The MQA (Mississippi Quilt Ass'n) June gathering was this weekend and it came off without a hitch. I was one of the speakers Friday night (I took my timer this time so I knew when to shut up too!) and my talk and quilts seemed to be very well-received. Lots of interest and questions after the program and a bunch of people took pictures of me and the quilts. That surprised me. I've done several of those talks and I don't remember anyone doing that before. As I expected, "Sing" made a big hit and I intentionally saved it for last during my talk. Surprisingly, I think the second crowd favorite was the "Simplicity" quilt with all the sewing supplies on it, and it wasn't just because the women are quilters. Most everyone commented on having a lot of the old things at home themselves, and how much they loved them without using them, but couldn't bring themselves to throw out. I could see the gears clicking in their heads by the time some of them got through asking questions and checking out the assembly techniques.
I taught a beading and embellishment class all day Saturday and that was a ton of fun. I had a really good group of students, and we got a lot accomplished. I intentionally made the supplies list sort of vague so people would show up with a variety of fabrics and embellishments. It apparently worked too, since we had everything from a huge printed panel to a journal sized micro print. We looked at every piece and discussed scale and proportion of each. I think we solved every problem too, including the cute micro print. She just added a big applique of the same tiny motif and it was off to the races for her. Strangely enough, she was the only student who left class to buy more fabric this time. We had every type of fabric imaginable, from bright novelty prints to pastel watercolor fabric to a beautiful, rich looking blue and brown upholstery fabric. It was fun for me to see how the fabric choices "matched" the personalities of the women I knew. The enhancements we ultimately used ran the gamut from basic beading, with some fancy stitches thrown in, all the way through couched yarns and fibers to fabric paint and gel pens and dimensional overlays and bead encrusting to embroidery. I would LOVE to see all of the finished pieces. I did have 2 students from other classes stop by during the day to ask me for suggestions on their own work. I had to giggle at how they looked almost furtive about asking though. Maybe one day embellishment will be a universally accepted addition to a quilt. And in my own defense, "embellishment" doesn't always mean "stick more crap on it" either. Both suggestions I gave were very minor. One was simply a change in thread color, the other was to add a grand total of about a dozen color-coordinated seed beads. Embellishment isn't always about more-is-better, sometimes it's just about enhancing an existing element.
I'm hoping everyone left the class with a better idea of what can be done, when it's called for on their quilt, and that they are a little more open to considering the possibilities. I'm not advocating that everyone always embellish. I'm just hoping people who are very traditional will begin to see it as another tool in their arsenal of techniques. We have DEFINITELY come a long way in the last five years with that. They let us read our instructor critiques before we left yesterday and the one I liked best was the comment from a woman who said she was totally out of her box with embellishment when she signed up for the class, but left at the end of the day comfortable with going home and doing it on her own. I also got an email from a student last night who said she'd dragged out her beads after she got home, even before she unpacked her suitcase! THAT is the kind of motivation that keeps me coming back. I got so excited about the progress they made during the day, and how enthusiastic they were about doing more of it that I challenged them to a Bag O' Stuff round (limited to a quart bag and 25 people though) and I already had 4 signed up by 6:00 last night. I'll probably be a raving lunatic before we finish it up at the end of the summer, but I'm really looking forward to it. The cut-off for signing up is next Sunday, so if any of my 4 regular readers are interested, leave me a comment and I'll put you on the list.