Scrap Bag: Mark Lipinski recovering, Christmas at a quilt museum, international fabrics, and more | Inside Quilters Newsletter

It’s the holiday season but the world of quilting continues apace, and our scrap bag of news and interesting tidbits doth overflow.


Award-winning quilt artist and all-around groovy person Victoria Findlay Wolfe fills many roles: author, teacher, designer, as well as wife and mother. She spoke about the intersection of her creative life and her home life, specifically as mother to her now-teenage daughter, as part of the Motherhood by Design series of interviews on the Fuller By Design blog.


The Los Angeles Times published a wonderful feature article on Hue Nguyen, who is a designer for Hoffman Fabrics. Nguyen fled Saigon in 1975 with his wife and young son and eventually ended up in Southern California, where he soon found work at Hoffman. Now 74 and still working as well as creating oil paintings on the side to raise money for Smile Train , he is credited with contributing to the “authentic Hoffman look.” I know certain reality TV families and tabloid shows put out a certain idea of what it’s like to live in Los Angeles, but having grown up there in the turbulent 1970s and ’80s hearing classmates speaking Vietnamese, Cambodian, Lao, Tagalog, Korean, Chinese, not to mention Spanish spoken with any number of inflections, Nguyen’s story represents the authentic L.A. experience — and American success story — to me.


Mark Lipinski (you’re not going to make me explain who Mark Lipinski is, are you?) has been very, very ill lately, and was just released from the hospital after more than two months of tests and treatments trying to find the cause. He wrote about the experience and the lessons he learned on his blog with his trademark sense of humor mixed with more than a dash of realism.


At the end of World War II the British Government offered to bring 1000 orphaned child survivors of the Nazi concentration camps to the U.K. Only 732 survivors were found, and – although 80 of them were girls – they became known collectively as ‘The Boys’. In the U.K. the children rebuilt their lives as part of this group. To mark the 70th anniversary of their liberation their children, ‘The Boys’ and their families have created memory quilts to remember their stories. An exhibition of these quilts has just opened at London’s Jewish Museum. You can listen to the story via the BBC World Service.


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I am sharing this Design a Wig webpage from the Victoria & Albert Museum here only because it reminds me of one of my favorite fabric collections from the past few years, Parisville by Tula Pink; had I known at the time how desirable and hard-to-find the wig print would become I would have bought a few more yards.

(And Tula fans, don’t forget about the video series Tula did for, available now for all your holiday binge-watching needs!)


Appomattox, Virginia, and Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire, England, are sister cities bound by a sobering historical parallel — both towns were the sites of the final battles in their countries’ respective civil wars. The final battle of the U.S. Civil War was fought in Appomattox in 1865, while the final battle of the 1st English Civil War happened in Stow more than 200 years earlier, in 1646. To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the U.S. Civil War, a quilt project was unveiled over the summer at the biennial Stow Cotswold Festival, which had adopted a U.S. theme and was held on the 4th of July. The small hexagon quilt, which was made with broad community support, will be on display in the quaint English town (seriously — if you don’t know what the Cotswolds look like, you need to see this) through January before it is sent on to Virginia.


Seattle-based quilt artist Patricia Belyea was commissioned by the parents of a young man who was murdered a few years ago to make a memory quilt out of his clothes. She wrote movingly about visiting his old room, sorting through his clothes with his mother, and designing a beautiful, one-of-a-kind work of art she named XXL Heart to honor his memory in time for the 7th anniversary of his death. She ends her blog post by describing how she dealt with the scraps at the request of the young man’s mother in a way that offered symbolic closure on an emotional project.


The Lancaster Eagle-Gazette in Ohio profiled Debra Lunn and Michael Mrowka, the designing couple behind Lunn Fabrics and Artisan Batiks, distributed by Robert Kaufman Fabrics. Batiks are truly hand-made textiles, as they are all printed and colored by hand, making them highly labor intensive. In this article Mrowka talks about how and why their fabrics are produced in Indonesia.


Looking for some fabric that will set your next quilt apart from everyone else’s? If you haven’t heard of Vlisco fabrics from the Netherlands, are you in for a treat. Their prints, sometimes referred to as “wax hollandais,” are largely designed and produced for the vibrant garments worn by women in West and Central Africa. I learned about them from a recent blog post by Studio 360 assistant producer Khrista Rypl, in which she offers close-up photos of some amazing motifs and the meanings behind them, such as desk fans, chickens and roosters, iPods, swallows and more.


The San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles is closed during Christmas week, and included this fun riff on “A Visit from St. Nicholas” in their e-newsletter last week; I’m trusting they won’t mind that I’m sharing it here.

‘Twas the Week Before Vacation
Based on the poem ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas (or a Visit by St. Nicholas)
written by Clemont Clarke Moore

‘Twas the week before Christmas, when all through the Museum,
the staff were running like the Warriors at the Collosseum.

The quilts were hung on the walls with care in hopes that the
people would soon be there.

The staff were nestled all snug at their desks,
while visions of vacation danced in their heads.

With Board meetings finished and I at my desk
had just settled down to clean up my paper mess.

When out on the street, there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from desk, to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash
Tore open the blinds and almost got whiplash.

 The sun beaming down on the pavement below
gave the lustre of midday objects a glow.

When what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a school tour with children bringing good cheer.

With a teacher so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be Mr. Nick.

More rapid than eagles, his courses they came,
he whistled and shouted and called them by name:

Now Dasher, Now Dancer
Now Prancer and Vixen.
On Comet! On, Cupid!
On, Donner and Blitzen!

Now I know I had heard these names before
perhaps in some poem or on a story board.

And then I heard them come through the door
laughing and talking ready to explore.

 Their eyes – how they twinkled! Their dimples how merry!
Their cheeks were like roses, their noses like cherries.
I laughed when I saw them, in spite of myself.

Mr. Nick winked his eye and a twist of his head
soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

They spoke not a word but went straight to the quilts
and as the docent spoke their heads began to tilt.

They learned about shape, they learned about pattern
they saw a quilt with the planet Saturn.

 After the tour they went through the store.
Then Mr. Nick gave them a whistle and away they all flew like the down of a thistle.

But I heard him exclaim as they walked out of sight
Happy Holidays to all and to all a good night!

Happy Holidays from the Board of Directors and the Staff of
The San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles.


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