Bill Volckening!

A few weeks ago Portland quilter and quilt collector Bill Volckening (wonkyworld) invited me to come and see his quilt collection, and as it happened my friend Tennessee quilter Mary Keasler (Fiberliscious) was going to be in town this week, so I asked Bill if I could bring Mary along.  Wednesday was the day, and after a nice catch-up lunch with Mary, we headed out to Bill’s house.  Here’s Bill with his own first BIG quilt…

Bill and his quilt

But this came later in our visit…first things first.  First I knew Bill’s blog, then I heard him speak at the Sisters quilt show about collecting, and then I chatted with him about the whereabouts of quilter Andrea Balosky…and attended shows locally that he curated.  I grew to appreciate his eye and his “quilt-sense.”  When he invited us to come he wondered if we wanted to see old quilts or new quilts?  Mary said YES.  Bill thoughtfully prepared a whole range of things for us to look at.  There were many, I didn’t have note taking materials, and if you read his blog he has blogged about many of the things we saw–go take a look–so this post is just what we experienced, a visual feast.  He started with the oldest things first…(and didn’t know that at the moment I’m particularly interested in “white work” due to a coming project of my own) in this case a late 1700-s early 1800’s candlewick in beautiful shape and fascinating front and back…

white one

white one back

and an equally old trapunto quilt…


for which he found a second nearly identical quilt from the same family of quilters…

trapunto 2

My camera couldn’t capture how gorgeous and intricate these things are, but they took our breath away.

Then a whole cloth quilt (another current interest for me) from an absolutely smashing blue and white resist-dyed fabric…same time period…

blue and white 1

blue and white two

followed by the early cut-work crib quilt where each block is cut slightly differently…maybe a child’s practice piece?

cut work crib quilt

Bill began collecting New York Beauty pattern quilts (and curated a beautiful show of the earliest ones at the Benton County Historical Society a few years ago) and here’s one that came from Chattanooga, where Mary is from…

Tennessee NY beauty

Tenn. detailTenn detail 2

and the quilts just kept coming…


lowers detail

pink:blue crown

NY beauty and Mary


turquoise quilting

we asked about storage…usually in acid-free boxes but these are about to be photographed for a publication…


rocky road 1

RR detail

blue and white crown

…and because we were speaking of the work of Andrea Balosky (now living in India) he showed us three of her quilts which are witty and beautiful with her amazing color sense and her  love of small and intricate pieces…

Andrea 23

Andrea 1

Andrea 3

PHEW!  Bill gave us a chocolate for a little sugar hit before we went on, and then showed us a few from his new growing collection of 1970’s quilts.  I’ve been a little reluctant about these, but I totally see the point now…they have a lively spontaneity that is wonderful.  It isn’t about workmanship, it’s about wit and color and composition and taking an old art form to a different place…

US tied

(Mary is from Tennessee…)

Tennessee for Mary


double wedding ring



…and how about this one that immediately suggested to Mary its Amish roots…


and here is Bill’s own first quilt for which he won a prize in a “men’s quilt show”…a small and select group, but growing…

Bill's first quilt




  1. Oh my, my, my. This makes me want to pull out the sewing machine and get started on a new quilt. I’m a quilter too and I have done many New York Beauty block patterns. It is by far my favorite. Thanks so much for sharing.

  2. WOWZER! bill is a quilt master…a hoarder of treasures. what a show of quilts. thanks so much for taking those pictures and posting them in your blog. the white quilts knocked me out. hope we see you all white project.

  3. Bonnie, What an amazing opportunity to see those quilts up close! That whole cloth quilt is stunning! Bill, if you are reading this, some day I hope to visit one of the exhibition or talk.

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