Lights, Camera, Quilt!

Don’t tie up the phone! I’m waiting for a call from my agent. I’m sure I’ll be cast opposite Harrison Ford in the new Indiana Jones movie.

Yeah. Right.

Still, I got a small taste of life on set last week when I traveled to Solon, just outside Cleveland, OH. I had been invited to tape two segments for Quilting Arts TV, the video arm of Quilting Arts magazine, with host Susan Brubaker Knapp.

The Susans, me and Susan Brubaker Knapp

When I arrived at the Cleveland airport, I went to the rental car counter to pick up my ride. My husband had booked a special deal: a “Make Me Happy” deal, where you pay one low rate and get whatever car they have in stock. As I was waiting, a businessman entered from the lot and announced, “I am not happy!” Turns out they only had two vehicles left, both of them full-size Dodge pickups! They had a red one and a white one. Guess which I picked…

Me and Ram-ie. Imagine country tunes blasting from the radio.

When I arrived at the KS Productions studio the next morning the first step was to hit the green room, which for those of you unaware of entertainment lingo is the waiting room for actors, and in this case wasn’t even green. I set up my quilts and teaching supplies in there, then I went to get made all pretty by a professional makeup artist. I was the first of three quilters to be recorded that day, the reason being that my quilt “Crocodylus Smylus” (aka Stevie), shipped ahead of time, was already hung and occupying the entire set.

“All right, Mr. Demille. I’m ready for my closeup.”

Once on set, we had a brief meeting with Susan, and Kathie Stull the producer, and Vivika Denegre the editor of Quilting Arts magazine to go over what I was going to say and do. This was to be a short segment, only seven minutes, just talking about Stevie, my inspiration, how made her, and so on.

Producer Kathie Stull, me, and Susan prep for segment one.

Then it was roll cameras. There’s no stopping. The whole thing is shot in one take. They insert stills and make cuts in editing. Seven minutes talking about the quilt flies by. There’s so much I can say. Heck, I’ve given slide shows where I talked for an hour and a half about her.

Having Susan and I stand in front of the quilt really gave a good sense of scale, of how big she is. Susan wears an earpiece that allows the producer to communicate with her. She then could signal me to hurry up or prompt with a question to cover something I’d forgotten to mention. The first segment was over quick and then it was time to take down Stevie and roll her up to be shipped off on the next leg of her journey.

The cameramen help to disassemble Stevie.
She came out of this tube, she’s got to go back in.

Here’s a time lapse of rolling the quilt up to be shipped. Gives another idea of how big a girl she is. Thanks to Kristine Lundblad of QATV for all the photos while I was otherwise occupied.

Stevie travels to Australia next, where I will be teaching at the Australasian Quilt Convention in Melbourne. I am, of course, nervous whenever she travels. Normally, I carry on all my quilts when I fly, but because of her size, in this case she needs to be shipped. This time is especially nerve wracking, as she has to pass through customs each time she enters or leaves a country.

Before I knew it, it was time to tape the second segment. Time is money, people!

Of course, Susan and I had to change our wardrobe so it would look like we’d done each segment on a different day.

Outfits for the second segment.

Once again we talked over what I was going to say and how I was going to demonstrate each step.

Preshoot prep: Susan, Me, Kathie, and Vivika.

In this segment, I quickly gave an overview of creating a spiral quilt, which I cover in detail in my book Serendipity Quilts. A spiral is a very simple design, but it teaches the fabric collage technique that can then be applied to any subject at all. Despite that, twelve minutes is a very short time to cover everything. I didn’t even have time to cut any fabric, just took scraps and laid them down, then showed how to glue before moving on to the next step. Quilting Arts provides more information online for each episode, so if people don’t get it in one go on TV, they can look it up on the website.

Quicker than you can say Bob’s your uncle, the second episode was in the can.

Then it was time to pack up. Before I left, I said good bye to Stevie as she boarded the FedEx truck.

The FedEx driver was a good sport.

My episodes will air on PBS, on their Create channel, but I don’t know when exactly. Each station sets their own schedule. (In fact, unless the programming changes, my home PBS station doesn’t carry the show at all!) DVDs will be available this summer through Quilting Arts. And it will be available on the QATV website.

I’ll let you know when you can start looking for them, if you’re so inclined. So, as they say in showbiz: stay tuned!


8 thoughts on “Lights, Camera, Quilt!

  1. I would love to take an online class from you…. I saw your FB post on creating a pattern for an upcoming class which I assume is an in person class. I am a Susan Carlson wanna-be ! Your work makes my heart happy !


    1. Creating an online class, or video workshop, or webinar or something–there’s so many choices–has been on my to-do list for some time. I believe it will finally happen this summer when I take time off from traveling. The project will probably be a spiral, as that is the easiest to teach while still conveying the technique.


      1. I would love to do an online course – as it might be a stretch for you to get over to England. 🙂 I love your work and the bold colours and textures. Awesome! It all really comes through in your fun personality!


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