Friday, December 12, 2014

Frame Work

The main galleries of Quilt House are receiving a fresh coat of paint this winter in preparation for the grand opening of our new addition (slated for June 2015). In the meantime, we are inviting guests to visit the museum to view other displays free of admission now until the galleries reopen on February 6, 2015.

There is plenty to see and do--including trying your hand at quilting on a frame in our Reception Hall. Using a frame donated by a friend of the museum and a quilt top from the personal collection of one of our curators, a few of our staff members and volunteers went to work assembling the new hands-on display last week.

Mary Ann and Mary assembled the frame in the eye of the needle (our Reception Hall). Then removed the old denim on the stand.

Which they replaced with fresh muslin.

Then they pinned the quilt top to the muslin.

And rolled the quilt--with the help of Carolyn and Stacey--to stretch the top. Stretching the material over the frame (which can be re-rolled to accommodate the whole top) gives greater ease for quilting.

With that the quilt is ready for visitors to quilt.

We'll be sure to share updates on the quilt's progress on our social media pages.

Have any of you quilted by hand on a frame? What advice would you offer up to anyone trying it for the first time?

Friday, December 5, 2014

Inaugural Community Quilt Drive Kicks Off

Quilts come with a lot of connotations. They are works of art, examples of expert craftsmanship, snapshots of lives and invaluable pieces of history.

They also offer warmth. As the weather turns colder here in Nebraska, our team wanted to do something to share the warmth we have at Quilt House with those in need. That is why we are collaborating with Phi Delta Theta to collect quilts for People's City Mission this holiday season. On December 19, we will deliver the quilts to the shelter for distribution. 

The mission offers shelter to people from all kinds of backgrounds ranging in age from infants to adults. We are accepting quilts of all sizes to meet the needs of their guests. The quilts will be distributed to the guests, who will get to keep them once they move on to their new homes. The quilts are something that will truly become theirs. 

Since beginning the drive last week, we have already received a number of quilt donations from visitors and volunteers here in Lincoln as well as deliveries from places like New Hampshire and New Mexico. They have come in all shapes and sizes and colors.

Today we are looking forward to a visit from our partners at Phi Delta Theta, who have been equally busy gathering quilts to donate to People's City Mission. Be sure to check our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts for more photos as the quilts arrive.

If you are interested in donating a quilt to the People's City Mission, please deliver or ship it to:
Quilt House Attn: Quilt Drive  
1523 N. 33rd St.Lincoln, NE 68503
We appreciate the generosity so many of you have already displayed. 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Going Back to China, Part Two

Marin Hanson
Curator of Exhibitions

Yesterday, I blogged about the quilt exhibition we were a part of at the China Keqiao International Textile Expo, October 24-27.

But that wasn't the only reason I was in China. I was also there on behalf of Quilt House to deliver a signed Memorandum of Understanding between the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) and Shaoxing University (SXU). For this memorandum, we are focusing on quilt-related cooperation between UNL's International Quilt Study Center & Museum and SXU's College of Fine Arts.

Here I am with Professor Chen Hao, Dean of the College of Fine Arts, exchanging the memorandum:

As part of the cooperation between our institutions, we are lending a group of Education quilts to the SXU College of Fine Arts so that their students can learn about American quilts by examining them "in the cloth," rather than only in pictures. The quilts were donated to us especially for this purpose by Joan White, who made the quilts herself in classic patterns using antique fabrics. Here I am delivering some of the quilts to Professor Chen:

We also hope to continue to send IQSCM curatorial staff to give lectures and to guest teach in SXU College of Fine Arts classes.

A half-day symposium on worldwide quilt traditions was part of October's quilt exhibition at the China Keqiao International Textile Expo.

For their part, SXU is excited about helping us continue to discover patchwork and quilting traditions in China. When I visited Shaoxing last May, for instance, I was delighted to find a baijia pao (One Hundred Families Robe) on display at the ancestral home of Lu Xun, China's most famous early 20th-century author.

A patchwork baijia pao (One Hundred Families Robe) at the Lu Xun museum in Shaoxing

Chinese patchwork and quilting is a major focus for us at IQSCM right now. Stay tuned as we continue to perform research in China, become acquainted with contemporary Chinese quilt artists, and produce China-focused quilt exhibitions, as we will be doing in 2016, in partnership with our good friends at the Michigan State University Museum, home of the fantastic Quilt Index.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Going Back to China, Part One

Marin Hanson
Curator of Exhibitions

I love going to China. Ever since my first visit there in 1992, I have enjoyed journeying to this complex, fascinating country. Admittedly, after spending a semester there in college in 1994, I didn't return to China for 15 years, but since 2009, I've gone back four times. I love the food, getting to practice my rusty Mandarin, the crazy mix of ancient and new, even the crowds; but most of all, I love the people I've met.

For instance, meet Mr. Yang.

Mr. Yang is the Manager at Shaoxing Master Cultural and Creative Industries, a company that produces art supplies and is looking to get into the quilting supplies market. He organized a commercial quilt exhibition as a part of the huge China Keqiao International Textile Expo and invited us to show some of our antique Education quilts there. (Our Education Collection consists of quilts that have been designated to be able to be shown in non-museum settings, to share with as wide an audience as possible).

Here  I am outside the huge expo hall
in Shaoxing, a city a few hours from Shanghai.

Some of our Education quilts on display.

There were vendors of all kinds, both from China and abroad:

There were full-sized quilts as well as smaller projects, like crib quilts and bags.

Quilting on a longarm machine.

And many other artists participated in the quilt exhibition. It was wonderful to meet quiltmakers from all over Asia and from North America. Here I am with Taiwanese artist, Lin Hsin-Chen, who is also President of the Taiwan Art Quilt Society. Those are her art quilts across the aisle from our antique quilts.


And it's always fun to go halfway around the world to meet people from (relatively speaking) your own back yard. Here I am with Bonnie Browning and Ann Hammel, of the American Quilter's Society:

And Brenda Miller, from Canada, was also a delight to meet. Here she is at her booth for her business, "Among Brenda's Quilts."

Be sure to check out Brenda's in-depth, informative, and entertaining blog post about her experience in China.

It was a pleasure and honor to also meet China's most famous and accomplished quiltmaker, Jin Yuanshan, who was a participant in this year's Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C. Of Korean ethnic heritage, her works resemble the pojagi patchwork we featured in our 2008 exhibition, "Pojagi: Patchwork and Quilts from Korea." In addition, Japan's Saito Yasuko and Korea's Kim Mi-Sik were there with their beautiful works of art.

L to R: Lin Hsin-Chen (Taiwan), Kim Mi-Sik (Korea), Saito Yasuko (Japan), Brenda Miller (Canada), me, Jin Yuanshan (China), Mr. Yang

It was a wonderful international gathering, all with a focus on quilts -- what could be more fun?!

Tomorrow, I will blog about our partnership with Shaoxing University's College of Fine Arts. We are so excited to collaborate with a Chinese academic institution -- again, all with a focus on quilts!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Patchwork Passion

We are once again participating in the Nebraska Passport Program, and this year we're particularly excited to be included on the Patchwork Passion tour. We are one of eight stops that celebrate the proud quiltmaking tradition in our state.

There is so much to see, do and learn on this tour. Like...

  • Did you know Calico Annie's Quilt Shop is located in a Hardware Store built in 1894? They still use the rolling ladder to hang quilts and  the hand-pull elevator to get from one level to the next.
  • And, in addition to stocking 3,000 bolts of cotton fabrics, Prairie Point Junction is known online as Wool Felt Central and has an entire corner of the shop dedicated to wools and felts.

That's just some of what you'll encounter as you make your way around Nebraska.

You can also collect patterns to recreate your own simplified version of a sampler quilt from our collection.

You can pick up a Log Cabin pattern here at Quilt House, but you can get the remaining pieces at these stops:
Country Traditions in Fremont
Pat’s Creative in Hemingford
Quilters Candy Shoppe in O’Neill
The Quilting Cupboard in Valentine

And if you'd like to see what the finished replica sampler looks like, be sure to stop by Wagner’s Quilts & Conversations, where it is on display.

They did an exceptional job making this piece.

If you have already been to one of these stops, but didn't get a pattern, please email us at, and we'll help you get a digital copy so you can finish your piece.

Monday, April 7, 2014

New Friends

By Marin Hanson
Curator of Exhibitions

Over the last two days I visited with three different quilt makers: Shizuko Kuroha, Reiko Washizawa, and Sanae Hattori. Three wonderful quilt makers, three very different styles.

Shizuko Kuroha is known for her work using vintage indigo fabrics. The IQSCM is fortunate to have two of her early pieces in its Ardis and Robert James Collection. Here she is in her studio showing us some new work.

Reiko Washizawa's work often is based on traditional Western quilt patterns like Hexagon Mosaic or Postage Stamp, to which she adds elements that give a distinct Japanese flavor. Here she is with me and with her husband, who has also taken up quilt making in his retirement. (Even though he has made many complex and beautiful quilts, she said she recently had to send him back to the lowest level class to "learn the basics"!)

Finally, Sanae Hattori has been working for over three decades in what she calls a "Japanesque" style. She is well known for her kimono-shaped quilts and recently has been working with a high-end digital textile printer to create a series of Buddha-themed quilts (being held up here by Nao Nomura, former IQSCM collections manager).

Many thanks to the quilt makers who met with me on my Tokyo trip, and to Mariko Akizuki, IQSCM International Advisory Board member, for arranging the meetings. This has been a truly educational and enjoyable experience!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Time for Supper with Eiko Okano

By Marin Hanson
Curator of Exhibitions

My trip to Tokyo is focused on learning about contemporary quilt makers in Japan and building relationships with them.

Yesterday, at the awards ceremony for the Japan Handicraft Instructors' Association's 12th Quilt Nihon (Japan) Competition, I got to meet several top quilt makers and view their quilts as well. There were some really fantastic quilts in the exhibition!

On our way to view the exhibition, held at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, I also was lucky enough to get to walk through one of the most popular parks for viewing sakura, cherry blossoms, which are currently at their most spectacular.

Today, however, my highlight was getting to meet artist Eiko Okano, whose "Time for Supper" is currently on view in our "Expanding the Collection: Recent Acquisitions" exhibition. In 2012, Ms. Okano donated eight quilts to IQSCM and I was really looking forward to meeting her, seeing her studio, and expressing our gratitude for her generosity.

Here she is with her daughter, Naoko, giving us a private showing of some more of her quilts.

She extended her generosity even further by inviting me and Nao Nomura, former IQSCM collections manager and my host for this trip, for a traditional Japanese dinner. Oishii! Delicious! 

Many thanks to Okano-san and Naoko for an enjoyable evening.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Reconciliation Quilt Heads to NYC

If you are in New York City this summer, be sure to stop by the New-York Historical Society Museum & Library to see "Homefront & Battlefield: Quilts & Context in the Civil War," which opens April 5. While the exhibition will make stops around the country during the next couple of years, for its New York debut, the show features a little something special from the International Quilt Study Center & Museum collection.

Reconciliation Quilt, Lucinda Ward Honstain, made in Brooklyn, NY,
dated 1867, 97 x 84.5 inches. IQSCM 2001.011.0001.

That's right -- our beloved Reconciliation Quilt will be on display this summer.

In honor of the show's grand opening, we asked IQSCM Curator of Collections Carolyn Ducey five questions about this quilt to explain why the Reconciliation Quilt is so important.

What makes this quilt so special?
It's special on a number of different levels. First, its historic importance recognizing the nation's need to reconcile its differences after the Civil War. And as a personal history of the maker's life. It's also important because of the quality of the workmanship and artistic detail... It's an extremely important representation of American folk art.

What's something that might surprise people about this quilt?
You often have this impression of a quiltmaker quietly working at home on her masterpiece with children playing around her feet -- a romanticized view of her life. However, research revealed Lucinda Ward Honstain had an unhappy marriage that brought a lot of unwanted negative attention to the maker, her husband and her family. There were a lot of skeletons in the closet.

How did it get it's name?
From the block that shows Jefferson Davis reconciling with his daughter. Again, that was a misconception -- that they were separated, because of their political views. In actuality she was a young woman attending school in New York while her father was in prison. She was probably too young to have that strong of political views. They did meet up in New York after he was released from prison, but it wasn't technically a reconciliation. We learned that by reading his letters as they've been published. The letters proved he and his daughter were close and communicated while they were separated.

What is the most compelling block in the quilt?
The block with the African American figure standing in front of a man on horseback stating "Master I am Free." It's particularly interesting, because slaves were freed in New York in the 1830s, so she really was making a statement about slavery and the state of the nation as a whole.

What's something you uncovered while you were studying the quilt itself?
If you look at the vertical column on the right side of the quilt, there are fabrics that are not used in any other part of the quilt. Though the sashing is the same, it looks like that last column was added later, which throws off the balance of the center block. Maybe she needed a wider quilt for her bed. We don't know.

"Homefront & Battlefield: Quilts & Context in the Civil War" will be on display April 4 - Aug. 24.

For more information, visit:
Google Art Project
New-York Historical Society Museum & Library
Quilt of the Month - January 2014
Quilts in Common: Around the Globe and Across the Centuries
World Quilts: The American Story

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Tokyo Bound

Marin Hanson, Curator of Exhibitions, will be headed to Tokyo, Japan, the first week of April to attend the opening reception for the Japan Handicraft Instructors' Association's "Quilt Japan" exhibition. This is Japan's oldest and most prestigious quilt competition, and it's held every other year. In 2009, we hosted the exhibition at Quilt House.

While in Tokyo, Marin will also meet with Japanese quiltmakers, including Eiko Okano, whose Time for Supper is currently on view in Expanding the Collection: Recent Acquisitions...

Eiko Okano, Time for Supper, made in Tokyo, Japan, dated 2007, 64 x 64 in.
IQSCM 2012.038.0003.

And Shizuko Kuroha, whose Sea of Japan in Winter was featured in Quilts in Common: Around the Globe & Across the Centuries.

Shizuko Kuroha, The Sea of Japan in Winter, made in Tokyo, Japan, dated 1983, 79 x 78 in.
Ardis and Robert James Collection IQSCM 1997.007.1091.

Be sure to check back the first week of April for updates from Marin while she is in Japan.