Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Festival of Quilts UK 2013

I seemed to be so organised with my packing for my trip to Birmingham that I decided that I had so much spare time that I might as well make a pair of velcroed curtains for my classroom sink. I set off early, taking the Cairn O’Mount road and enjoyed seeing the heather in full bloom. I made a leisurely trip, collecting Kay in the Scottish Borders, having supper at IKEA then having a well deserved G and T after my 12 hour drive. 

The APQS stand was situated in HAll 9 at the NEC which was far more spacious and had plenty of natural light. We were able to drive our vehicles right inside and unload very close to where we needed to be. The blue and white quilts, bunting and flags looked very smart indeed. We had a bit of a technical hitch with our computerised quilting gadget - it was on loan from America and its connector did not match up with the rest of the bits that we had in the UK. We set off on a quest for a tiny electrical component, starting at Maplins in Edrington. A nice young man called Mammoud advised us to head for RS Components in Aston so we googled it and fed that info into the satnav. Satnav Lady had other plans for our afternoon, deciding that our destination was much further away on the other side of the sprawling city of Birmingham. We passed through the vibrant area of Soho past sari shops, Indian banks and mosques. Later we travelled through districts with a Caribbean flavour, wondering if we would ever reach our intended destination. We eventually found an electrical wholesaler but it did not have the required part. Luckily, the shop owner took pity and rewired the two bits of electrical cable for us instead.

When I eventually checked my emails I was delighted to be informed that The Quilted Coracle was the winner of 3D Creations. I really had not expected that at all as I wondered if it had been too much like a novelty item. The Quilt Angels confessed that they unwrapped this huge package last, not knowing what to expect. On the way back to our stand I noticed that Dunes Duet was missing from its place which I found puzzling. I was stunned to discover that it had been taken to the photographer since it too had won a first place for the Two Person Quilts.  I was utterly thrilled to have received these two prizes at Europe’s premier quilt show. 

Kay had two gorgeous quilts in the show - Casaopoeia and Flower of Scotland. Both of these were worthy of prizes and she was pleased when the her thistle quilt received a Highly Commended award. You can see more of her beautiful work on her blog: 

I have to admit that despite my two wonderful wins, I was disappointed that the judges had not been blown away by the totems which I had considered my best work. Later on they were given a Judge’s Choice by Greta Fitchett and I was able to sneak a look at the judging sheets. One judge had ticked all of the Excellent boxes but the other one ticked Good or just Satisfactory, indicating that it should not have been entered into the Art Quilts category and that they were not particularly impressed by the choice of materials. This will not stop me from intending to make another 9 columns in this series so that I can exhibit a standing-stone circle of 12 symbolic tree columns!

The Fine Art Masters finalists seemed to cause controversy amongst many quilters. There were some beautifully executed pieces but most were beyond the comprehension of most quilters. I wonder whether I should enter a facetiously arty entry next year just to see what might happen. Kay told me that she could hear my brain whirring with new ideas at 4.30 am so we just brewed some tea and ate shortbread with no prospect of going back to sleep.

There were a few criticisms about the presentation of prize-winning quilts this year. They were all moved to a winners’ wall in a tight corridor with poor lighting. Their labels were fixed to the wall around a corner so it was not clear which quilts had actually been chosen.  (Almost a week after the quilts were judged there were still no official photos from FOQ13 available online.) The awards ceremony had a few hiccups and I felt that my achievements were less valued than they had been at IQA Houston where every quilt was spotlit. There the winners wore badges with ribbons and were expected to proudly present their quilts to the show visitors. I received many lovely comments from quilters and I was delighted to know that a trendy art student wanted to know more about the Coracle. 

I buzzed about over the next few days spending most of the day demonstrating on the APQS stand. I gave two lectures about The Quilted Yurts and did some vid-cast filming with Bonnie McCaffrey which was terrific fun. I caught up with a few folk, discussed the possibility of doing a longarm quilting cruise and knuckling down to sorting out my long overdue book. Each evening the “Team” went out for supper and laughed a lot about the silliest things. We discussed business periodically but mostly came up with ideas for quilts or making quilting demos fun. 

The after-show pull down was far less stressful this year as we decided to pack everything before going to fetch the vehicles, thus avoiding a long and pointless wait in traffic. The Landy was full to bursting point and I had to lock the back doors to stop them from popping open. At least I did not have to take the Coracle away on the roof-rack since it will now travel to the Knitting and Stitching Shows in London, Harrogate and Dublin.

It seems such a pity that I have to come back down to earth and think about starting school next week. At least I am all fired up with enthusiasm to work on some unfinished and new projects, feeling validated in the UK quilting world at last :)


  1. Congratulations! Your works are amazing and truly artistic! My hubby has a feeling for the Scotting quilt with words from the anthem on it. :)