I remember it very distinctly.
I was wandering the rows at the International Quilt Festival in Houston my junior year in college. I had made my first quilt a few months prior, on a whim, and my mother thought it would be fun to check out this quilt show that was just a short drive from their house.
If you've been to the festival, you know the quilt gallery is huge! Aisles and aisles of masterful quilts, organized, more or less, by styles. I've never been good about sticking to a straight path-- I'd walk up a row, spot something pretty a few isles over, head over to that, turn around, walk up the next aisle. All of a sudden, after about 30 minutes of meandering, I spotted a quilt a couple aisles over that I had to see closer. I bee-lined to it and gasped.
The vibrant color, the texture, the intricacy-- I had never seen anything like it.
It was a garden scene with a bench, a stream cutting around the bench and down the quilt, a tree in the background full of leaves, and a fiery, spiraling sun overhead. I didn't know of the technique at the time, but it was all done in raw-edge appliqué. I could not stop looking at it. I got really close, put my hands behind my back so I wouldn't be tempted to touch -- those women in the white gloves walking up and down the aisles looked ready to scold a handsy college student.
I stood in front of this quilt for at least 20 minutes, trying to figure out how the quilter made this, and marveling at the movement and life she was able to create with fabric!
My mother looked at it for a reasonable amount of time, then moved on to look at others. She came back a while later, insisting we really needed to go, they'd be closing down soon, and she wanted to beat the rush out. She had to practically drag me away.
This was the first time I saw that quilting could be an art form. It could be expressive and evocative. It could be as detailed as a painting, but no painting could ever match a quilt's texture. It went beyond inspiration. My heart was beating quickly, I had a dozen ideas spinning in my head, I could not wait to go buy some more fabric and begin playing.
That quilt changed everything. I had fallen head over heels in love with this craft.
I wish I could find the picture I took of the quilt, or knew the quilter's name, but I am eternally grateful for that piece of art, because it inspired everything I've done since.
What was it for you? What made you start quilting? What made you come to love this craft? Leave a comment below-- I'd love to hear.
P.S. If you think you might know the quilt I'm talking about, I'd love to try to track down the quilt/quilter to thank him or her. It was around 2006.