Quilting and Computers Join Forces in Holland

When I announced the publication of TVQ in June 1995, among the first to take an interest were Maria Kuijs and Henk van Beelen of the Netherlands. The husband and wife own Procam Nederland and Fotobank Nederland, a photopress agency and electronic bulletin board system for photographers in Nijmegen, a major city in the southeast of Holland, near the German border. Maria described how their business evolved:

"This started off some years ago as a small photopress agency. There are however quite a lot of these in our country and when [Henk] bought a computer to start a dbase for his photographs some five years ago, he also discovered the possibilities of bulletin board systems, Internet, and so forth. Running a BBS for photographers under the name Fotobank Nederland has now become his main business and he has become quite successful doing it. He now provides information, software and a helpdesk for photographers and people who are involved/interested in imaging and new media and advises both amateurs and professionals in the field of communication and Internet."

Meanwhile Maria, a speech and language therapist by profession, developed an interest in quilting. "I started quilting 6 years ago and now give several courses for beginners and advanced quilters," she says. "I hope to go into fulltime quilting in the near future. I *don't* like sewing machines, so all my quilts are handpieced and handquilted, the traditional and quiet way."

Being "traditional and quiet" has not prevented Maria and Henk from being forward-looking, however, and their interests in computers and quilting merged when they recently acquired the distributorship for The Electric Quilt software in the Netherlands. "It was only logical that we would install a Quilt conference into the already existing BBS Fotobank Nederland," Maria says. "Because of the software we use for it, PCBoard, this conference can be shielded off completely. In the future, when things work out, we will start a completely separate 'Quilt BBS.' The Quilt conference on the Fotobank will be available by the end of July of this year."

I asked Maria about the quilting community in Holland, and what its traditions are. "The quilting community in Holland is relatively young," she said, "or should I say perhaps, is going through a revival. Like a lot of crafts that existed through the centuries, quilting faded and people lost interest in handcrafts. At the end of the seventies and the beginning of the eighties a small group rediscovered quilting. They again found the traditional patterns and techniques, but had to find them abroad, since there were no shops or books over here. In an incredibly short time this has changed. The Netherlands now have the largest quilt guild in Europe and it's still growing fast. The Dutch Quilting Guild has existed for 11 years and is a member of the EQA, the European Quilters Association. People sew and quilt by hand *and* machine, they use traditional patterns but they too create their own designs, sometimes very modern! Machine quilting is not done very much over here, mostly because the machines can't do it!:-)."

When I asked her how computer-literate the quilting community in the Netherlands is, Maria was quite frank: "We have no idea. This may sound a bit silly, but is true. We know for a fact that a major part of the 'Quilting Society' in the Netherlands is quite well off in the sense of living standards. I do not really know what relative term would characterize this in the USA, but I am sure you know what I mean.

"The Netherlands, as most European countries, is well behind as far as integration of computers into the family is concerned, compared to the USA," she observed. "However the major computer brands have declared 'war' on Europe in the past year and this has raised sales enormously. Taking this into account, as well as the explosive growth of bulletin board systems and Internet in The Netherlands, we see great business opportunities.

"In the September issue of 'Quiltnieuws,' [the newsletter of the Dutch Quilting Guild] there will be reviews of the major quilt design programs, like EQ, Quilt-Pro, etc. We will be ready by then to serve customers in The Netherlands and neighbouring countries with EQ products as well as a complete voice and online support service system. As far as other computer/quilting related things are concerned, it is all just starting over here. But the key people are eager to learn all about these products and we want to provide them with lots of information and new products."

(c) Copyright 1995-2012 by The Virtual Quilt Company. All rights reserved.


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