A Little About QuiltCon 2016

I flew to Pasadena this weekend to attend QuiltCon 2016 and thought, in my exhausted afterglow haze one day after arriving home, that I should sit down, write something about it and blast that out to the planet, because train wreck’s gonna wreck and who cares about coherency and grammar anyway.

First, the Pasadena Convention Center is nice and old-school, reminding me of a welcoming college campus, which makes, duh, complete sense given its history and all that it’s hosted in the past. A great one-level open space with lovely light everywhere…dammit, California, you and your always-amazing glowing light.

The main building’s entrance is on a diagonal at one corner. I’m no expert but I’ll bet this detail alone added crazy levels of good feng shui fortune to everyone and everything inside it. Forget it, I’m an expert: it did and everyone will now prosper and live joyously for an additional 10 years each. I’ve deemed it so.


Above: This is the main door lobby area (doors at left) with the hallway that lead down to Exhibit Halls A & B, where vendor booths along with a big display area for the Best-in-Show quilt and a selection of others *coughcoughcough-including-my-CANDY-DOTS-quilt-coughcoughcough* hung.


Above: Standing about one-third of the way down the right hallway (main door lobby area in upper left of photo) with numerous ballrooms (on right side) in which some really wonderful lectures and presentations took place.

Uplifting and celebratory charity quilts were on parade down each hallway and in the ballrooms and each one screamed out to high-five me as I speed-walked my way past them from one event to another. 

But as they say, NO TOUCHING!


Above: Oh, okay, twist my arm why don’tcha. Here’s my Candy Dots quilt (right) on display in the Minimalist Design category in the main Exhibit Halls A & B . 


Next to the main building’s Exhibit Halls A & B was separate building Exhibit Hall C, which was the place to go for quilts and nothin’ but wowie zowie quilts. 

The space was nothing short of spiritual in ambiance, embracing the quilts showcased within it in a magical and thought-provoking way. Or maybe I was sleep-deprived, but either way it was like an extra serving of jazz hands in experiential form. I recommended aloud at one point that a motion-sensitive sound effect of choral “ahhhhhAHHHHHHH”s should be installed stat, so it would go off every time someone came in/out the doors. I was even willing to record the voiceover for it because I’m helpful like that.


I signed up to be a QuiltCon volunteer from 3:00-6:00pm on Sunday, which may have seemed like an odd decision to some (hello, I’m all about odd), but as the fundraising chair at my kids’ school, I know volunteers are crucial. Plus, I get to see the exclusive inner workings this way and it turned out to be one of the most fascinating treats of the show. Exhausting and sweat-inducing, sure, but a treat nonetheless. 

Unsolicited Public Service Announcement time: Putting together/taking down a show like this is complex business and the MQG staff/volunteers worked like a well-oiled machine to make it all happen. Please make sure to hug and thank them next time you see them.

I got to help see if Gwen Marston was fine having fresh new shipping boxes for her quilts to be returned in and subsequently brought said boxes back to Exhibit Hall C for packing to begin. One person’s boring is another person’s (hi! me! hihi!) fascinating.

The part I wasn’t expecting but has already become a wonderful personal memory from this year, is due in part to my height. Tall people (I’m not the tallest AND I have garbage posture) were asked for to take down Molly Upton’s** quilts. I stood up straight and then on tippy toes like a kid trying to muscle in on an amusement park ride they have no business on, and got chosen along with another tall drink of a gal who just stood there like a normal person and got chosen.


Above: Detail of one of Molly’s quilts, including one of my favorite all-timers, corduroy fabric. I will EAT you, Corduroy, do you HEAR me!?

I got to take down and help fold almost all of Molly’s quilts and it was a quiet-and-serious-on-the-outside and exhilarating-and-giddy-on-the-inside piece of time for me. 


Above: Another favorite detail, an overalls bib, from another of Molly’s quilts.

I visually chronicled tiny weathered holes in the delicate fabric hanging sleeves of each quilt as their rods were slowly and carefully slid out from them. I took in their realness and humanness all while doing serious stuff like wearing white gloves and trying not to fall off ladders in front of people (I like falling off ladders in private). I got to huff pretty closely on Molly Upton’s quilts and that was pretty amazing.


Here I was, figuring I was volunteering kinda so I could feel like a good human blah blah blah, but mainly for, hello, a free t-shirt and I wound up coming away with, BAM, Molly Upton quilt-touched gloves. Extra fibers included. That’s gotta make quilt aficionados and criminal investigators equally proud, no?

Huzzah and behold. (Gaze at above photo in order to behold).

There’s more about QuiltCon, of course. The quilts galore, which you can find easily if you mill about social media and the MQG will have a chronicling of them on their site after the dust settles. For me, it’s the people…the conversations that fill in all the seemingly spare moments all the way to the brim…how collective time moves and shakes and pulses with life and connection. 

I had a great time. I recommend you go next year, AND, because giving time gives right back to you, I recommend you volunteer. 



**Edited 02/25/16 to add: Please do take the time and click on the link I included above to learn more about Molly Upton; she was a prolific artist who advanced the art of quilt making in amazing ways, before committing suicide by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge at the age of 23. Celebrating her work is to remember and honor her.

p.s. If you missed it, you can see more photos here.