| Four Local Quilt Shows, Spring 2001
THE STAY-AT-HOME QUILTER: Two Tampa Bay Area Quilt Shows
By Christina Holland
I haven't done much traveling this spring, but luckily my part of the world seems to be full of quilters and quilt events I've gone to two quilt shows in the past couple of months - the first a bit of a drive up to Largo, Florida, and the second just a block away from my office in St. Petersburg, Florida. There were familiar faces at both, and plenty to see and do.
Celebrate the Quilt: Explore the Art
** For photos of some of these quilts, point your browser to http://planetpatchwork.com/shows/clearwater.htm
I'm not that familiar with Largo, so my first challenge was to find the show. It was located in a church, and the newspaper ad helpfully provided the cross-streets, so I used Yahoo Maps to get driving directions and started driving north. If you've used those mapping tools, you probably already know that they're normally about 95% correct, but that other 5% is often the most important piece. About an hour later, quite a ways further north than I should have been, I pulled off and got the Florida atlas out of the trunk as I should have done in the first place.
Pulling into the church parking lot, I discovered it was actually quite a large place, with multiple buildings. I soon met up with other lost souls, though, and after only a few missteps we found our way to the quilt show. Things started off right for me; as soon as I opened my program I found that I had won a door prize. My prize was a collection of embroidery floss and a paper piecing pattern of a hummingbird. The lady at the table asked me first if I did any sewing, so I guess there were other prizes available for those who don't do needlework.
One thing I love at quilt shows is to read the tags on each work. Sure, some just have the name of the piece, the artist and the measurements. Quite a few have intriguing bits of stories, though. Marilyn Elliot writes that she saves every fabric scrap larger than a square inch, and her granddaughter loves to choose from among them. That's how a charming miniature like "One of a kind logs" is born. Of her colorful "Dresden Plate," Glovanna Perricone writes "This quilt was started in the late '70's. After putting together a few blocks I decided it was too bright and put it aside. In the late '90's a friend said 'this quilt could be beautiful with the right sashing.' Soooo, after all these years it was finished in 1997." That gives me some hope for the half dozen or so unfinished projects I've got lying around.
One of my favorite pieces of this show was "Gaku", by Mildred Dort. This was a miniature, 28"x28", with a red Japanese print on white. She used reverse applique, which gave it a different kind of depth. The quilting (machine done) was varied over the quilt - a simple grid over some, free style in another area, and some stylized leaves and flowers along one side This was a nice touch, subtly reinforcing the floral motif of the piece.
Of course, no quilt show experience would be complete without stopping in at the booths. Several of the bay area shops were represented. On this day, as usual, I acquired most of my loot from the good people at Rainbows End Quilt Shoppe, but there was fun browsing to be had all around the hall. I just wish I could remember at which booth I found a wonderfully quirky print, and a matching border fabric, of cats eating sushi.
Largo Cracker Quilters, formed in 1982, meets every Monday morning (holidays excepted) at 10 am in the Enrichment Center of St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Largo, Florida.
Today's Pleasures ... Tomorrow's Treasures IX
**For photos of some of these quilts, point your browser to http://planetpatchwork.com/shows/stpete.htm
"Quilts by the Bay" is located every year in the gym of the campus activities center of my campus. Practically in my office, it couldn't be more convenient for me. This year, I might easily have missed it; I've been immersed in my work lately to the exclusion of all other thoughts. As fate would have it, on the day before the show, a very disgruntled fellow graduate student came by to complain to my office-mate that he'd gone to shoot hoops, but couldn't get into the gym due to "some kind of quilt fair."
This was my second year visiting "Quilts by the Bay," and I was most impressed. There were many more, perhaps twice as many, quilts on exhibit this year. They are, in fact, rapidly outgrowing the available space. The organizers did a good job of laying it out to maximize the surface area on which quilts could be hung, for the most part. Many quilts, though, need to be viewed from a little ways back (that also makes photographing them much easier), and that was not always possible.
The buzz around the aisles was all about Pauline Salzman. A high profile exhibitor in this area, she had at least four quilts exhibited at this show. Her quilts are very near to photo quality, with an amazing degree of detail and texture added by intricate and multi-layered machine quilting. Two were portraits of her dogs: "Opposites Attract" and "Bone Appetite." My favorite Salzman quilt on display at this show was "All stressed out ... No one to choke ... So I might as well eat!" which features a woman at a table, surrounded by household traumas, diving into a mountainous ice cream sundae.
One very nice thing about the "Quilts by the Bay" show, though, is the wide range of quilting experience on display. For every Pauline Salzman quilt or similar, there's one by a relative beginner. On the tag beside "My Cats", the artist Marion Hayman wrote "My first pieced quilt ... I would have done it differently." I can understand that feeling as I often second-guess my own work, but this is an excellent work, tying together many different techniques including patchwork, applique, and embroidery.
Bugs seemed to be big this year. I mean big as a theme, of course, but the bugs themselves came up to a foot across, too, and colorful. Which I suppose is only natural, here in Florida. "Variety", made by Jean Chapman for her granddaughter's first birthday, is a prime example, with huge caterpillars, bumblebees, and such roaming inside of border of smaller cartoony bug fabric. "Butterflies and Tulips" by Louise Lawrence was another striking quilt, with vibrant colors. I was also drawn towards "Children's Autumn Impressions." The fabric for each block was painted using leaf prints by the 3-year old students of Preschool 1, Our Savior Lutheran School. The teacher, Barbara Williams, then assembled the blocks into a quilt.
After much wandering, looking, and photographing, I decided I desperately needed to buy stuff, so off to the booths I went. All of the major shops in the area: Rainbows End, the Sewing Circle, Country Quilts and Bears, and more were in attendance. Someone at Rainbows End is very smart; they had two big baskets of fat quarters right up front, marked "bugs" and "cats". Needless to say, I got several of each. I also bought some cat fabric from Treasure Chest Quilts. They're located in Port St. Lucie, Florida, but I'll have to figure out an excuse to make the trip soon. Finally, I stopped by Ruth Carolyn Miller's booth. I've been eyeing her "quilt patterns with a Florida theme" for a while now, but she has so many different ones I couldn't narrow it down until now. I did learn that she researches the feeding preferences of each species of turtle, so as to place them in the pattern in the proper environment, with the proper food nearby. I bought Gracie the Green Sea Turtle, who eats various sea-weeds.
The Suncoast Quilting Circle, established in 1981, meets in the fellowship hall of the First Church of God in St. Petersburg, Florida every Wednesday morning.
TWO GEORGIA SHOWS
By Lynn Holland
Cotton Patch Quilters
As the expression goes, when it rains, it pours. So went our weekend when we had planned an expedition to nearby Watkinsville, Georgia to check out the plants at Hellebore Days held by Piccadilly Farms. Since this is sort of the first official spring planting event at our house, we eagerly anticipated our annual tour of the beautiful garden that surrounds the nurseryís retail sales area. However, on that Saturday, we awoke to serious thunderstorms and weather predictions of downpours all day. Although it was storming mightily, the chance to purchase some of the most gorgeous Lenten Roses anywhere outweighed the awful weather. We donned ugly shoes and dragged umbrellas in preparation for a slog in the mud.
So what does a rainy day at the plant farm have to do with quilting? As luck would have it, we noticed the sign for the Cotton Patch Guild Quilt Show just as we made the turn by the Oconee County Civic Center. Since we had driven all that way, we certainly couldn't ignore the obvious serendipity of a quilt show right on the very same road, now could we? After getting not too wet and buying some beautiful goodies for our yard, we stopped at the show.
Scraping the mud off our shoes, we noticed the usual hallmarks of this talented guild. The foyer offered a number of important touches: There was a guide for folks attending their first quilt show. For the children in the group, there was an "I-Spy" list, accompanied by small pencils. A large detailed display explained the process of quilt making to those unfamiliar with the basics. There was a board suggesting ways to get started in quilt-making. A Q-Snap frame was flanked by members demonstrating and teaching hand quilting stitches. Of course, there was a raffle quilt, a kids' design-a-block area and a huge table selling finished products made by guild members. (Including some beautiful and reasonably priced vests.) And this was just the foyer! As in the past, Cotton Patch holds a very friendly show. Many of the attendees are friends or family of the exhibiting quilters, and there is always lots of hugging and chattering.
The program is a pared-down, two page affair, listing the quilts and their makers on one page and the prizewinners on the other. The impersonality of this is counteracted by having the quilter's comments posted right next to the quilt. I liked this approach, because it eliminated my having to frantically flip through the program while trying to look at quilts; however, I did miss being able to re-read the comments later.
The show was a manageable one, having about two hundred quilts total. The vendors' area rings the exhibition, so you could wander in and out from exhibits to booths. The only drawback to the show was food. We were dying of hunger and thirst, having forgotten even our bottled water. There wasn't a candy or soda machine in sight. Surely a show that drew as many viewers as we saw could support a hot dog stand or something outside - even a church bake sale could make a few dollars in this venue.
The Great American Cover-up
**For photos of some of these quilts, point your browser to http://planetpatchwork.com/shows/roswell.htm
One of the signs of spring we have come to anticipate with the first daffodils is the Bulloch Hall Quilt Show, known as "The Great American Cover-Up." The theme for this year's show, "Through the Garden Gate," led us to believe that we're not the only ones who have made a strong floral connection with the timing of the show. As for the past 18 years, the show spanned two March weekends and a total of ten viewing days. It was held in the mid-1900s mansion that was built by an ancestor of Theodore Roosevelt, which adds a touch of history as well as a fantastic setting for displaying quilts.
That touch of history is enhanced each year by a fabulously detailed program that is produced by the guild. Along with the basic identifying facts for every quilt is an accompanying story, often in the maker or owner's own words. Many of these quilts were not made by their current owners, and many tell family histories or tales of yard sale luck. Although the descriptions range from a sentence or two to several paragraphs, they add a richness and personal feel to the show I have seldom seen duplicated. For a number of years, I have kept the programs and re-read them from time to time. There's something appealing about the story behind, say, Sandy Henry's "Separated Twins" quilts. Both quilts were made due to a scrap quilt project that multiplied, and her friend loved it so well (and knew her stash would never have that many fabrics) that she bought the extra quilt. Hence, the separation of the twins. Who canít identify with the baby quilt that was finished just in time for the "baby's" thirteenth birthday, or the lap quilt that had to wait to be finished because even with air conditioning, it's too hot to quilt in Georgia in the summer? Then there are stories of ferrets for whom quilts are named, a quilt made by 7- year-old boy as a reward for good behavior, and lovely quilts that commemorate since-failed marriages!
Every room of the house displays quilts, including the kitchen and the attic. Quilts are displayed on beds, pianos, walls, tables -- you name it. The antique quilts mix in with the new and provide a pleasant insight into how quilts have changed and remained the same. This 206-quilt show included the annual raffle quilt hanging in the dining room, right behind the guild members who were sitting by the frame that held next year's project.
In many of the rooms of the house, quilters sat demonstrating various aspects of the art. One quilter sitting with her hoop was asked how long she had been working on the log cabin project she was hand-quilting. "Oh, forever," she said. "I only drag it out for the show each year!" This same guild member got up from her quilting to show a pre-teen quilter the difference between four-patch and nine-patch by taking her to the next room to find some clear examples.
Every year, the show seems to draw a more varied group of viewers. While I was there, I heard at least two languages besides English. On my way out, someone from the British Isles was entering the mansion, explaining to a friend, "It's kind of like what they call a comforter up north, I think." I think they were in for a pleasant surprise.
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