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Month: May 2018

Upcoming Meeting News

Upcoming Meeting News

Get ready for a night of Community Outreach on May 23. Don’t forget your machines, tools, etc. for a fun, rewarding evening of making Community Outreach quilts and bags.

Coming up on June 27, Leah Zieber will visit us with her antique children’s quilt trunk show and lecture on “Tiny Treasures, Petite Pleasures.” Have your own tiny treasures? Bring them to share.
The following Saturday, June 30, she’ll have a workshop from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.  in Arcadia on “Tiny Treasures Done Right” during which you’ll make a one-of-a-kind tiny treasure of your own, featuring orphan blocks, ugly tester blocks, border pieces that didn’t quite work and scraps.

In July we will have our annual Challenge event. This year’s challenge theme is “International Day of Quilts”.

President’s Message, May 2018

President’s Message, May 2018

I hope you all had a wonderful time at last month’s Yard Sale, and were able to give new homes to lots of deserving fabric and books! I was sorry to miss it but unfortunately was on the wrong side of the country, attending a conference in Washington DC. Since my brother lives just outside DC, I also built a few extra days into the trip so I could visit him and do some touristy stuff.

I am a huge fan of the Smithsonian, and every time I’m in DC I try to get to at least one or two of the museums. One of my favorites is the National Museum of American History—at least in part because that’s where the Smithsonian’s quilt collection is housed! I had hoped to be able to see the famous Harriet Powers “Bible Quilt” on this visit, but unfortunately it wasn’t on display—but I did get to see a quilt being shown in the “American Democracy: A Leap of Faith” exhibit.

Well before women were allowed to vote, they used their quilts as a means of political expression—think of how many traditional quilt blocks are named after presidents! Women also made creative use of political campaign ribbons (the 19th century equivalent of today’s campaign buttons). The quilt I saw was made by Abigail Ann Lane; her husband was William Bagley Lane, an engraver/printer in Philadelphia, who printed (among other things) these sorts of ribbons. The Lane family history suggests that Abigail’s quilt was probably made from overstock. The quilt’s center is a small pieced star, but the rest is made up entirely of political ribbons—432 of them in three different designs. The most prevalent ribbon design was printed in honor of William Henry Harrison’s inauguration in 1841 (as you’ll recall, he was the president who died after only a month in office, which prompted a re-release of the inauguration ribbons with Harrison’s date of death added at the bottom!). The quilt appears to be in magnificent condition after almost 180 years; sadly, the exhibit notes didn’t give any information on whether this quilt was ever actually used, or just made as a “show” piece.

I don’t think that anyone would argue that some aspects of quilting have changed a lot since 1841. There have been huge changes even since I started quilting in 1989: that was the year Caryl Bryer Fallert scandalized the quilting world by winning the AQS Best of Show award with a machine-quilted entry, and my first quilting teacher was still sure that rotary cutters were a fad that would never last. But in other ways, we’re still very much like our quilting ancestors, using our art to express our opinions on a vast range of topics—anyone who attended QuiltCon (in either 2016 or 2018) saw plenty of social and political commentary in the quilts on display. I love the fact that, while our techniques may have evolved in ways our19th-century forbears could never have imagined, Abigail Ann Lane would still find something familiar in the quilts we make today.

See you at the meeting,

Pam

President’s Message, April 2018

President’s Message, April 2018

Anyone else here spend way too much time online? I belong to a number of quilt groups on Facebook, and can get completely lost in scrolling through the gorgeous pictures and adding lots of stuff – more than I can make in a lifetime! – to my personal “ideas” files. But in addition to the pictures, there are sometimes discussions, and one that crops up over and over is the difficulty some people have in finding “in person” guilds where they feel welcome. They share horror stories about joining guilds where the cliques are so fixed that no outsider could possibly make inroads, or where their quilts are mocked and criticized by the dreaded “Quilt Police.” I read these accounts, shudder, and thank my lucky stars that I’ve never belonged to a guild like that.

I joined my first guild (in Michigan) in the early 90s, just a few years after I began quilting. This group was home to a couple of Big Name quilters, and it’s a good thing I didn’t know that at first or I probably would never have dared to join. My advanced-beginner work got the same applause at Show and Tell as everyone else’s, and no one laughed when I entered a piece in the guild’s show, despite my distressingly wavy borders. (And I learned that Big Name quilters are pretty much just like the rest of us, and not to be feared after all.)

When I moved to Maine, I soon found another guild. This one was a state guild, broken down into about 70 local “chapters.” Most chapters meet monthly, and there are three guild-wide meetings per year, plus the big guild show every July. I started volunteering at the show as a way to meet more people, and eventually ended up chairing the show’s Judged Division. I suppose it’s possible that, somewhere among the guild’s 2,000+ members, there are some who are less than welcoming and kind (quilters are, after all, human), but I’m pleased to say that I’ve never come across them.

When I moved out to California, it wasn’t long before I missed communing with my kind and went in search of a local guild. A few years ago I saw an ad for the WFQG Yard Sale, showed up that evening, and essentially never left. Everyone I spoke to was friendly, and everyone was there because of a shared love of quilts and quilting. Again, I found that volunteering was a terrific way to meet new people in the guild: when Terry asked me to become the “guest hostess,” I agreed, and when the guild needed a new newsletter editor, I signed on for that too. Of course, there are plenty of other ways for people to become more involved in the guild without joining the board – between small groups, challenges, retreats, and special projects like this year’s Round Robin, everyone can be as active as she/he wants to be! I love that our membership runs the gamut from brand new quilters to quilt professionals, and I hope that each of you knows how much your presence is valued – WFQG wouldn’t be the awesome group it is without you.

I’m so grateful that in my almost-30 years as a quilter, I’ve been lucky enough to find myself part of three amazing guilds that helped me to grow, both as a quilter and as a person, and I really wish I could convince some of those online quilters that it is possible to find in-person guilds that are not dominated by “mean girls.” Maybe I should just invite them all to move to California and join us!

See you at the meeting,

Pam

President’s Message, March 2018

President’s Message, March 2018

I received an email from Road to California a few days ago, inviting me to participate in a survey about the quilt industry. (One of their goals in holding the guild attendance challenge this year was to build their email list, so if you attended the show and signed in as a guild member, chances are good you received this email too.) Some of the questions were pretty straightforward: What age group were you in when you started quilting? Which of these national/international shows have you attended in the past year? Which of these national/international shows do you plan to attend in the next 5 years? (Okay, I fudged a little on that one. Hey, a girl can dream, right?) Some of them were harder: what is the financial value of all the quilting supplies you own, including machines/fabric/tools/notions? (Seriously, ARE there actually people out there who know exactly how much fabric they have in their stash, and can put an accurate dollar amount on it? I suppose anything’s possible, but I certainly don’t…)

And then there were the truly impossible: the questions asking about what kind of quilts you make and/or admire – but limiting you to only TWO selections from the answer list. You may have heard wailing and gnashing of teeth as I tried to decide which choices to eliminate. Because the truth is that I am a quilting omnivore. Possibly even a quilting gourmand. I have no restraint. I love them all.

The first quilt class I took taught traditional hand piecing, back in the olden days when everyone thought rotary cutters were just a fad. And from the very beginning, I was hooked. I picked star blocks for my four-block sampler class project, and one of them was Carpenter’s Wheel, because no one told me that beginners shouldn’t try a block that had 60 pieces and all those bias edges. I still love weird shapes and lots of little pieces, which may help explain why it takes me so long to actually finish anything.

A year or two later, I decided to give appliqué a try. If you were to ask me when I’m not actively working on an appliqué project, I’ll tell you that I really prefer piecing—but every time I find myself appliquéing something, I remember how much I do love it! And with so many different ways to appliqué—needle turn, back-basting, freezer paper on top, freezer paper underneath, reverse-appliqué, and on and on—no one could ever possibly get bored with it.

Then there are whole cloth quilts. Most quilts rely on a combination of construction, color, and quilting to impress a viewer. A whole cloth quilt, though, has to do all that work with just the quilting design. Well, mostly with the quilting design. Some of them do involve a lot of color—go check out the International Quilt Study Center’s “Quilt of the Month” (http://www.quiltstudy.org/about/quilt_of_the_month/) if you don’t believe me.

Much as I love traditional quilts, I also adore modern ones—the combination of crisp geometric motifs, wide expanses of negative space, and solid fabrics has an undeniable appeal. My first attempts at improvisational piecing caused a bit of stress to my precision-piecing self, but now that I’ve tried it a few times, I have to admit it’s occasionally fun to throw concerns about sharp points and matched seams to the winds!

I guess I could maybe draw a line at art quilts. I am reasonably sure I’ll never make one; I can’t create recognizable images with pencils or crayons or paint, so I don’t imagine I could do any better with fabric! Then again, I probably couldn’t eliminate them from the list either, because I do admire them, and marvel at the people whose skills and artistry are so different from my own.

So I can’t understand how the survey-writers expected us to narrow our choices down to just two! I really don’t remember how I ended up answering those questions—but the only way I could have answered honestly is if the options had included “all of the above”!

See you at the meeting,

Pam