I spent a few days last week teaching at QuiltNebraska, an annual summer event. While I was there, I had an interesting experience. It was at first perplexing, then thought provoking. I’m not sure how to write about it, but I’d like to try.
There are always lots of quilting teachers at this event. They’re divided into two groups. The first group is well-known national teachers, folks you’ve probably heard of. The other group is Nebraska teachers; that’s where I fit in.
All the teachers were asked to bring a quilt they’d made, to be hung in an exhibit of teachers’ quilts. I took All Drezzed Up, a quilt I designed that appeared in Quiltmaker a few years back. It’s a quilt I’m fond of.
It’s happy and fun and original (at least as original as a traditional block can be). It’s a quilt in which I have some pride.
Now pause for a moment and think of a prize-winning quilter you may know about: Sharon Schamber. Sharon was one of the national teachers at this event.
It’s no stretch, in my opinion, to say that Sharon is one of a handful of quilters worldwide whose work is utterly astonishing. Exquisite. Breathtaking.
If you’ve ever seen one of her quilts, many of which have won big prizes in big shows, you’ve probably stood there in awe, as I have. So much planning, detail and execution. Jaw-dropping stuff.
So you can imagine my—what’s the word? shock? amusement? humiliation?—a little of all three—when I came around a corner in the teachers’ quilt display and saw All Drezzed Up hanging next to Sharon Schamber’s “Crimson Promises” masterpiece.
My reaction is hard to describe. I know I was amused. I’m just a regular quilter who loves to write and is lucky enough to have a job in the industry. I make regular quilts. I am not Sharon Schamber.
Seeing All Drezzed Up hanging there, looking so very humble, so very ordinary, I actually felt sorry for her (the quilt, not Sharon).
A couple of people asked me if I was hurt by the way the quilts were displayed. The answer was absolutely not! While I don’t pretend to play in the Big Leagues, it was kind of cool to have my baby in such good company. What are the odds?!
And in the end I came to this conclusion: Sharon’s “Crimson Promises” is inspiring because of its grandeur. But perhaps All Drezzed Up is inspiring too, because it’s a quilt anyone could make. And there’s something to be said for that.
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I’d like to know: How would you feel if your quilt was hung next to a masterpiece? Please tell us in the comments below.