I’d forgotten about the fun, recorded phone chat I had a few months ago with Elizabeth Townsend Gard until I received a reminder that it was about to become available. Dr. Gard, a Tulane University law professor and avid quilter, heads up The Quilting Army, a group of quilters that studies copyright law in relation to quilts and the quilting industry.
Elizabeth and I spoke in August, during my annual, month-long, “Sojourn of Solitude” on Washington Island, Wisconsin. For twenty or so years, I taught quilting there at Sievers School of Fiber Arts, and the little island at the tip of Door County became special to me and my family. In 2008, we acquired a cottage over on the east side. (Early on in our conversation, I described the squads of hummingbird chicks keeping me busy topping off the nectar in our feeders.)
Elizabeth and I talked about getting through Year One of COVID and (on a more positive note) about the exhibit of Fons & Porter quilts currently at the International Quilt Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska. We talked about QUILTER’S COMPLETE GUIDE, the book Liz Porter and I authored in the early 1990s, republished by Dover Press in 2019. (The Bernina Liz and I used to make many of the sewing step-outs pictured in the book is on display in Lincoln.)
When Elizabeth asked me to reflect on the quilting industry today, I had to admit I feel pretty much out of that loop. When I was a co-owner of Fons & Porter’s Love of Quilting magazine (2001 to 2006), I knew who the deciders were at just about every company on the business side of quilting. I pretty much knew every nationally-recognized teacher/writer/designer, too, having served on conference faculties with most of them and published their designs.
Reflecting all the way back to the American Bicentennial of 1976 (the event that piqued my interest in quilts and motivated me to learn), the most important thing about that moment for me personally is that in enabled me to make a living in a new industry. I’m proud to have been present at the outset of what I consider a women’s movement.
If you’d like to listen to the interview, click here. You’ll land on a page that offers links to a bunch of Elizabeth’s interviews. I hope you’ll enjoy all of them and consider joining the Quilting Army.
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