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Friday, April 20, 2007

 

Review of The Quilt Show with Ricky & Alex


“It’s a new day” is the slogan for “The Quilt Show,” the much-anticipated online television show co-hosted by Ricky Tims and Alex Anderson that premiered on April 2.

Now that I’ve had a chance to see both the first and second episodes of The Quilt Show for myself, I think the slogan fits. For twenty-first century quilters, this show represents a whole new way of looking at the quilt world. A new day indeed.

Certainly, the new show has provoked some grumbling. People used to watching Alex Anderson free on HGTV’s long-running show Simply Quilts don’t see why they should have to pay to watch her on their computers. Quilters who don’t have the requisite software or high-speed connections are miffed they can’t watch her at all. And a certain number of those who have viewed the initial shows gripe that there isn’t nearly as much emphasis on tricks, tips and new techniques as Simply Quilts.

But I found both shows refreshing, amusing and inspiring. They made me feel good to be a quilter, and they did provide some useful tips and concrete how-tos. In the five years I’ve spent researching a new book on the quilt world (The Quilter’s Catalog: A Comprehensive Resource Guide, due out in the fall from Workman Publishing), what has amazed me most is the breadth, depth and sophistication of today’s quilt world, and that’s part of what this show captures.

I love the personalities in the quilt world, not just the quilts, and The Quilt Show gives a different kind of close-up showing not just what Ricky and Alex can do with a sewing machine, but also their senses of humor and personal passions. Alex’s natural goofiness and warmth never got fully communicated during Simply Quilts: this format unleashes her. Ricky, of course, is always effusive and informative, but this show gives him another venue for reaching thousands of quilters at once and using his multiple gifts simultaneously.

I love the diversity of guests and activities, with quilter Joe Cunningham demonstrating his basting techniques, then picking up his guitar for a duet with Ricky on piano. I like the sense of being taken behind the scenes, as when Ricky toured the offices of Quilter’s Newsletter magazine in episode 2. And I like that audience members get a chance to ask questions of the guests.

Like Mark Lipinski’s new magazine, Quilter’s Home, The Quilt Show is about quilting as a lifestyle and not just the fine points of tools and technique. For most quilters I know, it’s the allness of quilting that keeps them satisfied, not just the craft and the fabric, but also all the relationships and associations, the history of quilting and the story behind a particular quilt. I hope that quilt history will be among the future topics of this promising show.

Finally, although there are still some bugs being worked out technically, I love the technology used by The Quilt Show. It’s wonderful to be able to watch the show whenever I’ve got the time, and to pause it when the phone rings, or fast forward if I want.

I’m excited to watch Episode 3, which debuts soon (April 23).
If you go to the show’s website, www.thequiltshow.com, you can get all the specific details of how to subscribe to the show and when various episodes air.
signed, Meg Cox


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

 

In Memoriam Carol Schiaffino


We were quite dismayed over the weekend to receive an e-mail from a reader in New Orleans informing us that Carol Schiaffino, proprietor of The Quilt Cottage quilt store in New Orleans, passed away March 28. (Carol is the one on the left in this photo).

We always tried to visit Carol in her store, the last surviving quilt store in New Orleans proper (at the corner of Magazine and Nashville Streets). She was full of news about the quilting scene not just in Louisiana but along the whole Gulf Coast, and filled us in on the latest successes and calamities, including the impacts of Hurricane Katrina on the quilting community in the area. Her own business closed for a good while after the storm, and was just getting back to a semblance of regular hours when we last visited in January of this year. During that visit she was as enthusiastic as always, and her store was bursting with the distinctive fabrics and New Orleans flavor that she made sure it had. We swapped ideas about new products we liked and she steered us to some great quilt shops in Baton Rouge, where we were headed the next day for a brief tour.

Running a quilt store is often a labor of love, and it was clear that she still loved it despite the hardships of Katrina and the relentless demands of a small business. Her little store on the corner was an oasis for quilters in the area, many of whom had lost everything, including their sewing machines and fabric stashes, to the flooding and chaos that engulfed the city in August 2005. We don't know what will happen to the business. Quilt shops are fragile enterprises, and without the commitment and energy Carol brought to it, we don't know if The Quilt Cottage will survive. We hope it does, but we will have to wait and see. In the meantime we mourn the loss of one of the people in New Orleans who seemed indispensable to us, and a good friend. We wish her farewell with the traditional New Orleans blessing: Laissez les bontemps roulez.


Sunday, April 01, 2007

 

Michael James Wins Quilting's Silver Star Award


Fabric artist expanded the boundaries of quilting

HOUSTON—March 26, 2007—Quilts, Inc. this week announced that the recipient of the 2007 Silver Star Award is Michael James of Lincoln, Nebraska. The award is given annually to living persons who have made a lasting and positive impact on the field of quilting and textile art over their careers.

James—a member of the Quilter’s Hall of Fame—was chosen for a lifetime of work that has seen him move through different styles and techniques, but always remain on the cutting edge of quilt design, construction, and scholarship.

“For more than a quarter century, Michael James has been an influential leader in the quilt world through his quilts, his teaching, and his books,” says Festival Director Karey Bresenhan. “His stunning work has inspired countless artists to stretch their own talents, and to try new approaches to creating quilts.”

“It was a real surprise to be named the Silver Star Award recipient, and it really touches me to be recognized in this way,” James says. “I feel that this is a vote of appreciation from the broader quilt world, and that's gratifying, since for 30 years that large community helped to support me and my art making in many different ways. Every individual who ever took a workshop with me, or came to a lecture or an exhibition, or bought a book or a quilt, was part of a career that I managed to cobble together over the years and look back on with much satisfaction.”

Michael’s approach to quiltmaking is greatly influenced by his background as a painter, something he expounded upon in his essential books The Quiltmaker’s Handbook and The Second Quiltmaker’s Handbook. A frequent teacher and lecturer, James is currently the department chair in Textiles, Clothing & Design at the University of Nebraska/Lincoln and a Faculty Fellow at the International Quilt Study Center. “Through his teaching, Michael is conveying his remarkable vision to yet another generation,” Bresenhan adds.

“It feel like another set of chapters are being written [in my career], and I see the Silver Star Award as the perfect prologue to the rest of my life in quilts,” James adds.

His work has been shown in solo and group exhibitions too numerous to list, and appears in more than a dozen museum collections. Finally, his quilts have won many awards, and two of them (Aurora and Rhythm/Color: Improvisation) made the list of the 20th Century’s 100 Best American Quilts.

James will be honored at the Silver Star Salute, part of the events at the 2007 fall edition of International Quilt Festival in Houston. This special dinner is Saturday, November 3, from 7:30-10:00 p.m., and will feature a speech from James along with a visual career retrospective. Work and memorabilia from his entire career will also be on display in the “Silver Star Salute” special exhibit on Festival’s show floor.

Quilts, Inc. is the producer of trade and consumer shows for the quilting industry, including several editions each of International Quilt Festival and International Quilt Market. Previous winners of the Silver Star Award include such legendary figures as Caryl Bryer Fallert, Katie Pasquini Masopust, Marti Michell, Elly Sienkiewicz, Nancy Martin, Georgia Bonesteel, Roberta Horton, Donna Wilder, Yvonne Porcella, Jean Ray Laury, Virginia Avery, Jinny Beyer, and Bonnie Leman.


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