Last week, the time had arrived for me to pack up the "Give it a Scrap Slap" lecture into two giant bags and head on out to Madison so I could inflict myself on a whole new region of quilters. I am happy to say that the only parts of my journey and experience that were less than perfect all centered around Midway airport not having their act completely together, which really only amounted to 4 hours of my whole four day trip. The rest? Seriously amazing.
First of all, all I knew about WI Quilt Expo before I went:
1. It's the brainchild of Nancy Zieman.
2. It is somehow a fundraiser for Wisconsin Public Television.
That's pretty much the extent of my previous knowledge. A little research might have led me to more, but who had time? Better to just go and enjoy. But my knowledge has vastly improved.
1. This show is HUGE.
|Don't you love a bird's eye view?|
I've been to regional, volunteer-based (read: not owned by a large quilting conglomerate but bigger than a guild show) shows before in various capacities. I thought I knew what to expect. I was SO VERY WRONG. With 30+ lectures a day, plus tons of sit and sew and hands on workshops, over 200 show quilts plus four special exhibits, tons and tons of vendors, probably 30,000 attendees and OVER 500 VOLUNTEERS, this is a crazy insane show. It was awesome.
|One parking lot, filling up outside our hotel window.|
"Well, obviously," you are thinking. It's a big show. But refer to point #1 to recall I had no idea how big this thing was. Quilts by national big names abounded. Quilts by regionally famous quilters abounded. Quilts by quilters of every ilk abounded. It took me three days to choose my Viewer's Choice.
|This was amazing. And a winter scene by a FL quilter. I think she deserved a ribbon just for that.|
|Best in show|
|Remind me to start watching Sherlock|
|Fun quilt by my new friend Kim Lapecek|
|The best example of "consistency in the crazy" in a scrap quilt outside of my own I've ever seen!|
No lie - I woke up in a cold sweat about two weeks before I left because I couldn't recall if I had put on my lecture proposal that I would be needing handlers. Not so much for me, although someday maybe I'll rate those, but to help hold up the quilts I would be talking about during my lecture. I pull from the audience when I do lectures for guilds, and it is never a problem, but I felt weird doing it at a show.
Well, not to worry. From the second my friend Jen Eskridge (who was also doing lectures at the show) and I showed up, volunteers were swooping in to help direct us where to go, check our bags in a secure location when we weren't using them so we didn't have to haul them around all day, provide actual good tea(!), give us any info we needed, and most importantly every lecture was assigned our very own volunteer, with whom we could do whatever we wanted. A Minion for an Hour, if you will. Huge shout out to Pam, Nancy, and Karen, my amazing volunteers who kept all three lectures going smoothly, held up those quilts like rock stars, and made sure everyone had a handout. So simple, yet SO invaluable. Special shout out to Nancy, whom I kept running into later that day and she kept telling everyone near us how great I was. I heart her. I heart them all. This show could not happen without the volunteers and every one of them was awesome.
Because I loved all the volunteers I was encountering, I decided to join their ranks, and I became a workshop assistant for Eric Drexler Friday afternoon. Kind of on a whim, but it was way fun and I got to take his thread painting class for free - my only jobs were ticket and evaluation collection, and chocolate distribution. When no one was about to pass out from needing chocolate, I could make friends with Sulky blendables, which I always thought hated me but I may or may not now own 6 spools.
|Coneflower? Daisy? Who cares! It was fun!|
Thanks in part to Trish Franklund, a local regionally famous quilter (it even says so on her business card, which is brilliant) who took Jen and I under her wing and shopped us around town, including to the Mad Mod Quilt guild meeting, and to Budget rental car for finally finding me a car after 2 hours at Midway, we were able to leave the hotel and see the sights. Madison is a very cool city indeed. Sadly, the only photos I have to prove this are of my beer choice from The Old Fashioned restaurant and a bunch of flowers from the Saturday morning Farmer's Market at the capitol. But trust me. If you haven't been, go.
|I'll just say it was one of the IPAs.|
|So pink. So much more lifelike than my thread painting. Oh, wait.....|
As every MA resident knows, the number one producer of cranberries is Cape Cod. This is a well known fact I learned in my cocktail waitressing days, when I was schooled on what goes into a "57 Chevy with a Massachusetts License Plate," a drink featuring cranberry juice. The drink names don't lie, people.
So imagine my utter dismay when Nancy Zieman herself, with whom I was lucky enough to sit down for lunch in a small group one day, informed me that WI had overtaken us. I just wasn't sure what to do. My dreams of living in a cranberry kingdom were shattered!
Side note: Nancy Z is absolutely what you see on TV. Kind, down to earth, real, unflappable, and surprisingly a little taller than I pictured.
6. I must go back.
That's all. Here's hoping!