NEOS 2011 – Phew!!

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I joined North East Open Studios way back in the spring and really did not know what to expect. I lined myself up with some projects to keep me busy during what I thought would be a quiet week with possibly a handful of visitors dropping in from time to time. I dug out some of my 1940’s quilt tops, expecting to finish a couple of them. The Yurt frame was set up in the garden in case of good weather; I cleared the camping gear out of the garden yurt, filled up its log basket and put a sign up on the gate.

 I was completely overwhelmed by the number and enthusiasm of my visitors for the following 7 days. I reckon that 20-30 people called in every day and some called in for second visits to bring their friends. There were people who had looked me up in the NEOS catalogue, folk who had seen the Patchwork Smart Car parked outside the sweetie shop in Banchory, artisans who had the sense to book themselves a day out to see other studios, tourists who had seen the studio trail advertised and then people who came because they had heard from others that my place was worth a visit. There was even a bit of traffic chaos as several visitors arrived at the same time as the guitar teacher and a fully laden tractor & trailer.

There were locals who were curious to see what I do, people on touring holidays and even a visitor from Australia who was staying with family in the area. The weather was decidedly unreliable and I only managed to display the Quilted Yurt’s covers once but the sun shone on the gold lame and looked fantastic. During the rest of the wet and windy week, I showed visitors into the cosy garden yurt where some of the panels were hung on the inside. The workshop/studio was festooned with bunting and a collection of bed quilts, show quilts and antique quilts, all of which I encouraged people to handle.

Many signed up for classes which I now need to put on the calendar and Mo came up for a day to run a needle felting demo on making felt animals. Yurtman called in and discussed frame modifications, the Art Department from the local Academy enthused about potential projects, and textile artists & quilters were all gratifyingly complimentary. I talked non-stop about the quilts, my inspiration, forthcoming projects and travels and why on earth I decided to make a quilted yurt in the first place. It was actually a good rehearsal for my forthcoming visit to the AQS Des Moines Show as an exhibitor/teacher.

I sold a few postcards, took a commission and ran up a few quilted Iphone cases in between visitors. One of the 1940’s quilts had a mere 12 inches of quilting completed in one corner. Somehow the children got fed on dwindling rations after the studio closed at 6pm each evening and I wondered how artists would manage to do any creating if they had to run a shop on a regular basis. On Monday morning as I type this, I have a long list of things to tidy and sort out before I allow myself to think about packing for my USA trip. This week I also happen to have the supply teaching interview that I have been waiting for since January – I guess it keeps my options open…!

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