Friday, April 24, 2009

Another Piece of EQ History

The Gathering 2008 - Enchanted Quilters of Lopez Island host first inter-island quilt gathering. (More details and photos in a future blog post! Tease, tease.)

(Click on the photo to enlarge. If someone could help me ID all the non-Lopezians in the above photo, I would really appreciate the help.)

For those of you new to blogging, if text within a blog is both highlighted and underlined, it means it is a live link to another site that fills in the story the blogger is telling. The first such example is the Lopez Historical Society link below. Click on it and it will take you to the LIHS website. Do visit it. They have recently redesigned it!

Digging into the History of Quilting on Lopez Island

It is such fun to comb through old files! Not only do I have the EQ guild history albums to glean from; I am also able to explore the files of the Lopez Island Historical Society for information about the history of quilting on Lopez Island.

The community here on Lopez is most fortunate to have such an amazing historical society and museum for a community of only about 2,500 fulllltime residents — as well as blessed to have such a dedicated group of volunteers to oversee its museum!

Here are a few articles I came across that give us a more substantive history of our quilt group as well as that wonderful resource we had here on Lopez for so many years -- The Enchanted Needle needlework shop, which would eventually become known to many simply and affectionately as "the quilt shop".

The first article, announcing the creation of The Enchanted Needle needlework shop, is dated October 26, 1976, and appeared in the Island Record.

(Most images will open into a larger format if you click on them. This will enable you to read the article in full or to see the individuals in the group photos more closely.)

This next article dated Sept 29, 1982 announces the creation of the Lopez Needlearts Guild, the pre-cursor to the Enchanted Quilters group? (I am not certain that the later quilt group has ever formally adopted the word "guild" to describe itself.) I need to consult a couple of the founders who are still with us about this particular aspect of the history.

Another article in the file dated May 23, 1984, from The Island's Sounder announces that Millie and Tammy Cown, mother-in-law/daughter-in-law team, are opening a second Enchanted Needle shop in Friday Harbor.

On March 6, 1985, the San Juan Journal ran the following short blurb with the header Enchanted Needle gains nataional exposure.

Another chapter in quilting history on Lopez began when Millie and Tammy Cowan sold the shop to Dawn Lease in July 1988 and the focus of the shop shifted more and more to quilting, though never entirely giving up the other needle arts. Knitting was probably the 2nd most popular form of needlework that the shop continued to support.

We were all extremely sad to see it close in the fall of 2005 when Dawn was ready to retire and a new buyer could not be found. Thank you, Dawn, for all those years of making classes and quilting fabric available! Thank you Millie and Tammy for creating the shop in the first place! The photo of the quilt shop (above right) was taken in 2005, the year the shop closed.

Here is another early photo of the Enchanted Quilters of Lopez and Shaw. This was taken on the deck of Wini and Loren Alexander's home here on Lopez in 1986 just two years after EQ got its formal start.

L-R: Millie Cowan, co-owner of the Enchanted Needle shop, Wini Alexander (my MIL and the one who inspired me to launch myself into this amazing journey I have been on since I started studying quilt history in 1981), Kathryn Powell, Sue Kline, Rosemary Beagley, Virginia Avery (guest teacher from Port Chester, New York), Francis Currier, Jerry Currier, Doug Cowan. Jinny Avery went on to be inducted into The Quilters Hall of Fame in July 2006.

Imagine my great surprise when I found the group photo (above) among my mother-in-law's files in 2005. Wini probably wrote to me about Jinny's visit to Lopez in 1986 but I had forgotten all about it. That is, until I stumbled across the photo at the same time I started corresponding with Jinny in the late fall of 2005 as we started making plans for her induction into the hall of fame in Indiana. I had never met Jinny in person up to that time.

I feel I owe a great deal of the credit to Wini for all the many opportunities I have had in the quilt world because it was she who introduced me to quilting. And from that first quilt she made in 1976 for our eldest daughter out of Sarah's childhood art work, I had my eyes opened to the extraordinary power of quilts as vehicles of family and women's history.

Karen Alexander presents Jinny Avery with her official medal as the 36th Honoree of The Quilters Hall of Fame.

Keep those needles flying to keep those grandchildren, friends, husbands and victims of war and natural disasters warm! Oh yes, and so that quilt historians will always have new material to study, too!

Karen Alexander
Historian for Enchanted Quilters of Lopez Island

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Art of Fabric Collage Workshop Report

Today's workshop teacher - Wendy Ward of Carmel Valley, California

Twenty EQ members had color and fabric flying today in the bright sunny community room of Grace Episcopal church. Excitement was palpable as we set up our stations and delightedly spread out our seemingly endless rainbows of fabric.

Meanwhile, teacher Wendy Ward arrived from California on the 9:25 a.m. ferry and was quickly whisked to the village by Mom -- Barbara Gonce. Wendy was here to visit Barb and to lead a workshop exploring the art of fabric collage and to show us examples of her own recent creative exploration in perspective. Wendy, a scientist by profession, working part-time at Monterey Bay Aquarium and part-time at Back Porch Fabrics in Pacific Grove, was an excellent teacher.

The by-word of the day was to explore and "play" –– beyond one's own comfort zones.

Each quilter had pre-purchased Susan Carolson's book Free Style Quilts: A "No Rules" Approach and had dug thru her stash for days, looking for appropriate fabrics for our own project as well as fabrics to share.

Some had even met ahead of time to "interview" fabrics from one another's stashes.

To this reporter the selection and variety students had to "play" with and "borrow" at today's workshop was astounding.

(below) Barbara Carver and Carolyn Baldwin contemplate and concentrate.

In this writer's opinion it was even more astounding to see how different each project turned out to be, even though we were all creating basically the same large fish.

Take a look for yourself.

Darlene Demetrick is just getting started. Unfortunately, I didn't get finished snapshots at the end of the class of all the projects but I'll get photos of all eventually and put them on the blog. Darlene had completed hers by the end of the day, ready for the next step of attaching it to the background fabric.

Laurie Latta told us hers turned out to be a very feminine FEMALE fish!

Anne Dawson's was a bold daring fish ready for a Caribbean adventure!

Hopefully we'll eventually be able to have he finished product on display somewhere here on Lopez before the year is out.

This day's post will have to be completed tomorrow. I'm ready to crash! It's 12:32 a.m. and I am having too much fun for so late at night!

Karen Alexander
Historian for Enchanted Quilters of Lopez Island

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Founding of Enchanted Quilters

Although there was talk of forming a quilt group as early as 1981 in association with the Enchanted Needle, a fabric and needlework shop founded by Millie and Tammy Cowan in 1976, it wasn't until 1984 that a formal group coalesced. EQ was begun by members of the Senior Center for the express purpose of making a raffle quilt to help the Lopez Seniors earn money to establish a new meeting place.

The group successfully raised $2,000 and decided to continue meeting. Those first members were (as seen in photo in the column to your left): Marge Gradl, Gladys Alexander, Francis Currier (in back), Bertha Kurutz, Wini Alexander, Edith Schwendeman, (Harold Schendeman in back), Charlotte Lamoureaux, Bernadette Butler and Ernestine Moffitt. Millie Gilllespie and Millie Cowan were among the first members also but are not shown in this photo.

Millie Cowan was the owner and founder of the Enchanted Needle. The group chose the name Enchanted Quilters because of their great appreciation for Millie's shop. See more history about the founding of Millie's shop in a later post.

Enchanted Quilters Host Inter-Island Gathering

There is nothing like a quilt gathering for good food, good fun and beautiful artwork! Rinky-Dink Doll dropped by for a visit too. She is one of quilt artist Barbara Groves' many playful explorations.

Saturday March 28 (2009) was the 2nd inter-island gathering hosted by Enchanted Quilters of Lopez Island. Our speaker, Barbara Groves of LaConner, WA, wowed us all with a retrospective of her many years wielding a threaded needle.

The talented Barbara Groves who also comes with a great sense of humor!

Title: With Apologies to Picasso: Blue Woman on a Red Day with Cats

Title: Life is Not All Black and White

(Please note as you view these photos: the quilts hanging on the wall are not made by Barbara Groves but rather by members of Enchanted Quilters.)

Title: Tipsy Houses & Staggering Stars (class sample)

One can definitely see the influence of Barbara's previous artistic training...painting. Her color sense is intuitive and powerful. In addition to sharing her own personal quilts, Barbara told us stories about some of the "round robin" quilt groups she has participated in and shared some of those quilts also, plus two of the dolls the group has made. What a challenge –– to make a doll in a round-robin!  

"Esther' was created by a group of five fiber artists.

Karen Alexander
Historian for Enchanted Quilters of Lopez Island

PS: You can read more of my quilt research by clicking here.