Thursday, April 21, 2005

A Stitch in Time

A subculture is a subculture is a subculture.

Language, look, logic, and lessons passed from one generation to the next -- all a subculture make. Today, I expanded my horizons once again and observed the land of the . . . quilters.

I am not a quilter. I barely hem pants and have even considered tape on more than one too-lengthy-leg-but-too-short-0n-time occasion. My sister says she broke the needle the last time she set out to sew (but she is an artist when it comes to crochet!). And my mother? Well, she's the one who passed down this degree of domestic skills!

But that doesn't keep us from appreciating a good quilt show. And just down the road, about an hour or so in Paducah, Kentucky is a quilting oasis come April. Today we wound our way through the back roads and straight to the river upon which sits the Executive Inn and Expo Center complete with several ballrooms full of award-winning quilt designs.

They were exquisite. I have no idea what the difference is between Machine Workmanship ribbons and simply Machine awards. I did decipher the distinction between a Bed entry and a Wall entry thank you. And at some point one of the very helpful conventioneers tried to explain what a long arm machine is and how that would make an incredible difference regarding the artistry but by that time, I'd ooohed and ahhed over irises, moonbeams, surreal designs with no basis in reality, tiny Dutch women in big bonnets, trees representing each season, and more tiny little squares than I'd care to count (although one participant did and entitled her work "Pieces of Life . . . 5,634 to be exact"). So I really didn't keep up with the explanation.

My discoveries?

1. I'm glad someone enjoys this art form enough to put the incredible outlay of time into it. I'm equally glad it's not me.
2. People who come to quilt conventions are really into expression through fabric . . . and not just the kind you put on the wall or on a bed. These women (and by far, they were women) moved in clumps with other similarly clad cohorts. They wore matching hats on which they'd stitched everything from pink flamingos to feather boas. They wore matching dresses with lots and lots of applique. They even wore matching hats and dresses.
3. White women really, really like quilt conventions. Out of the thousands I saw today less than ten people were non-Caucasion (although the biggest winners by far were Japanese quilters) and less than twenty were men (if you take away the food vendors the numbers for that shrink drastically!).
4. Did I mention that I'm absolutely satisfied to sit on the sidelines for this spectator sport???


Anonymous said...

You sound like ME when you made me look at all that stupid glass in Las Vegas!! I scoff at uncultured people who don't like quilting (haha!!).

Finding the Happy said...

Yes, I have quilted the old fashioned way...sitting in my grandmother's living room in mismatched chairs around a quilting frame that dropped down from the ceiling on an intricate pully system. The chairs were filled with 3-4 generations of women, most of us related. To the men, it was a hen party and an excuse to stay away from the house. To us, it was vital to our survival and to the perpetuation of not only the craft of quilting, but, the telling of stories, the sharing of laughter (ok, sometimes we did sound like hens cackling when laughing in tandem). All that's left of my first quilt is a teddy bear made from the remnants of its tattered shell. That bear holds a place of honor in my house. It sits regally in my mother's rocking chair.