Back to my story, in 1996 I joined the Organizing Committee of the 1998 National Quilt Festival which was held in Port Elizabeth. By doing so, I made wonderful friends and learnt so many new skills. Our Chairlady, Margaret Skinner worked at the Municipality (now the Metro) and taught me so much about organizing events, finding sponsors, to run meetings efficiently by keeping everybody to the point of discussion (and not to be sidetracked) and liaising with the corporate sector. I will always be grateful to her for her patience and guidance as it was this experience which enabled me to undertake leadership roles in the quilting community. She taught me to be professional and objective, especially when one worked with volunteers with diverse personalities and skills levels.
In the meantime, I quilted and sold many beaded wallhangings to overseas tourists. I did not really teach during this time as I did not really have time to do so. I received an order for two similar wallhangings as the piece which I made for the FNB Vita Craft Now Exhibition, but then the client failed to collect the pieces! That was a very big lesson learnt - in future clients had to pay a deposit! Afterwards I received a phone call from a lady from Pretoria - Majida Ravat! She heard of my work and was looking for somebody to teach rural ladies in the north of the country sewing and quilting skills to enable them to generate an income. We started chatting and it turned out that she was an Afrikaans lady (who came from a similar background as mine) who married Mr Ravat, famous for his gallery selling Persian carpets in Pretoria. She was such a delightful lady but logistically it was not possible for me to be involved in her project. She however wanted to see what my work looked like and I told her about the two pieces of which the sale fell through. She promptly organized a courier to pick up one quilt and it left for Pretoria the same day. This was before I even had a computer or internet - how easy life is now to send images around the globe.
Majida then phoned to tell me her friend Pat was over the moon with this piece and wanted to buy it. It turned out Pat was none other than Patricia de Lille, firebrand politician! I was starstruck and so excited! A few years later, Huisgenoot magazine featured an article about Patricia at home and one of the photographs was of her standing next to her favourite wallhanging! Between Patricia and Majida, the origin of the quilt was a bit distorted, but who really cares..... My logo and quilt number is embroidered onto the quilt and I have the original designs as proof!
Patricia de Lille with quilt 97/07 - image from Huisgenoot
97/07 - Sold to Patricia de Lille
In the meantime, I was immersed in the preparations for the National Quilt Festival and was hoping to teach a workshop as well. I prepared a workshop on Ethnic Borders, one of my pet topics! The same principles for designing borders apply for any kind of quilt making. To me a quilt is not really complete if it is not finished off with an appropriate border, it gives the same effect of a well chosen frame to a painting.
I decided to enter a quilt in the competition as well. After the successful protea quilt in 1994, I planned a quilt using the same format, but with animals as theme. I painted panels to serve as the background for the animals and also played around with texture for the settings of the animals. I also introduced free motion machine embroidery, stitching all the spots on the leopards! Stitching the faces of the animals was quite a challenge which I enjoyed immensely, adding bits of hand embroidery as well. I also experimented with machine quilting, but stayed clear from quilting parallel lines as my lines were a bit crooked on the Protea quilt....! This was the first time I applied skills which I learnt at the 1994 machine embroidery workshop in East London! It was difficult to create the texture I wanted and I had to look elsewhere to find suitable embellishing material. One problem in particular was the coat of the Vervet Monkey - I tried all sorts of embroidery stitching, but nothing worked.....! One day I had a flash of inspiration - steel wool used to scrub pots in the kitchen! I promptly bought some, hand stitched it down and it was exactly the finish which I wanted (and needed)! My friends said that it would rust once exposed to every day life, but 14 years on it is in the same condition as in 1998! Another problem was the manes of the lions - in the end I made wigs on Avalon using threads of fabric which I unravelled, I initially used embroidery threads, but it looked too bulky and heavy. It worked very well and I was really chuffed with the result.....
While I was busy making this quilt, my dad died unexpectedly and finishing this quilt, became rather emotional. I decided to call it Woodville in his honour as it was his second name and also the name of the farm where he was born between George and Knysna.
Woodville - 1998
Second Prize in Innovative Small Category at the 1998 National Quilt Festival in Port Elizabeth.
After this festival in Port Elizabeth, I became the Chairlady of the Dias Quilters' Guild and I learnt more skills.......