Saturday, February 6, 2010

Julie and Joe's Quilt Adventure: Crazy Quilting

I had a GLORIOUS week at the annual Point Bonita Getaway for 70 quilters this past week.

Unlike over the past few years, I am not going to post too much about the retreat itself....there were some objections to my "live" reports last year, as some of the ladies just wanted complete privacy. But I will still have a few pictures of my class (which went great!), the studio where we worked, and the project that held my attention all week--it wasn't my Vintage CQ either!

But first I have to tell you about Julie and Joe's Quilt Adventure, which I attended last Sunday (playing hooky for the day from Point Bonita).

Julie Silber is one of the foremost quilt historians, collectors, curators, and dealers in the country with over 40 years' experience. Thousands and thousands of quilts have passed through her hands. Joe Cunningham is one of her best friends; some of you might know him as "Joe the Quilter". Joe apprenticed himself to a master quiltmaker back in the 1970's and is committed to honoring the glory of the American quilt tradition. He too is a quilt historian, but branched out to make art quilts of his own many years ago.
He is also a performer and very, very funny.

The Adventure took place at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles, which has hosted a marvelous crazy quilt exhibit over the past few months. Julie and Joe immersed themselves in the history of crazy quilting to prepare for this event, and the result is that I learned so much about the genre I love.
An added bonus was the inclusion of Barbara Brackman on the program, another of America's great quilt historians. Barbara is at Point Bonita as well, so she came on down for the afternoon part of the program to talk about how to date some of the odd and old quilts that Julie brought to stump her.
Barbara was impossible to stump, however.

The first part of the program was spent touring the museum's gallery of crazy quilts, with Julie, Joe, and the museum's knowledgeable executive director, Jane Przybysz, Ph.D, putting them in the context of social history and teasing out such fascinating information from each quilt.

The picture above shows the "trunk show" part of the program which took place after lunch, with amazing quilts from Julie and Joe's personal collections. (This one is made mostly from cigarette and cigar silks.) They brought many quilts, and often had spirited disagreements about them, too!

As you can see from the body language....

My goodness!

How I wish I could remember what the issue was here. I was laughing too hard to follow it!
(And by the way, that is a very rare tile quilt behind them. Click on the picture to see it.)

They gave me permission to post pictures from their talks, so here are just a few of the great quilts they showed us:

There is Barbara on the right. They all guessed that this was a mourning quilt, with some of the black fabrics possibly made from the mourning dress worn by the widow. It was a sad but lovely piece....some of the stitching betrayed real distress.

Julie's definition of a crazy quilt was that it have randomness to the piecing. I believe that the use of fancy fabrics and embroidery stitching along the seams is also part of what makes a quilt "crazy" to me this quilt almost qualifies, though they called it a "sampler". But a detail of the middle block on the right at least reveals the crazy influence....

The quiltmaker filled in the squares of her 20-patch block with crazy stitching! How cool is that?

One of the highlights of my Quilt Adventure experience was the commute: driving down from Point Bonita to San Jose with Joe in the morning was so much fun, with stimulating talk the entire way about such things as what is in "the DNA of American quilting"--which Joe says has been freedom of choice, from the very beginning...and then the return drive with Barbara. I was one lucky gal; it was a day I will always treasure.

If you ever have a chance to attend any of Julie and Joe's future Adventures, no matter what the subject in quilting, you will be so glad you did.
Thanks, you two!!!!!


Vicki W said...

It sounds like a fabulous time! I love that sampler quilt.

Deb Hardman said...

I LOVE that last quilt. The rpeat of the blocks make it stunning.

I've never met Joe, but took a class from his ex, in Michigan. She is a very dynamic personality too. Very fun. I can see where they would have hit it off, & gotten on each other's nerves both!

Judy S. said...

Lucky you! It sounds like a very fun time. Did you also enjoy some sunshine?

Susan Elliott said...

So glad that you have been resurrected after being slain by that fan quilt...I's a killer -- and I am SO glad it's in your future -- that means it's in OUR future too!! Woohooo! It sounds so wonderful and stimulating...I also thought the cigarette silks quilt was cool...I would have loved to have seen it...but I agree, the fan one had so much appeal on many, many levels. Crazy but no so's just gorgeous.

Lisa Caryl said...

That fan quilt is absolutely facinating. I hope it is in your "near" future! Glad you had such a wonderful time at your retreat :)

Unknown said...

it is amazing. hugs from Italy

Jane said...

What a great side excursion from your retreat. Thanks for sharing the pics of those beauties and giving us the glimpse of what new design your entertaining. I like your new blog photo, the shirt jacket is adorable and is "you" to the tee!!

Maureen said...

I love the fan quilt and it should be made again by someone. I also liked the quilt with small embellished squares . That black quilt drew me in, but since I can't see the embellishments really well, I'll just imagine them to be uplifting. So many ways to express with embellishment!

Marty52 said...

Great picture of you, Allie! You look like you have a secret and don't plan on sharing it with anybody! I have to say, it should be quite the challenge to replicate that block... I can't quite see how she did it; however, I know you'll figure it out. ;0)

Debra Dixon said...

Point Bonita sounds like a wonderfully inspiring adventure each year and to combine it with the field trip must have made this year one of the best years to date!

Lynn said...

Thank you for sharing these pictures! What a fabulous way to spend a day. ~sigh~

Granny Fran said...

That is one fantastic quilt! It has an Egyptian Art Deco feel, which I adore.

Anonymous said...

I loved this report, and the quilt pictures. I just read about the exhibit on Hideko's blog and am sorry I didn't get to CA in time to see it.

Edy Brady said...

Allie I love that complicated block. It was really inspiring. Didn't get to see much of you at PBG.