Life + Arts

DO IT YOURSELF: Quilt festival lands in Houston

Quilting is not just for your grandmother anymore.

Last week, the George R. Brown Convention Center hosted the 2009 International Quilt Festival in Houston. The exhibition showcased quilting, as well as other crafts such as bag making.

Each year the convention holds contests and hosts showcases organized by different themes. Last year’s themes included presidents, photography and modern art. This year, the convention focused on handmade quilts covering a variety of themes, including whimsical, pictoral and natures. Special exhibitions included Indigos of China, which showcased tapestries.

One of the most fascinating displays included a quilt depicting a woman driving a dragon-led chariot into vibrant flames. Another featured a blanket immortalizing in cloth celebrities including Paul McCartney and Jon Bon Jovi, and a comical ‘Joan of Park’ quilt displaying a woman fleeing ‘divine reasoning’ and its intentions for her-demands ending in a phrase about needing a BlackBerry to stay in touch.

Some quilters used their art to garner support for causes such as HIV and breast cancer. Mary Fisher’s exhibit included an elephant replica with a quilted exterior covered in pictures of African people. Other charitable works included personalized quilts partly hand-painted, partly covered by photos, which featured a descriptive story about the person depicted on the quilt.

Craft groups of different kinds were present at the convention, providing pamphlets and information about meetings in the Houston area. These groups, including the Quilt Guild of Greater Houston and the American Sewing Guild, promoted their respective crafts through displays, contests and workshops.

The Quilt Guild of Greater Houston held a workshop teaching quilting to adults and children. Each participant created a coaster-sized quilt, and was given the opportunity to learn the basics of both hand-sewn and machine-driven methods of quilting. The group, founded more than 30 years ago, also promoted its summer children’s camp, at which experienced adults teach children how to quilt.

Wall-to-wall vendors occupied an expansive section of the convention center, selling wares that charmed quilters and non-quilters alike. Items for sale included polymer clay and fabric, raincoats, incense, and books and supplies promoting various crafts.

The most inspiring feature of the convention came from metalworker Dan Schafer, who shaped his own vending booth. He imparted wisdom to aspiring crafters in three words: ‘Patience, practice and persistence.’

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