I have to tell you about the experience I had on Saturday. I was asked to make an appearance at a retreat that Valley of the Sun Quilters Guild was having here in Phoenix. They wanted me to bring a trunk show of my quilts and tell a little bit about what I do. I thought it would be fun and it's always nice to meet fellow quilters but nothing could have prepared me for this group...
The retreat was being held in a local hotel. I wondered why they would choose a hotel instead of somplace more cozy, refined, and bed-and-breakfasty. My wondering would soon be quelled. I expected we would set up and present my show-and-tell in a conference room there. When I was led into the room where this would all take place, I couldn't believe what I saw.
It was like they had taken up some kind of semi-permanent residency in this place that had become a foster home for wayward fabric scraps, sewing machines, and any conceivable sewing and quilting notion to be had. Their quilting projects-in-progress were displayed on every available square inch of wall space. Every stationary object in the room, and some living and breathing objects, were either draped in fabric or covered, beyond recognition, in stray snips of thread. I mistook one of them for a chair. The only word I could think of at the time to describe my first impression of this place was "overwhelming". Looking back, I'm wondering if it wasn't more like what I've heard about shell shock.
I couldn't believe that they were spending 3 or 4 days buried in this kind of "rubble" and "destruction" only a true quilter can create. It's the aftermath of a few days of creative wild abandon when rotary cutters run amok and billions of bits of ten-dollar-a-yard fabric fly in a kind of frenzy that's usually kept behind the closed doors of the elusive quilters' den. But not on Saturday. Nay, these quilters were proud of what they had accomplished in the complete transformation of this room that most likely, at one time or another, had hosted such civilized (and scrap-free) happenings as wedding receptions, bar mitzvahs, and Kiwanis Club meetings. Events like that couldn't even be imagined in this space in which I found myself. Then, as if that weren't enough to make me wonder how I was going to be able to locate the door through which I would make my escape, they came closer. Not one by one, but as a pack. They descended upon the containers of fabric we had brought to show and, like wild animals, marked their territories.
Thankfully my friends, Gary and Ellen, one of the herd's Alpha members, fought them back and made them sit, mostly in chairs but some amid their droppings and debris on the floor, while I made my presentation. It seemed to work. They calmed down a bit and, for the most part, were docile and attentive while I told them about my work (And while I formulated in my head the idea I'm going to pitch to Mutual of Omaha for their next television endeavor, Wild Kingdom of Quilters).
All kidding aside, the way that the day turned out is what the community of quilting artists and crafters is all about. We shared our current projects and past accomplishments, told stories of our successes and failures, voiced our likes and our dislikes and happily offered our personal expertises to those who are still (and always) learning. I was on a "high" when I left there. And not only because we were able to locate the exit. What a fun day and what a FUN group of people!
Sign-ups are going great for "Party with Patrick™". All of the quilters at the retreat were really excited about it and told me they were going to find local shops where they could sign up. I'm really looking forward to this year. It's going to be something very different from what I've done in the past and it's exciting to have something so new and fresh to work on. The shop owners I'm working with are as much fun as the ladies in the Valley of the Sun guild so it looks like it really IS going to be the party I had hoped for! I hope you'll join us :)