Head of the Class

by Marcia Barker, Vice President of Education for Quilts, Inc.


Column #9

Spring turns into summer faster and faster each year. When I was a kid, summer was all about friends and adventures, and usually included a week at summer camp. I gotta say, one of the coolest perks of growing up in Southern California was to be able to go to the Girl Scout Camp on Catalina Island.


The boat ride over made it seem especially adventurous, and there was plenty of giggly anticipation of what the week would hold. Each day would typically start with an early morning walk with a friend, just wandering the hillsides and shoreline as 9-yr-olds will do.


But one misty morning, our walk ended very unexpectedly as we crested a small hill expecting to see the shoreline on the other side. Instead, we saw large furry beasts! We had come face-to-face with a huge herd of bison. I’m sure my young imagination exaggerates this a bit in my memory banks, but I do remember the awe of the moment—not knowing whether to be afraid or curious, run or sit quietly.


I think we opted to sort of hide and watch for a while. I found out later that the bison had been calling the island home since the 1920’s when they were brought in for a Zane Grey silent movie production—definitely a California thing. Very cool! Google tells me that those bison are still there, just in a more manageable herd size. I’d like to think that I saw the herd at its prime, close to 600, but it would still be fun to see today’s 150.


Summer camps were just the best—why should that be any different as adults? It doesn’t have to be! July is just around the corner and that means it’s time for our Summer Quilt Camp—a wonderful weekend retreat in La Grange, TX with plenty of time for the three biggies of summer camp—fun, friendship, and learning.


This year the learning will be led by one of the most in-demand quilt teachers in the industry—Sue Nickels. With a host of awards and book titles to her name, her impressive teaching career has taken her all over the nation and world as she shares her techniques for machine quilting on a domestic machine. She has taught for us at International Quilt Festival/Houston for many years and her classes are still in such hot demand that there simply aren’t enough hours in the day. So, we decided to invite her back for an encore this summer.


We are all booked up for this year, but if you think you might like to join us sometime, this link will give you an idea of what to expect.


Quilt Camp always includes great catered food and a field trip to the Texas Quilt Museum, whose changing exhibits and lush adjacent garden enrich the weekend’s experience even more. Going into our 12th year of Quilt Camps (some years with two editions), we have had the pleasure of featuring many sought-after instructors:


Charlotte Warr AndersenFreida AndersonCharlotte AngottiKaren BuckleyMelinda BulaDebbie Caffrey-BateyJudy Coates PerezKimberly EinmoLinda FiedlerGyleen X. FitzgeraldJohn FlynnLibby LehmanJane SassamanDavid TaylorHeather Thomas


Last summer I decided to drop in on class/camp. The scenic drive through central Texas ends in the most peaceful of settings—complete with rocking chairs on the expansive front porch with a view of oak trees, acreage, and a perhaps a deer or two.



The Creativity Center itself boasts dorm space to sleep 10 (additional campers use local hotels), ample bathrooms, small kitchen, and a large classroom/meeting space with its signature black & white checkerboard flooring.



If only that floor could talk! It has heard bountiful laughter and squeals of joy as many a project has come to completion in that room! So many quilters and teachers alike have enjoyed sneaking away into the warm embrace of central Texas, taking a long, slow breath of fresh air, and settling in for a healthy dose of creative adventure at its best. Consider it sometime!


Now, most of you would use Siri to find your way to Quilt Camp, and I guarantee that is much more dependable than my chief navigator last summer, Crikey, who has been known to sometimes nod off on the job. She was a great, unplanned mascot for Quilt Camp 2018 and enjoyed checking out everyone’s project progress—maybe she’ll make a return trip for 2019! If you’ve already signed up, we will see you there!