Sunday, August 3, 2008

International Quilt Festival -- Part 1

On Tuesday July 22nd I flew into Long Beach to attend the International Quilt Festival. I've always had the dream of going to Houston for IQA, and never had the time or means to make the trip. This year for the first time they came to Long Beach, making the experience a little more possible for those of us living in the west.
My friend Margaret, who is a member of our Dixie Diva friendship group is from Long Beach. She invited me to join her for the convention, and it took about 30 seconds for me to say "yes!" Margaret was nice enough to pick me up from the airport, and invited me to stay with her family who have a beautiful home in Huntington Beach just 1/2 mile from the ocean. Thank you Margaret for an amazing few days! And thank you Susie for making me feel so welcome in your home!
The convention didn't officially start until Friday. That left Wednesday and Thursday to fill with "quilt things".
I would say Wednesday was right up there for the high light of the whole trip. We signed up for a 9 hour bus tour hosted by a tour group called "The Traveling Quilters". I think we traveled on 7 different freeway's and saw a great sampling of Southern California. They did a fantastic job and I would recommend using their services for anyone interested.

Our first stop was worth the whole trip from my perspective. We visited Alexander Henry Fabrics in Burbank. Alexander Henry is a fabric manufacturer specializing in conversational print designs. I was expecting to see designers sitting at computers, working with graphics. Not so with AH. I don't even know where to begin with explaining the creative nature of these artists. I'll do my best with the few pictures I was able to take. Because their art work is under copy right I was allowed to take photos of the studio but not the actual product lines.

Our group was hosted by two of the owners of AH, Phillip Deleon and his sister Nicole. Their father has been with AH since the 1960's and has included his children in the industry. Both were raised drawing and painting, although they each have degrees in literature. I could feel the love they both have for the work they produce.

My favorite room was the Art Design Studio. Several artist sat at individual desks, drawing each design by hand. A library filled one wall where the artist has reference books to aid in the creative process. Nicole was working on owls. An entire page was filled with sketches of owls in various colors and perspectives. Another artist was designing a page with "junk food". In front of her was a large box of "Good and Plenty" candy. As she munched she used the pinks and whites as her color palate. One artists was drawing vintage cars in such detail that it surprised us he would be able to transfer his work to fabric.
Many of their designs have a nostalgic vintage feeling. Phillip said they like to look back at the past in order to see the future with different eyes.

Phillip explained that he loves the organic process of being able to mix paint by hand rather than use the computer. He has experienced many happy accidents when working with water colors. The creativity of the design room was so inspiring! I was ready to go to work for them after just a few minutes of being there. I am not an artist, but maybe they'd let me hang around to sharpen their erasers or take out the trash?

Alexander Henry puts our 100 designs per season. Once the final sketches are approved, they are then sent to Asia to be printed on fabric. The fabric is sent back to the warehouse in Burbank where it is folded onto bolts. We were able to tour the warehouse, along with the Archival Room, where each piece in categorized and kept on file in 3 yard pieces.

Nicole did a small trunk show of a few quilts made by Charlotte Angotti using AH fabrics.

I could have stayed at Alexander Henry all day, but after a few hours it was time to get back on the bus and see the rest of things lined up for our tour.

We went to Grauman's Chinese Theatre.

The Fowler Museum on the UCLA campus had a beautiful textile exhibit.

We were especially happy to see a local quilt store "Luella's Quilt Basket" .

Some of the quilt's on display at Luella's

On Thursday Margaret and her sister in law Susie treated me to a mini shop hop of some of their favorite quilt shops in the LA area. I had heard of the famous "Piecemakers", and was excited to walk through this wonderful store.

Their newest block of the month quilt

Our last stop was "Material Possessions"

Margaret fell in love with this quilt and bought two kits, one for herself and one for a girl friend.


Abby and Stephanie said...

Oh thanks for sharing. Alexander Henry is one of my very favorites. Lucky you!!!

Nanette Merrill said...

Oh my gosh, what a fabulous trip. Alexander Henry is really one of my favorite vintage repro novelty fabrics. That was so incredibly interesting. I can imagine how lovely an adventure like that was. Can't wait to see and hear more.

Cathie in UT said...

I felt like I was there with you on your wonderful adventures!
Now to find someone to stay with while I explore the area too! LOL
Looking forward to your show report too
Cathie in UT

Di~ said...

You certainly are having some great and varied adventures this summer! Thanks for showing us...

Anonymous said...

Thank you for coming to our space; we are glad you enjoyed it! Great pictures as well. We will call you if we have an opening!