Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Quilt Market roundup

I’ve been home from Quilt Market in Portland, Oregon since early Monday morning, and I'm still exhausted. I don't think it is the time zone difference or the fact that I had a bad cold and sinus infection. I think it was the hundreds of quilt shop owners, publication editors, pattern designers, fabric designers and fabric company representatives, quilt and fiber artists that I talked with. The thousands of products and patterns and fabrics I saw. And all the sights and sounds and ideas my brain was trying to absorb during my stay at Market.

I was there to find out what quilt shop owners were looking for; to try to ascertain trends; to schmooze and network; to find out about new products; to find new markets for my quilt patterns; and to talk to magazine editors and book publishers. Right now, I still make most of my living doing graphic design work, but I'd love to make art quilts and quilt patterns my livelihood, since it is already my passion. Going to my first Quilt Market was a big step toward this goal.

For those of you who have never attended a Quilt Market (put on by Quilts, Inc. every fall in Houston before International Quilt Festival and every spring in a different U.S. city), here’s the lowdown. Quilt Market is a wholesale trade show. To get in, you have to present credentials proving you are a teacher, quilt shop owner, pattern designer, etc.

All day Thursday, they offer a Schoolhouse Series, where you can shift to a different room every 15-30 minutes and find out what is new from fabric designers, teachers, pattern designers, etc.) Some give away goodies (products or totebags). That night, they have Sample Spree, where attendees have the chance to buy fabric and products from a LOT of companies, often at wholesale prices. It is a madhouse. Last Sample Spree, there was apparently a fist-fight, according to Karey Bresenhan, who asked us all – in her wonderfully genteel Texas manner – to be ladies (and gentlemen) this year. Karey created Quilt Market in 1980.

On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, you can get into the exhibit hall, where everybody who is anybody in the quilt world is hob-nobbing with everyone else. You see hundreds of faces you recognize from TV and magazines. It is a big, happy quilt universe under one roof. You can also take short classes from excellent nationally-known teachers.

Okay. I'm taking a deep breath here and will try to recount some of what I experienced. Obviously, I could write for the next month and probably not cover it all.

Pokey Bolton, editor of Quilting Arts magazine, and her husband were both warm and welcoming when I stopped in to see my piece “Home Planet” (up at the top right in the photo above) hanging with the other pieces going into the 2008 Quilting Arts Calendar. My work will grace the April calendar page, to celebrate Earth Day, of course! I am so excited that my work was chosen; the other pieces are all exceptional.

Kathy Mack of Pink Chalk Studio and I met through the Quilt Designers Yahoo Group, and met for the first time in person at Market. Somehow we managed to run into each other three times (despite the pandimonium), so we must be destined to know each other. My mom declared that the way we greeted each other the first time, it looked like we were long lost friends. Check out her very funny observations about Market on her blog.

I did my best to advance her career (not that she needs any of my help!) by gushing about her talent and her beautiful patterns to everyone I met at Market. She has a beautiful “Mail Sack” pattern coming out soon. Kathy is a fast-rising star in the quilt/fabric world. I'll be able to say “I knew her when...”

At Market, taking a class is a great way to re-energize your creative soul, center your psyche and rest your aching feet. We all had a ball stamping and doing rubbings in Rayna Gillman's class with bubble wrap, construction fence sections, Cedar Canyon’s rubbing plates and Shiva Paintstiks, and fabric paints. Rayna has a new book coming out this summer from C&T Publishing (they make so many great fiber arts books!) called “Create your own hand-printed cloth,” and I'm going to pre-order it very soon. Rayna blogged about her Market experience, too, and included some cool shots of Portland, so check it out.

I had never been to Portland and I really loved it. This is a city that truly embraces art and artists. Gorgeous scenery, amazing restaurants, inspiring architecture, fascinating street life. My mom and I didn’t have much time for sight-seeing, but we did go to the Chinese Garden (spectacular) and the Saturday Market, chock full of art and handcrafts. And we ate Thai, Chinese and Peruvian in between snacking and re-caffeine-ating ourselves at a multitude of local coffee shops.

I took a class on Angelina with Betty Blais of Embellishment Village that was also very interesting, but forgot to get her photo! I learned some new Angelina techniques from her that I will be adding to my Creative Surface Design class, and discovered some new ways to use Angelina film (also called Textiva), which I had recently purchased.

The Crafter's Workshop booth had the coolest stencils that I found out about in Rayna’s class and loved so much that I ran straight out after class and bought some. They make some very contemporary stencils that you can use with paint or Shiva Paintstiks to create wonderful texture on fabric.

Now here's something I'm really excited about. I had never heard of Stewart Gill products until I wandered into the Creative Textile Zone’s booth. There I met Sally Richards (left), who will be distributing their products in the U.S.; Rebecca Gill (center), the textile artist who helped create them with her husband; and Dorothy Adam (right), a North Yorkshire artist who demonstrated how to use them. I am hooked. They have a very soft hand, even when dry. They are fairly viscous, and stay where they are put, but can be diluted into lovely color washes. They are acid free and archival. They are heat-settable and washable. Oh, and they have stamps and stencils to die for. I ordered a bit of everything and am eager to try them out once they arrive. Soon, pleeeeeease!

Stewart Gill is based in Fife, Scotland, near the University of St. Andrews, where I spent my junior year of college. Note the tartan wrapped around the three wonderful ladies in the photo above.

I got to meet Maggie Walker, who has long been one of my quilt heroines for her spectacular needle-turn designs. Here’s one of the roosters that grace a pattern she was debuting this market. She does roosters like no one else! I love her new sea shell design, too. She is very sweet and kind, and gave me good advice and contacts.

Laurie Simpson and Polly Minick of Minick & Simpson are quilters (Laurie) and rug hookers (Polly) extraordinaire who have designed some of my favorite traditional lines of fabric for Moda. In fact, I'm working now on finishing up a queen size quilt that uses their “Prairie Paisley” line, introduced last fall. Their “Winter” line is new this Market.

Here’s how Moda/United Notions had my “Tulip Bag” and “A Dozen Hearts” pattern samples displayed (they are the pink items in this photo). Moda’s booth is one of the loveliest, largest and busiest booths at Market. I was told to not even try to get near their space at Sample Spree during the first half hour, and it was mobbed. They were giving away huge vintage-looking market tote bags (free with a purchase) and I REALLY wanted one, but I could not get close enough to shop.

This is me with Morna McEver Golletz, publisher and editor of The Professional Quilter magazine, standing in front of my art quilt, “Harbinger’s Hope.” Professional Quilter is a valuable resource for anyone involved in the business of quilts. I am a Professional Quilter subscriber, and responded to Morna’s request for quilts to hang in her booth, then brought “Harbinger’s Hope” stufffed in my suitcase to her in Portland. I also attended her most informative lecture on marketing via computer e-mails and blogs. Thanks for everything, Morna!

Melissa Averinos will debut her first line of fabric called “Sugarsnap” for Free Spirit in August 2008. I love what I’ve seen of it so far. Melissa wins my prize for most creative business card I picked up at Market (and I came home with about 200!). It is a 6x16" screen-printed piece of fabric (see photo below) that lists her job title as "designer/artist/good listener.” (She was. I was there talking to Jeffrey Prescott of Westminster Fibers, for a long time, and she did listen.)

Melissa took some fantastic photos of some of the Westminster Fibers/Free Spirit designers’ booths and posted them on her blog, so you’ll want to check it out for sure. She was very sweet, despite being rather under the weather.

The kind, sweet, funny and sincere Artgirlz were a blast. The Artgirlz are Rhode Island artists Allison and Tracy Stilwell. They were recently featured in Cloth Paper Scissors magazine. I asked for a photo opp in an effort to snuggle up to these two, hoping that some of the incredible creativity they simply ooze would rub off on me. They were happy to oblige.

I have been buying and loving their wool felt beads, pewter charms, and stamps since I discovered them at International Quilt Festival in 2006. At this Market, I discovered their new felt purses called Big Bags, which I absolutely MUST HAVE NOW. You can see some of their products and find out more about them on their blog.

Going into Cindy Taylor Oates’ booth was like sinking your teeth into a sugary sweet cupcake! Cute to the max. Cindy says she has been designing patterns for 28 years (seriously, she can't be that old!) and orders for her little Cupcake Pincushions, Retro Aprons book, and Little Retro Aprons for Kids (a new book of aprons for children) were selling like hotcakes when I was in her booth. In between, she gave me some valuable advice. Thanks, Cindy!

Cindy’s blog shows off her work and illustrates her incredible talent for displays and merchandising.

Debra Lunn of Lunn Fabrics shows off a quilt made from her glorious new line of batiks for Robert Kaufman’s batik division called Artisan Batiks. For this quilt, you cut up their new fabric (designed with 1-inch-wide stripes) on the diagonal, then sew the strips down on a foundation fabric to keep the bias from going wonky. Yep, that’s it. The fabric does the work for you. Cool.

I met Debra and her partner, Michael Mrowka, at their Lancaster, Ohio, studio during the Studio Art Quilt Associates 2007 conference. (It is their fault that the zipper on my suitcase popped during my flight home. I could not resist their delicious batiks and hand-dyeds.) Debra gave a very interesting slideshow of how they work with craftsmen in Java to make the batiks. They spend two to three months of the year working there, in collaboration with local craftsmen.

Jacqueline de Jonge of Be Colourful had some spectacular quilts in her booth, all pieced and handquilted by her. Her patterns are intricate, and most feature undulating triangles and circles. As the name of her pattern company suggests, her designs are also very bright; she has a fantastic sense of color.

Okay, that's it for now. I may remember more later!