10 things I want to say about Quilt National 2011

One word- WOW really captures the two days I spent at Quilt National 11. I remember during my wedding that after 4 hours my face hurt. Why? I had been smiling so much. And I have to report that my face hurt after the banquet opening Quilt National. I think there are simply too many thoughts to capture in one post- so I will opt to give you my impressions over a number of posts. But some initial reactions:

1. What nice women. I do not think I met one woman who was not open, encouraging, engaging and just downright nice. I felt like I had landed in the middle of a giant lovefest- with everyone supporting each other. No cattiness. No competition. Just appreciation of all the different styles of work that are out there.

2. I am not the oldest quilter nor am I the youngest. By far the grey hair contingent dominated the group with possibly only a half dozen artists under 50- and many more over 60. I have seen this skewing of age at Nancy's classes and my only explanation is that once you are older you have more time to devote to your art.

3. Boy can the artists from Australia create beautiful pieces. Every time that I looked at a piece that struck me- I saw that they were from Down Under. And it was interesting than many of them are working with very rich earth tones. Also many of these artists heavily hand quilt their pieces.

4. Speaking of hand quilting- it puts my pieces to shame. You can clearly see work that is reminiscent of kanta cloth- heavy stitching- and lots of time on silks rather than cotton.I loved the wide stitches used as decoration more than quilting or holding the pieces together.

5. Ah surface design- alive and very well. The show demonstrates that dyeing and surface design is strong. I felt a bit overwhelmed by some of the pieces yet when surface design is well integrated in the art- it is a knock out.

6. I probably count the figurative pieces as my least favorite. I guess I am just not a fan of quilts that appear to be large photos- but the beauty of the show is that it is truly representative of different trends in quilting and figurative art is alive and well- just not for me.
7. My favorite piece- This is a hard choice- but I think Lisa Call's beautiful red white and black piece wins the day for me.

8. One of the best parts of the two days- seeing old friends and putting faces to women I have just met online.And the kindness of women like Dominie Nash who was so inclusive- inviting Dave and I to sit with them on several occasions. I loved reconnecting with the vibrant Leslie Riley- we make each other laugh- and I felt a new connection with Beth Carney through her wonderful piece about her transition after her mom's death. Paula Kovarick's pieces are even more beautiful in person than online, and it was a treat to see Kathy Loomis's piece in person.

9. I was afraid that seeing the entire show would paralyze me- instead it energized me- and gave me new insights in the way artists approach their work. It was fabulous hearing each artist talk about their work- for only 3 minutes- but it was better than nothing. Hearing words from each person gave added depth to each piece.

10. My fabulous husband- who could not have been more supportive. Dave was a full participant- and could not have been prouder of me. In fact I had to instruct him not to clap too loudly about my piece- or crow too much.His crowning achievement for the weekend was that he found three antique bricks to add to his collection. Turns out that the Hocking River Valley in Ohio was the home to many brick manufacturing factories in the early part of the 20th century.