Walla Walla Valley Quilt Festival – Guest Artist

I was thrilled and honored to be invited to the Walla Walla Valley Quilt Festival as the guest artist at their 14th annual show. I arrived during set-up last Thursday with 11 large quilts and several smaller ones to hang. It was exciting to see all these quilts hanging in one place. Usually they are held up during my lectures one at a time and I don’t see them altogether. I was also provided with tables to display my items for sale – books, patterns and Mongolian items.

WA, CA and WW 095 WA, CA and WW 086

20130929_095428 WA, CA and WW 097

WA, CA and WW 098 WA, CA and WW 100

There was enough space to display several of the beautiful silk pieces made by Selenge Tserendash and women at the Mongolian Quilting Center. Show attendees loved these. They were supportive in their purchases of Mongolian items at my table and we raised over $500 for the Center.

WA, CA and WW 140 20130929_094819

WA, CA and WW 139 20130929_094807

The show lasted for three days from Friday to Sunday. I was there the whole time and each afternoon did a demonstration in the demo area, sharing my template-free Kaleidoscope and Bargello block techniques. I had a warm welcome. The show organizers did an outstanding job and took very good care of me. We had a potluck on Thursday for some of the Guild volunteers and on Friday evening there was a nice barbecue for all the vendors and featured artists (me and the local artist). It was fun meeting everyone and reconnecting with some of my students who I taught two years ago at the Walla Walla Quilt Guild. I stayed with an old friend on Saturday and Sunday nights then had a windy and wet drive home on Monday.

In my next blog, I will share some of my favorite quilts from the show.


Have quilts, will travel!

I love to travel and teach, exploring new places and going to areas I wouldn’t necessarily visit without the teaching job. I’ve met some wonderful people and like the workshops where I can spend a whole day with a smaller group. It’s fun to see what each student brings to class and how they interpret my instructions. My goal is always for my students, whatever their skill levels, to feel successful, as well as enjoying the class. Quilt guild members always welcome me and are generous with their time, meeting me at the airport and showing me round the local sites which usually include a quilt shop or two. Often I stay at the home of guild member, or sometimes at a hotel.

Traveling quilter1 Traveling quilter2

Packing for these trips is a quite a feat. My most popular lecture is the trunk show where I display up to 40 quilts, but even if I do a PowerPoint presentation, I take as many quilts as I can for the lecture and workshops.  All airlines charge for checked bags, (prices range from $20-35/bag), and I check two that are carefully packed and usually weigh within 1-2 pounds of the 50 pound limit. One is completely filled with quilts and I record exactly which ones so that I can pack in the same way coming home and know that I won’t exceed the weight limit. The other is three-quarters filled with quilts and workshop materials, with the remaining quarter for my clothes. I have to be able to board the ferry to and from Seattle as a foot-passenger, so my hand luggage is a small backpack and a shoulder bag, leaving my hands free for the two large suitcases. I usually take my laptop computer and sometimes my digital projector. Thank goodness for wheels!

Traveling quilter3

All these quilts fit into the suitcases! After a lecture, the quilts are usually packed up in a hurry and guild members who help, can’t believe how I can fit them all in and still have room for my clothes. They have to be folded with the minimum number of folds to fit into the cases. Usually it takes me about half an hour to sort them all out and re-pack. Another logistical hassle is my books, patterns and the Mongolian products. I can’t carry these in my luggage, so I send a couple of packages ahead. It’s impossible to accurately estimate the number of books that I will sell. Sometimes I sell out completely, and other times I’m left with a big pile. I’ve often been fortunate to sell leftovers to a local quilt shop at wholesale rates. If I can’t carry what’s left in my hand luggage, I have to pack up a parcel to mail to the next place where I’m teaching, or back home.

3-block fans Silk table runners and wall hangings

As part of my fund-raising efforts for Mongolian Quilting Center, I ask guild members for a small monetary contribution. If we raise $100, the guild is given a Mongolian silk table runner or wall hanging which they can use in a raffle or for any special guild event they choose. With 100+ people at the lecture we often raise over $200 in this way, much of it in $1 bills or coins. This may sound trivial, but the coins are heavy and I already have so much to carry! I have to rely on a kind guild member to relieve me of all the change or to take me to a bank.  Guild members are generally extremely helpful and understanding.

Sightseeing highlights from teaching trips have been three Presidential Libraries, the Forth Worth Fine Art Gallery, art in the Mayo Clinic, Chicago Fine Art Museum, Royal Gorge in CO, a variety of botanical gardens and parks, and some incredible beaches. I always love coming back home too, and greatly appreciate the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest.

Happy Worldwide Quilting Day!


National Quilting Day, now Worldwide, was started by the National Quilting Association to highlight the creative, inspirational and unique world of quilting. Every year on the 3rd Saturday of March, quilters around the world set aside time to celebrate their love of fabric, quilting and fellowship with other quilters.

Here are some ideas of ways that you might like to celebrate:

  1. Check out your local quilt store and support them by treating yourself to a fabric purchase. They may be holding special events this weekend.
  2. Set aside some time to quilt. If not today, then at least a couple of hours in the next few days.
  3. Put a new blade in your rotary cutter.
  4. Clean the lint out of your machine and change the needle.
  5. Organize your stash, or at least review what you have. You’ll probably get inspiration for a new project.
  6. Find something in your stash to give away – you could surprise a quilting friend, or donate something for charity quilt projects at your guild.
  7. Send a message to a quilting friend expressing your appreciation for their friendship and/or praising them for their quilts.

I’d like to express appreciation for my on-going association with the Mongolian Quilting Center in Ulaanbaatar, and my now 9 year friendship with the Director, Selenge Tserendash. This has really enriched my life in ways I never imagined possible. In celebration, here’s a photo of a quilt which was an international effort, designed by quilt teacher Lesley Coles of United Kingdom. I met Lesley in Mongolia when we collaborated in 2006 to organize the First International Quilt Show in Ulaanbaatar. The map of Mongolia is made from five panels. Panels from left to right made by: Connie Gilham (UK), me (USA), Selenge Tserendash and women at the Mongolian Quilting Center in Ulaanbaatar, Lesley Coles (UK), and Jane Grendon (UK).

Mongolia map quilt