- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Summer 2019
Magic & Memories
Note from the Editor
Our culture puts a lot of emphasis on big-picture planning—goal-setting journals, vision boards, and countless books on “designing” the life you want to live. And as a someone who identifies as a planner, I understand the appeal. There is a lot of value in establishing a roadmap to your destination. But there is also value in the detours. In fact, it’s often the things for which you weren’t planning that most shape your life in the long run.
Take, for example, the story of how Quilt Festival came to be. In the early 1970s, Festival founder Karey Bresenhan (along with her mother-in-law) opened an antique store in an effort to help pay off campaign debt from a hard-fought, but ultimately unsuccessful run for the Texas legislature.
Bresenhan adorned the walls of the store with family quilts—intended simply to be decorative. But when customers showed greater interest in the quilts on display than the items available for purchase, she knew she’d stumbled onto a great business idea. So, she shifted focus from antiques to quilts, fabric, books, sewing notions, and patterns, and Great Expectations Quilts was officially born.
At the end of her first year of business, she decided to throw a “thank you” party for her customers, inadvertently hosting what became the very first edition of Quilt Festival. What she’d anticipated would be a modest number of people in attendance turned into hundreds lined up around the block. By the end of the day, more than 2,500 people had come through the door.
If you’ve been to Quilt Festival in Houston—where closer to 55,000 people attend each year—you know that the show has grown a lot since that time, as has the quilting industry. Bresenhan—along with her cousin and Quilts, Inc. Executive Vice President, Nancy O’Bryant—worked tirelessly to grow the company, the shows, and the industry and quilting community as a whole.
Though both women were raised around quilts and by quilters, neither attended college nor started their careers with the intention of launching the country’s largest quilt show. And yet, all of the “detours” that led them down that road can’t be overstated.
In her upcoming book, Magic and Memories: 45 Years of International Quilt Festival, author Teresa Duryea Wong tells not only the aforementioned story of Quilt Festival’s founding (in much greater detail), but also the story of both Bresenhan and O’Bryant. Read more about the book in this issue of Friends@Festival!
Also in this issue, we’re profiling talented award-winning quilter Timna Tarr, who—despite her thriving career as a professional quilter and teacher these days—hasn’t always had a fondness for quilts….quite the opposite, in fact. Not only did she happen into creating her first quilt, but she even kept it secret from her mother and grandmother, both longtime quilters.
Like so many professional quilters, Tarr didn’t begin with a plan to become a full-time quilt artist, but one of life’s happy little detours sent her on her way there. In the words of John Lennon (who, himself, “borrowed” the quote from writer Allen Saunders), “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”
That said, we do hope you’re making plans to attend this year’s Quilt Festival in Houston, where we are celebrating our 45th anniversary with a spectacular “Sapphire Celebration,” including a special exhibit of gorgeous blue-and-white quilts suspended from the ceiling! And consider making a “detour” along the way to the Texas Quilt Museum in La Grange (only a couple of hours away from Houston). You’ll be glad you did!