Road to California, 2102–part 4

Sorry about finishing up the last Road post so abruptly.  I was headed out to have lunch with my son (a monthly event that had gotten sidetracked by my surgery) and to visit Purl Soho’s location in Tustin, California.  It’s sort of a non-fabric, fabric store, meaning all the inventory is there, but it’s warehouse style.  The ladies there are cheerful and helpful and I visited with them as I looked around.  They have a whole room of fabric and a whole room of yarns–so beautiful.  My fat quarter in Friday’s post was from there.  I bought it as much for the Purl Soho ribbon as the colors.

I’d like to finish up Road in this post, so forgive if it’s photo-heavy.

Mabel-A 1952 REO, was pieced and quilted by Susan J. Cane and is a depiction of the first antique truck that she and her husband purchased.  The techniques in this quilt came from a workshop by Katie Pasquini Masopust and include edge-turned machine applique and textile paint.

A View from Above, by Sheila Frampton-Cooper of Van Nuys, California began as a small color study, but began to grow.

Terrific, with fabulous quilting.

I call these two quilts “tablecloth” quilts as they are basically old lacy linens laid over a backing fabric, then quilted.  They are both by Cindy Needham of Chico, California; this one’s titled The Nuns Quilt as the linen was handmade by nuns in the 1900s.  This was hand-quilted and beaded.

Infinity (below) has beads and pearls added (no sparkles!), as well as a doily added to the center for embellishment.

Detail of Infinity.

I turned off the flash on the camera so as to show the quilting and detail better, so it might be slightly blurry.

I was getting tired by this point, so many of these I have no names for.  This was an interesting black and white quilt in Ricky Tims’ curated exhibit, which also included a whole passel of fabulous brilliantly colored quilts.

This is from the faculty section and this quilt is Karen Eckmeier’s: Seeking Balance.  Quite of few of our little quilting group head to this show, and at this point, I was walking with Laurel–this was her favorite.  We got up very close to see how it was done.

All these little houses are raw edge applique, overlayed with tulle, then quilted, a technique that’s been on my radar for some time now, but have never tried.

FriendLilyBlossoming, by Cynthia Neville, Karen Fitzpatrick, Mary Kay Runyon of St. Louis Missouri, and was quilted by Cynthia Neville.  These group of friends got together to create this quilt, a stunning pictoral image of lillies.

This glorious crazy piece quilt made a lot of us stop in our tracks because the colors are so un-typical of that type of quilt: bright greens, pinks, purples instead of the browny reds, navies and gold of antique crazy pieced quilts.

The title is Crazy for Flowers, and is made by Allison Aller.  There was a grouping of interesting crazy quilts in an exhibit, much like the faculty exhibit and the Ricky Tims collective of quilts.  I saw more of these at this year’s show, including an incredibly mediocre collection from a shall-not-be-named quilt guild from another part of the country, which was Sponsored By a retail establishment which shall also not be identified.  From there, I draw the Award Winners for The Ugly Quilt, a tradition on this blog.

Ugly #1.  This poor little quilt has nothing going for it: not design, fabric, balance, nor technique.  The overly plump flower petals distort the backing, pulling it out of square.  I can forgive some of this because this was her first quilt.  You’ve all seen mine and if I were to exhibit it in a Road to California setting, I could surely have won the Ugly Quilt award.

But Ugly Quilt #2 surely has no excuse: a hideous use of fabric/textile/yarn/whatever along with an edging that makes you scratch your head and wonder what was going on in HER head?

And here comes my bit of sour grapes.  Ahem.

When I see valuable floor space given over to these “Sponsored By” exhibits, I begin to wonder what in heaven’s name was going on the organizers’ heads (?) to admit these quilts onto their exhibit floor.  I’ve talked it over with a few people and it probably all comes to down to two things: time and/or money.  Time–it takes time to look through all our applications, sift through them, write us back, but all of that has been streamlined by a process where we upload online, pay online, type in our own blurbs by ourselves.  Money–For each quilt submitted, there is a ten-dollar fee, so Road extracted thirty bucks right out of my pocket.  That’s the game if you want to enter, and I get that.  They also took 20 more dollars out of my pocket (two days of entry).  So all told I “donated” fifty bucks to them even before I bought anything (of which the vendors pay rental, and if I’m not mistaken, a percentage of their sales to the Quilting Establishment).  While we think of this as a Quilt Show, it’s really a Business.  Fair Enough.

But when my quilts don’t get in, or the quilts of my friend Leslie, or the supposedly hundreds of other quilts that applied and were rejected–and then I see Ugly #1 and Ugly #2 in a “Sponsored By” booth–I begin to realize that these quilts are in here because somebody sponsored the group they came from (think $$$) which allowed them to claim floor space at Road.  I see the same thing at Long Beach–a really sparse exhibit, filled in only by groupings Sponsored By someone or another, but theirs is not a juried show.

Some exhibits are fascinating.  Some are of a single quilt artist, like the “quilt” of a foreclosed house by Susan Else, and are worth having.  But I saw too many in this show that, while there were some standout quilts, the bulk of the exhibit was a waste of my time and my money.  Is this the direction quilt shows are going?  They have to stay alive, as does any business, but when the value given is not worth the cost of the part of the consumer, the balance shifts.

For me, the balance has shifted to the vendors and their booths.  That’s where I am getting my ideas for quilts.  That’s where the “heart” of the show is now–with bright sunny smiles like that of Eleanor Burns–who understands the balance needed to keep the customer happy.

And I have to say, that the allure of shopping at a quilt show–with its variety of booths and vendors and different types of fabrics, has diminished now with the availability of fabrics over the internet.  Indeed, two of my favorite vendors didn’t make an appearance this year, but no worries– I’ll go and look them up online to peruse their wares.  And while nothing can substitute for seeing the quilts in person (and the reason I will probably always go to this show year after year), I can get a lot of this online from Flickr sites, blogs, and from magazines.

One favorite is Susan Gower of Nifty Thrifty Dry Goods, who comes with her van all the way from the other side of the country. I have a couple of her button and bead bracelets.

A new one: Traditions at the White Swan, all the way from Maryland.

Jillily Studio, with her clever and fun watermelon quilt pattern and a new line of fabrics.

And while I didn’t get a photo of their booth, with their fabulous quilts and ideas, I always stop at Superior Threads to say hi to Bob and Heather and see what’s up with thread.  (In fact, look for a giveaway from them later this month!)

Well, rant over.  I want to continue to go to this quilt show without feeling like I’m being sold down the river, or taken advantage of.  Perhaps the Powers That Be need to understand what a lot of our local quilt shops have figured out: customer service, good value and attention to the local clientale.

I’m leaving you with a few more photos, then will intersperse more over the coming weeks as needed.  Hope you’ve enjoyed a trip to the quilt show!

A Time for Healing–The Wannabees 1,000 Crane Quilt was made by a group of quilters from San Mateo California, in response to the tragedy of the tsunami in Japan last March.  They had all their friends from all over make and sign cranes, and were able to raise money to send for relief efforts.  It is truly a work of love and skill, and carries such a powerful message.  I could never find a time when someone wasn’t standing in front, reading the names on the cranes.

Detail.  I focused on this because I was gimping around, just after surgery, hoping to regain my health, but the idea of healing and hope and the thousand cranes is a resonant message, bringing solace to many.

And I’ll close with another image of me with a friend, a perfect bookend to the opening shot of Leisa and I standing together at the beginning of the show.  For over a year now, I’d been following Cindy on her blog, Live a Colorful Life.  I had first contacted her because of her pin cushions made out of selvages, offering her up some of my selvages.  I sent off a little package, glad that someone was using some of my fabrics in some way, and a few weeks later, she sent me a little box, with a sweet and wonderful pin cushion inside.  Through comments and emails, we moved from a more casual conversation to that of “pen pals,” if you can do such a thing electronically.  She wrote saying she was coming to Road, and I was able to meet up with her and her husband for lunch, and then we walked the floor for a while before I left for the day.

For I think we quilters really do like the community of quilters–we read and comment on each others’ blogs, we take ideas from one another, we link up for Works In Progress, Scraps, or various other online “bees”–a modern adaptation of the more traditional potluck-tie-a-quilt gathering of pioneer days.

Keep On Stitching!

7 thoughts on “Road to California, 2102–part 4

  1. you’re right Elizabeth – it’s a sad state of affairs when ‘quilts’ like the little ‘uglies’ are given show room – I go to shows to see quilts made with skill and am really disappointed when confronted by ones such as these. A similar thing appears to be happening in magazines – I understand that I won’t like every quilt they offer instructions for, but I am affronted by sub-standard finishes or shoddy workmanship evident in the photograph of the finished items. This is one of the major reasons I don’t buy many quilting magazines these days.
    Thanks for sharing…

  2. I love your quilt journal Elizabeth – thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and photos. I feel like I walked the halls of the show with you.

  3. Wonderful series of posts. Although your candor is part of what draws me to your blog, your quilt making is what keeps me here. Hope you’re feeling better soon.

  4. I think your observations have really been spot on. Perhaps the reason we are more inspired by the vendors is because they are making/selling the kinds of quilts we want to make. I’ve noticed the trend toward show quilts. Even women in my guild, who create a couple of ‘masterpieces’ and enter them in every show around for the next couple of years.
    There were a couple of ladies from my guild who won ribbons at the California show, but I didn’t see pictures of them. Both really nice ladies!

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