On today’s episode of the Craft Industry Alliance podcast we’re talking about the sewing and quilting industry with my guest, Pokey Bolton.
Pokey Bolton was introduced to art quilting and the related needle arts in 1998, and ever since she took her first stitch (a fly) and embroidered her first motif (a spider), she has been entangled in this industry and doesn’t envision herself getting free.
Art quilting and mixed-media have, quite literally, taken over her life—so much so that she left her doctoral program and full-time teaching job to found Quilting Arts Magazine® and later with John Bolton, Cloth Paper Scissors® magazine, as well as a line of books. After they sold their publishing business to Interweave, Pokey became the Editorial Director for the Quilt & Paper Division at Interweave and was founding host of Quilting Arts TV on PBS.
In January 2012 she joined Quilts, Inc, the parent company of International Quilt Festival and Quilt Market, in the newly founded position of Chief Creative Officer.
A little over two years later, she founded Crafting a Life, LLC, a media and events company based in Napa Valley, California offering media and boutique-style retreats. In January 2016, she launched CRAFT NAPA, an annual retreat held in downtown Napa. CRAFT NAPA includes crafting, sewing, collage, quilting workshops, wine education, wine excursions, and an Artists’ Market.
CRAFT NAPA group shot
Artist Carrie Bloomston at CRAFT NAPA.
Wine blending evening at CRAFT NAPA.
In this conversation we talk about Pokey’s early career as a special education teacher and how she first learned about quilting. She takes us back to the early days of Quilting Arts and talks about the challenges and joys of founding a magazine. We then trace her career through each stage including her newest venture, CRAFT NAPA.
Pokey is incredibly knowledgeable about the industry and has really smart and interesting reflections on how its changed over the nearly two decades she’s been working in it. I so enjoyed talking with her!
During our conversation we reference:
- Fons and Porter’s Quilter’s Complete Guide (affiliate link)
- Judith Baker Montano
- Crazy Quilts by Penny McMorris (affiliate link)
- silk ribbon
- Robbie Joy Eklow
- Beryl Taylor
- Karey Bresenhan’s Creative Quilting: The Journal Quilt Project (affiliate link)
- EBITDA (due diligence)
- Linda Ligon at Interweave
- Meissner Sewing
- Teri Lucas
Playful Fabric Printing (affiliate link) by Carol Solderlund and Melanie Testa, the first book published by Crafting a Life LLC.
And, of course, I ask Pokey to recommend great stuff she’s enjoying right now. Pokey recommends:
- print paste for thickening dyes
- gelli plates for monoprinting
- A 97D 1/4” foot and guide for my BERNINA
Keep up with Pokey on her blog, on Instagram, and on Facebook. Save the date for CRAFT NAPA 2018 – January 10-15 at the Embassy Suites/Napa.
This episode is sponsored by Deanne Fitzpatrick Rug Hooking Studio.
Deanne Fitzpatrick Rug Hooking Studio offers a contemporary look at a traditional craft. Working as an artist creating one of a kind hooked rugs, Deanne also offers rug hooking kits, patterns, supplies, workshops and lessons, both online at www.hookingrugs.com or at her studio in downtown Amherst, Nova Scotia,Canada. Her original works are in the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia and many private and public collections. The author of seven books about rug hooking and creativity, Deanne has made her website, blog and YouTube channels a beautiful resource for rug hookers internationally. Visit her at www.hookingrugs.com and use the coupon code abby to receive 15% off your first order.
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Once again an informative podcast. It is always inspiring to see women artists/entrepreneurs taking the leap from secure stable jobs with healthcare and pension to a risky and exhilarating life of arts and making a success out of it. (That includes you too Abby.) Also, as a frequent contributor to Cloth Paper Scissors, it was a pleasant surprise for me to know that Polky Bolton and her husband founded the magazine.
What Polky said about the purpose of in-person retreats is to build community and provide opportunities for networking raised a thorny issue for me. When someone talks about building community, for me as a woman of color, the question is community for whom? Over the several years that I have explored attending retreats, I have always been struck by the absence of instructors of color and learners of color. This has been a serious deterrent to me as I would like to be in a classroom where there are at least some students like me and that I have the choice to take classes from instructors who are like me. I am sorry to say that I have not found a single retreat that even minimally meets my expectation. It is not just the retreats. I find International Quilt Festival, QuiltCon etc. suffering from the same lack of diversity.
Indira – there were several students of color at Craft Napa – but no instructors. You are right, the ratio is very low. But then, if all quilters of color stay away because there isn’t anyone that looks like themselves, things never change. It’s very scary and difficult to be a trailblazer. If you are interested in the classes at Craft Napa – I highly recommend attending. When Pokey sets her mind to something – it is going to be a wonderful thing. When she wants to focus on creating a community – she does so. The set up at her venue really does facilitate and encourage coming together as students and teachers and making connections.
I appreciate hearing Pokey’s timeline and her creative ventures. I hadn’t realized how closely my career has followed what she has done. My first articles were for QA magazine – which led to my first traveling teaching gigs. My first TV spots were for her. She was my publisher. The things she touches seem to grow and blossom into beautiful things. I’m so grateful for how much she has contributed to the creative quilting world with her own creativity and generosity!
Abbey – don’t worry about what kind of machine you have. If a 1/4″ seam is important to you – you can make it happen on whatever you sew with! A year or two ago I moved from a fancy computerized Bernina back to my old Bernina 930 totally mechanical machine. I also sew regularly on a 60 year old Elna and a very simple HQ16 – no BSR or anything fancy and computerized. They do everything I need them to do and I can DIY repairs if I need to. No more hugely expensive repairs for fried motherboards. These things will last forever. That said – if you lust for a fancy machine Go for it! Just don’t think it will revolutionize everything you do.)
Lyric–I greatly admire you as an artist. My reply here is in no way a personal criticism. However, when I posted my original comment I did wonder if someone will respond with the finger of blame pointed at the people of color for their timidity. Not very different from how men respond to women’s concerns about lack of gender diversity in hiring and promotion. As a former faculty and a senior-level administrator in higher education, I know plenty about trailblazing. Many times, I have been the lone and sole person of color in a committee of 20 or more of mostly white men. I accepted my status because I saw it not only as an opportunity to be visible and but also to bring about changes from within. I do not see why I should taken on the burden of being a trailblazer as an attendee at an art retreat and pay for it too! It is the responsibility of the organizers to do the trailblazing, and as they say, if you build it they will come. It is also smart business to be inclusive and expansive.
Excellent points! I’m with you and I did not intend to point a finger at you. My apologies.. The solution then is to seek and hire instructors of color so that artists of color feel more welcomed? There are so many good ones to choose from. Valerie Goodwin is one of the few teachers I (who almost never takes classes any more) would jump at the chance to learn from.
Yes. I am speaking from experience working in higher education as an administrator and as a faculty. Lots of prospective students of color want and expect to see diversity in faculty and choose colleges that have diverse faculty. It is not just students of color. White students too want to be part of a diverse student body and to be taught by faculty coming from diverse cultural and racial backgrounds. Colleges cannot afford to ignore this expectation if they want to survive as an institution. I cannot imagine it can be different for any instructional program.
(off topic) Big Smiles here Indira! My brother is an administrator for Redlands and his Masters at U Penn was specifically about making higher education more open to minorities. He writes about it all the time! (His blog is Brohammas.wordpress.com) He has an article and a beautiful painting he did of Bree Newsome up today.
And Leslie is right – Pokey has always been more inclusive than the general traditional quilt world.
I read this exchange and the first thing that entered my brain was that, except for her love of color in her work and the work of others, Pokey is the most inclusive, and “color-blind” human being I know. In thinking about the past two Craft Napa retreats in terms of the attendees the majority were caucasian but there were women of color there: black, hispanic, and asian. This seems to be the trend at retreats and quilt shows (which happens to be the type of larger convention venue I attend) and I think the ratio is about the same. I am happy to note that I see younger women of color attending the Modern quilting events. I’m not sure if this is my imagination, but I certainly hope this trend continues because we are all elevated when the color lines are blurred. As a white woman I am certain I look at this through a very different lens than you, Indira. All I can say is that I hope I meet you in person one day!
I also want to say that none of my comments were directed at Pokey Bolton or at Craft Napa specifically. I do not know Pokey Bolton personally and she sounded like a lovely person on the podcast. My comments were directed at the general state of affairs that I have observed in art retreats and craft conferences. (The way I assess the diversity of faculty and students is by looking at the instructor roster and the group photos of participating students.) I am happy to know that Craft Napa has broken the mold in diverse student participation.