While I love you dearly, I was tempted, almost beyond my ability to resist, to stay in bed this morning and not bother opening the shop. “Why?” you ask. Because it was dark, rainy, and just a perfect day for staying in bed snoozing, or maybe reading a book. With Paducah coming to an end, and it being a rainy day, I was pretty sure no one much would be out and about today. Unfortunately, I was right.
While I know quilters in this area and beyond look forward to the AQS show in Paducah each year, quilt shop owners do not. Well, maybe I should only speak for myself. This quilt shop owner doesn’t look forward to Paducah time because it pretty much kills business for the whole month of April and on into May. “Why?” you ask again. Because folks who make plans to go to Paducah save their money for weeks before the trip, then spend their money on the trip, and then are broke once they get back home from the trip for a few more weeks. It really takes a bite out of our monthly sales figures. Not good for a small, independent quilt shop. Even if they don’t buy all that much at the show it still costs a dollar or two to make the trip, especially if they stay for three or four days.
In past years, we’ve had folks drop in on their way to Paducah which is always nice. We didn’t this year as far as I could determine. We also have had folks drop in on their way back home from Paducah. Again, I don’t think a single person who’s been on their way home stopped by. I’m not sure what to make of that, but I have some theories rolling around in my head that I’ll let stay there for the time being.
I have heard, by way of conversations, from a few ladies who went that the quilts, while mostly beautiful, were too artsy for their taste and there was almost nothing there that they’d take the time to make. The skill level was amazing as one would expect, but the “life” in the quilts left something to be desired. One person thought there were too many pictorial quilts, something she’d never bother trying…me neither for that matter. Call me old fashioned (I’ve been called worse and probably will be again if you keep on reading), but I still marvel as much if not more over the appliqué quilts made back in the ‘30s and the hand quilting that was done on them than over the modern/contemporary quilts of today. Maybe that’s because those quilts from long ago were made with very primitive tools by comparison to what we have today, and the fabrics were whatever the quilter could get her hands on. No matchy matchy, dye or print fabric especially for a particular quilt back then.
I know I’m opening a can of worms here, and no, I’m not knocking or belittling the quilts that were exhibited this year, or any year. I greatly admire the work of these artists and know enough to appreciate all the time and energy that gets put into these quilts. I well remember my introduction into the world of art quilting by Caryl Bryer Fallert and her stunning quilt New Dawn. I went to Martha Pullen’s Quilt Academy the very first year it was held, and every year thereafter, just to see Nancy Zieman. She was the only person on the program who I’d ever heard of. You have to understand, at this point in time I was not into quilting but was very much into sewing, especially children’s garments. In that same venue I not only saw Mrs. Zieman and Mrs. Fallert-Gentry, but I also fell under the spell of Jinny Beyer and Ricky Tims. This was a three day event and I went home after the first day with brain overload…bigtime!
When I got home I pulled up New Dawn on the computer to show my husband. I told him I’d found what I wanted for Christmas (you can stop laughing any time now…). When he saw the photo of the quilt his exact words were, “That’s not a quilt!” When I told him it was an art quilt he was just as dumbfounded as I had been. Who would have thought that someone could take fabric and make something that looked so much like a painting. To this day that remains one of my most favorite quilts to look at. Victoria saved a photo of it to my phone and that’s what shows up any time I press the “on” button. She also saved a photo of Ricky Tim’s Fire Dragon Rhapsody (you might have to scroll down a few rows to see it). This is the quilt I see after I swipe the little arrow to open my phone. It is also the quilt that Mr. Tims debuted at our shop in April 2005 when he taught here. He’d not entered it into Paducah that year because he’d entered the Lonestar quilt he and his dad had done together. So you see, I do appreciate and admire art quilts.
It just appears to me, by way of observation, that the quilting world seems to still be split into two sectors. If that truly is the case, and neither the twain shall meet, maybe the shows need to be split as well. Maybe there needs to be a major show for traditional quilters and a separate major show for the contemporary, art, and modern quilter. Just thinkin’ out loud here…
According to the speaker at a recent guild meeting, quilts that won ribbons years ago wouldn’t even be considered for shows today. I know the observation wasn’t meant to sound snooty, but I couldn’t help but kinda hear it that way. I have no doubt that those quilts from years ago were just as well made but not nearly as over the top as those we’re seeing now. If it’s true that skillfully made quilts that are traditional in nature will face higher hurdles just to make it into the major quilt shows where all the big money is to be had, then those quilts may very well be doomed to be relegated to local quilt shows where they may only get local exposure and never be seen by the larger quilting population who would appreciate them just as much as they do those over-the-top quilts at the major shows. And no, I’m not knocking the local quilt shows either because some of them are pretty good size and have some awesome quilts on display. I just can’t help but wonder what would happen if those quilters who prefer traditional quilts and who go to the AQS show in Paducah each year only to come back somewhat to very disappointed because they see their quilting world going more and more toward the artsy side of quilting decided to just quit going to the show all together. Would they be missed? Are there enough of the artsy quilt lovers out there to sustain a show of such magnitude? I’d already heard from vendors at past shows that sales were down and some vendors opted not to even go to one of the biggest shows on the books. Yes, it makes you wonder what would happen if the traditionally minded quilters stepped away, or “shrugged” if you will, and used their buying power differently. Hmmm…
OK…this whole post totally went down a rabbit trail because what I’d REALLY meant to tell you about is a new set of FREE projects called Quilting Editions that is supposed to start today on the Quilting Tizzy blog. Here is the list of supplies that you’ll need. Sheryl will give us two sets of instructions each month and showed four different projects that she’ll be sharing with us. I can’t wait to get to project #4 because that one has a teapot on it. As of this posting the instructions weren’t up yet but be patient. She has lots of critters vying for her attention, not to mention family and life in general. Just keep checking back until you see the instructions pop up. You could always subscribe to her blog which will prevent you from missing anything important. These projects should be quite interesting and will no doubt make me a bit hungry for strawberries, one of my all-time favorites. Let the cutting, and sewing, begin!