there too and is standing in front of Joyce's Penny Tree applique quilt c. 1850.

Finally, but not least, I want to acknowledge and thank the two women that made this opportunity possible on many levels: Karey Bresenhan and Nancy O'Bryant. With the Winedale Center, they held the reception for Joyce. Together the cousins, very smartly, (ok, I'm biased) decided to have their incredible quilt show in our State! (Stay tuned for more blogs on the show and vendors I enjoyed last weekend.)

The women represented in the quilt exhibit that surrounded the reception were Bertha Stenge, Florence Peto, Emma Andres and Pine Hawkes Eisfeller, among others. With permission from the U of TX and The Center, I am able to share these photos with you here. Joyce's quilts were on display for the entire Quilt Festival, for all to enjoy, and were the only antique quilts on exhibit.

Thank you Joyce.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

State Flower Embroidery Quilt Blocks Mystery Solved

Perhaps the title for this blog should be Synchronicity at My Workshop. I define a synchronistic event as when two independent events occur close together in time and together form a bigger whole that is unexpected AND answers a question or need. (This often happens when I am doing research. I see it as a reward for my hard work and also as an indicator from above that I am exactly where I should be at this moment in time.)

This past week synchronicity happened. It began the day I gave an evening lecture. The quilt guild was selling bundles of old quilt magazines and I bought a dozen Quilter's Newsletter Magazines spanning the 1980s.

The next day was my workshop "Creating Antique Inspired Quilts" I love teaching this class because of the blocks and tops women bring to share for study and discussion. Cheryl couldn't be there and sent some blocks with her friends after hearing my lecture "From Folks to Folksky: Wild & Wacky Quilts & Quotes , 1840-1940" the night before.

As you can see from the pictures they are embroidered blocks of state flowers and the state's abbreviated initials are in a small circle formation next to the flowers. The blocks are rectangular, approximately 8" across by 6" high. Wow I immediately thought- they were beautiful, well done, and sophisticated compared to some other state flower blocks. The colors are subdued in earth tones on a background fabric in natural or beige cotton, and the flower patterns were quite detailed.

I saw Arts and Crafts period all over these blocks- but who designed them?? There was no provenance with the blocks. They were a mystery to be solved. I didn't even know where to look. I suggested I put them on my blog to ask what my expert readers had to offer. With permission, I took the photos you see here for just that.

The next day I was looking through the Quilter's Newsletter Magazines I had bought there and half way through I came to my favorite cover of the bunch. It shows an appliqué quilt with four waving flags on poles with their cantons meeting in the middle. An eagleappliqued in the BAQ style, has a shield in its mouth and arrows and laurel leaves are placedin- between each of the flags. The stars form a circle in the canton; two have 29 stars and 2 have 31 stars. QNM states it is c. 1847-1858 and quilted in 1940. They suggest it was made near Baltimore MD. BUT keep in mind, this issue of QNM dates to 1985, July/August, and more about this quilt may be known now.

QNM's "QNM Readers' Quilt show" brought the synchronistic moment to the forefront- there on page 25 is a full page picture of a quilt with the same blocks! Forty-eight in total, set in a medium blue plain sashing and border with plain red cornerstones and white stars on the sashing strips and corners. The blocks are embroidered in various colors of floss.

Henrietta Bradely Ringhoffer (1902-1964) made her quilt for the Century of Progress National Quilt contest. Of course Sears sponsored this contest. She entered it in 1933 from her home in Texas. She was a perpetual quilt contest enterer the magazine says. She won many ribbons and this one was recognized by other contests, but not CofP. Unfortunately it is not shown in the "Patchwork Souvenirs" book.

Thanks to Henrietta, QNM, Cheryl, her friend and synchronicity completing the circle, I found out that the state flower blocks were designed by Ruby McKim and sold as patterns in the early 1930s. The quilt setting was Henrietta's design, QNM states. If you have any updated information about this pattern series, please comment, or better, if you have a quilt, please email a photo to me at quiltersspirit@antiquequiltdating.com and I will put it here for all to see if you like.

This was rewarding enough but as it turns out, another synchronistic event happened at the same workshop! I will share this with you in the next blog.



2008 - 2014 Copyright Kimberly Wulfert, PhD. All rights reserved.
Please contact me for reprint permission at quiltersspirit@antiquequiltdating.com or www.antiquequiltdating.com

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Brackman's NEW Book

First I'd like to welcome all of the new subscribers to my newsletter blog! Thank you for subscribing to the Quilters Spirit circle. Knowing you are interested makes it more fun writing as I imagine you out there listening, like when I give a lecture. Smiles on faces in the audience are a barometer of how I am doing.

Sometimes when the audience is real quiet, I worry. Afterward I ask the program chair about it and she tells me it was a sign they were really into it- mesmerized, wanting to hear every word. Well in that case- silence is golden, but with blogs, silence is, well, silent. Feel free to join in and comment any time! The opportunity is at the end of a blog, right beneath the line. (I have tried to place it to be above the line, but no luck so far.)

Now it is my pleasure to tell you about Barbara Brackman's newest book- MAKING HISTORY Quilts and Fabrics from 1890-1970." Of course it is excellent. Although this time frame is not at the top of my favorites list, Barbara's analysis of changes seen in quilts and fabrics from these later eras brought my other favorite field of study into focus, decorative arts for home interiors. For details read my review. To see her book's Table of Contents page scroll to the end. (be sure to stop and read paragraph 5 as you scroll down)

MAKING HISTORY is the sequel to America’s Printed Fabrics, 1770-1890s and together they comprise the updates to Clues in the Calico. Anyone who is serious about learning to date fabric will want to have all three, but Clues is OOP and therefore $$$, if you can find one for sale.Her update books are still in print and affordable, especially through Amazon.

My review of America's Printed Fabrics,1770-1890s(2004)is here.