I hope that some time you will have a chance to attend the Houston show, the US’s largest quilt show. It is an amazing experience, unlike any other show. Some interesting stats:
1,100 vendor booths
40+ Special exhibits
1500+ quilts/fiber art pieces
142 instructors from around the world
4 days of show
7 days of classes
Imagine all of your quilty friends from across the country/world, being at one show. Once you’re in there are all kinds of free demos and events. And if you thought the floods were going to impact the Show, you were wrong! Couple that with the Astros winning the World Series, and Houston was ready to par-tee!
The George R. Brown Convention Center (GRB) is 1.8 million sf-wish I’d measured the length in steps. It takes up what was 11 city blocks-it’s huge, like an over-sized cruise ship at the edge of downtown Houston. I was putting in a minimum of 15,000 steps a day and one day over 24,000 steps-there is a lot of ground to cover!
Ahh, but it is a different experience for teachers! We’re there to work and if we get to play and see the quilts, all the better, but that is not a given. I got up in the wee hours to catch a plane that would get me there in time to hit the Teacher’s Room to organize my supplies for my Wed class, scoot over to the fabulous deli, Phoenecia, for some healthy breakfast and lunch foods, then on to the Tues. Winner’s Ceremony. I left the ceremony early as my 3:15AM PST wake up was hitting me hard.
It’s such an unexpected pleasure when you run into a friend on the plane. Dixie McBride was my delightful travel companion for both legs of the flight. Dixie is a quilt judge, seasoned veteran of the teaching/quilting/judging/competition world and too nice for words. I learned many tidbits from my conversation with her. What a treat!
I was thrilled that all of my luggage made it! Think about it-nearly every good quilt I have ever made was in that luggage as well as my teaching supplies. I would have really been lost without all my teaching gear. I’ve got a system to move all of that at once and it works well. I blew it though-chose the wrong gray carry-on and it did NOT wheel well-ugh! I had a reservation with Super Shuttle and when I got there, the wait was AN HOUR for a shuttle! So what was the reservation for? I ditched them and caught an Uber-should have done that in the first place.
When I hit the teacher’s lounge, I couldn’t help but be awed. There are teachers from all over the world, and we’re all getting our stuff ready for students: there’s Noriko Endo (Japan), Jane Sassaman, Charlotte War Andersen, Melinda Bula, Gylene Fitzgerald, Deborah Boschert, Helen Gooden (Australia), Phillipa Naylor (UK), Cathy Wiggins (not all at the same time)–PINCH ME!! It’s so fun to get to know other instructors from all over-we all have that passion to teach in common.
And here’s where I fall very short-very few photos of the actual experience. Wednesday’s class was Yes You CAN Free Motion Quilt!, packed out with 25 students. I was thrilled that Baby Lock filled our class with Soprano’s, a true quilting machine with a stretch throat and stadium lighting-wahoo! It helps to have beginners on a real quilting machine. I was over the moon with how well that class went–everyone really got it, was teachable and enthusiastic-I could not have asked for more!
Thankfully I got a photo of my set up for Thursday’s Machine Quilting Forum. I hosted the Forum this year and we had a fabulous line-up of 6 excellent teachers from a broad range of backgrounds: Patt Blair, RaNae Merrill, Nancy Goldsworthy, Catherine Redford and Cathy Wiggins. I was a little nervous hosting but it all went well and the Forum was also packed with 150 enthusiastic attendees. The way Forum works, each instructor presents about a 17 minute segment 6 times, as the group splits into sub-groups and rotates. As a result, you say the same thing 6 times over and by the third time, you swear that you have said everything already to that group! It can be taxing.
I scarfed down my Phoenecia lunch and hit the ground running to get ready for my next class, Fills and Fills, also packed with 25 students. It was a riot! I would draw out and demo a particular motif or fill, and then, they would do their own thing! I love that! This was an artistically oriented and independent bunch-they would look at what I demoed, then make it their own. How cool is that?
Friday, my busiest day, began with the Friday Sampler. This is a 2-hour event at which participants freely wander from station to station of 29 presenters covering a broad range of subjects. If I were a “civilian”, I would definitely go to a Sampler. It too was packed out. I presented my subject, “3 Perfect Projects for Newer–And Experienced!–Free-Motion Quilters” 9 times in 2 hours. I was pleased with the interest shown by the crowd.
With only one hour in between events, I threw my Sampler gear into the Teacher’s Room and hoofed it waaaaay down to the very end of the first floor for my Meet the Teachers presentation. I inhaled a sandwich, grabbed my new supplies and barely made it in time. I was so talked out by then! I ran into a friend on the way and I just motioned with my hands that I could. not. speak. Just couldn’t. The attendance was a little on the slim side but I heard from other teachers that some had literally zero attendees! They moved the location this year which seemed to affect attendance and it’s really luck-of-the-draw for a good time slot.
I had a little gap in my schedule and I wanted to find Iris of Misty Fuse for sure. Iris had taken a blog post I made about Misty Fuse basting my quilts and made it into a brochure that she handed out in her booth.
Oh yeah, I’m super proud of this!
That left barely enough time to find friends on the floor. I know Deda Maldonado from SAQA. Deda splits her time between her native Brazil and south Florida. She put together a fantastic special exhibit from Brazil, “Beaches”, a very strong show. Brazilians had a robust presence in this year’s show with several prize winners.
How fun is it to meet FaceBook friends in real life? I met Susan Edmonson, a fiber artist from North Carolina, in the Teacher’s Room and got to hang with her just a bit. She is both charming and a very talented artist and instructor.
Squeee-I ran into Diane Rustin Doran, a ribbon winner at this year’s show, and Sarah Ann Smith, with her very own exhibit!
I left the floor around 4:30 to get ready for my evening class, Fills and Frills 2, also a full class. I had never taught a night class before and I had heard they could be, um, interesting! Well no one came in with wine or seemed to be tipsy, so that was good. It too was a fun class and they actually did what I asked them too. Take that Fills and Frills 1, giggle!
It was a short night by the time I unpacked from Fills and Frills and repacked for Feathers Four Ways. I had 11 in my Sat all day class, which was actually kind of nice. I had plenty of time for each student, which made for a successful class. I was impressed with the feathers that came out of my students. About half of the class had done feathers before and half were brand new to feathers. The photo above was from a brand new featherer! One student was determined to conquer feathers at this Festival and took a total of 3 feathers classes!
I elected to eschew the Festival After Hours event, a really fun way to relax, eat, mingle and dance. I felt like I needed one of these scooters by that point!
I instead dined with Sarah Ann Smith at the iconic original Ninfa’s on Navigation for a Mexican food fix. Poor Sarah, they don’t have “proper Mexican food” in Hope, Maine-can you imagine? She had to get her fix!
I had such a positive experience teaching this year at Festival. It is a privilege to teach at such a premiere event, yet it is very stressful and highly aerobic. I was pleased and grateful that my body held up, my energy did not flag and nothing was swollen or hurting as I left town. And I even remembered most everything and my equipment held up. My students were receptive and teachable, what a gift. I am feeling very blessed.
Okay, photos of the quilts next week! I’ll be posting to Nina-Maire’s Off the Wall Friday, the site of good links!