Saturday, September 25, 2010

Barbara Bergreen - Featured Guest #1

I thought it would be fun to begin a series of Featured Guests. This will be a cross section of people in the quilt world I have met recently or over the years. Some of the meetings are very serendipitous, sometimes even syncronistic. 

Featured Guest #1 — Barbara Bergreen of
Eugene, Oregon

(photo courtesy of The Stitchin' Post)

Did you know that the Stitchin' Post quilt shop in Sisters, Oregon is probably the oldest quilt shop in the US still in the original owner's hands? That's quite a feat.

In my last post, I promised to tell you about some of the people I met during my first ever visit to the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show. Wow! What a show! Founded by Jean Wells Keenan in 1975, this year's show celebrated their 35th anniversary.

While browsing at the Stitchin' Post, I ran into a very colorful Barbara Bergreen. She was not someone one could easily ignore!

photo by Karen Alexander
I simply had to stop her and ask if I might take a picture. l just couldn't pass up the opportunity. I'm glad I did. The chance meeting led me to a very special story.

One thing led to another and soon I learned of a wonderful family tradition that the women in her family started ten years ago.

But I am going to let Barbara tell the story in her own words. I have posted it below with her permission.

(all family photos are from Barbara Bergreen)

Stitched Together in More Ways Than One
Barbara's Story

We began coming to the Sisters Quilt Show shortly after I had been diagnosed with a serious autoimmune illness. It became very important to me that the immediate women in my family spend some uninterrupted time together, time when we weren't preparing Thanksgiving dinner, serving wedding cake, or offering a hug at a memorial service.

Our first four-day visit to Sisters and the Quilt Show included my mother and her identical twin, then 83 years old, my sister and her daughter and granddaughter, all from Portland, and my two daughters, one from Seattle and the other from Portland (I'm from Eugene).

That was ten years ago. Since then we have added my daughter-in-law from Los Angeles, my five granddaughters, my sister-in-law and her daughter-in-law from Seattle, and we've opened up the invitation to the newest young men in the family: two grandsons and three grand nephews. The baby population is booming!

We were overwhelmed by our first visit to the Sisters Quilt Show. The town was buzzing with electricity at 7 AM, and only got busier as the day progressed.

(All firemen photos courtesy of Valori Wells. Click here.)

We loved watching the fire fighters hanging quilts up on the highest gables, ladder trucks supporting them.

The enthusiasm from the business community was contagious. And we learned you could put your lunch on blankets in the city park, and return at noon to find nothing had been disturbed. Year after year we have returned to the same corner of the park, greeting familiar faces similarly contented.

With such a wonderful first experience we chose to become involved, and volunteered to hang quilts.
Katia and Heidi

The younger women climbed the ladders, the baby carriages did double duty and housed babies, doughnuts, and coffee, and the more "mature" in our group supervised the alignment of each and every quilt.

Our four-day visits have now lengthened to a week.

Pia and Aunt Rachel

This year my oldest granddaughter, Pia (age nine), said she was going to move from standing in line for doughnuts (with the little kids) to actually climbing the ladder with clothespins and quilts, and she did an amazing job.

We also requested to be our own "team leaders". It took us two and a half hours to hang 37 quilts, but we were thrilled to be part of the joy each quilter felt when they sent their work to the show.

Cathy and Heidi in action!
As we were nearing the end of our job that morning,

a woman approached me and said she had submitted a quilt and hadn't been able to find it. She said it was in our group. I checked my records and, sure enough, hers was going to be the last quilt hung. She said she was so excited. She was from North Carolina and she wanted to take pictures of us hanging the quilt because she represented a group of women who had worked on it. Fifteen minutes later, she was excitedly photographing a proud moment.

The Sisters Quilt Show has become one of the special memories in our family. For several years we spent part of our week piecing together a baby quilt for the next new member of our family. (But now so many babies have arrived we've realized that pins and scissors have become a hazard!) There are five little girls who think we've done this every year of our lives...and for them, it is true.

The great grandmother and great grandaunt no longer attend, although they continue on in good health.

My sister (Karla Skowhede) and I (left) are now the grandmas. And every year we look forward to a gathering of sisters, half-sisters, stepsisters, twin sisters, sisters-in-law, and many baby boys.

We have observed that our family is very like a quilt with complementary and contrasting personalities who, for one relaxing and rewarding week in summer, come together in a beautifully cohesive pattern. Building stronger ties, embellished with the individual story of each of our lives.

                             ~ Barbara Bergreen

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Sisters Chapter II

This was my FIRST year and what an  experience it was! It was not only SOQS's 35th anniversary year, but Jean Wells Keenan, its founder, was inducted into The Quilters Hall of Fame one week later! (More on that story in another post.)

Jean is an amazing woman. This many of you already know! My first article about Jean Wells Keenan was posted on the TQHF blog in January. I am writing more about Jean and the Sisters event in a second article for the Quilters Hall of Fame blog to be posted soon.

Here Jean introduces quilt makers at the picnic.

As Past President of The Quilters Hall of Fame (but now living within a day's drive of Sisters), I had the great privilege of being asked by the Sister's Executive Director Anne Richardson to say a few words about The Quilters Hall of Fame and Jean's impending induction.

This "salute" took place at the annual Friday night picnic and was planned as a surprise to Jean. Only Jean's good friend Alex Anderson, who was to conduct the program that night along with Ricky Tims, was brought in on the secret ahead of time.

One of Jean's great attributes is how faithful she is in crediting the many volunteers that make the Sisters' event possible and how generously she promotes other worthy causes in the quilt world.

Launch of the Oregon Quilt Project

This year Jean invited the Oregon Quilt Project to offically launch its efforts during the 35th anniversary event in Sisters.

This was a great boost for Oregon quilters because it assured the project of getting wide coverage from the get-go. 

But more about the Oregon Quilt Project in another post. Right now I want to tell you about an amazing woman I met while in Sisters.

Meeting other quilters and quilt lovers is perhaps one of the greatest pleasures being a quilter can bring.

In my next post about my Sisters visit, I'll tell you the story of Barbara Bergreen and the annual trek of the females in her family to Sisters. Or better yet, I'll let Barbara tell the story in her own words!

Stay tuned!

Karen in the Islands.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Stories Out of Sisters — Chapter #1

How many of you have ever visited Sisters, Oregon?

Being a born and bred East Coast girl and not terribly familiar with West Coast geography, I did not know that the town was named after three near-by mountains called the Three Sisters until after I arrived. Duh....

How many of you have visited Sisters during the annual Sister Outdoors Quilt Show?  If so, you are probably familiar with its Wish Upon A Card fund raiser. This is the one I won at the Silent Auction. I zeroed in on it because I thought it was the perfect card to document this year's historic 35th anniversary celebration and Jean Wells Keenen's impending induction into The Quilters Hall of Fame.

(Original design by Lou Shafer of Philomath, Oregon.)

I didn't realize until several weeks after I returned home and was once again pouring thru my photos that I had actually met the postcard's maker in the Teachers Tent and had chatted with her at length and taken photos of she and her sister (Jan Bressler) sitting there quilting! Lou and Jan are the owners of JanniLou Creations in Philomath, Oregon. Click here to visit their shop via the web.

Here is something really neat! They offer a place to have a private quilt retreat right over their quilt shop! Here is the info from their website:

JanniLou is pleased to provide The Great Philomath Quilters' Escape!  You and your friends can now rent a get-away so you can quilt 'til you wilt.  A fully-furnished apartment above the shop is available for your own special retreat.  With two sleeping rooms, a fully-equipped kitchen and space for you to sew, this is a fantastic way for your group of special friends to spend some time stitching together!  You bring your machines, projects, and food (or you can opt to eat out!)  We provide linens, tables, chairs, ironing boards, and irons.  Cost is $30.00 per night per person for groups of four or more.  For fewer than four, the cost is $45.00 per night per person.

Their shop is south of Salem and west of Corvalis on Rt. 20. You can visit or contact JanniLou Creations at: 1243 Main, P.O. Box 333, Philomath, OR 97370-0333
(541) 929-3795     fax: (541)929-3597  toll-free order line: (877) 219-3555

Open: Monday, Wednesday, Friday
10:00 to 5:30
Tuesday and Thursday
10:00 to 8:00
9:30 to 5:30

More about my other experiences in Sisters in the next couple of posts!

Lopez Island experiences its annual Studio Tour this weekend each year. Talk about inspiration!!  I've got to go check some of them out!

Have a wonderful holiday weekend!

Karen in the Islands

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Black Backgound Applique

ADDENDUM to my previous Uzbek Suzani post about black background applique quilts.

Sue Reich's new book World War II Quilts shows a news clipping from January 14, 1934 about an applique quilt that Quilters Hall of Fame Honoree Ruth E. Finley designed, made and gave to Eleanor Roosevelt. This quilt has a black background with a medallion appliqued center.

I was contacted by several quilt history friends about "black background applique quilts" and was reminded that Patricia Campbell's quilt JACOBEAN ARBOR appeared on the cover of American Quilter Summer 1990, Vol. VI, No. 2.

Pat is known for her beautiful applique quilts though she does not make them all with black backgrounds by any stretch of the imagination. However, JACOBEAN ARBOR which did have a black background certainly did catch a lot of people's attention in 1990.

(Velvet Suzani above)

Also, A Treasury of Mennonite Quilts by Rachel & Kenneth Pellman has a Whig Rose applique quilt on p. 61 that is on a dark navy blue background. It is dated ca1870.

Affairs of the Heart by Aie Rossmann was published in 2004 and is a quilt with 36 appliquéd blocks on a black background. See a review of her book here.

I found another quilter who enjoys dark background applique—Kathy Delaney.
I asked her what had inspired her to do dark background applique. I am going to insert some images of her quilts that she sent me to illustrate her work in her response:

I have often stitched my appliqué to black, indigo, and burgundy backgrounds.  I find it rather boring to work on light backgrounds although I have done plenty.

Sometimes the "era" I'm working in requires it.  But if I'm working contemporary, I prefer a dark background. My very first appliqué quilt (published in BASKETS AND BLOOMS: GEMS OF
EVERLASTING SUMMER by Emily Senuta, published in 1998 by AQS) was done on
a black background.

I don't know what compelled me except I love dramatic quilts and contrast is more important to me than color.

I wish I could tell you I was emulating another quilter, but I really don't think I was.  I just like the look of working on the dark background.  When I began it was unique and unexpected.  I like hearing someone say to me, "I never would have thought to use that fabric!"  So I regularly try the

Delaney wrote: The Prairie Flower Journal and Red Hot Women of Design are patterns by Barbara Brackman and appear in a couple of her books - Prairie Flowers and Women of Design (Prairie Flower Journal even graces the cover of her book).  Imperial Garden is my first appliqué - the pattern from Emily Senuta I mentioned earlier - and Pots de Fleurs is my original design and the subject of my latest book (#7) Pots de Fleurs: A Garden of Appliqué Techniques.

I decided to go thru all my back issues of Quilters Newsletter to see when the first one appears in their pages.

I'll keep you posted.


PS: I have always been partial to applique. Betty Ekern Suiter may not be known specifically for her black background applique, but her applique work is exquisit nevertheless. Check it out here.

July 2011 Update: Here is another link to another gorgeous contemporary black background quilt.

After discovering a website selling Uzbek textiles in August 2010, I wrote a bit about their similarity to American quilts.  But it was the black background textiles that rang a bell.

Check my current update concerning this type of quilt in the USA.