Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Story of the Philbrook Potholders!

"I come from a long line of potholder-makers", I said at the beginning of a meeting that I never dreamed of having.
This summer, I got a little nudge from a friend to submit my quilts in response to a Call for Artists.  Well, the one doing the calling was the world famous Philbrook Museum.  Ever hear of it?  I immediately thanked the friend and shrugged it off.  Philbrook?!  It's a Tulsa treasure, a place I grew up visiting more often than I can count, and houses some of the most spectacular creative works I've ever seen.  There was no way my work could fit within those walls.  

A few days passed and I stopped myself from dogging myself.  I started thinking about how I always encourage my students do at least try!  You will never know unless you put yourself out there.  I found that submission form, submitted my quilts, and was informed I'd hear back in a few weeks.  Imagine my surprise when I was contacted just a few hours later about my submission!  My quilts were literally too big for their shop but they wanted to know if I had anything else they might consider.  Ugh, I was momentarily at a loss.  I sent some photos of some tote bags and a photo of four potholders I had recently made.  The only potholders I had ever made.  That was it; they loved them and wanted to see more!  We set a date for a meeting a week away and I got to work.
I worked only with scraps and did not adhere to any particular shape or size.  By the time we had our first meeting, I had ten in varying degrees of completion.  I wanted them to see the all of the stages of the process - the designing, the guts, the hand stitching, and the finished product.  I was SO nervous.  Through Alliday, I deal with artists and creatives all of the time but I don't put my work out there quite like I used to so the tables were definitely turned!  I started things off by telling them that potholders are in my blood.  Strange, I know.  There was Marie, who made a plethora of potholders off the grid, and then my uncles on the other side of the family who made potholders to make my dad sell door to door to make pocket change.  And of course, what kid didn't make those loom potholders growing up?  Apparently my potholder lineage and my samples did the job - the meeting went better than I could have imagined!

We agreed on some numbers and I was given a deadline.  I worked on potholders nonstop and it became one of my favorite projects to date.  I didn't let myself use anything but scraps for the fronts and I didn't let myself over think designs; I just made.  It was a WONDERFUL exercise in creative growth.  Just make, don't think.  After a while, I had 28 completed and more waiting on the design wall.  But I still didn't know if they'd end up with Philbrook or not.  The deal wasn't done.
Just last week, we had our follow up meeting.  My nerves were ten-fold what they were before but I was also SO proud of what I had done.  They also loved them (!!!) and while they only asked for 25 for the first batch, they took everything I had brought.  I was expecting them to put them out at their Philbrook Festival so I was SHOCKED to hear that they were already out and were already selling! 

I look at these as functional, mini quilts.  They are filled with heat-resistant batting, have those cute little loops on the back, and are all one of a kind.  I'm incredibly proud of each and every one of them.  It feels good to be boastful about them and about this opportunity.  I never EVER dreamed I'd have anything in Philbrook besides myself oohing and aahing over the art but here I am, with my own work within their gift shop among other local artists that I so admire.  So if you're not sure about putting in that application or submitting that art or trying that new thing, DO IT.  You never know what may come of it or what you may learn about yourself through it. 

You can see each potholder individually, front and back, here.  If you are local, you can go shop for them here!

1 comment:

  1. My sister lives in Muskogee and her and the grandkids went to Philbrook to get a couple potholders for Christmas since they saw it on tv. They just knew they were the right present for me! And they were right. Love them, the thougt they put into a special gift for me was so appreciated. I too am a quilter and they are some of my best victims. And yes, they are going back again, always looking for fun places to expand the kids horizons. Your potholders have made it to Iowa and brought new people into the Philbrook! Score!! Merry Christmas from Iowa

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