The other serendipitous occurrence during our vacation in southern California a few weeks ago was that we just happened to be there for the International Quilt Festival in Long Beach. It was huge- tons of fabrics, patterns, machines and quilting resources. As well as an intense show of antique quilts. The show was massive and there were people packing every aisle (prompting me to many times have this thought: “what crippling economic recession?” Seriously. WTF.) There were people spending tons of dough at this show. And my mom and I were among them. Let’s just say that she is my patron saint. This is not the place to express my gratitude and love for my amazing, fun, up-for-anything mom, but I will anyway. She was forcing rolls of hand-made Thai bindings upon me. Urging me on to more and more yardages of Japanese linens while she distracted my darling, over-stimulated and mama-needing daughter.
But just behind a black curtain partition was a realm of museum-like calm and quiet. It was the America Collects Quilts Antique quilt show. And that is where I saw these. The first, the one that made me weep, is called Log Cabin – Streak of Lightning – by an unknown quiltmaker.
All pieced and quilted by hand. It has a dark, boggy primitiveness…crazy power and optical illusion. So much work in this. I couldn’t stand even hand-sewing the binding onto my tiny quilt! I live in a world far removed from this kind of quiltmaking. It seems almost mystical. Look at what happens in the shades of black and darker shades. Crazy.
And the next one I loved is called Sunburst – made by an unknown quiltmaker in 1850. It is mystical,too… Tibetan mandala or Indian explosion. To me, this quilt felt filled with risk. What was the maker of this trying to say? Or rather, to scream? And in 1850? And a woman, no doubt. She was certainly in possession of her pure power as an artist and as a woman.
And then there was the sky quilt, of sorts, that we stumbled upon in San Diego the next afternoon. We all loved it. A thirty foot kite. One of those inspiring things.