Heidi Kaisand: Good morning and welcome to create with Heidi. I'm Heidi Kaisand, owner of Hen and chicks studio in Conrad, Iowa, and lover of all things creative. Each week here on create with Heidi, we'd like to cover topics that educate and inspire you about how people are being creative, whether it's quilting, scrapbooking, food, wool, or just hanging out with others who seem to have their creative Mojo grooving in all the right directions. We are excited to share these things with you. Each week, I like to start with a quote that is somewhat appropriate for our guests today. And today, I've selected this. The whole point of collecting is the thrill of acquisition, which must be maximized and maintained at all costs. And that is john Baxter, and he is actually a book addict. But today we're talking about quilts. And I would kind of think that we could say we're quilt addicts. In this particular case when we're collecting. My guest today is Kathy Cray, and she is joining us from warm Florida this morning. Good morning, Kathy.
Kathy Cray: Good morning. Heidi. How are you?
Heidi Kaisand: I am good. I bet it's a little bit warmer in Florida this morning than it is here.
Kathy Cray: The humidity is giving us a little bit of relief, but we're about 88 degrees.
Heidi Kaisand: yep, a little bit warmer than here. Well, Kathy, you and I both have a love of antique quilts and of collecting antique quilts. I think you might do a little bit more with your collection than I do. But tell us how long have you been quilting and have gotten involved in the whole antique quilt collection.
Kathy Cray: I've been stitching for well over 30 years. But it was in 2002 that I got into the collection of antique quilts when I joined the American quilt study group. I came in as a sponsor really didn't know too much about antique quilts, and met incredible people, incredible collectors. And all of a sudden I found this warmth. And this love and admiration not only for the antique quilts, but for the women that made them. And from there, I just took off. There was a point when I was dating my husband, and he walked into the room and I had probably 225 antique quilts. And he looked at me and he said what's with all the blankets? Oh, and I said, It's okay, honey, just wait, it will pay off. And when I opened my own antique quilt shop, I think I sold two quilts the first two days for $4,000. And he looked at me and he said I totally get it. I have been hooked for a good 20 years on collecting the collection is not like that large anymore. But there are still some that I just will never let go. Yes.
Heidi Kaisand: Oh my gosh, Kathy, there's so many different things that I want to talk to you about. And and you've already mentioned the American quilt study group. And so let's start there. And that is actually where you and I met. I started attending that meeting just a few years before you did in my former role at American patchwork and quilting magazine. And it is a nonprofit organization, I believe believe they're considered a nonprofit organization that is all dedicated to the research and documentation of the of quilts. And their makers, I think, no, I think I put all of that into that category. Wouldn't you
Kathy Cray: I would too. And it's in it's also evolving into other textiles. But how they influence quilts we're studying the mills, were really studying the people were studying the styles, and the characteristics of quilts as well as the individuals that have made them or have had an influence on the quilt world.
In 1996 was I believe my first meeting and you know, in the role of a magazine editor, I was often said told you should go do this, you should go do that you should you know participate in this. And there were certain people that I looked up to and when one particular individual who I respected greatly in the industry said you need to be at the American quote study group meeting. I thought okay, I'll go and but I was real hesitant, because of course I was I was quite a bit younger than and It was described as Oh, there's going to be all these research papers. And it just did not come off initially as being I want to say interesting. And the first meeting I went to, was so energizing. And so notable, I mean, the the research papers that were presented, were so incredible. They were people about people like Carly Sexton, who is a great historical quilter and Susan Miller from Pella, now she's in Kentucky, but Susan, Susan had been researching Carly for years and and presented hers. There was a a woman that presented all about quilts in the south, that were used as part of a disease that women have where they bleed and this you know, not to be graphic but the, and how the quilts were actually used as part of that disease. And it was just a fascinating, I mean, it went from one spectrum to the other, not necessarily what most people would think of, and I know years of attending a meeting, that there's just so much interest, and interesting things about quilt history.
I found the same thing to be true when I came in in 2002. I really didn't know what to expect. And I came in as a corporate sponsor, which was my really my tie in with you. We were the two big sponsors for them. And I really didn't know what to expect either. And I can remember being just in awe of the people that were sitting in that room. I remember looking out and seeing you know, Marian Fonz from Fons and Porter Barbara brackman people that I would have known just being a Stitcher, not a researcher.
Heidi Kaisand: Absolutely. And Kathy, we're gonna you know, we could fill I'm sure the next couple of hours. It's gonna take a quick commercial break and we'll be back right now the problem.
Hen and check studio and Conrad was recently announced as winner of the Association for Creative Industries best brick and mortar Retailer Award. This prestigious award recognizes excellence in industry service and philanthropy Henan check studio is a full service bookshop and retreat center for quilters and scrapbookers Heidi Kaisand, owner of Henan chicks was honored to receive the award. And thanks to all of her wonderful customers for making the award possible. Heidi invites you to visit her award winning store, and then check studio in beautiful downtown Conrad.
Heidi Kaisand: Welcome back to create with Heidi, this is Heidi Kaisand. And I'm talking with Kathy Cray, and Kathy and I go back to our days of American quote study group. And we were kind of reminiscing and Kathy, as you were saying right before the break that, that there. There are all sorts of people in the audience and attending these meetings that we would know. Like you were saying, Maryann Fonz, and you know, others. But the The other thing I loved about that meeting was the diversity of people. And what part of the quilt industry they came from, they maybe were museum curators, or historians. And so it wasn't all just quilt makers as well, because that made it very interesting mixed in it.
Kathy Cray: That did for me, I never realized how broad a scope it was. And I definitely in my past career, I dealt with men all the time. So here I was in a room, which I thought was going to be with just stitchers, as I call us. And when I looked out there and people like Barbara brackman were sitting there, I found out they were also ordinary people that had the same love, the same compassion and wanted to know more, and you could they were approachable. Everyone was approachable and you felt welcomed, even as a new person walking in not knowing anything about quilt history. They made you feel warm and welcome. The American quote study group has always done a great job at their annual seminar that they have every year, which in fact, we've got coming up this August. And they really do a great job of recognizing first time attendees. And making them feel part of it. Because when you know that these high studying, teachers, curators are their authors. It can be a bit intimidating. But you find that within the first day you're there that you are part of this group that it's just the love for quote unquote, history that brings us together.
Heidi Kaisand: Yes. Now Kathy, you have taken it a step further. So the American quilt study group and I'll be sure to put a link in our information with the show. So people You can find that if they want, that is an organization that has a I'm gonna call it more of a national organization, but then also does have branches off into the states. And there is a chapter here in Iowa. And again, I'll put those links in there, you happen to be in Florida. So tell us kind of what you've done in Florida and with your with the Florida coast study group, and how that all works.
Kathy Cray: As part of the American quilt study group, I'm what they refer to as an area or regional representative of the company of the organization. And you are there to promote, like we said, the quilt of studies, of quilt studies and that type of thing. A lot of people cannot afford to join the organization, or they just can't afford to go to the seminar, where we read these papers and do this research. So us area managers were out there to help promote quilt studies in a smaller group and a little bit more informal. And so four years ago, when I came to Florida, there was not much activity or awareness of quilt history. And I chose to take on the role of the coordinator of what we call the Florida quilt study group. I have put a Facebook page together of over 500 members, we have probably 30 active members. But what we do is we meet twice a year. And we just get together and look at antique quilts and textiles, and learn from one another just sharing our own collections. Our own thoughts about quilting. We had a show this weekend that I was at. And the response was so big for the Florida quote study group that I got an additional 40 people that will be attending our little gathering on August 7. And we're thrilled to see that people do have an interest in quilts. And they want to know more beyond just stitching quilts for their grandchildren. They're finding quotes their grandparents had, and they want to know more about them and what do we do with them? How do we take care of them?
Heidi Kaisand: Isn't that I get those kinds of questions all the time, Kathy because I think it is. If you know, if they're a generation removed, they don't make the quilt. They don't know what to do with the quilt. So I'm sure I'm sure you get asked that a lot too. And and, you know, number one, how do you care for an antique quilt, or and and an im going to say or I shouldn't even maybe determine an antique quilt but a family quilt and heirloom quilt.
Kathy Cray: We give the same direction to them. Whether it's a new quilt that they've made, or a family quilt, it's very important that you just don't keep them in any type of plastic a plastic bag, a plastic container, especially here in Florida, we have so much humidity and moisture that it is a big problem with quilts. So we remind people keep them in a cotton pillowcase even if you're putting it in a dresser, a cedar chest or on a shelf. Woods from those type of materials still will leech onto the the quilts and create those brown folds. So we tell people keep it in a cotton pillowcase. Take the quilt out twice a year and just let the air go through it. Give it some movement refold your quilts so that they're not on the same food lines all the time where the where the threads bear, and you'll start seeing, you know, met what we call memory lines through your quilt when you open it up. There's this constant fold that's visible and enjoy your quilt. Also, don't put it in direct sunlight. But don't be afraid to hang it on the wall. Or if it's something your grandmother was a Stitcher, but she made the quilts for you to love. Don't hesitate to wrap yourself up in it. Remember your grandmother remember those things? What happens is we find these treasures treasures, which are generations after don't know anything about there's no there's no story with them. There's no connection. And if we can teach the next generations the connection of that quilt, the individual that made it that grandpa sat on the back porch with his stone he and his shot of Bri and had that quill over his lap when when the younger generations know the story of that quilt and the people that it was involved with, we can create another interest for them to want to hold on to those textiles.
Heidi Kaisand: Oh, absolutely. We've got to take a quick quick commercial break and when we come back, I want you to answer the question Should I wash my quilt or I'll be right back
Hen and check studio and Conrad was recently announced as winner of the Association for Creative Industries best brick and mortar Retailer Award. This prestigious award recognizes excellence in industry service and philanthropy henna check studio is a full service bookshop and retreat center for quilters and scrapbookers Heidi Kaisand, owner of Henan chicks was honored to receive the award. And thanks to all of her wonderful customers for making the award possible. Heidi invites you to visit her award winning store Henan chicks studio in beautiful downtown Conrad.
Heidi Kaisand: Create with Heidi, and we are so excited to have Kathy cray with us today. And we're having fun talking about some antique quilts and different things. And just before the break, I posed a question. So Kathy, should I wash my quilt and even better? Should I take it to the dry cleaner?
Kathy Cray: My first response and immediate response to that question, and both of them is absolutely no. I am a proponent of when you're studying in equals, you're also learning about the size and the fabric, the construction. And without really looking at a quilt. My first response would always be No, I have personally never washed a quilt that I would consider a 19th century quilt anything from the 1800s. I try not to do that there are experts that do that. But there is it costs a lot of money also to do it. museums have big equipment when it comes to washing or restoring a quilt that they have. I would also tell you never under any circumstances send a quilt to a dry cleaner. Dry Cleaners for one put chemicals in a quill or chemicals in any of their fabrics to clean them. And we don't need any chemicals being added to a quilt, whether it's a new quilt, or an antique quilt, if you want the longevity of that quilt to exist. Now, if you've got a 20th century quilt, or a new quilt, a lot of times we were making a new quilt people will pre wash their fabrics, or they'll test them before they will wash them. You know take a little q tip rub it on the red fabric. If you see any pink, come off on that q tip. absolutely do not wash it. If you're buying antique quilts, or collecting antique quilts, always remember to go for the best condition. Look for a quilt that is as clean as possible. You don't want a smelly quilt, even if you air it out, it will there could still be bugs, there could still be that type of thing in it. If you do feel the need to wash a quilt. My recommendation for that is a bit of cold water in your bathtub. And just soak the quill in that a little bit. The water will rise up you'll see the dirt come forward. drain it out, do it again, it will kill your back. But you might have to risk eight times to get the dirt out of it. The number the number one reason for not throwing it in a washing machine is most washing machines have an agitator. And that quilt can get wrapped around that it can stretch the kilt tear the quilt distort the quilt, it's probably one of the worst things you can do. And then do not put a quill ever in a dryer. lay it out flat, stretch it out lay it on flat, not in direct sun, but maybe on another sheet on the top and the bottom, it will dry faster than you think it will. And that way you're also still taking care of your quilt and doing the best thing for it.
Heidi Kaisand: And I've had people come in with quilt tops that don't that have not been quilted. They're not layered. And they've asked me if they can wash those. And my answer is even more. No, because actually those open seams will all potentially shred. I mean, you could just have a ball of nothing. What you know, when you get done, right, you get done. And And the thing is, certainly, as we're talking about this, we're you know, for example, I make quilts for my kids. I want them to be used in this particular case, we wash them, we put them in I don't have an agitator in my I have a big tub. So the thing that doesn't have an agitator, we put those quotes in because you know, 14 year olds and 17 year olds, you know what I mean? We got to wash them, right? That's different, that's different. And then I always use my shout color catchers. When I'm doing that. I'll throw that tip in there that shout color catchers for a quilt we'll pull out any colors that might You know, floating, but we're talking about those heirloom quilts and quilts that you want to have last for generations to come. That's what we're talking about here is that there are so many other ways can you could you vacuum a quilt like, could you take a hand hose and vacuum a quilt
would again count on the strength of the quilt. If it's not densely quilted, I would not recommend it.
Okay, because it would suck fabric,
Kathy Cray: it would suck it right up there. If there's any loose seams or anything like that, it would immediately pull that I mean how many times we vacuum the rug. And there might have been one little ply that was sticking up, and it grabbed that whole thing and in half, unroll your rug. The same thing had happened with a quilter. So you know, so you want to make sure if you're going to do that, that there's a detachment, I would prefer to put it over a porch ledge or a clothesline for those that still have a clothesline, but with a sheet over it and let the air go through it. To get that to get a lot of the dust and the dirt out of it.
Heidi Kaisand: Oh, it's so many good tips. And I I know Kathy, we could talk for hours. I want to kind of move on here cuz we don't have that much time left. You have beautiful quilts and we've already shown a few in our social media. We'll put more on our website. Just in gorgeous, gorgeous quilts. You are going to be a featured I don't know if you call it a featured artists featured collector. I'm not sure what the term is at the New England quilt museum. Am I correct?
Kathy Cray: I am thrilled. They have asked me to do an exhibit which will be up on August 3 through October 2 at the New England quilt museum. And it's the first time that I'm exhibiting my own work. I have done a lot of exhibits and curated a lot of exhibits of antique quilts and antique quilts from my collection. But I have an exhibit that's called blended quilts. It's taking antique and vintage quilt blocks and letting them grow up today into brand new quilts. Thus, the word blended quilts. There are times I add new fabric to it. I try to showcase the antique quilt block that is in my quilt. And there'll be 20 quilts on exhibit from that timeframe. And I'm a little thrilled I'm a little scared.
Heidi Kaisand: In the New England quilt museum is where four people located
Kathy Cray: it's located in Lowell, Massachusetts, right outside of Boston.
Heidi Kaisand: Yeah, oh, and I can understand you're nervous because you're putting your work out for people to look at. But how exciting that you are all say finding some pieces and parts and and helping them helping them grow up into something that can be collected for and studied for years to come. That's awesome.
Kathy Cray: It's going to be interesting because I make a point of not taking the antique quilt block apart. I use it as the original maker made it. So in many instances in putting these pieces together, my points don't match. Things are a little Kili wampus there might be a few little stains in the quilt. But I've learned to, you might say get over that. It's part of the charm of what it was. It's like we look at ourselves. We have our gray hair. We have our little love handles, we have our little scars. Those were our trophies as we grew up, as I look at these quilt blocks, their little stains and their little imperfections are part of the charm of what makes the quilt look so great. When I put it all together. It makes you stop and look at it and think I wonder what she was thinking beyond me. You know, not me, but the person that originally made that block. What was she thinking when she made it and I love to showcase those pieces in what I do with the new quilts today.
Heidi Kaisand: Oh and Kathy, I'm loved that we're going to end on this note, because quilts do speak they speak to both of us. And we're so glad to have had you here today. We'll have you back and talk more in the future because we've got lots to share, I know. But until the next time, please visit henandchicksstudio.com and until next week. Be creative