Response to “Museum Needles Taxpayers”

This article was published Thursday November 15, 2012 in the Times Free Press of Chattanooga TN.  The writer has some serious misinformation regarding quilting in general and more specifically the International Quilt Study Center & Museum.

One event immediately came to mind as I read the article: Quilted Northern came up with what is essentially a very clever campaign promoting their toilet tissue, a group of quilters with knitting needles “quilting” the toilet tissue.  Quilters responded with calls, emails and letters helping to inform the marketing department of the company that we quilters do not quilt with knitting needles.  It wasn’t long before an updated version of the commercial made it’s debut and still runs today with the quilters having a variety of conversations.  I, for one, would like to help the author of said article learn about the quilting community and why the International Quilt Study museum is not only important to quilters but to the history of our country.

In the authors view quilters, quilting and the museum are of the era of Ma Ingalls, Aunt Bea and the Waltons.  The median age of quilters is somewhere between 55 & 62, as of my last birthday (a mere 4 days ago) I’m still in my 40’s and have been quilting for 19 years.  Then there are the quilters I know – not only my local guild members who are amazing in their own right and can be visited Renee and Mary Anne, then there’s Paula, Angela, Lisa, Randy, Ricky none of whom fit the appearance and quilting style of the Ingalls, Taylors or Waltons.

The author reminds us that memories can be created in video and photographs.  The author is right, this is one way of creating memories and these methods are great.  Nothing can comfort a person who is suffering from loss, illness and grief like a quilt.  A quilt wraps a person in a handcrafted love when images will not do.  Photos will not keep a person undergoing chemotherapy warm while a quilt will.  A quilt will wrap a grieving mom, spouse in an embrace from people they may not even know.  A quilt will remind a veteran how much we appreciate their sacrifice in a way that photos NEVER will.

The author wonders why dump hard earned taxpayer money into a museum that no one in Chattanooga will ever visit – a very quick google search reveals 10 shops that come up within 40 minutes of the Museum.  Ten. Ten shops within 40 minutes.   Hmmn, that gets me wondering if there are any quilters in the area who might be interested in visiting the Museum?  Paducah, KY is a mere 6 hour drive and any quilter would know why I mention this little factoid.  I’d like to visit both, which would mean spending money on hotels, restaurants and local quilt shops essentially supporting the local economy.

Quilting has been a part of American History coming in with the first colonists and continuing through with women primarily making quilts to keep their families warm through the cold, snowy winter months.  Listening to Kim Brunner’s lecture quilts were very much a part of her family’s survival during severe winter snow storms.  Quilts were very much part of surviving keeping people warm during the very cold winter nights in homes that had little to no insulation.   As our country moved toward manufacturing inexpensive blankets, homes became better insulated and more and more women were working outside the home quilting became part of the periphery of American society, never really dying out.  The renaissance of quilting beginning in the early 1970’s in preparation for our Bicentennial year in 1976.

Quilting since has not only gone through a resurgence but is more than ever part of American Society being featured on CBS Sunday Morning (Ricky Tims) and most recently on the Today Show in a humorous piece with Hoda.  The International Quilt Study Center and Museum is a small part of that.  I hope to visit and perhaps teach at the Museum soon.  Thank you to the author for continuing to remind me of the importance of quilting.  I do hope that the authors inbox is flooded with responses from quilters, that comments are made in response to the piece and that more importantly the author finds the importance of quilting.

Happy quilting!


PS – in a few days I’ll be hosting a blog give away


Quilt Festival Houston, some of the quilts

I think quilters in general are fascinated with the glass work of Dale Chihuly.  It’s no wonder why.  Like we do he sees the potential in the molten liquid and produces some amazing works not just in glass also writing and drawing.  There is a lot of prep work that goes into creating one of these pieces. I imagine a lot of broken glass, a lot of pieces that just don’t quite fit the way Dale envisioned.  And yet, here it is…one more piece of evidence of Dale’s hours and hours and hours of hard slog creating beautiful glass sculpture.  

In a quick, very quick reading of Dale’s website there are two things I see immediately, Dale learned from others both in school here in the states and from Venetian glass blowers the work of his trade including technique, working concepts and artistry; further he works at his trade and through that work applying the accrued knowledge and experience continues to create beautifully designed, well constructed pieces of glass work that capture our imagination, our deep appreciation, and a sense of longing for just a little bit of that talent.

And in this quilt “The Garden” by Helia Ricci, this work of art I see the same level of commitment, passion and artistry.  The same hard slog learning techniques, listening to other quilters for support, encouragement and correction.  Doing something to quell the negative voices creeping about saying I’m not good enough for this and putting her work out there for all of us to see and enjoy or not enjoy as we will.

Quilting – whether making bed quilts or art quilts – is hard work.  No matter what the style.  Each quilt we do informs the next, each quilt we see allows us to help define who we are as quilt makers. There are many styles of quilt making and as I write this I see in my minds eye the artistry of each of them.  


One of the most moving things about the set up of the quilt show in Houston is that there is room to look and take photos of the quilts.  I couldn’t get enough of Linzi Uptons Yurt.  Talk about hard work!  Each quilt is different and given time I would have spent hours and hours in there enjoying the beauty and marveling at the idea of the quilted yurt.    Talk about an oh my  moment.  

And then there is Randall Cook’s “Trapped in the Game”.  I am moved by this on so many levels.  Sometimes I feel trapped and sometimes I feel free.  I want to play by the rules and do the work as a quilter  and I often feel free by the rules because I understand the rules.  Although in the quilting world there are a variety of rules and frequently the rules are meant to be broken.  

I love that I got to meet so many of the members of “The Quilt Show”.  Maggie and Frances were my “Teachers Pets” and in true teacherly form I gave them both homework!  Here I am with Maggie and Annie (another TQS member) after my lecture on Friday morning.  Maggie took photos in one of my classes and as soon as I can I’ll share those with you.  Maggie hit the ground running at home and has been working!  You go girl!  

Now that Jeanie has had her booth there is a little bit I can share.  There is a lot I still can’t…however here’s a sample:

Jeanie has been working with incorporating embroidery into the kaleidoscopes.  This adds such great detail to the kaleidoscopes it’s amazing.  She’ll have more information on her website once she gets home and has time to update everything.  

This is made with Robert Kaufman’s Radiance on the top and I used an orange/brown batik on the back and wool batting.  I used Superior Silk and SoFine (bobbin).  This quilt is easily made with either fat quarters or quarter yards.  I’ll share more later this week or early next week. 

One of the things I love about working with the kaleidoscopes is that the stitching path is already worked out for you creating a beautiful design on the back of your quilt.  


Happy Quilting!



The men of MQX

While quilting is “typically” a womans world men in our industry take to it like a fly takes to honey.  And just like women men run the gamut from very traditional to art and everywhere in between.  A few years back I went to the Illinois State Museum where they had an exhibition of quilts made by people in Illinois, including a guy who made huge hexagon quilts, the hexagons getting smaller and smaller on each quilt.  Oh my!

A while back Jena Moreno and Tom Ganz filmed “Stitched…the film Behind Every Stitch there’s a Story” featuring three amazing quilters, Caryl Bryer Fallert, Hollis Chatelain and Randall Cook.  I’m facebook friends with all three of them and had the pleasure of meeting Randy at MQX.  Two of his quilts were in the show and “Dance Panels 1 &  5” won 2nd place in the Wall Hanging Art – Large category.  For a list of all of the MQX Winners click here.

These are amazing quilts both quilted on a domestic (home) sewing machine.  I’d love to talk with Randy more to find out about his thought process on the quilts, how he did the images and chose the quilting to go in each area of the quilt.  I may just interview him for the blog down the road.

I met Randy at MQX where he was taking classes and testing out long arms.  We sat together at preview night when the winners were announced.

When Jeanie & I won for Feather Zone I was all excited but then I got really excited when “Curvilinear Energy” by Keith Dommer won first place in the Solo Artist category.  I’ve been working with Keith for quite a while and it’s been good experience for both of us.  Keith also asked for input from our TQS friends on this quilt.  I love it and was thrilled to hear his name announced!

I picked up Moon Over Manhattan and Feather Zone yesterday from Janet-Lee and have the judges comments.  I’m looking forward to reading them to see what they have to say, particularly about Moon.

I’m teaching at Creative Sewing this weekend and am looking forward to it.  Part of the weekend is getting together with a couple of friends to celebrate our 25th high school reunion.  Whee!

Happy Quilting!