July 30, 2014

Art Deco Flowers ... or Fans

When this quilt arrived for repair, it just plain made me smile.  Such a nice pattern!  I was certain I'd seen the block many times and would quickly look it up and be reminded of its name.

Well, nope.  I haven't found it in the pattern compilation books.  I asked an appraiser that I know, and she didn't have a name for it either.  She said it could be a fans variation.  The owner had been thinking they were flowers, possibly tulips.

All I can say for sure is that it is firmly Art Deco, be it a rendition of a fan or a flower.  The fabrics are firmly in this era too, probably towards the end of it, c1940.

It must look familiar to me because I find the Art Deco style so intriguing, and have looked at so many photos of Art Deco everything.  I can easily imagine this design as a wide tiled or relief border up either side of a fancy doorway, for example.  Bottom line: I really like it.

More of this story at Art Deco Addendum and Art Deco Second Addendum.

July 26, 2014

..... But Wait, There's More

Yep.  One week later, the next estate sale.  Another button collection......

I pawed around in a little basket of little ribbon bows, so ancient and decrepit, destined for the garbage bin.  Underneath, there was this nice-looking button collection rattling around.  They'd only sell it as a "set", so I bought the whole thing.  You understand, I'm sure.

Well, in amongst the buttons was this packet, mailed in 1957 for 3 cents, to Miss Mae Awe.

And inside the packet, Mae's thank you gift for filling out a customer survey.  Uh-huh!

I do so love estate sales!

July 24, 2014

.... and More Buttons

Yep, another estate sale, another button jar.  I just can't pass 'em up.  All these for one dollar, folks.  Score!  (Thanks to my friend Gloria who spotted these while I was reveling in a box of sewing room odds and ends.)

I have now reached the point of no return.  I must DO something with all these buttons!  Jewelry?  Quilt embellishment?  (I've already done a bit of that, see links below.)  A quilt design executed entirely in buttons?

July 20, 2014

Vintage Music

At an estate sale, I found some wonderful old music magazines.  I bought a few and gave them to a musician friend for her birthday.  A couple are from 1910, and a couple from 1933.  I photographed some interesting bits to share with you here.

Covers went from black and white to color at some point during the intervening years.

July 9, 2014

Pennsylvania Tulips

The pattern on this cheerful quilt looks so familiar to me.  While I was mending it, I realized that it reminds me of Pennsylvania Dutch hex signs.  I looked online, and saw more than a few hex signs that have the same style of tulips, elongated diamonds with the two pointy leaves.  And then I learned from the owner that the quilt had been purchased in Pennsylvania.  

The block combines two design elements that have been favored by quilters for many, many, many years - stars and flowers.  It is entirely pieced, the circles being squared with 4 white corner quadrants.  I especially like this block in a softer, rosy red.

I found names for the block in Jinny Beyer's book, The Quilter's Album of Patchwork Patterns.  It was published as Cottage Tulips in 1931 in the Kansas City Star, and as Olive's Yellow Tulip in 1958 in Mrs. Danner's Fourth Quilt Book.  

July 2, 2014

When I Really Fell in Love With Quilts

After I graduated from college in 1977, I stayed on campus, working on the data base of one of the profs.  I spent most of my days on the computer, editing transcribed field notes on monkey social organization.  

At that time, the state-of-the-art was the big mainframe computer to which we submitted jobs and waited, and waited, and waited, for output.  I really needed some color and handwork in my life.  My mom was always saving sewing scraps and talking about making a quilt.  We never did do it, but that's what gave me the idea to try quilting with a little, 6-week, just-for-fun class at the student union.  

After a few years of pillows and placemats and my first big quilt, I was in San Francisco visiting some friends, and decided to hop over to Oakland and see the quilt exhibit there.  The exhibit was curated by Pat Ferrero, Linda Reuther, and Julie Silber.  It was life-changing for me!  And I guess it was life-changing for lots of folks, since it became a landmark exhibit.  

I recently discovered the out-of-print catalog on a used book website.  I was so excited!

This exhibit came 10 years after the famous Whitney Museum exhibit in 1971 that first hung quilts on the wall and discussed them as art.  The curators in Oakland had an additional theme, and gathered period photos and artifacts and family stories and arranged them alongside the quilts.  They presented the quilts as windows into women's lives.

One story that always has stayed with me is this:  There was a set of beautifully made and unusually colored quilts, interesting dark purple-ish and maroon colors.  Turns out, these pieces had all been dyed black, by the quilter, while she was going through a deep depression.  I was struck both by the incredible sadness that she expressed so eloquently, and by the thoughtfulness of her descendants, who kept the quilts and her story to honor her.  

The catalog has wonderful essays by several historians about quilts as objects that express everyday history and the lives of everyday people.  This concept has become a big part of my love of quilts.  It's one of the reasons I feel so good about repairing and preserving quilts.  I wrote about this in two of my previous posts: Thoughts About Repairing Antique Quilts and Textile Stories.  And I like the idea that today's quilters are creating this same kind of history for future historians to enjoy.

The three curators also produced some of my favorite books and videos - and I am deeee-lighted to add this one to my collection.  (I have no connection with their business, just spreading the word, especially for newer quilters who may not be familiar with their work.)