Q.S.O.S. Spotlight

In 1930, the town of Paris, Texas had some 15,000 residents and at least two fire stations. Raymond Fuston was the only fireman at Fire Station #2, where he lived with his family from 1929 to 1948. Almost fifty years later, Raymond’s son, Fred, and granddaughter, Karla, shared one of the quilts he made during that time, a bold red and white celebration of his career and his home at Fire Station #2.Fred Fuston: Raymond joined the Paris Fire Department in 1929, in Paris, Texas.Karla Poggen: He was a city fireman, not a volunteer fireman. He was the only fireman at the firehouse. Being that he was the only one, he could never leave. He had to be ready for calls. While he was there, he found plenty of things to do with his time. And he was always doing things with his hands. This is just one of the several crafts that he did, quilting. He’d made other quilts prior to this one, but this one was made especially–Fred: For him. That’s what I was going to say. The fire department was his love and even though he made three quilt tops in his lifetime, this was his favorite. Now, if we want to describe it, the center of this is a white background with a red Maltese cross on it. And the Maltese cross is the international symbol of firefighters. On this, we have “Paris” at the top, and the “FD” fire department at the bottom. The #2 in the middle designates the station that he was at in Paris, at Station 2. And as Karla said this was a combination residence and fire station. And so Daddy, Raymond, was the only fireman there and his family […] The reason that he was a craftsman and had time to work with things – quilts, wood, horn, leather – this was a 24 hours a day, six days a week. He was relieved of duty on Saturday morning at 7, and at Sunday morning 7, he was back on duty.JoAnn Pospisil: I have a question about the material. Do you know anything about his choice, why he chose red and white?Fred: Yes, ma’am. It was probably the only material that Raymond ever bought. Red and white are standard fire colors whether that was bought at Ayre’s or Beall’s or Kresses’ or Woolworth’s, we don’t know. But his other two quilts were from remnants, from where our clothes and other things were made in the home, cut up, we know that. But I happen to know that this is the only material that Raymond ever bought, just because there wasn’t anything large enough, red and white, around the house.The city sold the fire station in 1948 in Paris, and that was the first time we had to find a home. Daddy had a home, they built a new fire station, but it was manned by paid firemen… The fire station was on the right. The residence in the center and on your left is the porch were we spent a lot of our time. And Raymond did a lot of his sewing in his lap on that porch […] from 1933 to 1948 and then Daddy didn’t do any more quilts. You can read more quilt stories on the Quilters’ S.O.S.- Save Our Stories page on the Quilt Alliance site.Posted by Emma ParkerProject Manager,  Quilters’ S.O.S.- Save Our…

Q.S.O.S. Spotlight

This year has certainly flown by here at the Quilt Alliance; I can hardly believe today is the first day of December and that we’re headed into the home stretch of 2013! This week’s Q.S.O.S. Spotlight is on an interview with Irene Fankhouser of Nebraska. Irene was interviewed 4 years ago–also on the first day of December!–in 2009. Irene brought a beautiful king-sized quilt with her for her Q.S.O.S. interview that took 5 generations of clothing, 10 years to make and was the winner of a 10 dollar prize: SharonAnn Louden (interviewer): […] Irene, would you please tell us about the quilt that you brought in today? Irene Fankhouser: Yes, it is a king size Grandmother’s Flower Garden pattern that was about ten years in the making and it’s fabric from clothing that my grandmother, and my aunt, and myself and my three daughters and four granddaughters had from clothing that we made. I helped them sew when they were young and they made quite a few of there own so I thought this was a good way to utilize it. I didn’t have any idea what to do with it for all these years and one day I got an ad in the mail that had a pattern for this flower garden quilt and I thought that’s it that’s what I’m going to use. SL: What special meaning does this quilt have for you then? IF: Well, it is because it has all this fabric in it from five generations of the women in our family. Some of them are long gone so I saved all that I guess you could call me a saver. I just felt this was a good way to use it and make it more meaningful for our family…  SL: What do you think someone viewing your quilt might conclude about you? IF: Well, like I said I’m a saver [laughs.] and probably that I have a lot of patience because it does take a long time to sew all the little hexagons together and it’s all hand stitched and hand quilted although I didn’t do the quilting […] I won a certificate at the Johnson County Fair from a quilt shop in Pawnee City [Nebraska.] It was for the best hand stitched and hand quilted quilt for which I was very proud of. It was a $10.00 certificate. [laughs.] I didn’t get around to using it until this past year. You can read more quilt stories on the Quilters’ S.O.S.- Save Our Stories page on the Quilt Alliance site. Posted by Emma Parker Project Manager,  Quilters’ S.O.S.- Save Our Stories…

Q.S.O.S. Spotlight

There’s a lot to love about Thanksgiving: delicious food, the presence of family, the sharing of gratitude, the after lunch nap. But this week’s Q.S.O.S. Spotlight features one of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving: Turkey! From an aptly named quilt pattern to rework embroidery to a special international quilt swap, we’re celebrating all things Turkey today at the Quilt Alliance. Marlene Feldt of Colorado shared her ‘Turkey Tracks’ quilt and a story about the origins of this pattern’s name:”The quilt is Turkey Tracks. It’s a very popular, common pattern, except that it’s usually done in reds and yellows. I think basically reds. I’ve done it in browns. Turkey Tracks wasn’t the original name. It has sort of an interesting story. The original name was Wandering Foot. Apparently, nobody wanted their kids to have wandering feet, or their husbands to have wandering feet, or what have you. So the name was changed to Turkey Tracks somewhere along the line and that’s how I know it by of course.” The border of Judith Robinette’s railroad-themed quilt was inspired by a boyhood memory of hitchhiking turkeys:”I wanted to create the look of railroad tracks around three sides. A year or so ago a friend of mine, Orin “Bub” Kepper, who has since passed away, spoke at Winfield’s annual Railroad Day of his boyhood days with the railroad bisecting the family farm. He told how their turkeys would fly over the fence and get on the tracks. How, when the engines stopped and the men would climb down and shoo the turkeys off the track, a few turkeys would fly up on the cars and ride away to Washington [Iowa]. He said the railroad always claimed they returned all the birds on the return trip, but he just knew they enjoyed free turkeys for Sunday dinners. He also told how he and every other kid would place pennies on the tracks to be flattened by the next passing train. So, I decided to place a turkey and a penny on the tracks in Bub’s memory.” Olga Jean Christoper McLaren celebrated Texas with her Turkey red embroidered quilt:”The embroidery is all in redwork called Turkey red. There were a lot of the early Germans who came to Texas that did this work. I thought it was unique to them until a friend gave me a book, “Red & White American Redwork Quilts” by Deborah Harding, that I learned the true history of redwork. And that this came from Europe. The old ideas were that people thought anything from Eastern Mediterranean countries was really from Turkey. This was the only fast red thread so it became know as Turkey red. It was available in America after 1829. [T]his quilt has a number of aspects and all about Texas. It has the early flags of Texas, and the Texas flag is the dominant part of the quilt. I think our state flag is one of the most appealing and beautifully designed of any flag. There are other aspects of the state such as the heroes of the state, places of historical interest, and all of the state’s symbols.”Linda Poole of Pennsylvania shares the story of collaborating with a quilter in Turkey and discovering a quilt’s power to bring people together:”This quilt was an exchange between twenty Turkish girls and twenty Americans and we each got to keep our block that we exchanged with our block mate from the other country and the American girls sent twenty floral blocks over to Turkey and they’re going to finish our blocks into little small quilts and the twenty blocks we received from Turkey we will finish into small quilts and I just finished curating an American-Turkish Quilt Exhibit… The label on the back is called “Sunrise, Sunsets” and I can read this: ‘This quilt began in Ankara, Turkey, with my friend Gunsu Gungor the designer/maker of the center square. The border and quilting were added by me. Our friendship will always be the sunrise and sunsets of my life, a constant joy.’ We are very, very good friends. I wished we lived closer, because there is a whole ocean between us… I think it [quilting] brought women together. In the last millennium, it definitely, there are so many guilds and groups. I want to say camaraderie again–it’s my word for everything. It’s a common–you can talk to people and not even know them and you can–Just look at us two we have a common friendship with someone in Turkey.”You can read more quilt stories (with and without turkeys) on the Quilters’ S.O.S.- Save Our Stories page on the Quilt Alliance site.Posted by Emma ParkerProject Manager,  Quilters’ S.O.S.- Save Our…

Q.S.O.S. Spotlight

We’re shining today’s Q.S.O.S. Spotlight on a just-posted interview from Cookie Williams of Dundas, Minnesota. In her interview, Cookie shared two quilts she’d made for two generations of men: her husband and her son, both veterans of the US National Guard. Cookie told interviewer Heidi Rubenstein about designing the quilts, choosing personal and patriotic symbols, and why making a quilt for her son was one of the hardest quilts to make: “These two quilts are the most special quilts I’ve ever made. The first one I’m going to tell you about I made for my husband. Fifteen years ago he was on the road and he stopped at a quilt store. He asked the storeowner to gather fifty blue fat quarters for me and he gave them to me for my birthday that year. I knew right away that those fifty blue fat quarters were going into a quilt for him. He spent 37 and a half years working for the National Guard as a full time person and I knew that this quilt was going to pertain to that career. I started with Flying Geese. I knew that he was an eagle lover and I actually tried to piece an eagle, and it sort of looked like a lame duck. So then I went to the Flying Geese. At the time for Northfield Quilters we were teaching each other classes and I elected to teach the Flying Geese block, but the hook was you need to bring me back one Flying Geese made in red and I handed the quilt club background fabric. They said ‘well, it won’t be the right color.’ I said ‘I don’t care.’ I did not have enough red in my stash to make this quilt that I had envisioned in my mind. So I got the Flying Geese together and I had red ones and blue ones and I had tried piecing the eagle. That didn’t work, so I thought ‘how about a flag.’ So the next part of the quilt is an American flag done with a Log Cabin pattern. It came together and it was sitting on top of the Flying Geese and I thought, ‘well, we still have to incorporate eagles into this quilt somehow.’ About that time I went to a Minnesota Quilt Show and went to a stencil booth at one of the vendors and they had a stencil for an eagle and I thought, ‘ok, here’s the flag, on either side of the flag we can put a blue sky and I can quilt in the eagles.’ Consequently, two days before my husband’s 70th birthday last March, the 18th of March, I finished that quilt. This past summer I entered that quilt at the Rice County Fair and it won a grand champion ribbon. That quilt took me 15 years to get done so it’s really special. The other quilt that I’m going to tell you about is titled “Why This Quilt Reminds Me of You.” Our son also belonged to the National Guard. In 2004 he was deployed to Iraq. He was gone a year. It was probably the toughest year we spent as a family. During his deployment I started putting this quilt together and every color in it reminds me of something he has done in his life. There’s red, white and blue, of course. There’s maroon because he was an athlete for Northfield High School and the school colors were maroon and gold. There’s green in there because one of his first jobs was working for his dad’s cousin baling hay. There is a blue cobblestone fabric in this quilt that reminds me of all of the travels he’s done in his life including being deployed to Iraq. It’s a star quilt and the star is because he’s been a real star in our life. The golf fabric is because that is his current hobby. He’s a golfer and he’s pretty good at it. Every fabric that I chose during the piecing of this had something to do with him. In reality, the pattern for this quilt was not a hard pattern. But it was the hardest quilt I’ve ever pieced. So these two are near and dear to my heart. And I’m proud to say that they belong to the guys that they do. HR: So the first one was Flying Geese and Log Cabin. You designed it yourself? CW: I designed that quilt. There’s not a pattern out that I know of with these elements. The process of making a quilt for me, for these two in particular, when I decided to put the flag on blue sky, well I had some blue sky fabric, but I didn’t like it, so then it was a few months down the road and we travelled somewhere and we went into a quilt store up north and there was the blue sky fabric that I had envisioned in my mind. Usually when I make a quilt and give it away I will ask the person that I’m giving it to ‘what’s your favorite color?’ But these two quilts are exactly what I designed from the bottom of my heart with every ounce of design element in my body that I could garner up. Every emotion that these quilts evoke, the other 200 plus quilts that I’ve done do not equate what these two mean to me. They are special quilts for special guys.” You can also read more stories about quilts and their makers at the Quilters’ S.O.S.- Save Our Stories page on the Quilt Alliance’s site. Posted by Emma Parker Project Manager,  Quilters’ S.O.S.- Save Our Stories…

Q.S.O.S. Spotlight

We’ve just posted several new interviews with quilters from Northfield, Minnesota and nearby towns from interviewer Heidi Rubenstein. Their interviews are a wonderful reminder of how different each quilters’ voice can be. Though all of these women live in the same area, they each have a different perspective about the kinds of quilts they love to make and explore. Jean Vick told Heidi Rubenstein about her favorite quilts: “I would say they probably have some striking colors. Color is important to me even though I struggle with it. I don’t like overly designed quilts. I still like to think of them as blankets.” Sandra Dockstader talked in her interviewabout whether quilts were ‘art’ or ‘craft’: “[Quilts are] art. Definitely. Craft to me is a Nine Patch, machine quilted, thrown on a bed. That’s a craft. For me, I do wall quilts. I don’t do bed quilts. I do pictorials. I do art. I try to push the envelope to make it realistic. I consider it art. I’m not so thrilled about the painted quilts. I don’t think that’s really quilting. That’s textile art. There’s a fine line where we are pushing theboundaries and it’s not the fabric that’s making the quilt, it’s the paint. I’m not sure that’s the way to go. That’s the next fight. There was that whole thing between machine and hand. It just changes every year. It’ll go back to the traditional or it will go beyond. We’ll have to wait and see.” Rosie Werner said she was looking backwards in time for inspiration lately: “I don’t get thrilled by contemporary quilts. I love to look at them, but I see trends in quilting today that I don’t want to follow… I don’t think I learn a lot from them. I like to look at them and they are beautiful. They are art pieces. But I find that my inspiration oftentimes comes from old quilts and from the designers I’ve been studying. Lately I’ve found that I enjoy taking an unfinished old quilt and finishing it or making it in the style of. I think I’ve retro-moved to the 1900s…” You can also read more stories about quilts and their makers at the Quilters’ S.O.S.- Save Our Stories page on the Quilt Alliance’s site. Posted by Emma Parker Project Manager,  Quilters’ S.O.S.- Save Our Stories…

Q.S.O.S. Spotlight

Today’s Q.S.O.S. Spotlight features Denyse Schmidt, an iconic quiltmaker, teacher and entrepreneur whose quilts reinterpret traditional patterns with a modern sensibility. Quilt Alliance president Meg Cox interviewed Denyse at the Quilters Take Manhattan event in September of 2012. Denyse shared with the audience at the Fashion Institute of Technology a bit about how she became interested in quilting: “[W]hen I was at Rhode Island School of Design, I started looking at historical quilts more and then after I graduated and had moved to Connecticut and I was… I didn’t have a network of friends there yet and I was working as a graphic designer and it was kind of a very mass-market mind-numbing job [laughter.] I became an expert in Barbie Pink and I was making a quilt for a friend and it was simple nine-patch. I got really interested in the whole, all the stories of quiltmakers and how–whether and how accurate it is or not–those stories of women coming together in a community and the whole barn-raising idea. I was longing for my own community and all my friends were kind of far away and I think I kind of latched onto that idea of quiltmaking, plus, at the time I got really interested in old-timey music, like, Appalachian string-band music and to me it kind of had the same resonance of people coming together, rolling it up, and you didn’t have to be great at it. And I think the quilts I kind of fell in love with, they weren’t about matching corners and being precise. There was a beautiful kind of happenstance and accidental quality in some cases to them. And so making–so I kind of fell in love with all of that and then I was making a quilt as a gift for a friend. I think having a tangible record of the amount of time I spent hand-quilting––you know, “here’s 3 hours” as opposed to my graphic design work, which is in many cases, very ephemeral: it’s printed matter, I’m spending hours kerning space between letters, no one ever notices. It’s on a piece of paper that gets crumpled up and thrown away, versus this very tangible record of time that I had spent and then that it was also a lasting object that was useful and beautiful. So it had this graphic quality and a tactile and textural quality plus, you know, the bits of fabric my mother––I’m youngest of four kids and both my parents had careers but they were very handy makers of things and my mother sewed all her clothes and I grew up in central Massachusetts and we used to go to all the mill stores and stuff, so to me the whole collecting fabric thing was very connected to my mom and being with her. And so to make a quilt that sort of combined all of these things, to me it seemed really magical.” Denyse has been called “the godmother of modern quilting”. She described how she saw her role in the origins of the modern quilting movement: “It’s funny, these days it happens so fast that we’re kind of finding the origins of things,which is kind of odd. I think, while it’s flattering, I try not to take it too seriously because I think, I think I was in a place and a time and I was always presenting my work. It’s great–on one hand I think, I kind of got my message out there. It look a long time but people noticed and that’s really gratifying. And on the other hand, nothing is ever one person. It’s a kind of confluence of events and things that happen. When I started out, I used the word ‘modern’ because I was talking to an audience that didn’t have any other reference point and in some ways, was that the right word? I’m not really sure. I’ve never been very good at absolutes. I kind of recoil from them because to me, nothing is all one thing or another. However it gets defined, I’ll leave that to someone else, to do the defining.” Denyse also shared a story about re-discovering the simple pleasure of hand-quilting a small doll quilt for her book Modern Quilts, Traditional Inspiration: “I don’t have that much free time and it’s like anybody who does a particular thing–like how the carpenter has all the unfinished construction jobs at home. I think the last thing I want to do is get behind a sewing machine when I have free time. One of the last projects that I made start-to-finish was one of the quilts in my book [Modern Quilts, Traditional Inspiration.] and of course making a book is very labor-intensive… In this book–and all the quilts that are on display here are from the book–and it was my chance to pay homage to all those historical quilts that inspired me in the first place. But one of the quilts in a book is a little doll quilt and I hand-pieced it and hand-quilted it. I got to watch movies while I did it and I enjoyed every second of it. It was really nice. And I knit, occasionally. But lately I’m just trying to do less. I’m trying to do less. It’s really easy, in today’s world, everybody’s on devices and communicating all the time. I’m finding it exhausting these days. So I’m just trying to learn how to get back to something that feels simpler.” You can read the rest of Denyse’s interview with Meg Cox here. Some of Denyse’s quilts are on display  at the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Kentucky through January of 2013. You can also read more stories about quilts about quilts and their makers at the Quilters’ S.O.S.- Save Our Stories page on the Quilt Alliance’s site. Posted by Emma Parker Project Manager,  Quilters’ S.O.S.- Save Our Stories…