My Houston Story
I am a FreeSpirit!
Walking towards the huge Houston Convention Centre. It has been designed to look like a Ocean Cruise Liner docked at port. You get a sense of excitement as you come closer!
How this has given me a purpose for my fabric designs
The beginnings of a new adventure for me and my designs.
In August 2017, I was house-sitting, at Brooloo, Queensland for three and a half weeks taking care of a beautiful cat. I gathered together all the materials I had bought from various shops to take to the upcoming workshops I was going to in Dorrigo.
I had booked to attend four workshops over six days at Misty Mountain Getaway in Dorrigo New South Wales in late September. I required about sixty different fabrics for the four workshops, all at suggested different sizes.
I thought to myself, why use other fabrics, I could hand paint that many fabrics over the next six weeks. So, I bought more white cotton, started hand painting, this time using a different approach to previously.
I set up a table out on the patio area with a drop sheet under and spent almost the whole time I was there hand painting fabric. The cat kept me company. I came up with designs I had not previously done. When I went to the next house-sitting job I did more painting.
Misty Mountain Retreat
In class on the first day at Dorrigo, the tutor, Kathy Doughty, was taking turns speaking with each person regarding their choice of fabrics. Kathy is a designer with a shop in Sydney called Material Obsession. At my turn she asked where did you get these fabrics and I said I painted them myself. She was very interested and complimentary of my designs.
She didn’t really want me to cut into them. She asked if I had shown anyone, I said I hadn’t really taken them anywhere, I had always just loved doing it. Kathy suggested I could look at going to Quilt Market at Houston in USA to show my work. Wow what a thought!
During the week at Dorrigo I had much unexpected praise of my designs from other participants and tutors. It was great to receive this feedback.
What was meant to be just a lovely week at Dorrigo learning more quilting skills escalated to a lot more. I came back from Dorrigo feeling confident to take my designs further.
I spent a lot of time phoning around and met a few people in Brisbane to try and find out where I might be able to have my designs printed by the yardage. I phoned around several printing companies in Sydney and Melbourne.
During the next house-sitting job at Coolabine around eighteenth October I was painting on the verandah again and thought, maybe I should check out what Houston Quilt Market was all about. The Internet reception was lousy where I was staying, it just kept dropping in and out. However, by the end of that day, to my own surprise I had booked three night’s accommodation in Houston for the following week. The following day I booked a flight. My thinking was, If I don’t do it now, when will I!
Previously, in 1998 I had gone to India to explore the possibility of having my block printed designs screen printed on yardage. I spent a few weeks in Udaipur and Jaipur, Rajasthan. I had some success but had to return home back to my full-time job.
Fountain, entrance Houston Convention Centre.
Now I’m going to Houston
I emailed a friend, who said that I would need to be sponsored by someone to get in as it was a three-day, large trade only Quilt Market. I contacted someone else I had met recently who owned a quilting shop in Melbourne. She and her husband kindly offered suggestions and they phoned contacts on my behalf, and subsequently arranged a Pass for me to attend as a future Guest Exhibitor. I am so thankful to them for taking the time supporting and helping me.
I had in mind that in the near future, I could have a booth at Quilt Market Houston selling my hand painted designs.
After a long flight to Houston I was excited and overwhelmed by the size of the event.
Apparently, the Quilting Convention is the largest convention they have on each year at the fabulous Convention Centre in Houston. The building was designed to look like a cruise ship, so on entering the street and view of the building you get that sense of excitement.
Over three days I walked around in amazement at the sheer size and volume of exhibitors, taking orders for the year ahead from companies and shop owners for everything and anything to do with fabrics.
On the first day I realised that business owners had booked appointments ahead of Market and I may not get to show my designs. After making a few inquiries I discovered that the relevant people I needed to see were not available as had appointments in previously arranged meetings. I was told that this was not really a venue for an Artist to show their work and it was suggested that I contact companies at another time.
However I was gaining knowledge, taking notes and getting some idea as to which companies might like my designs and looking around to see if there was anything simular to my designs. It was so busy, rows and rows of people sitting either sides of tables displaying their designers collections.
The second day was busy although a little less hectic, and by late second day I found the courage to approach a few desks. I had the opportunity to show my work to a couple of companies. There was discussion about how they might incorporate my designs into their current range. I received great comments on the thirty or so designs I had over my arm, and that was encouraging. Unfortunately the relevant people to make decisions were not available.
A group of friends out for the night, celebrating a birthday, outside restaurant in busy Houston.
The third day, final day of Market
I made more inquiries. Around two pm I decided to stay around the FreeSpirit Booth in the hope that I might speak with someone before the event finished at five pm. After about fifty minutes I approached who I thought was one of the key people as she was walking away from a booth and said, “Hello, I’m a Textile Artist from Australia, I was wondering if you would have a couple of minutes to look at my designs?” She said “Yes, I have five minutes now and an appointment at three pm. If you put your work here on this small table l will look at them, but I must go when that appointment arrives”.
She asked about me, what had I been doing, whether I was a quilter. I explained that I had been travelling around Australia, Solo, for the past twenty months, painting fabric on the way. She really liked my story and was very interested in my designs. She asked if she could call someone else over from the company to look as well. They discussed how they could be sold. She asked if I had shown anyone else. Their reaction was amazing, wow!, what a high, I was blown away! Her three pm appointment never showed up! Thirty minutes later she offered me a contract proposal to design for FreeSpirit!
Since I can remember, I’ve had a dream of designing fabrics that could be available on rolls of fabric. This has been my dream come true!