Sunday, November 7, 2010


This past week I attended the Houston International Quilt Festival. Sounds about as exciting as watching grass grow, doesn't it?  Honeybuns would rather have his fingernails pulled out one at a time than have to attend such a gathering.  He's never been or does he plan to go! One friend suggested that a root canal would be more fun!

Given the title, it IS hard to imagine that a convention all about quilts and the industry behind such an "old lady" hobby could hold any one's attention.

Tens of thousands of women and a few good men converged on Houston this past week and made their way to the downtown convention center.  Hotels were filled and restaurant owners were thrilled at the revenue they brought to town. Airport lines were long and many languages were heard as quilt fans from around the globe
struggled through security checkpoints and taxi stands.

What IS the fascination behind this billion dollar industry?  The product certainly is NOT the utilitarian blanket that warmed the pioneers during THEIR trek across the country.  Now quilting is an art form like none other.

It always takes my sweet friend and I two days to see it all!  Half of the convention center is filled with vendors selling fabric, rulers, thread, books, patterns, needles, quilting machines that cost more than our first house, and all the paraphernalia that goes with sewing. 

Some people spend the entire week at the festival taking classes from famous author-quilters or TV-personality quilters.  Lectures are held and chairs are filled with spell bound quilting students.

One section of the convention center is reserved for "pain relief."  There are  special chairs, lights, shoes, and  lotions and potions for sale to help comfort the various strains and cramps that are evidently occupational  health hazards of hours spent cutting and piecing.  The awkward looking shoes help relieve the pain of hoofin' it to all those hundreds of quilt stores scattered across America.

In the other half of that huge building quilts from all over the world are displayed in a museum-like atmosphere.  They are hung against a curtained backdrop that enhances  color and texture.  A few are designated as "winners" with the thousands of dollars in prize money posted.  The blankets and wall hangings are categorized by how they were made, either by hand or machine,  by theme, embellishment or style.

Yes, these pictures I've posted are QUILTS.  Tiny pieces of different colors and shades of fabric were cut and arranged until these faces emerged.  These were NOT winners. Not one was judged "best of show."  There were hundreds like these that simply defied the imagination.  I wonder if the people that made these are still considered sane.

The Japanese quilts are made of even tinier pieces.  Perhaps those lovely small oriental hands were made for such tedious work.

Today's quilts are fascinating and they are ART.   The suppliers for these "artists" are smiling all the way to the bank!  Our quilting ancestors must be  rolling over in their graves at the insanity of buying a beautiful piece of cloth, tearing it into tiny pieces just for the thrill of sewing it all  back together again!  Quilting has come a long way, baby!

And next year I'll travel a long way to be amazed once again!


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