QuiltCon-The Bill Volckening Collection

I must start by saying I have a terrible cold. I really can’t believe it. I have not been sick since I started writing this blog (more than TWO years ago), and it just doesn’t seem right that I should be sick now, but there you have it.

I plan to spend hours dissecting the quilts of the show, but being under the weather and all, I am going to take an easy route today and share something special and hopefully easy on the eyes.

Bill Volckening gave two talks and one tour about his quilt collection during the 2015 QuiltCon. I attended both lectures.

Crazy Quilt Unknown Maker

The first lecture “Modern Materials: Quilts of the 1970s with Bill Volckening” was a wonderful look at some new additions to his collection of 250 plus quilts.

Log Cabin Medallion Cottons Quilt Maker Unknown

Like Bill, I am a child of the 1970s, and I clearly remember celebrating the Bicentennial, flower power, and the Brady Bunch.

Grandmother’s Fans Polyester Quilt Maker Unknown

I get it and know that it is truly a part of my quilting aesthetic, so it was great fun to see Bill share his collection.

Snowball Variant Polyester Quilt Maker Unknown

The second lecture Masterpiece Theatre: Modernism in American Patchwork with Bill Volckening encompassed the whole of his collection which begins circa 1860 and continues on into the present. (NOTE- As Bill mentions in the comments on this post, his collection actually BEGINS in 1760. WOW.)

Modern Materials, Quilts of the 1970s is one of the special exhibits on the floor of convention. These photos are images from the show.

Pinwheels Polyester Unknown Maker Texas

I’d grown up seeing quilts like these and to now see them hanging in an exhibit strangely brings all sorts of things full circle.

Wild Thing Cotton Synthetics Unknown Maker Oregon c. 1970

Those of us who know double knit polyester first hand have got to have conflicted feeling about the fiber.

Hexagon Diamonds Unknown Maker Polyester c. 1970

Hexagon Diamonds Unknown Maker Polyester c. 1970

Yes, fire is the only thing that will destroy it.

Detail Photo

Detail Photo

But it does not breathe.

Tile Blocks Unkown Maker Louisiana c. 1970

Tile Blocks Unkown Maker Louisiana c. 1970

It has always felt like a bit of a con to me.

Detail PhotoLike something you would buy under the influence.

Diamonds Unknown Maker Texas 1975

Diamonds Unknown Maker Texas 1975

And perhaps that makes sense.

Irregular Nine-patch Unknown Maker Washington c. 1975

Irregular Nine-patch Unknown Maker Washington c. 1975

The 1970s were certainly a decade lived under the influence of war, political confusion, drug usage–basically a hang over from the 1960s.

Continental US Map Maker Unknown c. 1975

Continental US Map Maker Unknown c. 1975

And what fiber could say that better than polyester?

Detail of Kansas

Detail of Kansas

Polyester looks good after being washed, but it never ever really feels good to touch no matter what.

Crazy Quilt Polyester Unknown Makers Signed “Aunt Beula, Dora, Margie” Idaho

That’s the double edged sword of polyester.

Honeycomb Hexagons Alaska Unknown Maker 1975

Honeycomb Hexagons Alaska Unknown Maker 1975

And having been there as a child it is wildly nostalgic for me. Who in their right mind would dedicated time to making a bedquilt out of double knit polyester?

Over the Rainbow Unknown Maker Cottons c. 1977

Over the Rainbow Unknown Maker Cottons c. 1977

Well, someone who thinks a pop T.V. band like The Partridge Family should have a number one record that’s who.

Snake Trails Cottons Unknown Maker c. 1975

Snake Trails Cottons Unknown Maker c. 1975

It goes like that in the seventies.

36 Patch Maker Unknown Texas c. 1975

36 Patch Maker Unknown Texas c. 1975

Of course, all of this had me thinking about what will quilt historians think of minimalism and negative space and the modern quilt movement? This is a double wedding ring of the 1970s.

Double Wedding Ring Unknown Maker Texas 1975

Double Wedding Ring Unknown Maker Texas 1975

And these are the double wedding rings of today. We see ourselves as original. And we are in our time in our place.

Improv Double Wedding R ing by Natalie Sabir Attleboro, Massachusetts

Improv Double Wedding R ing by Natalie Sabir Attleboro, Massachusetts

But we are also products of our environment.

Fill in the Void by Cinzia Allocca, Quebec, Canada

Fill in the Void by Cinzia Allocca, Quebec, Canada

No polyester–but loads and loads of quality quilter’s cottons in every color imaginable. Will this treasure–this over abundance–weigh heavy on our work? Will the consumerism of our times be reflected in our art?

Lost and Found in Translation by Victoria Findlay Wolfe, New York, New York

Lost and Found in Translation by Victoria Findlay Wolfe, New York, New York

I hope I am around to see that retrospective.

This entry was published on February 22, 2015 at 9:01 AM. It’s filed under News And Events, Quilt Stories and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

14 thoughts on “QuiltCon-The Bill Volckening Collection

  1. Thanks for sharing Maria… love seeing quilts from Bill’s collection here. Glad you had a good time, but sad that you have the cold. Likely picked it up on the plane. They can be nasty places, and so are hotels. Hope you are feeling better really soon!
    Bethany

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  2. I’d like to have all that energy needed to create those poly quilts. Just hope they kept someone warm. Can appreciate the effort though.

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  3. Thanks for your reflections on Bill’s 70’s quilts and your thought provoking questions about contemporary quilts. Personally, I have noticed that when I have constraints on my resources (whether by choice or circumstance) it forces me to find creative solutions. I very much enjoyed seeing your quilt in the show and our brief meeting in Austin. I came home with a cold, too. Hope we are all feeling better soon!

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    • Marla- I agree. When I am limit myself I can make progress with a piece and the results are usually interesting instead of predictable, when I stall out waiting for the perfect fabric, I am miserable. It was GREAT to meet you and see your lovely award winning quilt!

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  4. I am sorry you have a cold. I hope you feel better soon.
    Thank you for the pictures of the show. I chuckled at the 70s commentary. I agree, it’s interesting seeing those at a show because they remind me of my Grandma’s quilts. She used just about everything, tlthough I think even she balked at double-knit polyester.

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  5. I enjoyed your reflections on the 70s, and I like your question about whether the consumerism of our times will be reflected in our art and the follow up discussion about waiting for the “perfect” fabric Vs. making do. One thing that occurred to me that is unique to these times is making quilts with one line, sometimes even all the pieces of that line. Not sure that really reflects consumerism, but it does reflect a marketing style. Another that may or may not show in the product is the variety of rulers out there. Worth more thought.

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    • Those are really good points. I am kind of amazed at how fabric lines have taken over a particular segment of quilt making. As a new knitter, I appreciate the kit, but as an experienced quilt maker I want to say NO! Don’t go there. Mix it up, make mistakes, make it yours. My dark side says it feels like the capitalist forces of our society are trying yet again to homogenize their consumers. At some point, there will be a backlash. The streets, not the stores, are always were the real creativity exists. I am very glad you stopped by and took the time to comment. Thank you!

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  6. Yay!! I’m glad you enjoyed the quilts. One update for you: the collection actually goes from 1760 to present day. Crazy, right?

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    • Bill- Thank you so much for stopping by and setting me straight. That the collection goes from 1760 to the present day is kind of unbelievable and absolutely amazing! I will have to tell my youngest son about this. He is in a revolutionary war phase right now and would be VERY impressed with the fact that there are quilts that old still around today.

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