If we take a right turn out our front door at the place where we stay in Paducah, we are looking at a very old and very pink building.
Finkel’s Fair Store opened in 1918 and was one of the biggest retail stores for its time in downtown Paducah. The store closed in 1990, and was a house of God for the “Free Spirit Biker Church” until they outgrew the building. For an interesting history of the building click here.
It’s a great place to find vendors during Quilt Week. Early in the week I met Darlene and I shared a bit about her and her wool business in last week’s post. The day I met her I ran out of time to visit all the vendors, and so I went back to the Finkel building on our last full day at the show to check out the rest of the booths, and I was so glad I did! As I walked past the windows I spied a quilt with a cross pattern and I knew I needed to check out that booth.
This time I entered through the door on the right and was happy to see the only dogwoods in Paducah.
Like Wisconsin, Kentucky had an unusual heat wave in April and everything bloomed early. We did see some dogwoods in bloom in central Illinois on the way down – but that is not the usual.
I met Claudia Lash in the first booth to the right. Her quilts were bright and fun, and we had no idea how much we have in common – just wait!
As we began to talk I noticed the stitches on the fish quilt in front of me.
When I asked her about it she said that it was a really fun pattern because the cut-aways from one fish become the motifs on the next. Once all the fish are fused together, the fancy machine stitches make them beautiful! She has patterns and videos and you won’t want to miss a visit to her site. Click here to visit Presto Avenue Designs. She said she’ll be vending at the Great Wisconsin Quilt Show in September and I encouraged her to apply to teach too.
Then I began to really look at her quilts and I stopped “dead in my tracks” when I saw her birdhouse quilt.
It was made in pieces and put back together with beads. I turned and said “I do the same technique and I call it Crossings”. I explained why I call it that and then remarked how amazing it is when two people get the same idea. We decided we both have the same crazy type of brian. That’s when her husband said: “Ecclesiasties 1:9 “There is nothing new under the sun””. We laughed. Then she told me the cross quilt in the outside window was hers. What a blessing!
I continued to look around the booth while we talked and was stopped a second time by her “Family Quilt”. She made individual finished small quilts and connected them to make her version of what I call a “Modular Memory Quilt“!!!
Claudia used beads for her connections, while I use a different technique, but the idea is the same again! Talk about having similar brains! Her unique twist is that the fabric frames around each actual photograph is a loose flange the the photo slips into. Thus they can be changed in a different way from my block rearranging technique. We are creative sisters!
Again – I highly recommend you check out her site for all her patterns and tutorials. Her blog is very informative and her husband even shares his musing on her blog as Grampy Lash. I enjoyed many of his posts. My favorite was about his father. Please click here to read it.
Next week I’ll introduce you to another great vendor in the Finkle building, Kari, who got me to like tattoos! Stay tuned.
As I was writing up this post I received an email from Beth Helfter, the teacher of the Flying Frankies class. She asked her students to sign up for emails from her ~ and I did. The one she just sent was so good, and I can’t find it online to link you to it, so I’ll post a portion of it here because I found it a very encouraging perspective on the condition of quilting in America today 😊. Thanks to Beth for the following (I bolded some portions for emphasis):
|Thank you for allowing me to share my knowledge and enthusiam while always sharing yours right back.|
|Unfortunately, my high from these two events was short lived, as only hours after I got home from Paducah the cancellation of Vermont Quilt Festival was announced. As it was my next regional show on my calendar, the sudden closure left a gap in both my schedule and in my 2023 estimated income, both of which are not fun.|
I have no inside knowledge of the reasons the show was cancelled. I’m as sad as everyone else. But allow me to speak to something I think we all need to consider, as whenever something like this happens I hear a lot of “Well, younger people aren’t quilting anymore,” and “Quilting is dying off,” and “Shows can’t draw crowds because there aren’t as many quilters as there used to be.” Most guilds I visit someone at some point says apologetically (when there is no need to apologize) “Well, we are an older crowd.”
I am no expert, but as someone who meets a ton of quilters every year as my actual job, guess what? Every guild is “an older crowd” (like 60s, people, which is the new 37) and ALWAYS HAS BEEN. Quilting itself is alive and well and to be perfectly honest, the guilds I visit and my classes look exactly the same in average age and skill sets as they did when I first started traveling and teaching almost 20 years ago. Why? Because think about it – How many people do you know who may have dabbled earlier but took up quilting in earnest when they retired and had time? I can probably name 10 I know personally right off the top of my head, and about a thousand more I’ve had in class over the years. Why? Because now they have the time and energy and resources they may not have had earlier. And they are the ones jumping into guilds, making the average guild member age hover in the early to mid 60s, twenty years ago and now and probably twenty and fifty years from now too.
This is not to say we don’t have plenty of younger people quilting, because we do. Honestly, there are TONS of younger designers out there now who are blowing up Instagram and TikTok and are as enthusiastic as the other generations. There are 28 year olds and 82 year olds in most guilds. There are 28 year olds in classes at shows and 82 year olds right alongside them. As people age out of the average due to various reasons, new ones are aging in. The plethora of Barbaras and Marys and Donnas I would see in class 15 years ago are now Kathys and Lindas, and you know pretty soon it will be Kristens and Jennifers. It’s the circle of life, even in quilting.
Sure, there are factors that make some of the shows end. But do we really believe it’s because we don’t have quilters anymore? I personally don’t think so. There may be lots of reasons shows struggle, but lack of quilters? Hard to imagine from my view of the industry.
Cindy Unruh says
I agree, quilting is far from a dying art. I am in a guild of 260+ members. We are soon having our first quilt show since Covid. It has been a real struggle to put together. First was finding a venue large enough and within our budget. After MONTHS of searching we went out of the box with a large high school with 2 gyms and large cafeteria to hold the show. Our second challenge has been to get people so show quilts. It is sad that out of 260 members only 120 members submitted quilts. We pushed and many of us submitted 5 or more so we now have 426 quilts. Not all will be judged which is fine but luckily we have enough judged to pay for the judge’s costs. It also has been a struggle planning since so many of the businesses we used in the past have closed or changed hands. It is sad to see some show close but I know it’s not from lack of quilters but I feel it’s rather the support the shows get.
Ellen Lewellen says
I think it’s a lack of confidence the keeps many quilters from entering quilt shows. New and not-so-new quilters see beautiful pieces at shows or online and think their efforts won’t measure up. And that’s a shame because my guild ( A Patch of the Lakeshore Quilters) and I think almost all others are super supportive and very encouraging to all levels and abilities. Heck that’s why even master quilters like to take classes or try new techniques, and nobody expects perfection.
Claudia Lash says
Thank you so much Chris for stopping to chat at the Paducah show. It was our first time to be a vendor, and I was overjoyed with the nice comments and sweet people I met there. It always makes me feel so blessed to be able to be with wonderful, caring and fun people who come to quilt shows. I believe quilters are the nicest people around. I was thankful that a place like the Finkel building was available so that I as a small business could afford to have a booth and sell only quilt patterns. It is encouraging that very small vendors can be a part of the quilt business. And when you get positive encouragement from others, you’re just so happy. I often wonder just how long I’ll be able to do this fun stuff, and then I think, ‘God only knows. But I’ll have a good laugh as my children wonder why in the world, I needed so much quilting stuff.
judy raddatz says
Thanks as always. You make my Sunday