Friday, April 30, 2010

The AQS Show in Paducah KY

The American Quilter's Society has been putting on a great show in Paducah for 26 years!
Although I am a charter member, it was a long time brfore I was able to attend a show. I have tried since then to go as many times as possible.
This is an outstanding competition of quilters from all over the world. There were 94 quilts from Japan! I love that the show program tells how many quilts came from each state (California & Illinois tied for most with 29 each) and the various other countries.
This is the main entrance to the Convention Center.
You can see many of the winning quilts online (click here).
AQS has a generous photography policy, but they ask that photos not be sold, or published anywhere, even on a website. OK....they have a right to sell the pictorial Show Catalog book!
So I took some other shots around the show, and although you may see a quilt or two, I am not using any of the full quilt shots...except for "my own personal use". This is a taste of what the show looks like.
The main room is  about half large quilts and half vendors. The quilts hang in a "cubby" arrangment, long rows divided into sections of three quilts each. It's easy to photograph the quilt on the back wall, and hard to get the ones on each side.
The Best of Show and the other three major awards (hand work, long arm and domestic machine) hang in a special area so you can't miss them:
This allows for good viewing of that quilt back! We all like to check out the backs ...sometimes I wonder what we are looking for, though!
I saw a total of 2 white glove ladies, and was told they were not allowed to turn the quilts hanging in the cubbies, due to safety reasons (i.e. the row might fall down). My local/ regional show uses the exact same hanging systems, and it's not a probelm.
Well, maybe just once or twice during the 3 day show!

Look! The miniatures are under glass! Is that to protect the quilts from us....or to protect us from seeing those teeny-tiny perfect creations??? Really, as my friends know, I have to sneak up on those minis, take a quick peek, and then run away!
I appreciate a show that provides some seating for tired "soles". Doesn't this look cute with the streetlights and benches? They did the same thing in the vendors Pavillion (more on that later!). It's a good spot for meeting your friends at some appointed time.

Let's go down the looooong hall to the other end of the building. There are two ballrooms that have the rest of the quilts hanging, and, of course, vendors!

This is what you see when entring the door to the upstairs ballroom. It's the AQS staff on duty ready to check your armband and answer questions like  "Are there vendors in here?" and "Where am I?"

The smaller quilts are here, and I like the way they have the top award winners displayed toward the front of the room. The black drapes are pulled aside so you can get a look at the backs.
I wonder if any of these quilts have knots on the back or some other "error"? This is a juried show, so the approximately 400 quilts in competition are selected by a 3 member panel using images on discs. How would you like to pick 400 out of maybe 1400 entries?
Well, that's why just having a quilt accepted into this show is a Big Deal! Getting a ribbon is icing on the cake.
The aisles are wide, which allows for strollers but not rolling have to carry your own bags from the vendors. At least until you get to the Package Check area. For one dollar you can leave a bag with the nice red-blazered Paducah Ambassadors, and even add to that bag as the day goes on.
Just be sure you claim your stuff by 5:00 pm!
If you buy too much to carry home, the Paducah Post Office is on hand to mail your loot in a Flate Rate Box. They also sell some postcards and stamps, which you can get cancelled with the special "Quilt City" mark.  
I am very grateful for this wonderful lady who hand-cancelled ever one of the SSQA newsletters I took with me! The only way I could go to Paducah was to take the newsletters along and put the stamps, mailing labels and closures on them in the motel room one night. (thanks for helping, Deluna!)
Now, I wonder if anyone noticed their newsletter came from "Quilt City" almost 800 miles away?

The really big buzz this year was the huge inflatable building that was put up for the vendors, since the Executive Inn portion of the Convention Center is no longer open.
I don't know how big it is...maybe like football field? It's on a concrete foundation, and the "facilities" were in air conditioned trailers. To keep the air inside, you had to enter through a revolving door "airlock".

The doors are in 3 wide sections, so the vendors could get their equipment inside.
I think I'm glad I didn't have to be part of taking all of it back out again!

There's a big skylight in the center of the ceiling. It was very well-lit and spacious feeling.
I had to leave Saturday morning, so I missed being in there during a real rain storm! Please leave me a comment if you had that experience!

A lovely display of Kaffe Fassett quilts graced the central area (more on that later, too!).
No matter what you call this building...AQS calls it "The Pavillion", and I heard many other names including The Igloo, The Marshmellow, and That Big White Thing...I think it was a great idea for providing the additional space needed at the show.

Coming up soon:
Who the heck is Kaffe Fasset and how do you pronounce his name?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The National Quilt Museum, Paducah KY

Many years ago when AQS started, it was also somewhat connected with the Museum of the American Quilter. Then the Museum became independant, and for a long time I had a VISA card that made donations to the Museum. It was cool, because it was one of the first to have a picture on it...a pineapple quilt!
Just last year another important event took place. This is now the  National Quilt Museum!
No government funds provided, of course, but it's such a beautiful place.
Anyone who likes museums will appreciate this one. And although Paducah isn't much on the way to anywhere but St. Louis (travelling from the southeast, I mean) it's worth a stop even when the AQS show is not on. There are always several exhibits, classes, a gift shop to die for (book-wise), and a changing display of quilts from their collection, which is the AQS Best of Shows for many years back. Almost all the winning quilters have acceptred the award money, which is a purchase award so the quilt can belong to the Museum.
This is where you can see the quilts from the annual "New Quilts from Old Favorites" contest. The 2010 theme was "Sunflowers" and the work was outstanding! Sorry, no photography allowed in the Museum....there's a book about it, which I purchased for Cherry-Cherry and actually gave it to her first.
OK, I did look through it, but I didn't read it!

We expected to see Hollis Chatelain's quilts in a special exhibit, but were totally amazed to find it was a travelling exhibit called "Imagine Hope: Awareness Through Art". Each quilt was hung with several photographs relating to social and environmental issues, and it was quite heart touching.
Yes, there were sad issues, but there was hope, too. You really must see this if it is anywhere near you....or if you have "pull" with a local museum, think about having this installation!
I will never forget the photograph of the father talking to his children on the phone...looking at them through the glass of a prison visiting room.

The real treat was that Hollis herself was there to talk with visitors, and we had a good chat. She has such a generous spirit. I have enjoyed hearing her speak several times at the Houston IQA show, and once took a class with her about the business of being an artist.
In connection with the Imagine Hope exhibit, there is a quilt travelling around. Deluna and I went out to the lobby to be sure to put in some stitches, and enjoyed meeting quilters from around the country...and the world! A shy Japanese lady joined us, and her husband took pictures, of course.
Deluna did, too:

Hollis is at work coloring some areas to suggest what threads people might like to use...not trying to mark my hand! Everyone who works on the quilt signs their name, too.
If you visit the Museum website ( before May 25 you will be able to see pictures of the exhibits I have mentioned.

Coming next (because I know you have better things to do than read super-long blog posts!):
What does that AQS show look like?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Driving to Paducah, KY, from my house takes about 12 hours.
Depending on when you early in the morning, or waiting until after the guild meeting!
I had to break the trip into two parts. After picking up Deluna, who had been dropped off by her daughter in a convenient Denny's parking lot, the goal was to get to Atlanta by dark. We made it north of the city.
We stopped the QuiltMobile here for gas:
Who is that lady on the gas station?
Why, Big Mama, of course!
Oddly enough, this was right next door to Big Mama's Short Term Loan & Pawn, or something like that...but the building was empty and for lease. No chance for a last-minute addition to our shopping money!

When headed for Paducah there are many sights to see: the purple blooming Princess trees, actual hills & mountatins, places like Magnolia Plantation which sells pecans, honey &amp, Indian moccasins.
There could be a lot of picture taking....but I am too busy looking out for the State Troopers as I put pedal to the metal.
The QuiltMobile happily stops for any personal needs, but generally pulls over only to get gassed up and to allow for meals at Cracker Barrel. That restaurant has to be the most popular place in America. At least for travelling.
There's a rule in my fanily that you can only eat at a Cracker Barrel out of town. That keeps it "special". But there seem to be plenty of locals wherever I end up stopping.
Right before you get to Paducah is what we believe to be one of The Most Beautiful Rest Stops in America. It is a red brick and white columned mini-mansion/ plantation house, with lovely ornamental trees, and has very friendly staff.
But possible danger lurks there:

This is the world's most powerful hand dryer. Ladies, if you stop here, hold on to your engagment ring! (I am sure, as with mine, your wedding ring is stuck on forever).

Having decided only a few days before to go to one of the largest quilt shows in the country, which is held in a small town, the question was if we could even get a room anywhere nearby.
I have stayed 45 minutes away (the claim was 30 minutes) and didn't like so much driving back & forth. 
I have stayed right in Paducah, and enjoyed being chauferred by the bus driver.
But Deluna found us a room in Metropolis, only 20 minutes away....over the Ohio River, and in Illinois! I have talked to many people who liked staying there, and we did, too. The Baymount Inn was right next door to Harrod's Casino.
Metropolis, of course, is the home of Superman. They have a giant staute of him there:
My sister-n-law wanted to know if we'd been to the gift shop, but I am sad to say, we only had time to see the statue at night. I was even forced to get a postcard by stopping at a pharmacy on the way out of town.
This will give you the real idea:
Quite dramatic! I am sure nobody will bother any of the businesses within Supe's reach.
I think the building behind him is the City Hall....the platform at his feet reads "Truth, Justice, the American Way". (That's what it "and").

Next post: A visit to the National Quilt Museum, formerly the Museum of the American Quilter.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Paducah...Quilt City USA

You may remember that last year my trip to Paducah was cancelled, so, to soothe my broken heart, I got my new kitty, Shayla.
This year, I have run off to Paducah at the last minute, and been having a wonderful time the last 3 days....
and had the Internet connection in the motel* worked before tonight, I'd have shared it all!
So give me about 48 hours, and I'll have some great stories to tell & pictures to show!

*DeLuna & I found a room in Metropolis. That's Illinois...and yes, I do have a picture of Superman!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Quilter's Library: "Threadwork Unraveled" by Sarah Ann Smith

Next to fabric, I believe most quilters enjoy getting a new book. I sure do! But I get tired of reading book reviews that are really re-hashed press releases. When Quilter's Library appears here, it will be my own personal thoughts, on books I have purchased with my own money.
Here's one of the latest additions to my stash of pages:
Thread Work Unraveled by Sarah Ann Smith
American Quilters Society, Paducah KY 2009
111pages with color photos & diagrams

This book includes both inspiration and practical education, and doesn't waste money on a lot of pattern pages I'll never use. That makes it a real winner!
The patterns it does have (wall hanging, table runner, stitch samplers) are designed to help you put your new knowledge to work right away.

I like to check out the back of a book to see if it has an Index...and yes, this one does! A good Index will help you find what you're looking for, usually in a time of desperation.
The Table of Contents is the next stop. This one is well divided to show the main topics of Basics, Applique, and Machine Quilting, with some intriguing subtopics. Thread has about 8 pages and Needles 6 (including some exercise projects). 

If you haven't learned about the way a sewing machine works, Sarah gives loads of information and some good diagrams.
Stop worrying about taking a test whenever someone mentions "how something works"! If you're reading this blog, you are now at the point in life where you can learn for your own enjoyment. And this is a good resource book, meaning you will keep it to refer to many times....because we do not have to remember every little thing!

The pages devoted to "Your Workspace & Ergonomics" will help you avoid the many physical probelms associated with machine quilting, thread painting and other work where we get so involved we forget how much time is passing.
This book is filled with good ideas, and Sarah is no member of the Quilt Police. She gives you the facts so you can make your own decisions. The beautiful color pictures of many quilters' work will guide you though those choices.

OK...bottom line: from the first reading, what did I mark with Post-It notes? That's a sure sign of something interesting!
Page 18 is about needles, specifically the eyes of needles, with a photo. This info definitely deserves the  "Unraveled" part of the book's title. I now understand how and why to match the needle to the thread.
My other note is stuck on page 90: Nearly No-Mark Free-Motion Quilting Sampler. Yes! I actually marked one of the projects! This is an 18" square marked with a grid for practising a variety of quilting patterns. With 2-1/2" squares, this is a sampler I can have fun with before my attention wanders.
Best of all, Sarah ends the project suggesting you celebrate with chocolate!
But she does not waste a lot of time in the rest of the book being too chatty. She comes accross as a good & helpful friend, with an easy to read style. She knows about the trouble you've seen, and she shares her experience.

You can find this book in many shops, or order it from AQS.
Sarah Ann Smith has a website: and a blog at the same address.