Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Big Bad Wolf Revisited

Hey Dude, give me five. Where's the happen'n?

The clipping above is from the newspaper series that Ruby McKim wrote and syndicated in the 1930s.  Ruby's granddaughter's are re-issuing all of Ruby's patterns. Why not take a minute to visit the McKim's Studio (which they have resurrected as a website in the digital age) and read what they have added to our knowledge and understanding of Ruby's business and artistic history.

New designers keep appearing in every decade---or less! It's what keeps our quilt world exciting visually!

Read more about the illustrator Steven Guarnaccia here and in other links below.

I just discovered a new illustrated version of The Three Little Pigs storybook to go along with my previous post on the McKim Big Bad Wolf quilts. This newly illustrated version  especially appeals to me because the house The Three Little Pigs "grew up in" looks rather like the Gamble House in Pasadena, California!

The Three Little Pigs grew up in an Arts & Crafts designed home!

The "new" home of The Three Little Pigs is designed by Steven Guarnaccia. You can see one of his illustrations from the book by clicking here.

Take a quick peek at the Gamble House by clicking on this YouTube link. Also visit the Gamble House website here to see details of the interior of this gorgeous house. If you ever get to Pasadena, you must visit this house and the near-by neighborhood.

The Gamble House was built by the Greene & Greene Brothers in 1908 and just happened to be right around the corner from where our first two children were born. In fact, since my children were born at home, they themselves were born in a Greene & Greene house! Yes, we were renting an above-ground basement apartment 1968-1972 in the house the two brothers built for their sister. It was as a result of this experience that I fell in love with the Arts & Crafts Movement.

The story of the struggle to preserve these homes...and even the smaller "bungalow" Arts & Crafts homes in Pasadena.....took a huge effort on many people's part. And, as always when it comes to restricting what one can do on privately owned property, the regulations that were eventually passed were not welcomed by all. But what a joy to know the beauty of the bungalows as well as the mansions have been preserved.

Here is an interview of Randall L. Makinson, a USC architecture alumnus, who bought the Greene & Greene home next to the one we were living in at the time. The owner of our house introduced me to him and thus I was able to tour his house before and after he did his restoration. I was a very young 27 year old at the time.

What a joy it was to be exposed to the beauty of those old Greene & Greene homes at such an early age and to be able to visit in person so many of these early 20th century Craftsman homes.....just because I became an "adopted daughter" to our landlady, the wonderful Marie Duffy, teacher for many years in the Special Education program of the Pasadena School system. Marie had three sons but no daughter of her own and loved sharing her passion for these homes with me. I had grown up with parents who had taught us to love and respect well crafted arts of any form so it was a perfect fit.

It was sheer luck that we heard about Marie's above-ground basement apartment from friends of our. The rent was a mere $75 a month (we had been paying $125 elsewhere) and it was within two blocks of the corner of South Orange Boulevard and Colorado Boulevard, where the annual Tournament of Roses Parade struts its stuff each year!

Check out Steven Guarnaccia's book Goldilocks and the Three Bears as well. The classic Modern furniture and designs and the clothing the characters are wearing are fabulous!  Beats any version of these classic children's books I have ever seen. Why not expose children to great design from the get-go!

Wouldn't this make a cool child's quilt?!!

A Guarnaccia designed quilt would be a far cry from 
this 1930s version in my collection! But every 
design age has its pluses and minuses.

Do you have favorite children's illustrators whose books you are tempted by today?

Love to hear from my readers, so take a moment to leave a note!


PS: See more Big Bad Wolf quilts by clicking here.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Ruby McKim's Big Bad Wolf

I just heard from the author of the story I posted in May 2009.  I was so excited to finally learn who actually wrote this story!  I  originally found the article in my mother-in-law's file after she passed away in 1999. It had appeared in a 1997 North Carolina guild newsletter but the clipping didn't contain the name of the author.

Now I know it was Kathy Smith Harris! You can read Kathy's story about how she came to write this story on her own blog

Okay, now for a little quilt show. 
A recent acquisition. It is my 3rd in this pattern. 

One of my favorite McKim crib quilt patterns is The Three Little Pigs, though I prefer to call it The Big Bad Wolf. I guess I just think a wolf is more exciting than a pig so why not give the wolf some air time? (Click here to read my in-depth blog article about Ruby McKim.)

The embroidery work on this Big Bad Wolf quilt is particularly delightful. I am constantly amazed at the variety found in this pattern, which of itself seems so straight forward.

A bit of trivia about this quilt. I counted today----there are 74 different fabrics in the circles in outer border; 52 different fabrics in next border; 30 different fabrics in the blocks. Not one fabric is repeated in the circles and only the fabric in the houses is repeated within a block!

Here are more Big Bad Wolf quilts in my files.  As far as I can recall, all of these came from eBay at one time or another.  If you recognize one as yours, please contact me and let me know.

The above version was made by Beryl Quay in Grand Rapids, Michigan around 1939 for her nephew, John Davis. Beryl was known for her hand quilting and often hand quilted tops for others who simply enjoyed making the tops. However, she tied this quilt with embroidery floss rather than quilt it. The photo and story was shared with me by Bobbie Davis, John's wife, who is also a quilter.

AQSG member, Rosie Werner, owner. Rosie  is an independent quilt historian 
who specializes in identifying 20th Century quilt designs that were sold as quilt kits. For more information about her Quilt Kit ID subscription service
visit her website here

Another version  of this quilt. The quilt above is being shared with permission from the blog Garden of Daisies. Please click here to see this quilt on her blog. Also check out her quilts, paper dolls and vintage linens.

Below are two photos of this same Three Little Pigs quilt in the collection of the New England Quilt Museum in Lowell, Massachusetts.   Their quilt is a bit different from the others I have shared with you.  The top is “wholecloth” cotton muslin with cotton print circles appliqued on.  The back is silk and there is a thin blanket or flannel for filler.  There  is no quilting but the applique stitches of the circles go through to the backing.  There is an embroidered inscription on the back: Christmas, 1935 

Used with permission from the New England Quilt Museum

The maker was Florence Elizabeth Heisler Tate of Mechanicsberg, PA, the 62 year old wife of an Episcopal minister.  She made this crib quilt for her granddaughter and the granddaughter eventually donated it to NEQM.

This delightful version of McKim’s the Three Pigs/Big Bad Wolf crib quilt will be on display in NEQM’s next exhibit called "Great Quilts, Great Stories", which runs from Oct.18 through Dec. 29, 2012. Thank you to Laura Lane, the acting curator of NEQM, for bringing this quilt to my attention and for granting permission to share the photos with you.

Just who is the Big Bad Wolf?

Just put him in a Zoot Suit and you've got Killer Joe. 
To hear Manhattan Transfer singing, click here Killer Joe.

or here for Benny Golson playing it.

PS: See my next blog post for more about The Three Little Pigs and that wolf guy!

Click here or here to see the post I wrote for The Quilters Hall of Fame about 
Ruby Short McKim. Ruby is one of their Inductees.

Do you like quilt history? Is there a particular type of quilt you would like to hear more about? I always enjoy hearing from readers!


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Quilts Bring Sunshine into My Life

I now have all my crib and doll quilts moved into my new quilt research studio. Oh, it has been so much fun going thru them all as I move them.

The first of my McKim Three Little Pigs crib quilts.

"Sunbonnet Lassies" based on a Marie Webster pattern.

Only time I have ever seen the Duckling quilt (top left).

The pattern for the Duckling quilt first appeared in Farmer’s Wife 1934.
Wonder if it was made into a Kit quilt later? 

Patriotic Overall Bill peeking thru in the pile.

Have never seen this Dancing Couple pattern before.

Sort, sort and re-sort. So much fun!

I have to wear an industrial strength mask now as I work with the quilts due to my allergies. Gary says I look like I am from outer space. Don't like the imprint it leaves on my face but it sure beats stirring up my sinuses. Guess I'll have to get Gary to take a photo.

You can see a Ruby McKim Big Bad Wolf & Three Little Pigs crib quilt in that first photo. I have recently acquired another and will show it in the next blog post.

I am so very blessed to be doing what I love -- researching, writing and lecturing about quilt history! 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Jean Wells Keenen visits Lopez-II

As I was sharing with you in my last postI have admired Jean Wells Keenan's work for years. Finally, an opportunity to take a class without my having to drive that long distance from northwest Washington to Sisters, Oregon. Our small island quilt shop brought her to Lopez!

This is Part II about the class that just took place here in Lopez island June 2nd and 3rd.  I'll post names of the participants under the corresponding photo once I get my hands on a class list.


They are all about us. Not only does Jean tear pages and images from magazines, she takes a lot of her own photos and zeroes in on potential design images found within.

Jean encouraged us to keep a file folder of inspirational photos and to then sketch certain elements that intrigued us into our own sketch books.

above - selection from Jean's inspiration file 

Another Class Challenge

Another limitation we had with the fabric Jean gave us in class: we were supposed to try to get nine blocks out of those six 5"x44" strips. This meant you had to think ahead and plan a little. An interesting challenge....don't know if I am going to make it. This is all I have left and I've made only FIVE blocks so far!!

Maybe I made by first four blocks too big?  Well, nothing wrong with really small blocks! It will just make the final layout more challengeing, right?

GOOD Teachers Know How to Encourage while Critiquing

Another wonderful part of taking a class is what you learn as the instructor goes around the room discussing student's work in progress with each student, one at a time.

We love to tease heather about her love of purple!

(above) Debby discusses the possible choices for background fabric for her blocks
and how each effects the over-all color impression of the individual blocks as well as the whole piece.

Anne Dawson (below), our co-organizer and host for the weekend workshop, explains her color choices and responses to the challenges of the study blocks.

Edi Blomberg (below) discusses why she feels black will work better than a dark navy as her background piece.

Mary takes a good look at the possibility of adding black.

Pat, my table-mate. I showed you some close-ups of her blocks in my first post.

(above) Jean asks Karen Alexander a question about her process.

I rather feel like I am learning to sew all over again. It has been so long since I used my machine. Can't quite get those seams to press flat yet!

We are so fortunate to have the use of the restored one room school house at Port Stanley on Lopez.

Discussing Finishing Details

One of Jean's more recent pieces. 
The machine quilting is fascinating.

Some of Jeans' Sample Pieces

As I photographed some of the unfinished samples Jean brought, I didn't want to take anyone away from their work by asking them to hold the pieces up. So I just layered them one on top of the other since there was very little space left to spread anything out.  When I downloaded the photos later and saw what the overlaying had "created", I was intrigued.

The first overlay.

The 2nd overlay.

The 3rd overlay.

Someone saw me struggling to photograph this one and offered to hold it up. I think it is Nancy Caleshu.

The public began to show up about 2 pm to see our work in progress. Barbara Gonce (above) chats with Jean Wells.

My work in progress...

I think this is my favorite block of those I have made so far.

A Potpourri of Jean's work follows

Starting my own idea and sketch book

Below are examples from my own file folder. 

Now that I have taken Jean's class, I feel I feel I have a better handle on what I could do with the one below.

So here is my preliminary sketch...