Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Laughter Quilt

A lot of stuff has been going on around Chez Megan lately, and I certainly won't bore you with it all, but suffice to say it has involved a lot of introspection, and I know there will be a lot more in the next few months.

Part of that introspection has been to ponder the question: What do I want? What is best for me? The easy answer is chocolate, Dr. Pepper, and the return of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but the harder answer has to do with what I want to do with my life. It might look like I have that all figured out, but I don't.

Things are getting clearer, however. And the thing that is clearest is that I want to keep making people laugh through writing. (KEEP TRYING, I hear you cry. YOU'RE NOT DOING IT TODAY.) I think that's why I was put here.

So, I'm going to ask your help with a little project. I want to make a Laughter Quilt, and I'd like to ask each of you to make a block for it. Don't worry! They're small and easy. Like me. Except for the small part. Or the easy. Ok, large, difficult blocks would be more me, but whatever.

Ostensibly, this is a signature quilt, but each block, besides having a name, will also have something else. I'd like you to write on the block something that makes you laugh. Could be, "my kids." Or, "Eddie Izzard." Or, "dick jokes." I don't care if it's dirty, or strange—but I'm not looking for hundreds of blocks that say, "The Bitchy Stitcher." I don't need my butt kissed. Not now, anyway. The Butt-Kissing Quilt is coming later.

I want to make a quilt that reflects how laughter infuses our lives in different ways. When my brother was dying, we spent our last visit together laughing. When my mother was dying, she was still making jokes from her hospital bed. My kids delight me every day with their oddball, intelligent humor, and my husband cracks me up with his dry wit. I love Louis CK and Lindy West and T.R. Pearson and the list goes on and on and on. Laughter lifts. Laughter heals. Laughter lights the dark and restores the soul. And I'd like to celebrate it.

For your block—should you choose to make one and I hope you do—you will need:

TWO 2.5-inch squares of a nice bright print or solid (both squares must be the same)
ONE 3.5-inch square of Kona White (Ok - I would prefer Kona white (that's the Robert Kaufman Kona), but I'll take whatever white you've got. I don't want anybody to not send a block they otherwise would if not for my anal restrctions on color.)

Draw a diagonal line across the back of each 2.5-inch printed/colored  square:

Place the square on your 3.5-inch white square, lining up the sides and corner. Stitch across the line you drew.

Place your second square on top of the white square on the opposite corner and stitch across that line, being careful not to sew over your other square. (Or, you can trim the first square and press open before sewing on the second.)

Trim each corner 1/4-inch from your seam line.

And press your block open.

And there, in that white space, you have lots of room to write what makes you laugh. Please also write your name! And you can make as many of these as you like. Make a few and have your kids or other family members and friends write theirs. The more the merrier - literally! My main request for fabric selection is keep it bright and happy—civil war repros just aren't going to fit in this quilt, so keep the earthy colors for another project, please. (Like, maybe the Butt-Kissing Quilt.) I use Pigma pens to write on fabric—I have also been told that fine point Sharpies work well.

I hope to eventually find someone willing to quilt it with words, possibly the text of something I've written, or maybe a series of classic jokes—I'm not sure yet. Then this quilt will someday travel with me as I visit guilds and other places as a perfect illustration of the power of laughter in quilting and in life.

Please send your blocks to:

Megan Smith (yes that's my legal name and the one on my mailbox)
P.O. Box 1057
Severna Park, MD 21146

EDIT: This P.O. box is no longer good. Please contact me directly for an address if you are sending blocks.

And thank you!!!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Here's your stinkin' badges!

Well, that last post hit a nerve. You know what's funny? I actually wrote that back in August! I had composed it in Word, got distracted, and forgot about it until I was going through folders looking for something else!

Thank you for all the comments and shares! I would linger here and bathe you in the warm glow of my love for you, but I have a magazine to layout by midnight on Thursday, so I will catch up with y'all later. But I did try to make some of the badges you have been clamoring for. You know how to re-size them, yes?

I will be back next week, rested and renewed. Or a walking husk of a once-vibrant woman. One of those.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Traditional neo retro post-industrialist modern punk quilting or TNRPIMPQ

I believe that we are on the verge of a new movement in quilting, a revolution in the way we think about and construct quilts, and this movement is growing, ready to burst forth and take over the quilting world. As a pioneer of this movement, I feel it is necessary to define what this movement is and place all kinds of legal restraints on the name of it so I can start suing anybody who tries to horn in on my completely new and original movement. I also plan to say ”movement” a lot.

I’m talking about, of course, Traditional neo retro post-industrialist modern punk quilting, or TNRPIMPQ for short.

TNRPIMPQ began in the streets of Hoboken and the backyard of a modest rancher in Tuscon. It was essentially a reaction to the reactions to modern quilting which all went, “So what? I’ve been making ‘wonky’ blocks ever since I had that unfortunate power drill injury back in ’92 but no one ever called my quilts a movement.” This made many quilters roll their eyes and reach for the tequila, but others responded by trying to get all academic and shit and this made the tequila drinking eye rollers huddle up in dark corners muttering about wanting to be left alone to quilt in peace.

These eye-rolling, tequila-drinking, huddle-muttering quilters began to slowly organize, though they were still considered an underground movement since none of them got quilts accepted into QuiltCon. And when I say, “organize,” what I mean is, “not give a good goddamn.” Several leaders in the movement briefly considered starting up, at the very least, a Facebook page where quilters could frankly not give a shit together, but then realized that someone would have to make up a rule or two and that this would quickly turn into fascism. The Facebook idea was scrapped, and while some members went back to bitching in private, others kept up a campaign of loud, vocal apathy.

Splinter groups quickly formed as some quilters professed a firm belief in “doing it right” and others espoused a more relaxed philosophy of “if it doesn’t fall apart when you breathe on it, it’s good.” This led to the Great Hissy Fit of 2013, but the many ruffled feathers were smoothed over when it became clear that even American Quilter magazine was being taken over by Kona solids.

Then, in 2014, as more people started to realize that arbitrary rules made up by a very small number of self-appointed people were extremely restrictive and that bitch-slapping each other over the internet about whose quilts followed those rules was rather childish, membership of TNRPIMPQ began to surge, except nobody actually knew they were a member because I hadn’t told them so yet. As of right now I am guessing there are at least 10 or 12 of us, and if that isn’t a movement, I don’t know what is.

In order for a quilt to fall under the aegis of the TNRPIMPQ movement, it must:

-       be made of fabric
-       and thread
-       batting should maybe be in there somewhere too
-       be your own design
-       or someone else’s
-       have a coherent composition
-       or look like it came out of a meat grinder
-       use lots of negative space
-       or lots of positive space
-       or no space whatsoever, if you can wrap your head around that
-       be used on a bed
-       or a couch
-       or a dog crate liner
-       or as a wall hanging
-       or whatever the hell you goddamn want
-       seriously, mop the floor with it if you want, it’s still a quilt
-       be utterly free from any expectation or limitation except what you put on it yourself

And it must, without question, make YOU happy.

But if it also has an octopus on it, then it’s extra-TNRPIMPQ-y. Because I said so.


UPDATE: The badges you've been asking for are here.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Time and perfect points are an illusion.

Getting ready for Market is always an education in how different people plan stuff. Some people like to schedule their every move, knowing well in advance exactly where they will be and at what time. Others are all, "You want to meet me at one o'clock? Well, really, what is time, anyway? Isn't it just another word for 'prison'? Let's just let the Market winds blow and our paths will surely cross at the right moment. Also, I can't find my phone."

I like to think that I am somewhere in the middle on this particular spectrum. I definitely like to know the procedures of things: "First you go to the red counter, then you ask for Julio. If Julio isn't there, ask for Wendy, but if Wendy isn't there, you need to throw a large hissy fit until Monique shows up. Then you show your ID and slip Julio, Wendy, or Monique a twenty and a case of scotch, after which you will be able to access the bathroom." But usually the instructions are more like, "Just go in the door marked 'Women' and do your business. What the hell is wrong with you?" THERE'S ALWAYS MORE TO IT THAN THAT AND YOU KNOW IT. But I do try to be easy going when I can, and not be a burden on others too much. Like, I always hold the door open when I make other people carry my stuff.

This Market is special because I am sharing a hotel room with my friend Sam. She has become a very dear friend and though we've met in person once, at another Market, this will be the first time we have been able to spend some real time together. Even if my book ends up being burned in a ritual bonfire behind the convention center at the end of the show, the trip will be worth it just to have spent some quality time with her.

And there's lots of other people to see—some I hope to meet for the first time, some I hope to spend a little more time with than I usually get to. Some just to see if all the rumors I hear about them are true. I hope to put my book into some hands, and get my hands on some fabric. I hope to shed my neurotic fear (or at least choke it down) of looking like a cow in photographs and actually take pics with people. Just so you know, if I do take those pics and I post them somewhere - it is not an illusion. I do indeed have a gigantic head.

I will do my best to post stuff on Facebook ( and Instagram (@meganzdougherty) every evening when I get back to my hotel room. If you are going to Market, you can stop by the GenQ booth (#1655 - near the bathrooms; ask for Julio) on Saturday afternoon (One-ish. What IS time, anyway?) and say hello and even get a book signed if you are so inclined. I'm staying at the Omni, so you can also stalk me in the bar, where I will surely be found drunkenly pontificating on the nature of time and space and quilting and stuff.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

You need this. You want this.

If you were paying attention during the Endless Book Tour of 2013 and 2014, you will recall my fangirl worship of Cheryl Sleboda. I hope you've also noticed that I don't give my fangirl affections to everyone, and I don't particularly give a shit who's famous now or who's the up-and-coming-cool kid that everyone wants a piece of. When I fall in love with someone's work - whatever that work might be - I do it because that work really speaks to me. Cheryl's work has always spoken to me. It whispers to me in the night and says we need to empty the bank account in order to possess all of it, particularly every underwater invertebrate from this weekly series.

So, Cheryl has got a little bit of an evil streak, which I love, and not long ago, she put an image of a skull she had designed up on Facebook and asked if people might like to see it on a t-shirt. And of course I and all the other Cheryl fangirls fell over each other to scream YES, YES WE WOULD. And when she finally did start selling it as a shirt, I was the first one to place an order.

Squint as you approach. You may be blinded by my neck wrinkles.

I'd really like to see this cool design take off for Cheryl and YOU KNOW YOU WANT ONE. So, here's my deal: the first three people to order a shirt get a copy of my book. Just send me a copy of your receipt as proof of purchase at dontdrinkandquilt (at) gmail (dot) com.. (Doesn't count if you already bought one before today, sorry.) And if you DO buy a shirt, please tell Cheryl when you check out that the crazy fangirl sent you. Go here to purchase and see all the other cool stuff Cheryl sells, and thanks for letting me support one of my favorite artists.