yesterday was a lovely interlude between two very frenetic shows. I took part in the Quilt Shop tour yesterday which took in two quilt shops, the amazing George Ranch and a contemporary art and craft space which provides small studios to budding artists.
The quilt shops were interesting. I expected something amazing and was a little disappointed. Apart from the Haloween decorations and the accents, there was very little difference between the two shops and any reasonably mid sized shop we have at home. They were both lovely shops with an amazing array of fabric, a good range of notions, threads and patterns and one had an amazing class room. I went on this tour to see what the US stores were doing differently to us, but the answer is really not much. On one level, I was not surprised by that as I have long believed that in Australia we hold our own if not lead the way in many things and it was good to reinforce that. I guess it is an element of the colonial cringe. We assume others do what we do better, but this is simply not the case. Lets face it, Australians have been taking out top awards in Houston and Paduchah for years, so why wouldn’t our shops also shine. It is good to know and as someone working in the retail quilt world, something to be proud of. Needless to say, I bought a very small amount of fabric. At the first shop, I bought a yard of a green/brown to go into a quilt I am making for a family member. At the second, I bought three smaller pieces, on pure whim, that I may make into a vest or shirt for me. I will take photos and upload them when I get home as I have packed my bags ready to fly home tomorrow, QANTAS flights allowing.
The trip to the George Ranch was interesting. It is, like many similar Texas ranches, enormous. It has cattle, oil, gas, electricity generation, cotton and other crops and, unlike other similar ranches, a dedicated historical education program. The Georges, now deceased, were the last of four generations that farmed/grazed this land which was granted to them by the then Texas Government. The family has a very colourful history from there, but they struggled to have their family members live longer than to 30. As such, amidst great tragedy, the last Mr and Mrs George, died without an heir. So, faced with this position in their latter years, they set up a trust to administer the vast fortune for predominantly educational reasons.
What the trust then did, was take the four family homes or similar, renovate them and set up an historic village of sorts, which teaches school students and the odd tourist about Texan history. It is an interesting place.
They feed us a traditional Texas BBQ. It was a bit devoid of vegetables, but really quite nice in a Texan sort of way. I did not take the sauce or the ice cream for dessert. It was all a bit brown.
The Contemporary art space was nice. I liked that they were providing space for young artists to create. A bit like the old Meat Market in Melbourne used to do before it controversially shut down with no notice. This is something we could certainly learn from in Australia.
Last night, we had the VIP preview of the show. If you had enrolled in classes or prepurchased tickets for the week or something else, you got into the show before the public. I took the opportunity to go to the Quilt University as I did not think I would get in when the full public entrants were there. I got into three sessions, but was happy to only do one. It was fun and I can now tick the box to say I have attended. I would love to set something up like this with the hype and excitement that goes with it at the shows at home. Something to think about. Again, one of the things I learnt is that we are doing everything that is cutting edge here. In fact, some of it I have been doing for three to five years. This is great to know. I feel comfortable that the path I am on is good and I am well placed to bring mixed media, surface design, art quilt ideas to all of you, my fabulous customers. It has been a great reinforcing exercise for me, forcing me to dismiss self doubt and under confidence.
Today, I hit the Festival floor with a vengence. My main aim was to see how the US traders set up, marketted, promoted and displayed their stock. It was interesting and again reinforced some of the things Glenn and I have planned for next year. Not that I am ever going to be cutting thousands of fat quarters again, but I was very impressed by the presentation of one fabric shop that had presentation nailed. Here is their stand, or at least one part of it:
Customers were queueing with fabric right up their arms to buy this. Great fabric, well presented and they deserved the success they clearly got today.
I resisted buying fabric at this stand, and it was hard to resist, but I have bought some fabric today for a quilt I am making for my niece. It is six months overdue, but I think she will forgive me. Here is the fabric I bought today.
Again, very well presented. I bought a couple of other things, mostly examples of products I want to carry that I did not see at Market. That way, when I get home, I can follow up as I get time and money.
I have packed my bag now and am about to have dinner, a shower and a relatively early night. I will have four or five hours at Festival tomorrow to finalise everything and then head off to the airport for the long trip home. Hopefully QANTAS will have sorted out their aircraft problem by the time I get to LA and I will be home Sunday. I will try to post from the QANTAS Club tomorrow night, assuming I have anything to say.
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