I returned to Montevideo last sunday, and my week in Gramado, Brasil is now a pleasant memory. The 22nd Festival of Patchwork and Quilting was fun and well organised. My two whole day classes were terrific, all the students were lovely people, and the facilities were excellent. My concerns about language made me prepare thoroughly. Of course, I’ve taught the technique of freehand, improvisational, cutting and piecing for decades, but most of my preparation was the language. I knew most people would speak at least a second if not a third language (portuguese, spanish, english) at least partly. But teaching something is a bit different from social chatting, where we all managed well with about 1 and 1/2 languages apiece. And, in view of the language thing, I developed powerpoints with brief captions in portuguese for each class, plus a take-home handout in portuguese for everyone. These two tasks meant careful revamping of my english-only, rather old notes, inserting photos rather than hand-drawn diagrams, with as little carefully worded text as possible. Additionally, the organisers wanted two 6-hour classes, not the one two-day one I’ve taught in the past, and prefer. That all made me really think about the essentials of the improvisational patchwork which I’ve always found so easy, and break it down into what could be accomplished in 6 hours by someone beginning from scratch (beginner) and then what someone with the basics already known could accomplish doing more advanced work. I had to remember that when I discovered freehand/improvisational patchwork, I had almost no background in traditional patchwork, and how great a mental hurdle that can be to learning and adapting to a very different patchwork technique that often seems counter intuitive. I had only the most basic instructions and learned a lot over the years by experience, some trial and error, and wanted to pass as much as possible on.
The PPP captions and prepared statements I read to each class were translated and where necessary culturally interpreted, with help from my wonderful language teacher here in Montevideo, Moira Riccetto Blanco. 3 months ago Moira had absolutely no idea of it and is now thoroughly familiar with the intricacies of improvisation piecing technique, inside and out! I’m sure we got it right, and after my opening to the advanced class all of them applauded, which really bowled me over. As a teacher of this technique it was pleasing, as it always is, to see people enthusiastically experimenting and pursuing avenues suggested by what I’d just showed them. And further, every student did something different from the person next to them. Some highly original ideas appeared even in those few hours they had. With realistic expectations about aftermaths of such workshops, I have some hopes that several, at least, will take off on some interesting path of creativity.
Classes were held in light, airy classrooms on the second floor of the town’s event centre:
On the ground floor were several exhibitions, including one of my own quilts, as I was one of the two featured Master Quilters this year. the other featured quilter this year was Marina Landi of Sao Paulo Brasil, whose dramatic portraits in fabric are well known to art quilt makers everywhere. http://marinalandi.com.br/wp/2011/
Also on the ground floor were an exhibition of the nature theme art quilts from a group in Sao Paulo (on which I’ll write a little later) and an exhibition of small works about 25cm square by the students of well known quilter and teacher, Cecilia Koppmann of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Shown were pieces they produced in response to various themes they adopted for inspirations over a period Cecilia taught them
There was also a merchant’s mall of over 50 vendors of everything from sewing machines to thimbles, commercial patterns to marking pens, rotary cutters and mats to all kinds of scissors, cutting mats, rulers, threads, batting, needles and of course, fabric. Naturally, I picked out a few nice pieces to bring home, as it’s really, really difficult to find any kind of cotton fabric here in Uruguay, unfortunately, and it means that whenever I leave the country I find myself buying some. Because I don’t use florals in my own art as a rule, and never have, I skipped over those, and most of the hectic bright prints, but as I said, there were a few things for my calmer tastes, and finding them was fun.
I had one day off between teaching days to explore around Gramado. The intrepid tourist in me decided where I wanted to go, and I found an Uber driver, Anderson, who was helpful and early on suggested we turn off the app and agree to a X Reais / hour deal – he was wonderful. I first had him stop at the local cathedral on which I will write another time – the stained glass windows are lovely.
My next stop was a museum of fashion, Museo da Histora da Moda, I thought sounded interesting, and was right. Hundreds of mannequins were displayed, showing historic-social and cultural perspectives through women’s clothing from 2000BC to the present. For more info go to www.museodamodedecanela.com.br And if you do visit this interesting museum, have them turn down the volume of the music a bit – it was nice, and appropriately dramatic, but way too loud.
I went to a wonderful Geo-museum of fossils and mineral specimens, which Mike would have enjoyed if he’s been with me. It was a quiet morning, and a lovely woman who spoke great english with clearly a lot of knowledge about what was on show, accompanied me around the museum. She was interesting without being at all pushy or intrusive – a thoroughly enjoyable hour or so.
You can’t miss the chocolate in Gramado – people mention it as soon as they know you’re going there – so Anderson took me to one of the classiest places, after stopping off for pics at some of the many other garishly decorated venues that offer chocolate:
The last thing |I did on my day off was to go to a shoe place and bought a pair which I’ll start wearing when the weather warms up a bit. I had a great week, and thanks Carmen and Ze Mauro Netto, for inviting me!