24 May 2011

Jinny Beyer and me

I first met Jinny in 1988 and after not seeing her for more than 25 years, recently I have been experiencing a few Jinny Beyer encounters.

My mother owned a quilt and craft shop on the Gold Coast in the mid 80s to 90s. We invited various international tutors to teach there. Among them Mary Ellen Hopkins, Roberta Horton, Harriet Hargrave and Jinny Beyer. Much water is under the bridge since then, and people have drifted on.

Last month I was researching an article on medallion-style quilts (to appear in the June issue of DUQ). There can be no medallion story without Jinny Beyer's Ray of Light quilt, a medallion quilt that won first prize out of 10,000 entries in 1978.

I was trying to contact Jinny and get information and images, but was running out of time ... and getting a little frantic because I really did not want to go to print without Jinny's part in the history of medallion style quilting.

Nevertheless I had to leave the office for a few days, and the unfinished story, to go to Melbourne for AQC. There, across the aisle from me, sat Jinny Beyer! OMG. I just had to laugh, how amazing this quilting world is, when here I am trying to contact someone on the other side of the world about something that occurred more than 30 years earlier, and there she sits, signing books, not 10 metres away.

I re-introduced myself, of course she was gracious, but of all the quilters she would have met over the years I am not sure she did recall me, fully. We managed to sort out the info and the images, thankfully, and the story went to print in all it's past and present glory.

Then, another JB encounter, two in as many months!

Over a few casual discussions recently it has been noted that drafting your own blocks is a skill that not all quilters have, and we wondered whether they should. Since the age of the rotary cutter the need to draft has not been so necessary, many of us can, and have, gotten by without this skill.

Those discussions led to me to wonder where my copy of Jinny's book, The Quilter's Album of Blocks & Borders, was. This was (and is) such a wonderful resource for someone starting out in the world of drafting their own blocks. It shows more than 750 geometric designs for easy identification and drafting. I used it often way back in the late 80s.

Search though I might, I could not find that book. Until today!

Packing up books and mags ready to move the office (again!) there it was! There was the usual excitement at finding something lost as well as the happy trip down memory lane I had when I opened its (yellowing) pages, and there in the front is a hand-written message to me from Jinny! To Debi, Happy Quilting, Jinny Beyer, Gold Coast 1988.

1988! Wow, that is a long time ago. No wonder the pages are yellowing, and Jinny barely remembers me!

These recent encounters have heightened for me the wonders of the quilting world and the friendships and contact you can make all around the world, even back in the late 80s-early 90s with minimal, if any, internet!

Books and resources - the good ones - can last forever. Jinny's impact, with her view of the quilting world, has been unique and has proven to be immemorial to not only those of us who discovered her way-back-then but also to the new quilters, the new breed, who maybe don't get so much of the 'background', naturally, it being so far behind many of us now.

Time moves on, and sometimes we may feel like we drift away from people and things, but maybe we are all drifting in the same direction? That is evidenced by how easily one can bump into another person (or book) from the past, and enjoy the experience all over again.

It does amaze me how much simple joy I get from these experiences, and that just makes me all the more grateful to be a quilter.

PS. If you want, you can check out Jinny's Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/JinnyBeyerStudio

and you can check out Down Under Quilts Facebook page at:

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