A Newsletter from Meg Cox                                January, 2015

Sumptuous Spring Seminars:
Kicks for History Lovers!

      Quilt history lovers have some hard choices to make, with three major museum seminars in March and April. 

       First off, the DAR Museum in Washington, D.C. is hosting its first ever quilt seminar, and it looks like a winner, coinciding with a must-see exhibit. The seminar's  title is "Eye Opening: New Research on Maryland and Virginia Quilts," with keynote speaker Barbara Brackman. Textile curator Alden O'Brien is promising "ground-breaking new research on Baltimore album quilts," among other highlights. 
       Saturday, March 14 is the symposium date, but you can also come the night before for a guided tour of the current show, Eye on Elegance. 
        Can't make the seminar? Don't miss the Eye on Elegance show, which will be running until September 5.
        Can't get to D.C. for this show? Check out the     terrific slideshow and other materials the DAR Museum has assembled online. One of the show's themes is that these quilters were making masterpieces, not recycling old clothes, and these exquisite album quilts prove that point. 

          The International Quilt Study Center and Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska will host its 7th biennial symposium  "Making & Mending: Quilts for Causes and Commemoration."
         The meat of the symposium falls on Friday, April 17 and April 18, plus there is an opening reception at the Great Plains Art Museum on the Thursday night before. Participants will tour multiple exhibits at IQSCM as well as hear lectures by a range of speakers from local curators to Victoria Findley Wolfe, whose talk is "Quilts: Making, Giving and Sharing JOY."
        Go here for more information, including a complete schedule and pre-registration.

        Last, but not least, you may want to head to Colonial Williamsburg for a textile symposium called "Stitching Together a National Identity." This event runs from Sunday March 15 to March 17 and covers a lot more than quilts. Home furnishings, needlework and clothing are among the other objects under discussion.
        The Williamsburg speakers' list is indeed impressive. There will be papers presented by curators, folklorists and historians from all over the country and many fine institutions.  Go here to see the full program and register. 

Textile Symposium @ Williamsburg

     Note to Museums: I really need to call you all out on not doing the best possible job to market these events! In some cases, it's difficult to even find seminar information on your websites. Also, make a bigger noise: I am always looking for material for my newsletter, but I wouldn't know about these fine events were it not for the great Barbara Brackman and her blog

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Who is Meg Cox?  

Journalist /Author/Teacher



 President, Quilt Alliance

Lecturing at QuiltCon on "Better Quilt Photos NOW"-- Book this lecture for your guild.

Openings in 2015 and 2016.



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January Giveaway!!!
6 Month Pass to Creative Bug & Windham Fabrics bundle 


One lucky subscriber is going to win a six-month pass to any and all classes on Creative Bug, plus a luscious package: a bundle of 32 fat quarters featuring this classic collection from Windham Fabrics. 

 The winner will be chosen at random from e-mails received by midnight January 31. To enter, send an e-mail to meg@megcox.com. (Only subscribers are eligible to win.) 
The December winner of the Creative Bug pass and Kaffe Fassett fabric was Linda Blair. (Note: two other names were drawn first but they were NOT subscribers. They missed an awesome prize.)

Dear Friends--      
Although Mark Lipinski and I sold out all the spots in our April Slow Stitching Getaway within a week, there are still plenty of other great quilting events and shows coming up.
       In this issue, I'll bring you up to date on all the quilt show and seminar news.
       Plus, I'll be launching my year-long "Cash For Your Craft" coverage with a fascinating story about a quilter in Oregon who was chosen to make quilts based on a hip rock band's latest album. How did she get that gig?
       All year long, I will present and review great resources: this month, I'm reviewing a webinar called "Building an Art Business From the Ground Up."
        In addition, I'm pleased to announce a new sponsor: The Travel Chicks, who are putting together intimate textile tours to exotic locales. I'll introduce you to the company's founder, Lisa Chipetine. 
Your feedback is very important to me. If you have any comments, suggestions or story ideas, just send a note to meg@megcox.com. How can Quilt Journalist Tells All become more vital to you?
2015 Theme: Cash For Your Craft

        They say quilting is a $3.8 billion industry in this country, and there are thousands of people making a living from our craft. Some work for sewing machine or fabric companies, while others work for (or own) quilt shops. Some are trained appraisers or curators. Untold thousands make money teaching, lecturing, designing fabric or patterns, writing books, or finishing quilts for those of us who "quilt by check." And some earn money by selling the quilts they make.

        But anyone who has tried to make a living from quilts can testify as to how hard it actually is, especially if you are cobbling together freelance gigs. This year, I've decided to explore in some depth what it takes to earn decent money from this craft, by interviewing some of the hard-working people known for their success. They will help us identify some of the common pitfalls and mistakes, and locate practical tools, resources and mentors for maximizing profits.

        But I want to start by introducing you to long arm quilter Valerie Bradley from Tigard, Oregon, who was contacted last fall by a marketing person at Capitol Records. This man called and asked Valerie if she could make two quilts based on the jacket art for the record shown above, a new album by popular folk rock band The Decemberists. (The cover art was done by illustrator Carson Ellis, wife of the band's lead singer, who told me that she wanted something "folky, narrative, personal and cryptic" and that she herself only makes the occasional quilt top: she says she was not involved in choosing a quilt maker to execute the task. Management just asked whether turning her art into an actual quilt was a good idea, to which she replied "Yes!")

        "My first thought was, Oh, wow," says Valerie. "I have only ever worked for individuals before, doing mostly t-shirt quilts and memory quilts for people whose loved ones have passed on. The fact that someone from this big record label noticed my work just blew me out of the water!" 

         A former software engineer for Intel, Valerie decided to become a stay-at-home mom after her two children, now 10 and 13, were born. She liked to quilt, built up her confidence and began trading up her machines to the Innova 22-inch quilting machine she now has. And she's had a website promoting her commission work for years. So, Valerie said "Yes" to Capitol Records, first designing a quilt using EQ 6 and getting the company's approval to continue. The two quilts have since been finished (close-up below and see the full quilt on Valerie's website), and were given away last week in a contest to promote the album's release. 

       Valerie was feeling quite pleased about the whole episode. And then she heard that other quilters were taking Capitol Records to task, protesting how little she was paid: in online contest materials, the company had to list the value of the prizes they were giving away, so the quilts' worth was listed at $388 each. One of the most lucid commentaries about unfairness came in Sam Hunter's blog, which I urge you to read. Sam does an excellent job laying out the real costs of commission work, and she castigates the band, as fellow creative beings,  for valuing Valerie's work so little. 

         But here is the irony: after I got Valerie's name from Carson Ellis and phoned her myself, I discovered the real culprit in the case. The person who low-balled Valerie Bradley's work, was...Valerie Bradley! The company paid the price she set.

         While Valerie is savvy and confident enough to tell pet-owners who want a commissioned puppy quilt for $50 to take a walk, she didn't calculate her full costs in this case. "I really really underestimated how complicated these quilts would end up being," she explained. "I just used my regular rate. And once I gave a quote, I didn't feel right about going back and asking for more." Now, Valerie describes her rock album quilts as both "a thrill and a lesson," and says she is now reconsidering how she calculates her fees.

          Sam Hunter's blog gets it right in lamenting how woefully quilts are undervalued by people outside the quilt world. There is much educating that needs to be done.  But we have to start by valuing our own work properly. 

         I hope that Valerie's story will serve as a cautionary tale, and I hope you'll keep coming back to this newsletter every month to pick up tips and practical lessons. Valerie views her quilting efforts as a supplement to household income, but she mostly considers it as a "way to pay for my quilting addiction." I'm here to tell her, and you, that it could be more. How much more is up to you.

Capsule Review: Webinar

      If you are just starting to think about how to turn your quilting hobby into a business, this will be a well-spent hour and fifteen minutes. 
      Both Lynn Krawczyk and Cheryl Sleboda have full-time day jobs, but have managed to start and build small businesses. They cover a lot of ground here, though there isn't time for them to dig deep on any one topic.
      To me, the greatest strength of this webinar is the two voices, which demonstrate throughout that there is no single right way. Cheryl is set up as an S Corporation, while Lynn's business is an LLC. Cheryl sells her products mostly through a distributor, while Lynn sells mostly online, including through an Etsy shop.  
       There is a lot of practical advice here, from Lynn suggesting your list of goals include some "pie-in-the-sky goals," and Cheryl warning that before you put your brand new business name out into the world, "make sure it passes the 11-year-old giggle test."
        Price of the webinar is $19.99. Go here for information.

Met the New Sponsor: The Travel Chicks

       Lisa Chipetine, a technology executive, art quilter and former president of Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA), has fed her passion for travel by taking exotic trips with a girlfriend for 20 years. (Her husband stays home.)
       She recently decided to start a travel business for women, particularly quilters and other crafters, offering intimate tours to the places she loves most. "Some places on my bucket list just didn't impress me at all," Lisa explains. "India especially blew me away utterly. There is nothing in the world like standing in a shop - especially as a textile person - full of beautiful bolted silks, and a guy runs out and measures your arms and waist. You go back to your hotel, and there are custom made pajamas for you!"
       The first two trips being offered by Travel Chicks are a trip to Peru in August of this year, and another to India in November. Both are led by knowledgable local guides that Lisa Chipetine has worked with, and last 10 to 16 days. The itineraries were chosen to be especially inspiring to quilters and artists of all kinds. Expect to see ruins and mountains, as well as markets for local textiles. 
       The India tour goes to 8 cities, ending in Mumbai, and one of the highlights is that the colorful Hindu festival of Diwali will be going on during the visit. Jaipur is another stop, and the photo below shows a palace in that city. The Peru trip starts in Lima and includes both the Sacred Valley and Machu Pichu, where women can choose between gentle and strenuous hikes. 
       You'll find all the details, including pricing and complete itineraries,  at http://www.thetravelchicks.com. Lisa will even help you find the perfect roommate. The site also lists Lisa Chipetine's phone number: she welcomes your questions, and hopes you'll give yourself the gift of unforgettable travel. 


Quilt Show News!

       I have written before about the amazing show "And Still We Rise," featuring quilts that tell the history of African Americans from 1619 to the present. Carolyn Mazloomi, historian, curator and founder of the Women of Color Quilters Network, commissioned every quilt in this exhibit. They include both well-known historical figures and episodes, and virtually unknown stories too. Like Cathy Williams, a black woman who passed herself off as a man, so she could fight in the Civil War (see quilt below).

        This spectacular show debuted at the Freedom Center in Cincinnati, but it will continue traveling for the next four years. I wanted to alert you about its upcoming opening at the Orange County Regional History Center in Orlando, Florida. You can see it there starting February 7. In June, the show will move to the Bullock Museum in Austin, Texas, just in time for the 150th anniversary of Juneteenth. Among other venues, And Still We Rise will also travel to Greenwich, Conn., Winchester, Va. and Kalamazoo, Mich. 

         If you can't get to any of those, I urge you to check out the recently published book. It shows all 105 quilts, while only about 80 are traveling. 


         In other quilt show news, the Modern Quilt Guild just announced that starting in 2016, QuiltCon will become an annual show! This is big news, because there was a 2-year break between the first show in 2013 and the second, taking place in Austin, Texas next month. And that's another thing: starting in 2016, the shows are going to rotate between Pasadena on the west coast and Savannah, Georgia on the east cost. Get all the details here

           Another show producer with big news is AQS. The American Quilts Society has been adding lots of new shows and changing locations of others. This month, the AQS had its first show in Albuquerque, says Bonnie Browning, because Phoenix has the Super Bowl this year. In 2016, the company will go back to Phoenix. 
           But the company recently announced that it will debut a show in Syracuse, New York from July 29 to August 1, and next February, it will debut a show in late February in Daytona Beach, Florida. And don't forget the mother of all AQS Shows: Paducah -- this year it runs April 23 to 26. For all the AQS show dates, go here

     Just one announcement before I let you go. In honor of my year-long series on Cash For Your Craft, I will be ending 2015 with a HUGE one-time giveaway. The winner will get a big basket of books and other tools to help grow her/his creative business, but you will also receive free consultations with a wide range of specialists who will advise you on everything from marketing and pricing to social media and website design. When we get near the end of this year, I'll give you more details and tell you how to enter. 

     Meanwhile, please let me know about what books, seminars, classes, websites, professional organizations and other resources helped you the most. Drop me a note at meg@megcox.com. Maybe I will feature them here. 
     Thanks for spending time with my newsletter: if you like it, forward it to a friend or share on social media.
     Quilt on!
     Love, Meg

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