Eagles in Minnesota and Quilts in Texas with Lone Star Quilt Study Group

Note the eagle atop the tree in the center

I spent a lot of August away from home—nearly two weeks at our family cabin in Northern Minnesota, where we read, hiked, cooked, entertained friends, and took a day-long fishing trip into the Boundary Waters. We also saw lots and lots of eagles, including one who perched no more than 30 feet from our fishing trip lunch site, just waiting for us to leave so she could feed the fish remains to her young’uns. Being that close to an eagle gives you a good idea of their power with a close-up look at its hooked beak and those huge talons.

Just four days after our return I headed to Austin, where I was invited so speak to the Lone Star Quilt Study Group about feed sacks. They were a lovely audience and as always, I learned as much new information as I shared. Museum of Texas Tech University, who is working on a feed sack book. In addition, the museum will host a feed sack exhibition in 2019, something to look forward to, indeed.

A sweet feed sack dish towel shared by a member of the Lone Star Quilt Study Group

I also met Marian Ann Montgomery, curator of clothing and textiles at the Museum of Texas Tech University, who is working on a feed sack book. The museum will host a feed sack exhibition based on their extensive collection sometime in 2019, to coincide with the release of Marian’s book. Something to look forward to!

The afternoon speaker was Nancy Ray (scroll down to learn more about her), a Texas collector of string quilts. one I made previously is one of my all-time favorites).

I adore string quilts—their scrappiness parallels the feed sack ethos of waste-not, want-not that I so admire. Nancy’s collection was inspiring and exemplified the the inventiveness quilter’s have applied to the technique. Here are a few photos. I’ve got a string quilt on my to-do list (one I made a couple of years ago is one of my all-time favorites).

Detail of the above quilt
A selection of Nancy’s quilts
Deatil of string spider web quilt
Image from a slide–not the best
Detail of a bow tie quilt with wild red curves
Image also from a slide, but love the darks and lights

The Final Stop for Art Quilts of the Midwest—the Texas Quilt Museum

In August I had the opportunity to visit the Texas Quilt Museum in LaGrange. (I was in Texas to speak to the Lone Star Quilt Study Group, but more on that later.)  I’ve written about the museum and visited once, last February, but this time it was personal—Art Quilts of the Midwest is on display there through the end of September.

The exhibition space is beautiful and I loved seeing some quilts hung on an exposed brick wall in the airy gallery. I talked with a lovely employee (whose name I swore I wouldn’t forget, but have) and thoroughly enjoyed “saying goodbye” to the pieces in the show—this is the last of the four exhibitions based on Art Quilts of the Midwest.

When I wrote that book I never imagined it would lead to exhibitions at four museums (the International Quilt Study Center and Museum, the National Quilt Museum, and the Iowa Quilt Museum) and their curators, that I would be listed as a guest curator at two of them, and that I would get to help hang a show at one. Though I’ve met only a handful of the 20 artists represented in the book, I’ve spoken and corresponded with them all over the past five years and learned so much about their creative processes and by continuing to follow their careers.

Having a vocation that lets me “look behind the curtain,” to ask questions about what makes creative people tick, expands my life exponentially and for that I am truly grateful.

There is an unexpected coda to this story, though. Little did I imagine during the visit on that hot, hot Texas day that just a week later parts of LaGrange would be underwater. Though the museum was uphill from the river, museum staff and volunteers sandbagged the doors and raised the quilts up high via their pulley system. Power was lost. I was grateful to the curator, Sandra Sider, for taking the time to keep me informed in the midst of all the issues surrounding Hurricane Harvey. In the end, the museum was spared and they are working to reduce humidity in the building. You can read about it in this letter from museum founders Karey Bresenhan and Nancy Puentes.

If you’re in the area, I encourage you to visit as soon as they reopen. The exhibition (and two others, including some gorgeous, traditional quilts from the International Quilt Study Center and Museum) are on display through October 1.