Thursday, March 29, 2018

Forty Years Ago This Month

A few weeks ago I wrote about Jinny Beyer as an inspiration for traditional quiltmakers over the past forty years. I looked up her ground-breaking quilt "Ray of Light" first published in Good Housekeeping magazine in March, 1978 as top prize winner in their quilt contest and realized we have an anniversary to mark.

It has been forty years since that contest, which was a big deal at the time. Nearly 10,000 quilters entered. Jinny's first prize of $2,500 was a lot of money. (My house cost $15,500 a few years earlier.) The contest undoubtedly added to the widening of interest in quiltmaking as an art form.

Chris Wolf Edmonds won the Kansas prize.

I knew some quiltmakers who entered and a couple of them won prizes, which were based on states and sections of the country.

And Erma H. Kirkpatrick the North Carolina first.

Quilt historians have used contests to get a snapshot of the community aesthetic at a certain point in time. Merikay Waldvogel and I studied the 1933 Chicago World's Fair contest fifty years later, so this is a good time to look at the 1970s trends.

The magazine published the 51 winners (50 states plus the grand prize) in the March issue with Dinah Shore on the cover.

Sunburst by Helen Downs of Indiana

Quilting, hard to see in the photos, must have had some influence in the judging. 
Of course, hand quilting was the standard. 
Machine quilting had absolutely no cachet at the time.

Caroline Riddle's "Quilted Montage" won the Tennessee prize.
Pictorial images were quite popular...

...Influenced no doubt by the 1976 fashion for pictorial Bicentennial quilts illustrating local scenery and history, such as the Rockport Bicentennial Garden Club's winner for Maine.

Of the 43 pictures I saw 26 were primarily applique. Two seemed to be of found objects (labels and drawings) and 1 was wholecloth. 11 were pieced and 2 were a combination of piecing and applique, as in this Engagement Ring or Whig's Defeat quilt by Margaret G. Brown of New Orleans.

If we throw the "pieced & appliqued" in with the pieced we have 26 applique and 13 pieced, twice as many applique quilts as pieced.

Vickie Milton's Five Star is pieced and appliqued.

White as a neutral dominates the color palette throughout the pages.

A few like the Flower Basket differed from the fashion for white.
Amy Gelbach's Sun (above) and Lisa Courtney's Confetti reflected oranges and blues

Not many explored color as well as pattern.

Very few were without white.

It's hard to see from the photos so I really can't say much about the choice of prints versus solids.

If the fabrics were printed they were generally prints that
read as solids.

Hats & Patches by Susan Jane Jones of Oregon was an exception.

This 1978 contest gives us a good view of what was valued and how things have changed.

Mrs. Jinny Beyer in a patchwork vest.

Here's a change. 
We don't refer to artists by Miss or Mrs. anymore. Marital status is not relevant.

I did some poking around in internet photos to get a wider view of 1978. I wanted some photos of interior decor to show how horrible it all was (as I recall.) My $15,000 house was a Victorian cottage and I decorated it into a period gingerbread concoction---a reaction to the sterility and shallowness of 1970s decorating of my parents' generations. So here are some photos of the 1970s decorating I abhorred.

Joan & Walter Mondale, Vice President and wife
Where are the Tchotchkes?

Ladies in hats

The nylons may never come back but I'd love to have that coffee table.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 1972 
She's really more my generation but look at that living room!

My current house, built in 1970, looks just like this. Have we come full circle in forty years?
Certainly in interior design.

But in quilts too?
Lots of white,
Emphasis on solid fabrics

See an article about the contest at the Quilt Index:

Monday, March 26, 2018

My Oh, Scrap! Giveaway Winner

Today we announce the winners of the Oh, Scrap! eBook.
I sent in Dianne's name and email. She should be hearing from Martingale soon.

Here's a little more about the history of scrap quilt.
I included this ad for purchased scraps in the book.


Quilters have long been able to buy a selection of small pieces,
Variously called Bundles, Remnants and Scraps

The book had room for only one ad but here are several more.


About 1930 from Capper's Weekly

Forties or Fifties?


 19th-century references:

1872, Lewiston, Maine

Marketing silk remnants for crazy quilts was a large business in the 1880s,
and probably did more than anything to contribute to the fad.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Carnival Time

A mid to late 20th century block.
It's a wheel design with an octagon in the center.
Not too hard to find in BlockBase
where it's #3600

Friendship Circle from the Laura Wheeler/
Alice Brooks syndicated columns of the 1930s.

12" blocks x 36 = 72" quilt

The artists at the Wheeler/Brooks studio were
big on scraps. I am surprised I have no other examples 
made into quilts. It's a pretty great pattern and not toooooo

Aunt Martha did a similar design called Carnival Time.
A little different proportion. When we drew it up for
BlockBase #3599 we changed the proportions a bit.

Aunt Martha from the Quilt Index

I like those spinning wheels with the details in the corner.
I erased a few lines to get a simpler design.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Evans Quilt Collection at MESDA

Simple basket block in a purple zig-zag or fence rail set.
Beverley Evans Collection

Beverley & Jeff Evans showed some of their own collection of Shenandoah Valley quilts last
weekend at the Museum of Southern Decorative Arts in Winston-Salem, North Carolian.

Merikay Waldvogel, Lorie Stubbs and Beverley Evans.
Look at the scale on that doll quilt.

The whole event, the MESDA spring seminar Stitching a Southern Identity: Defining Female Culture in the Early South, was entertaining and educational. We saw samplers, needlework pictures and period rooms but for some of us the quilts were the high point.

Beverley has quite a collection.
A few details

I learned the importance of the Pennsylvania German history of the Shenandoah
Valley with early migration down the Great Wagon Road. This quilt certainly
speaks of that relationship, but it isn't as early as it looks at first glance.

The dark paisley squares inside the bright chrome yellow are
that style of black ground novelty print that you see about 1900. 

Interesting variation on the lily block

A Shenandoah Valley sampler.
Maryland isn't too far away.

Cats peeking into the border corners

Matt Monk, Sheldon, Merikay and Barb Garrett. Matt gave a paper
on a Baltimore Album style sampler in Bev's collection.

Above, one of these bold coxcombs
bordered by an eagle in platform shoes.

I recognized this bird. See a post here:

The quilt on top is dated in the quilting

Surprisingly, it's 1842.

We'd have never guessed the date from the prints.

The Evanses sell a lot of quilts on their auction site.

Click on this link to see some of the quilts auctioned over the years.