Friday, April 30, 2010

What a Day

Teaching can really wear a person out. Bonnie McCaffery (who teaches beginners to make amazing painted portraits on fabric) is taking a break waiting, and waiting, and waiting to see if our plane would take off. Remember those tornadoes in the middle of the country a week ago? They really messed up air travel. Our plane was delayed for a good two hours. Esterita Austin (one of my favorite artists!!!) was so stressed out by her teaching schedule (she had another gig in Vancouver, B.C. to get to) that she immediately aged forty years - thus the wheel chair. No. Just kidding - it was just a comfy place to sit.

No worries. We, and the whole rest of the crowd, were well entertained by Australian Quilt Artist (last year's Best of Show winner in Paducah and teaching there for the first time this year) Mariya Waters and her sweetheart of a husband. Yes, things get silly after three hours waiting for a plane.

Then they asked for four passengers to voluntarily give up their seats to they could take on extra fuel. That didn't sound good. I was imagining myself circling for hours over Chicago and missing my late flight out to Raleigh. Stuck in the airport overnight isn't fun. A quick call to hubby (who is the lucky recipient of the free ticket) and I happily gave up my seat. Melinda Bula (another fantastic teacher) and a couple students joined me. I really think that between Melinda and I and our five thousand pounds of teacher luggage that we could have counted for all four. I think Bonnie and Esterita were very happy it wasn't them.

I've gotta say how much I love tiny little puddle jumper airports. They usually have a staff of three and a half and every one of them earns their salary about three times over. Our ticket-taker/gate-agent/all-around-make-everything-work girl took great care of us. She found a hotel, arranged for a hotel, got meal vouchers and generally went well above and beyond the call of duty. We got back to the hotel, had a nice dinner, and I got a good nights sleep for the first time in a week.

Next morning? Sleeping in. Aaaaaaah. Then lounging in pajamas and playing on my computer. That never happens at home. Late in the morning our little crew got together and headed into town. Now, Paducah is not a big town. I think they all heave a very big sigh of relief as soon as the quilters leave and happily close up shop for a week to recuperate. That said, this IS the South and people are sooooo nice. We just picked up the phone and they opened right back up just for us.

Helene Davis' studio is a little bit of fabric heaven. Well, actually, a very large bit of fabric heaven. Who wouldn't drool over shelves and shelves of the eye candy that greets you when you walk in the front door. Oh, and all of the day trip photos are courtesy of Melinda Bula. I understand how my daughter feels when we are on a trip and her camera runs out of batteries. I hate it when I forget my camera! Thanks Melinda!!!
Helene is a gracious woman and an amazing artist with an amazing studio. She has prodigious talent in the shibori arena and I left a good chunk of my hard earned cash behind with her. Happily. 

I think our little group would have been blissfully happy if we had stopped right there. But wait. The day gets better. Left to right - Teri from Florida, Melinda from California, Lyric, Karen from Michigan.

For lunch we thought we'd stop at a Tea house I had eaten at earlier in the week. We enjoyed the walk (in the drizzle) into town and sadly discovered that pretty much every place is closed on Mondays. Sigh. As we stood pondering what to do next a group came out the door that had just had a specially catered event. None of us noticed the intrepid Terry (who shall forthwith be called "She Who Gets Things Done!") slipped in and talked the owner into feeding us poor wandering, leftover quilters, some amazingly yummy leftover food. 

SereniTea's building was an Elks Lodge, built during prohibition with a secret door to the booze and gambling den in the basement. The owner of the establishment and her friendly waitress were delightful. When we were done she asked us if we wanted to see upstairs. Oh my. She was just beginning renovations on a ballroom with the most amazing pressed tin ceiling I've ever seen. 

Melinda noticed a funny, little, lone blue lightbulb. 
The stories it could tell.

Once again. We called the day blissful and decided it was a complete success and worth missing a flight. But wait, there's more! Another call, another door unlocked, and we were welcomed into the quilt teachers dream home of Caryl Bryer Fallert. I want to be her when I grow up. I've been saying that for a very long time. It was one of her quilts that started me on this amazing and surprising journey.

Once again we were treated to a private tour and showed such kindness and generosity that we thought perhaps we HAD died and gone to heaven. There are angels living in Paducah my friends and some of them have gorgeous red hair. 

And yes, the next morning we all got right on our sweet little plane and uneventfully arrived home to our families. And in my case, a long, long list of things to catch up on and an awful lot of laundry. It was worth it.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Showing Your Work: part 5 packing it up

I've worked for a number of shows, curating, hanging, organizing - climbing right up on that ladder and hanging the things on the wall. I've hung shows in public art galleries,  cafes, local and national quilt shows. I've worked with local guild shows, the International Quilt Festival (in chicago), and group shows that traveled around the country.

The part I like the least is the packing and unpacking of the quilts. I'm grateful that there have always been others to make the checklists and make sure that everyone has sent all the stuff. Let me talk just a bit about ways that you can make things easier for the show organizers and for yourself. 

You know how to roll your quilt right? Swim noodles are a textile artists best friend. Lay down a sheet or cloth, lay the quilt face down, then roll the whole thing onto the noodle, tie it up and throw on a plastic sleeve. Or -use the grey pipe insulating tubes from the hardware store - they are a bit thinner than a noodle and might let you wrap more quilt into your box. I have to say that I prefer square long boxes to tubes for ease of handling. We can stack them on top of each other or against the wall without their rolling away.

If your quilt is too long for the box, lengthen the box.

I have heard of instances of pieces being accidentally thrown away, mistaken for garbage. If you have no other choice a garbage bag will protect your work from moisture. Just label it in great big letters. It's much better that the bag be clear.

Please don't use packing peanuts. They come out of the boxes all over the place and are a major mess to clean up. Bubble wrap is better if you need to fill some space in the box. 

(I've blurred out all names and addresses by the way - these are all well labeled!)

Here is one of the best packaged pieces I've seen. Multiple pieces were packaged in one box. Each was placed in a clear plastic bag. One quilts was wrapped on a swim noodle, wrapped in cloth. A smaller piece was creatively sandwiched between two pieces of foam core. Every last piece was labeled with the artists name, address, contact information, and the name of the quilt. Noodle, cloth, bag, box, hanging apparatus - every piece labeled!!! And (I thought this was clever) they all had a visual so that you could take a glance and know that they all belong together.

This was wonderful. A smaller piece that needed to be shipped flat was pinned to a thick piece of foam board then protected with another piece of foam board. They were held together by stick on velcro straps. It was simple for us to undo the velcro unpin the artwork and keep everything in it's box so we could find it later. 

Some other tips - include a self addressed stamped postcard for the show to send so you know your work got there safely.

Any other tips for packing quilts? 

Here are some of the nightmares:
  • A quilt pinned to insulation board that we couldn't fit back into the box. Pinned every inch. (That said it was my favorite quilt in the exhibition.)
  • Peanuts, peanuts, peanuts. A very large box for a small piece... peanuts, peanuts, peanuts.
  • No labels anywhere. No hanging stuff. I could go on. I'm sure you could go on.

Tell me what you think. If you've been involved in the packing and unpacking process what was your best and worst? How do you pack your pieces? Did I leave anything out? Let me know.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

In Paducah - still....

Weather isn't always kind to air travelers. Our little puddle jumper from Paducah to Chicago was delayed (and delayed and delayed) because of all the nasty weathery mess up there and down here and all around the country. After a quick consultation with "Mr. Mom" at home I volunteered to be one of the four passengers they needed to bump so that they could take on extra fuel to spend extra time circling up there. So here I sit in a paid hotel for an extra night or two instead of stuck in the airport up there waiting to see if my late night flight would be delayed or canceled.

So here are some more of my photos from Paducah.

Friday, April 23, 2010

For Your Inspiration: Paducah

I had a little time to wander today.

Quilt Man!!!

Student Spotlight: Paducah

I truly am THE luckiest person in the world to be able to do what I do. I shlep and huff for a week, fly for a day, then play and play and play! And I get to play with the funnest people. These lovely ladies came in singing out loud and I joined right in.

foil, glitter, painted Wonder-Under

Imagine my surprise and joy - that's Quilter Beth in the cupcake apron.
She's been spotlighted here as she works her way through Art + Quilt!

Here we are getting up and around, doing photo transfer, painting and stamping, 
and yes, cutting out snowflakes. It's more fun than kindergarden!

What troopers! It was a night class and they stayed awake and made such beautiful things!

Couldn't quite get them all in the picture so here we have the other half.
They are laughing at me perched up high on a chair with the camera in the air.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

On The Road: Paducah

I’m tired enough that it’s difficult to write… long blank spaces in my brain. But it’s all good. I’m sitting in the terminal and am surrounded by quilters. I suppose there aren’t all that many flights into a small town like Paducah. The sweet girl at the check-in counter in Raleigh said “you’re the ONLY one going to Paducah.” I think she’s wrong but it made me laugh anyway. I’m looking forward to southern spring weather there and am grateful to be going there rather than farther north where it might still be grey and cold.
So what to do in the airport? 

Today it’s two of my favorite podcasts. Betty In The Sky With A Suitcase, and WNYC’s Radio Lab. Betty is a long time flight attendant with a plethora of very funny stories to tell about things that happen on planes. Radio Lab is the most interesting and entertaining science podcast I’ve ever heard. Did you know that our natural state of number understanding is logarithmic rather than linear?

Stitch. Hours of meditative hand work. Every time I get on the plane I’m a bit tired because I tend to go out on very early flights but have stayed up too late the night before. Usually I’m throwing together a few pieces of fabric with a bit of batting and then a little box of embroidery threads and some beads. Who knows what will happen by the time I’m done with it? No plan. 

Perhaps it will get done on the way home.
What a lovely way to pass the time.

Title ideas would be greatly appreciated!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

running, running, running....

Whew. I still have a million things to do before the American Quilter's Society show this week. No time to post on Monday but a full day of travel on Tuesday! Am I the only person on earth who loves long travel days? No dishes to do, no children to drive, no fights about homework or chores? I can write and do handwork or read to my hearts content. I hope to post a review of ARTQUILTS:illuminations for you as well as a book review. Keep your eyes on this space.....

by Diane English

Friday, April 16, 2010

For Your Inspiration: Spring!

This weekend I'm attending the annual spring conference of the Professional Art Quilter's Alliance - South. Next week I teach in Paducah at the American Quilter's Society show. I've arranged childcare, made a million handouts, packed one of my 50lb suitcases full of supplies, shipped four boxes and have told my other den mother I won't be at cub scouts (scrub sprouts) next week. I still have a million things to do so what did I do yesterday? 

Pulled out my camera and spent an hour in the yard glorying in the riot of color that is spring in the South. It felt like the sun was pouring into my hands - and heart.

Most of the azaleas in the yard are repeat bloomers - coming out for an encore in the fall.

This sweet little azalea has creamy white blossoms - and they don't even turn brown and yucky when the temp takes it's usual late spring quick dive.

My bleeding heart is tucked in a corner and the blossoms hide under very bright lime green foliage.

My favorite childhood flowers are lilac and iris.
A few years ago I planted one of the very few varieties that will bloom here in the south.
They usually like cold winter weather and we don't get enough of it. 

The smell is heady. The whole kitchen is full of it from one small branch.

And of course this morning instead of getting more things ready I'm sharing my spring color with you. I still have a few hours before I need to leave. I have to gather my stuff for the conference, find a ride to the airport, print out more handouts (and of COURSE the printer is out of ink) and figure out an activity for the six year old's birthday party tomorrow. I think I can squeeze in a stop at the craft store on the way there. Any ideas? Helpful hint for squeezing in more art time: convince your children that a donut tower is waaaay more fun than a decorated birthday cake!