Maybe a picture can speak a thousand words! Cause I certainly was riding high on the mechanical sewing machine in the sky today at QuiltCon.
Meeting the Gee's Bend Quilters
It began with meeting the Gee's Bend Quilters, Mary Ann and China Pettway, Gloria Hoppens, and Lucy Lee Whitherspoon in the teacher's lounge about an hour before their class started. They sat around the table with me and actually looked through a copy of my book! I was like uhhhh is this really happening. We were having a conversation.
Then in class they started off with some gospel singing and a prayer and a blessing. It was lovely. The whole room of 25 students became quiet, centered and intensely present. Being present is the main, number one priority for improv and they just brought us there. The entire class at once. So hey - I vowed to sing for all three of my QuiltCon classes this weekend. I'll let you know how it goes ;-)
But then... after the singing they said, "What did you all bring to make your quilts out of?" and then after that they said, "Good start sewing. Make anything you like." I almost laughed out loud, because I could never get away with this in one of my classes. Immediately one of the students said out loud in a gasp, "WHAT?" --in this kind of lost incredulous way. It was fantastic.
And then the four teachers proceeded to spread out through the room and gently encouraged each person, one at a time, to start making whatever they pleased. As simple as all that! I don't think many of the students had ever improvised before with patchwork so I can only imagine what they were thinking. There were no techniques given, no instructions conveyed, simply permission, affirmation, encouragement and space offered, so that we could find our own ways. What more do we need?
So that was lovely!
Lecturing on Improv Process and Patchwork
Next I was off to give my lecture. I was delighted and somewhat surprised that there were probably 200+ people in the hall for my talk. I saw lots of people nodding their heads, always a good sign that the audience is resonating. I was touched that so many people had come from so many places with their curiosity and love of improv and quilting - including folks from all over the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, Denmark? and even Russia!
Signing Improv Handbooks
Then off to the Stitch Lab booth, book signings and of course the Mechanical Sewing Machine. First person in line at the signing - well she was sitting in my seat just finishing up her signings - Denyse Schmidt. I'm like oh this is the first time I've ever signed a copy of my book for someone and it's Denyse, and then I misspelled her name with the Sharpie! But she was very sweet and it was such a pleasure for me because we both started quilting around the same time about 25 years ago and it's something important that we share - a dedication, and a passion, and a parallel history of sorts. And then a steady stream of quilt makers, some known to me, others new, buying my book, asking me to sign and telling me about their love of improv.
In the Midst of Community Making
And all of this contained by this incredible energy of the community. A swarm of quilters from all corners who know each other by our button names and online tags... daintytime - sewaggie - venus de hilo - the craft divas - a quilter's table - retromama61 - rockin'g quilts - just a bit frayed -marci girl - dragonfly 5 - heart s - cat & vee - aunty brenda - meadow mist - sew yummy - the colorful om - school of sewing ... and our real names... heather jones - elizabeth hartman - jenna - melissa averinds - miss emily taylor - krista hennebury... and our guild names... boulder mqg - phxmqg - australia mqg ... and our professional names... mass drop - waffle kisses - pink castle fabrics - urban spools - esch house quilts - school of sewing... Each of us with a story and a passion for quilting, meeting face to face, reconnecting, and making new connections. It's been quite a buzz of glowing energy.
Such a blessing!
Okay one last thing. I am so PROUD of my Improv Handbook TEST QUILTERS. You all are rocking the exhibit hall with your quilts. I think there must be at least a dozen in the show - even some ribbon winners! I'm going around with my camera tomorrow to document.