Quilt Journalist Tells All!

October, 2010 By Meg Cox
I always go to either Quilt Market or Festival in Houston, never both, and it s hard to say which I like more. I will never forget how it felt a couple years ago, as I strode through the convention hall on the way to deliver my first ever Schoolhouse presentation, when my cell phone rang and it was my editor at Workman Publishing. She just thought I would want to know that Alex Anderson had called to say Every quilter needs this book! It was part of a blurb she wrote for The Quilter s Catalog, soon to be published. Who needed comfy shoes then? Not me. I was walking on air. But Festival is also amazing. It blows my mind to see so many heart-stopping quilts plus thousands of quilters in one place. This year, I ll be at Festival, and if you are coming, I hope you ll stop by and say Hi. I ll be spending most of my time at a table next to the exhibit called If These Quilts Could Talk. These are 14 quilts from the Alliance for American Quilt s oral history project, along with excerpts from the interviews, some of the 1,000-plus posted on our website. The exhibit offers a range -- from a first quilt made by a woman in prison, to a quilt made by Ricky Tims dad. FOLK ART MUSEUM SHOW BOFFO AND A SURPRISE BONUS The American Folk Art Museum in Manhattan just opened its Year of the Quilt, which includes an exhibition of masterpieces from the museum s noteworthy collection of 500 quilts. The show coincides with publication of a massive book called QUILTS: Masterworks from the American Folk Art Museum (Rizzoli, $75), featuring full-color photos of about 200 major quilts. The book is an must-have for anyone serious about quilt history, and even more so if you re unable to visit the museum this year. There are 35 stunning quilts on three floors of the museum, including iconic appliqué album quilts with fascinating family stories,

early wholecloth quilts, exquisite Amish quilts, a crazy quilt that will take your breath away and two contemporary pieces. Some are new acquisitions being shown for the first time, while others are old favorites. I m especially fond of the Bird of Paradise appliqué quilt top made around the time of the Civil War. I call it the Missing Man Quilt because it was found with paper templates for a man and a woman, yet only the woman is stitched to the top. It s a quilt that includes many of the fruits, flowers and nesting birds typical for a quilt of this time and place, but the absence of the expected male figure makes it poignant, mysterious and personal. This phase of the exhibit will remain on display until late April, when the museum will replace these 35 major quilts with an equal number of others from the vaults. The second installation will run until next October. All year long, other quilts will occupy AFAM s Lincoln Center location (the one with the bigger, better gift shop) a display of 20 appealing star-themed quilts. But wait there s more! When I went to the press opening earlier this month, the museum announced plans for a radically different additional display of quilts. For six days in late March, the cavernous Park Avenue Armory will be the site of the biggest quilt show in the history of Manhattan. More than 650 quilts will be shown, all of them red and white quilts, all of them owned by a single collector, who has insisted the show be FREE to all comers! The exhibit design is being done by a cutting-edge firm that normally takes on assignments like major pavilions at Epcot, so it s going to be a mind-blower. Wild horses couldn t keep me away from that quilt show. I hope I see you there. Meanwhile, the Folk Art Museum has hired me to lecture and teach in January. Stay tuned for details! BID ON AAQ AUCTION QUILTS NOW! The nonprofit Alliance has a great auction up on eBay right this minute. There are 30 quilts created for the New From Old contest this year, and bids for these 16 inch-by 16-inch quilts start at $50. This first week, we ve got quilts by bead guru Mary Stori, Canadian art quilter Pamela Allen, hip guy quilter Luke Haynes, and even one made by Mark

Lipinski. Plus one made from recycled Capri Sun packets and another that is a perfect Christmas gift for the cat-lover in your life. This first week ends on Monday night, November 1, so head over to www.ebay.com and search for Alliance for American Quilts. To get the dates for future auctions and see the other 88 auction quilts including mine go to www.AllianceforAmericanQuilts.org. QUILTERS ON BROADWAY Clearly, I love my work, but some assignments are more satisfying than others. Last spring, I came to Manhattan to interview three totally wonderful guys, Michael Michalski, Steven Skybell and Eric Sciotto, who share a vocation and a hobby. All three work on Broadway, and all are quilters. I got to profile these three for the December issue of The Quilt Life magazine which is just now appearing in print. The three started a private Facebook page for their new guild called the Broadway Gentlemen s Quilting Auxiliary. I won t reveal any details, but in the magazine article, you can see some of their amazing quiltwork, which they do everywhere, including deep in the bowels of the Gershwin Theater. And you can see Eric on Broadway next spring, when his new show, the musical version of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert transfers from Toronto, where it just opened to raves. Quilt on, guys! Break a needle? QUILT INDEX REVEALS PLAN TO GO GLOBAL The quilt boom is global, and the Quilt Index will be too. For those who don t know, the Index is a rich online archive of more than 50,000 well-documented quilts. Most are from museums and state documentation projects and all can be searched and studied free, thanks to the Alliance for American Quilts and its partners at Michigan State University. It s been growing fast, partly due to some serious grants from major funders. Now the Index has received $100,000 from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the biggest funder of the country s

libraries and museums, to make a plan to add international quilts. This will take time, but quilts from South Africa and Canada may be cataloged and posted as early as next year, and the planning process will include quilt experts from 10 more countries. TWO BOOKS YOU GOTTA HAVE Men and the Art of Quiltmaking by Joe Cunningham (AQS, $28.95) This is such a fun and entertaining book because Joe, an accomplished quilter himself, has chosen such an interesting and diverse group of 30 men to profile. You get to see several quilts made by each man, including close-ups, and get a real feel for their style and story. Nearly half these guys were totally new to me, and I even learned new stuff about familiar quilters: did you know Mark Lipinski got started sewing outfits for troll dolls? I probably won t make anything from the 9 patterns, but it was super cool to see how some of these quilts were constructed.

Hand Applique With Embroidery by Sandra Leichner (AQS, $26.95) For basic lessons in hand appliqué, I don t think it gets better than the Piece O Cake ladies, who have done many books and patterns. But for people who want to add a new layer to that and jazz up their appliqué quilts with embroidery, this book is outstanding. If you go to some of the main quilt shows and read quilt magazines, you may have seen one of Leichner s amazingly detailed quilts, like Pharoah, an ancient Egyptthemed quilt that won top prizes at Houston and Paducah. I love all the close-up how-to photos and diagrams, the comparisons showing how much depth and texture a little stitching can add, and the fact that there are several small and totally doable projects at the end. This is one of those gorgeously presented books where, even if all I get out of it is an enhanced appreciation and understanding of one terrific quilter s technique, it s plenty. But I really expect to make the luscious Fuchsia quilt featuring just one exquisite bloom. It s 11 by 13 inches.

Gotta go finish the quilt I promised for the fall gala at my son s high school. Until we meet, happy quilting!

Love, Meg Read the fine print: This free monthly newsletter is written without sponsorship or interference by Meg Cox, a journalist and author who has quilted for 20 years. Meg s latest book is The Quilter s Catalog, a popular 600-page resource guide for less than $20. Feel free to forward the e-news to those who might appreciate it. To subscribe, send a blank e-mail to quilters-join@megcox.com. For more about Meg, and an archive of back issues, go to www.megcox.com. To leave a comment, suggest an item or hire Meg as a teacher or speaker, hit reply. *********************************************************************

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