Thursday, February 26, 2009

Small Blocks, Stunning Quilts

The new booksm blks stun qlts cover smallwritten by Mary Elizabeth Kinch and Biz Storms (That Patchwork Place)

In one sentence, this pattern book is a reproduction fabric-lover’s dream.The quilts made by the authors make it clear they are bonafide scrap loving quilt makers who put as many different reproduction prints into one quilt as humanly possible.

Mary and Biz define small blocks as under 5” square and reprofab sm blks stun qlts blk stopping short of being miniatures. Any collector knows their raison d’être for the choices they make in purchasing an antique quilt. For Mary and Biz it’s the quilts made exclusively with small blocks that knocks the wind out of their chest in a gasp of glee when seen from across a room or vendor booth. their enthusiasm is palatable through the book and you can’t help but appreciate them for this. The book came from this passion and their hands.

In the first section are pages of 19th century fussy hexesquilts made with small blocks of rosettes, stars, flying geese, half square medallion quilts and others, which the authors studied for inspiration. There are scrumptious pictures of fussy cut hexagons in repro fabrics that match any antique ones I’ve seen. They make me want to get out my hand sewing and try a few. They use clear template plastic and a sandpaper board to mark then cut these little pieces just so.

back sm blks stun qlts hex2

One of the antique quilts pictured in this section is an outstanding chintz medallion coverlet made c. 1841 in Australia, the “Rajah Quilt.” Female British prisoners on board the convict ship by the same name as this quilt made it. It is a beautiful medallion quilt with 12 borders of various widths with myriad blocks or appliqués. they counted 2,815 pieces of fabric. Biz and Mary are fabri-holics to their core.

With fabric and color leading their every choice in making small block quilt, less attention was paid to the era of the reproduction fabrics they chose. The book is does not mention fabric dating or reproduction quilt making. It doesn't tell the reader how to make their quilt look like a certain era, but their quilts have a traditional and older feel.

Mary and Biz like to machine sew, they find the repetition calming and meditative, so making little blocks with simple shapes gives them lots of quiet time!

back sm blks stun qlts small They work in an organized manner of chain piecing mixed with liberated techniques of taking the next fabric in a stack without deliberation. The color decision and fabric choices are made at the start then the project proceeds from there without too much attention to what color ends up where. They dedicated the book to their mentor and friend Gwen Marston who inspired them to get out of the rut of worrying about each piece in a quilt. Yet, they remind us that measuring and precision in the sewn seam allowance, is extra important when making small blocks, and they prefer to slow down the sewing and enjoy the process and feel of the fabric. I like this too.

I wonder if there is a Universal move toward smaller going on as our world economy shifts... as I was typing this from my longhand, a Burger King ad for their new smaller tiny burgers came on TV. All the girls gathered around them cooing. Do we coo over small block quilts...really, do we?

***Not to be missed! Do we coo over wonderful old dresses too? Yes!! Check out this just published online article that features a pre-Civil War dress in Nancy Kirk's collection, The Story in a Dress written by Suzanne  Arney. It is also published in the March/April issue of PieceWorks magazine. Click on the link for a full color article PDF.***



Thursday, February 19, 2009 is Exposed Across the Pond and a Border!

What a surprising year 2009 is turning out to be- wow! I am so grateful. My website, officially titled New Pathways Into Quilt History ,is in its 8th year having begun in the spring of 2001. I owe so much to Judy Breneman, of Womenfolk America's Quilt History websites for helping bring me into the cyberspace world. In 2001, she posted her new website on the QHL and invited anyone who was interested in starting a website on the same server she was using, WebSeed, to let her know. WebSeed required weekly updates and other things as they were making advertising dollars off of our websites. It didn't succeed for them  but Judy and I continued on a regular hosted network system. We were on our own now.  Judy and my husband helped me operate and grow my website, as well as a second one for selling my Antique Quilt Dating Style. I am grateful for their belief in my ideas and their support and troubleshooting through the years.

It was exciting when guest authors wrote fabulous articles specifically for my website's audience. Requests for fabric and book reviews have been a welcomed adventure.  I have a stack of books on my desk now that are awaiting to be shared with you. Because of all the input from quilters and writers from around the globe, the website developed its own diverse expression. I am not taking credit, instead I am thrilled that the outreach of many has come to the attention of publishers in England, Ireland , France, Canada and Australia, as well as US magazines and publications online and in print. Here is what has occurred this year.

Britain P&Q Jan 09 In the January issue of Britain's Patchwork & Quilting magazine,  Yvonne Jenkins editor of Wandering the Web, featured my website "An excellent website for any quilter interested in the history of quilt making" is her opening sentence. And her closing sentence is just as lovely. Quilters Spirit is described, so all of you are in the magazine too, in Spirit!  Thank you Yvonne for this generous review and a wonderful surprise!

It was my Irish friend, Roselind Shaw, who told me this article was published in the magazine she reads faithfully.Irisg Qltg mag



Some of you may recognize Roselind's name because she has two articles about Irish Quilts on my website. It is this quilt article of Roselind's that caught the attention of the editor of the newest quilt magazine Irish Quilting, Sherry Nugent. Other quilters featured in Irish Quilting's Vol. 1, Issue 2 magazine are Mark Lipinski, Pat Sloan, Kimberly Einmo and Terry McNeill. This is a gorgeous magazine, with the quality of paper and photos as that of Quilt Mania magazine. This issue has 99 pages of patterns, travel, articles and quilts quilts quilts, mostly contemporary, but obviously not all. Rosalind and I were thrilled to receive the request to be in this Irisg Qltg mag covmagazine. I have seen the first two issues and it is not only for Irish quilter's. Quilters anywhere would love this magazine and where else can one find out about what the Irish are up to in the quilt world! They are busy and innovative. There is a  Quilter's Guild of Ireland, an Irish Patchwork Society, and of course, the Quilter's Guild of the British Isles. For more information and to subscribe to this magazine contact and It will be available in the US. Turns out Sherry's mom lives in the same town where  my quilt guild meets. Small World!

Canadian web designer and quilter, Michele  Foster, founder of Guest Blogger on Quilting Gallery the Quilting Gallery invited me to be in her month long series about quilt bloggers.  This month, on the 18th, I was the featured blogger. I was among many wonderful quilters, so check them all out when you take a peek at mine. I decided not to write the typical normal this is how I got started kind of thing. I hope you enjoy the views I share in this piece which has a few photos too. The art quilt I made, title Reverberations, needs to be quilted. I can't figure out the best pattern to use and would love input from those of you much better at quilt patterns for contemporary quilts than I am.

If you are interested in quilt history study groups, I have posted a detailed summary of our discussion about them earlier this week on Women On Quilts, check it out here. IF nothing else, there is a long list of suggested topics provided by the Illinois/Iowa Quilt Study Group. They meet at the Kalona Quilt & Textile Museum in Kalona, Iowa twice a year and their meetings and efforts help raise funds to keep the museum running and caring for their collections. The Group also  produces the magazine "Pieces of Time" which their study group meeting's photos and focus contribute to and the members do most of the writing in it. What an incredible accomplishment!

May your year be filled with wonderful surprises and people as well. I certainly value your readership and sharing. Piece on!

Kim Wulfert

Friday, February 13, 2009

What? is on a Wall? & Catching Up on Loose Ends

Where has the time gone? Every day is so busy and often it's spent out of town being a teacher or a student. In January I was a student at The Freedom Formula Experience a four day seminar that was, as promised by Christine Kloser the hostess and main speaker, a  profound experience.  The tag line of her book by the same name as the seminar is "how to put soul in your business and money in your  bank." She taught us her way of doing business that is practical and spiritually based. I will blog  more about the event and speakers on my Women On Quilts blog  which "seams together business and spirit for women in the creative arts." (my tag line :)) The entire time we were there, our focus was on  finding our purpose in life or if we knew it, how could we best express it and make our living doing it, giving us the best of both worlds.

When I returned home, with a notebook of my journaled ideas that took me to places I would not have imagined prior to going, there was an email from Patti Williams. WeMAC Wall Quote sm do not know each other, but she is a lurker on QHL, the Quilt History List, for those of us who adore antique quilts. She tells me about a museum's exhibit in Washington state that she has helped with and attaches this picture. The wall is at the entrance of the quilt exhibit and it reads "Quilts can open our eyes and our hearts to share who sewed before us. It is a wonderful way to learn history." Kimberly Wulfert, PhD

Do you think anything could be cooler to me? Me who shares quotes as often as possible and who buys the books of themed quotes and reads them!  On Women On Quilts I place a new one in the margin each month. A great quote is a marvel to read and hold in your mind, to take in and manifest. This is an honor I will cherish forever and I thank the Northwest Museum of Art and Culture from the bottom of my heart for thinking my quote was wQlt exh insideorthy of being on their wall. The exhibit will run through May and I hope to make it up there. I want to place my face under the quote for another picture for posterity. In the meantime, take a look at their terrific collection of quilts displayed online.

Thank you to all of you who wrote me by email or posted a comment with your heartfelt sentiments about the passing of my dear friend and friend of quilter's everywhere, Giles Wright. Your sharing meant allot to me.

Remember the Case of the Mouse Who Ate My Quilt and the Hunt for Green 1840s Fabric? Alls well that ends well, but we hit a snag in the middle of the hunt. When a real swatch that matched was not to be found, reader Kathie Holland graciously sent me her remaining yardage of matching acid green from Judy Rothermel's Lancaster 3 collection. But, it never arrived, anywhere. I searched for more, found none and then went to Road to California last month, and when I got to their booth, Schoolhouse Quilt Shoppe, on Sat., the cupboard was bare! I mean seriously- their booth was nearly empty! Bob knew what I was talking about and said he thought he had some at the shop and to contact him there, so I did. He was able to scrounge 1/2 yard and now, finally,  it is in my hands and soon will be in Kathie's too. lesson learned, never give up on the hunt for fabric. :)

Is the Mouse hole repair repro fab bttmmatch perfect, not quite. The pattern is exactly the same so you wouldn't realize the difference unless you held them side by side (and it will look fine enough in the quilt top, certainly better than the mouse holes). The difference is the background color is darker on the old fabric than the reproduction. Here's a picture. You probably think, what is she talking about, they  match! I think it will work just fine even though they are not the same color. The original fabric has more contrast between the two greens that form the background.

Katie Pasquini Masupost has written another new book that Masopustcover is fabulous and easy enough for beginning art quilters and the more advanced that need some nudging to expand their techniques will love it too. The text Katie writes is focused on her own thinking processes of analysis and alternatives as she plans a quilt from finding the initial concept tomasupostbackcover the various ways you can turn your idea or photo into a one-dimensional design. She includes her methods known as ghost layers, fractured landscape and the painterly painterly approach.  Check out more details in my book review of "Design Explorations for the Creative Quilter: easy to follow directions for creative art quilts."

A quilter who is also an expert in traveling for business, Carol Margolis, will be my guest on Monday evening, Feb. 23, on a tele-interview where we will ask her all kinds of questions to  make traveling easier for quilters, authors, vendors, teachers and women in business. Carol is  the Founder of

This coming Monday evening, on WOQ,  I will  bring you Part 2 of the quilt history study group discussion with Beth Davis and Karen Parrett. Join us from the comfort of your home and share your group's experiences, struggles and highlights, or ask questions. All input is important and welcome.

Have a great weekend everyone. May you be warm, dry and cozy. Piece, Kim

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Giles R. Wright, my Dear Friend & Mentor, In Memoriam

With deeply felt sadness my post today is to let quilters know  my dear friend and Black History scholar Giles R. Wright, Jr.* passed away Thursday, Feb. 6 at a hospital in his home state of New Jersey. He leaves behind his wife and son. Giles had a serious stroke in May 2008 and then other complications came into play, changing his life forever. He was never able to return to the work he loved to do on behalf of African American history at the New Jersey Historical Commission.

Giles was one of the most gracious men I have known, in person and in other communications. Socially he was so warm and funny, as well as intelligent and charming. I had a wonderful time with him in Philadelphia.  Email and occasional phone calls were our main form of communication, being that we live on different coasts. He was very serious about getting the facts out about New Jersey's Black history and the history of all African Americans. His integrity brought forth mindfulness for logic and truth in everything he read about slavery and of the oppression of African Americans.

RunawaySlaveSymbol Giles became one of the leading voices among professional historians in states along the Underground railroad and was often invited to speak and to write on the subject. He did not seek the limelight. He spoke professionally but was discriminating about interviews with the media and did not agree to many requests, yet he was often quoted by the media. "He had become a very influential person in the history of blacks, especially because of his book, "The History of African Americans in New Jersey," Mappen said. "Giles had very firm standards of proof. . . He was a very careful researcher, very careful in his writings. He wanted to make sure it was accurate." (Black News Tribune, Feb. 5, 2009)

He is best known to the quilting community for his work in dispelling the misinformation about quilts being used as signals for fleeing slaves along the Underground Railroad. Over the years, he and I discussed and the effects of misinformation and  greed on society's view of slavery. He was pained by the misinformation that abounded at times, and jubilant when a mind was changed to tell historical truth. His awareness of the "quilt code" came after he read the book that put the myth out as fact, Hidden in Plain View, by Tobin and Dobard. ""Some black quilters have accused me of denying our heritage. I'm trying to protect it," Mr. Wright told The Star-Ledger in an interview three years ago, just before his once-controversial conclusions became embraced by most historians." (Black News Tribune, Feb.5, 2009)

"Relying on the oral history of one family, without corroboration from other sources. is what offends historians like Giles Wright, an Underground Railroad expert who works for the New Jersey Historical Commission. 'The Underground Railroad is so rife with distortions and misinformation, and this is just one more instance when someone comes across folklore and assumes it's true,' he says." (Time, April 3, 2007)

Giles and I would read a book about the Underground Railroad or slave's narratives and then discuss it. He taught me so much, and helped me see and feel the ownership of one human over another that was so horrific I never wanted to go there, but with Giles to talk to and to lead the way, I felt those feelings and allowed the evilness of slavery to come into my consciousness and stay there. Giles changed me by making me feel the injustice of any situation where one human takes ownership over another, changes their name, rapes them, or separates them from their children and family members, to benefit themselves. In one email he told me that he and other Blacks did not have the same respect for our founding Fathers as I did because they were slave owners.

We also enjoyed talk about politics.  Early on, before others spoke much about it, Giles was thrilled with the possibilities he saw for the US if Barack Obama were to be taken as a serious candidate. Because of my utmost respect for Giles and his astute intellect and perception, I paid more attention to Barack. Giles was one of the first people I told when I changed my backing from Hilary to Barack. He told me was surprised, and not.  Giles came to know that Barack would prevail and become our next president long before the rest of us did. He saw the leadership and  light in Barack and he was of the belief that this would help to change our world to be a more honest, peaceful and loving place. Giles signed all of his emails to me with Peace.

Giles' friendship and respect for me was such a gift. He respected many people and told me about them, always giving credit where credit was due and telling me who was especially important to pay attention to and believe.  He was not competitive or mean spirited toward others, he was proud of his colleagues' accomplishments and their contributions to historical research and current events. He supported them and left the others alone. He stood up for truth as a historian for New Jersey , but he was a truth-seeker. I miss talking with him so much, and now I know for sure that we will not talk through the computer again, but we will talk through spirit.

*Black News Tribune  includes a *photo* of Giles, "Giles R. Wright Jr.,renowned scholar of African American History, dies at 73"

New Jersey News has published a tribute to Giles that goes beyond the usual obit, the title says it all  "A Scholar Who Settled Only for the Truth."

This would have been the busiest month of the year for Giles, for it is Black History Month. Additionally, in 1981, he co-founded the Marion Thompson Wright lecture series for scholars and humanists from across the nation. This annual event has become one of the most prestigious forums of it's kind for public scholarship and civic discourse. 

Giles R. Wright is now an important part of that history. May he rest in peace.

In gratitude and love,

Kim Wulfert

Should you want to send a condolence card to his wife, I will be the middleman. Send to my name  at  226 W. Ojai Ave. Suite. 101, #107, Ojai, CA  93023

To read the interview  Giles and I did together, discussing the people and  known facts about the Underground Railroad

and the critique of Hidden in Plain View that Giles wrote and presented when he became aware of misrepresentations it contained and put forth as if factual

for more information about the Underground Railroad and quilts see