Saturday, August 28, 2010

Guessing Game

Guess what I have been doing this week?

No, I haven't made Joe great breakfasts.

 or cleaned the house.

 I haven't been quilting or even gardening.

Haven't even done my hair and my fingers are green. 

The laundry is piling up and we are running low on towels.

 If you said making color,
you would be right.
The only problem is I now have a sore shoulder from all the folding and ironing. 
This is going to make some beautiful flowers.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Loving Stitches Award

I recently judged my first quilt show.  I was a little scared to say the least.  I have a lot of experience being judged, but to judge others is quite another thing.  The first thing I did to prepare was to Google how to judge a quilt show.  Then I asked friends who have experience on this subject for guidance.  But still,  it really comes down to me and my artistic opinion and eye.  But how and what am I going to say?
The quilt show was for Tennessee Quilts, in Jonesborough, Tennessee.  This is the oldest town in Tennessee and the storytelling capitol of the world.   So it was appropriate that I was there.   I have been told that I am full of it (stories) before.  Tennessee Quilts is a great quilt shop that has a show and festival every year in July.
The quilt show was held at the University Gallery.  I was dropped off at the gallery full of quilts and had them all to myself, except for a preschool class there for, of course, story time.   Remember, this is the story capitol of the WORLD and they start the children off early.

I took a deep breath and jumped right in.  As I walked up to each quilt, I was reminded about what judges have said about my quilts in the past.   Some critics are very vague.  Others point out the flaws under the guise of where I can improve.   But to me the judging is very subjective.  I always thoughtfully consider their remarks but don't let it stop me.  I have had quilts that were full of mistakes win Best of Show and quilts that were the best  I could do technically come away with nothing as nobody saw all the hard work I had done. So now I just do what thrills me and don't worry about if I win or not.   But, to be on the other side and  judging is a little intimidating.

I could see that each quilt was so different.  There weren't many categories, either.   Just Best of Show, Best Group, Best Machine and Best Hand Workmanship.   It took me about 2 hours to go through 38 quilts.  I found my winners.  There was no going back.  Did I pick the right ones?  I don't know.  I just let my eye and heart guide me.  But that was not the end.   The next night they had a Gallery Talk and Walk.  Guess who was doing the talking?  Right, it was me.  I was supposed to walk around to each quilt and comment on that quilt.   Oh, My God!  I had forgotten that part in my contract.

We walked into the gallery and it was packed.  What are all these people doing here?  What am I going to say and is it a hostile crowd?   They looked nice, but who knows,  I have never been to Tennessee.
I introduced myself and started right in.  I walked to the first quilt.  They followed me.   For a split second I thought What if I ran out the door right now, would they run after me?  Then, as if by magic, I remembered all that I had written down about the quilts.  How I thought the colors sparkled, the complication of the design, how perfect the points where.  I saw the crowd's faces soften as I spoke.  They had no idea who this crazy woman from California was judging their quilts.   But I am an encourager.  I was born that way and I feel that you make a better impact with praise rather than harsh words.  I save my harsh words for the politicians.
I knew what went into each quilt.   The time they spent, the thoughts they worked out while working on the piece and the love.  It was touching.  As the gallery group followed me from quilt to quilt, I came to a quilt I will never forget.  It’s hard to describe.  It wasn't as well executed as the others, far from it.  But I knew the love that went into this quilt.   Its sashing was quilted and full of wrinkles.  She had used puffy batting.  The blocks where made up of the back of Sunbonnet Sam, in his overalls.   She had lovingly made each little sunbonnet boy out of clothing from her son’s baby clothes.  There were overalls made with Bob the Builder, Oshkosh B'Gosh overalls, a John Deere tractor t-shirt, even a Wiggles t-shirt.  As I was talking about this quilt I looked up and there in front of me was the mother and her son, about 7 years old.   I knew it was the quilt maker and the son right away as they had made there way to the front of the crowd.  I got a lump in my throat because I knew that this quilt was made with love for someone very special.  The boy looked lovingly up at his mom.  As I stated that fact I thought of my son, now in the Marines. Soon he will be off to Afghanistan.  How much that quilt will mean one day when that small boy becomes a man, I told the group before me.  To me this was the most important quilt there.  Because I also made a quilt for my son that was made with love and no skill.  Puffy batting, very big stitches and more than one wrinkle in the sashing. But it is the best quilt I have ever made because my little boy, like hers, napped with it, cried on it, and was warmed by it.   I knew what this mom felt.  I saw the pride in her eyes when her boy looked up at her with love.    How many mothers have made quilts out of love, not skill, just love to say I love you son and will always be there for you.
So, for all of you who have made that same quilt, I give you, now that I am a real judge, The Loving Stitches Award.   It’s a priceless award, worth its weight in gold.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Of Russians and Rain Drops

It's been over a month and our home is still in the process of getting a much needed face-lift.  I said the house, not me.  She got new windows and new siding to replace the dry rot.  It so air tight that the air conditioning actually turns off on a 103 degree day.
She is still the yellow beauty she was meant to be.  The interesting thing is the siding manufacturer calls this yellow color Cream.  The same color we got in trouble for with the color Nazis back in 2002.  You can read about that episode here.

Yes, Yuri and his Russian crew are still here fixing her up. How things in the world have changed just in my lifetime.  They are a group of really nice guys that understand more English than they let on.  After a month I have adopted them all.  I just call them my boys.  If Joe's dad was still alive he would have a field day with this.  Russians in our yard working on our house.   For all the years I knew him he pretended he was Italian.   I have been researching Joe's family genealogy and on his fathers side, I come to find out, is a grandfather and grandmother who were Russian and Polish.  So when I hear my boys talking,  I think of how it was when Joe's grandfather, who emigrated here in 1911, didn't speak English and had to work and fit in right away.   Just like my boys. Would I be able to do that?  And most important, why did Joe's dad always say he was Italian? Interesting, isn't it?

So while my boys have been hammering away I have been making this quilt and thinking. 
I took the original picture after we had a big rain storm.  I love the rain drops running down the petals.  I'm not sure what the name of the flower is, but it's a vine that grows like crazy in my back yard.   I have looked at this photo for about a year waiting for the right time to make it.   I always like to challenge myself and wanted to see if I could do a flower covered in rain drops.  I was asked to participate in this year's International Quilt Festival in Houston silent action and this will be my contribution, which is kind of ironic because I missed the entry date for the show for the 2 quilts I have been working on since last year.  I can't believe I missed the cut off date, but I did. So I will be there just teaching a new pattern I designed just for Houston.  But let's just say, that if it wasn't for all these big shows, giving me the venue to show my art,  I wouldn't have all these great teaching jobs and be traveling the world.  Without the big shows I would have had plenty of time and an open calender to get my quilts in to Houston on time.   So it is very bittersweet, and funny, that I missed the cut off date. 

The first year I went to the Houston Show, I was so blown away.  My friend, Dawn, took me that year to expose me to the quilting world.  We walked through the silent action where Dawn bid on a stunning Diane Gaudynski whole cloth quilt.  No bigger than 12" square.   She has it hanging in her beautiful home and I know it cost $$$.  So when I was asked to participate in  this years auction I stopped everything and made the quilt shown here, Rain Drops.  I encrusted it in thread and the back is as pretty as the front, so, if you are going to the IQA Houston show, start the bidding.

That there are even a places for me to show my art  is so amazing.  I am truly grateful. To think that I can now financially help out my husband, after all these years of being a stay at home mom/artist.  To have a funny group of Russians putting badly needed siding on my notorious Yellow House is awesome.  It wouldn't have happened if it wasn't for the quilting world.  THANK YOU!