Festival of Quilts, Birmingham England

Greetings from Birmingham!

We are here at the Festival of Quilts for the first time – even though they are celebrating their 10th birthday this year.  We are here to sing, which we did last night, and I’m teaching three 1-hour quick demonstration classes in Notan design tools.  Otherwise, we’re taking in the event.

First of all, it’s big.  Not as big as Houston, but very big.  It’s all under one roof at the National Exhibition Centre, a huge facility in Birmingham.  There are lots of small classrooms for the half-day and full-day workshops.  There are larger rooms for lectures (and concerts), and there’s a huge exhibition space.  The quilts are interspersed with the vendors throughout the area.  There are some hands-on places, too, including a full dye studio.  I’m teaching my Notan class in one of six 3-walled spaces near the food area. Each class has a maximum of 16 students.

Here’s a picture of one row of vendors.  You can see, it’s a very long row!

And there are lots of people filling the aisles, too!

The UK is known for its “City and Guilds” organization which oversees training programs in many different disciplines.  There are lots and lots of quilters who have gone through the Textiles program, and the artistic results are clear in this show.  Of course, there are traditional quilters as well, but I’m seeing lots of contemporary and art quilts here.

Some of the displays feature 3-D quilts, which are very exciting.  Here’s a detail of “Squaring Up”, by June Barnes (http://www.cjunebarnes.co.uk/Textiles/Welcome.html), showing how she raised the surface of the quilt significantly.  I had a great time in her part of the show – the work was delightful and it made me laugh.

I love the colour, too.

There are so many quilts that impressed me!  I didn’t see many holes in the quilts here, like I did last year at European Patchwork, but I am impressed with the international content.  I saw quilts from all over the UK, Denmark, Japan, Israel, as well as from the USA and Canada.  There was a stunning portrait of the Sydney Opera House by Ans Schipper Vermeiren.  She also worked with hexagons to create a floral quilt of wisteria.

These appliqued hexes are perfect for the look of the wisteria.

I’m happy to find more hexaholics here in the UK! There were several notable ones in the show.

If you’ve read me for a while, you know that I’m always looking in parking lots of evidence of the quilters’ passion: vanity plates on their vehicles!  I found one – and only one – on this visit.

The World of Sewing van had this one.

It’s been great to see how my students are taking to the idea of positive/negative via the “exploding the square” Notan technique.  If you’ve taken a Mock Mola applique class from me, you’ve heard about it.  But what a joy to have time to play exclusively with Notan during class!  I saw a lot of light bulbs going on during the classes. We worked with construction paper during this session.  It was like going back to elementary school, with paper and scissors. Here are just a couple, for your amusement.

I love the hearts in the corners of this Notan, done by Janet.

There are up to five flips involved in doing this piece.

We had fun.  I’ll teach another class on Sunday.  I can’t wait to see what they’ll come up with!

That’s all for now – more to come.

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