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I always seem to “fly by the seat of my pants,” making decisions “on the run” and then I wonder why my life seems to be so hectic and chaotic?  But I wouldn’t know how to live any other way. Life would be boring for me if all were planned and organized too far in advance.  So, with that philosophy, I made a snap decision to attend the Houston Quilt Festival, which took place a week after Portland Art & Soul. I had been toying with the idea of going for months, but was uncertain about making a commitment so close on the heels of A&S, knowing that I most likely would have the post event body deterioration. However, everything fell into place, the Universe wanted me to go, so I boarded Continental at the crack of doom in the morning and headed east.

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I was told that the Convention Center in Houston is the size of 3 football fields, and of that I have no doubt. It was HUGE. It reminded me of how I feel when I walk into Fabric Depot, complete fabric overload. Where do you go first?  What do you select? What can you make? I want it ALL and it’s so confusing that I usually end up leaving with nothing. When I was young (ahem, a couple of years ago) I sewed everything.  As the years progressed and my interests changed/developed, I left sewing behind. Lately, however,  being surrounded by fabric artists like Lesley Riley and Ruth Krening, I’ve found myself yearning for a new sewing machine….and projects. Not quilting, I have no patience for the time involved creating those amazing works of art,  but more in the mixed media realm.  So here I was, in the middle of this gigantic seamstress’ playground, having a fabric clastrophobic experience. It was Art & Soul vendor night on steroids.

I ran into many A&S attendees,  instructors and business associates. It never ceases to amaze me how fast the word travels at a gathering, even with 55,000 attendees present. It’s almost like we have an invisible antenna network. I would be puttering along in my scooter, and bam! There was Mary Fisher.  “I heard you were here”, she said.  It was fabulous to reconnect with her. We would finish our conversation, head our separate directions, and then bam!  There was Alma de la Melena Cox!   “I heard you were here”, she said, and the reunion would commence.  This connection continued each day as I met and was introduced to more and more delightful people.

The most fun occurred on Wednesday evening. I had just left Lesley’s booth and was heading to Make It University, when bam!  There was Cindy O’Leary and DJ Pettitt.  What a reunion we had!! 

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As the saying goes, “What happens in Houston, stays in Houston!!”  Heh heh heh.

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There were traditional quilts.

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And fun quilts (my personal favorites). 

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There were hundreds of quilts and unbelievable expertise. I took a class in ribbon embroidery; something that I have been wanting to learn for quite a while. Very relaxing and rewarding (for me), so naturally I had to purchase a ton of hand died silk ribbons.

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I looked at all the sewing machine booths and managed not to cave to the show hype.  I have no clue as to what type of machine I eventually want to own.  Those fancy ones scare the heck out of me.  They appear to be possessed.

I was there for 5 days and did not complete the entire circuit.  I thought our mixed media people were dedicated, but we cannot begin to hold a candle to the quilters.  It is fun, though, to see that there is  a definite cross over between the two mediums.  The $10,000 award winning quilt was embellished with paints and fibers.  It was a free hand eclectic design of a flying woman.  Quite original and ornate.  Not a traditional quilt at all.

The Make it University booth, sponsored by Quilting Arts and Cloth Paper Scissors was swamped the entire time. I enjoyed watching the people eagerly await each drawing to see if they were selected for a free class.  Pokey Bolton and her crew did an amazing job that week.  I was tired just watching the enthusiasm at the booth.  But to me this is a further indication that mixed media is truly a medium for all endeavors.

Friday morning arrived and I knew it was time to return home. I hadn’t given myself enough time to recover from Portland and this whirlwind was quite the experience. My body was telling me that I had probably overdone it a bit and sure enough….I managed to fall at the airport. I am fine, but am looking at the possibility of surgery next year. Not something that I want to contemplate in any manner, but I suppose that I have been putting it off for too long.  However, right now I have much to do , so it’s off to the next adventure!!

Unbelievable, Portland was nothing short of fabulous. And all of you made it happen. Each day I thank the powers that be for bringing you into my life. There were too  many amazing moments to count this year and a few rocky patches (mostly at the companion hotel and I am happy to say that we will be back at the Sheraton in 2010), but all-in-all, it was pretty smooth sailing. Or in one person’s case, smooth swimming. Thanks to Jan Richie for her incredible humor and dazzling performance under water.

And a few more thank yous…

Thanks to Christine Merritt  & Marie Kennedy who made our Trade Identification Tags (TITS). What a hoot!! Trading will just never be the same. Wonder what they’ll come up with next year?

And where would we be without the store? It was amazing, AGAIN. I can’t believe they can get so much stuff in such a tiny spot. What a joy for me and a great resource for everyone. Maria and the gang, thank you.

Instructors, there’s no question, without you, well, we couldn’t do it. You keep us engaged and excited about our art. We are grateful. This year we had some new instructors and all the classes were exceptional.  It’s heartwarming to know that new and exciting techniques are still being developed for classes. Everyone benefits greatly. Thanks to Alma dela Melena Cox, Marie Maretska, Tory Brokenshire and Crystal Neubauer for bringing them to us. 

As always the staff at the Embassy were incredible, welcoming our attendees with smiles and treating us like family. On Friday, they participated in the Lee jeans Susan B Koman fundraiser. For a $5 donation, they could wear jeans to work. Our pink rock ‘n’ roll sweatshirts added to the festivities! It was great fun, check out the photo below. 

Many of you are asking, “Are you well?” Sorry to say that I’m down, but I’m not planning to let the crud take complete control as in the past. Apparently, it’s a part of the event cycle for me and I need to plan accordingly each time. Regardless, I’ll be in full swing again soon, preparing for Vegas. Here are a few highlights from classes and other moments during the retreat. If you go to the flickr page in the left hand column of the blog, there may be a few more photos not posted here. And If you have any you’d like to share, I’ll post them. 

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Found this banana in my office. Thank you, I love you, too.

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Abigail’s dada doll, not quite complete. Made in Linda and Opie O’Brien’s Who’s Your Dada? class.

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More dada, look at those legs.

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Goddess of Trinkets, class taught by instructor Susan Bezek.

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A few troublemak…I mean students in Susan’s class.

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Resins drying.

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 Make and take table fun!

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And work, but really, fun.

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Thomas Ashman’s Tin soldier.

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Working on a tin man.

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Embassy Staff in our rock ‘n’ roll sweatshirts.

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This is Clifford.  He’s a bartender at the Embassy.  One day we went for
a stroll into the classrooms.

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This is me and Diane Taylor doing the chicken dance while Clifford played
the accordion.

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Maria, Teesha, Sarah and Susan Bezek relaxing after class with wine and snacks.

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 This is Susan’s solution to packing/saving our appetizers for another night when we don’t have Tupperware.

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Instructor Lesley Veneable and Art Husband, Tom, in his fetching pink sweatshirt.

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Aerial view of the store. Look at all that stuff.

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What a great turnout for Portland this year. The Embassy was a bustle of activity as attendees and the public mingled and shopped on vendor night. It was great to see so many folks taking advantage of the gift it was to have all of these amazing artists, instructors and suppliers in one place. And the selection of vintage ephemera and photos, mixed media art, paper goods, jewelry, charms and tons more, was out of this world. It never ceases to amaze me how our vendors find some of these treasures, antique milk bottle caps, flash cards, keys from a 1,000 years ago, (okay, maybe not that far back). Incredible. A good time seemed to be had by all. I know I enjoyed myself. Can’t wait for next year. 

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Blue ballons (and beautiful charms).

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Vintage keys and other goodies.

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Vintage dolls.

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Visitors and attendees finding treasures.

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What an honor to have Danny Gregory open our week of workshops. I never thought I would have the opportunity hear him speak, let alone get to meet him. Great all around. His presentation was incredible, made us think about the role of art in our lives, how it can transform,  and inspired us all to create, create, create. And thank goodness we’ll get the opportunity to do just that throughout the week. Thanks to all who attended, too.

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Such a treat to meet Danny Gregory.

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