On my way to a nice, quiet retirement--I ran into a quilt show.
Well, I didn't actually "run into it"--I was "forcefully persuaded" by my friend, Jan, to go to the Minnesota Quilters state guild show, being held here in Duluth, Minnesota-1991. For years, I had been helping Jan, who was and still is--a Quilter, choose fabrics and colors for her quilting projects. She is one of the legion of quilters who are a little "iffy" about this process. I, as a costume designer for the ballet and opera theater for almost 30 years, knew my way around a fabric store. Of course, in those days--being the 1980s-- it didn't take a lot of expertise. You had your solid colors and your pin dot, small print and medium print that went with them. Sometimes a stripe, if you were adventuresome. And you never ventured out of the 100% cotton aisles because that's what quilts were made of, right?
So, at that time, I was on the verge of retiring from the wild and stressful world of dealing with weeping ballerinas who thought this costume made them look fat and singers who couldn't find their pants. My husband, Tom, and I had just built our dream log house on 20 acres of woods, north of Duluth and were just going to hunker down by the fire and read for the rest of our lives. However, Jan had other plans for me. She was convinced that I should become a quilter. What? Was she crazy?? I wasn't interested in those trite Sunbonnet Sues or calico log cabins. I had once made 168 elaborate, larger-than-life headpieces for a Baltimore Opera production of Turandot. Come on!!
But, my friend Jan, can be sneaky. She talked me into coming to the quilt show by saying that she was bringing her cousin, visiting from Oregon, and surely I would like to meet her. I really didn't want to go. I had drapes to make, and trails to cut and a garden to plan--but okey, just this once.
Now, some quilters talk about having made quilts as teenagers or their grandmothers taught them piecing when they were five, or they'd entered 8 quilts into the State Fair. I had none of that. As far as I knew, none of my ancestors had touched patchwork, confining their sewing activities to clothing and yes, drapes. So, when I walked into the quilt show and saw my first actual "show" quilt, I was stunned. I was flabbergasted and even dumbstruck. This wasn't your average Sunbonnet Sue. This was an amazing mural quilt from quilt artist, Audree Sells. Who knew that quilts could be like pieces of artwork? Jan hadn't told me THAT.
So there was a place for me in this community called a quilt world. I could take the images that pop up in my head and actually make them come to life--in fabric, MY MEDIUM!
I left the show with my Trudy Hughes rulers in one hand and a copy of Visions in the other. I had no idea how to merge the two, but I've never looked back. And I've never been sorry. And Jan gets all the credit.
Next time, I'll tell you about my first quilt. It was really awful. Really.