Its that Darn word ‘Quilter’


I try to explain my career to my family and friends.

“I travel the world teaching quilting and textile art.”

Most of my non quilting friends don’t understand. The friends I’ve had for 50 years remember me as a bumbling non confident nerdy gal with glasses. “Pammy wouldn’t say shit for a shilling”  (aussie slang) one friend described me. Yes, its true, but behind the nerdy glasses was a person who knew one day she would do ‘something’ different.

Yes, I do travel the world teaching people I  don’t know  how to put fabric into an image and  sew it on a sewing machine to make a picture with thread.   Strange but true.  One of my ‘acquaintances’  told me that’s not a   career?

Yes, I do give lectures to Museums, Galleries and quilters on the Bayeux Tapestry,  color theory, and photographic topics. Do Quilters do that?

In the past when I was introduced, Pam Holland photographer, they understood that, and they could even understand that I was a fashion designer, but a quilter, that puts you into the scones and afternoon tea set at the church hall. You see the shutters come down over their eyes when you tell them you’re a quilter or a quilt teacher. Their reactions remind me of a crocodile with the second eyelid. Flip down it comes when you begin talking.  Ha, but mention you’re an artist, or an author, or even an illustrator, the shutters come up. It’s just that darn word Quilting.

No, I don’t generally sew pieces of fabric to make a bed quilt, so am I a real quilter?    I understand that they can’t quite work out just what my career is and to be quite honest it doesn’t matter for the most part.

But the reason I even write about this in my blog is that recently several of my peers have contracted serious illnesses and been treated very badly when they are unable to fulfill their contract. Some, not all, were expected to give their instructional notes to another Tutor to take their class. The notes they have their signature on. The genre, style and passion they share through their years of hard work.

Our Contracts to teach are made years ahead. For me, its at least  3-5 years. We sign a contract to provide a service for an event, a group, a specialty.

Like most of us Tutors, I’m the only person who can teach ‘Pam Holland Style’  and god forbid that I get ill or have a family emergency. I’ve flown half way across the world for the day for Mothers funeral because most of my class had flown from other countries to take my class and the expectation is that I will be there and fulfill the contract. Of course I would feel terrible if I let down those who had paid a significant amount to attend the class.

It’s a dilemma.

I’m a Quilter and my contract is as important as any other business contract and yet, its hard to explain to those who are not my peers. Because we are known as  Quilt Teachers, there seems on some occasions that we are reduced to the scones and tea set with intellectual consideration.

I’ve had to cancel a tour recently because we have an unexpected family event of significant importance, its hard and I take a lot of things into consideration before doing that.

So I will gracefully jump off my soap box and beg your consideration of the Tutors in your employ.

By the way, now you know why I wear, funky glasses instead of nerdy glasses. Its because I’m one of those ‘Quilt Teachers’

6 Comments Add yours

  1. I would describe you as a fiber artist and photographer; also as a connoisseur of world cultures, and general all around mensch (in the Yiddish sense of person with dignity and honor). Perhaps mensch is the most important part of that. And I doubt that any of your fans, friends, or family would change a thing about you!

  2. Wendy in Kennewick says:

    It is interesting how friends and even family have difficulty accepting that people can grow and change at any stage in life. Your comment about being the nerdy gal hit home. I attended a workshop recently with 30 total strangers. I’m reserved in those types of settings, even though this workshop was on improving communication skills. The instructor was excellent and we talked at length afterwards. When I ran into him a few days later, he commented that “You come across as a sweet, quiet gal, but I know you are really a black diamond skier.” I hope to always remember that when I’m in uncomfortable situations. Thank you for sharing your life, my multi-talented friend!

  3. Susan says:

    Now think of also trying to explain “quilting” when your peers in your work life are trial attorneys…. They really are baffled by it!

    Your quilting style is art and you are an amazing instructor so just leave them wondering and don’t worry about them!

  4. eileenkny says:

    Pam dear (picture nose up, pinky out), you must inform those not in the know that you are a fiber art professor. Then turn and walk away before they figure out that those word mean “quilt teacher”. 🙂

  5. Janice Babin says:

    Hey Pam….. The people “in the know”, know exactly who you are and what you do….and what a special, talented person you are as a textile artist. Just don’t worry about the other people…

  6. Valerie Wilson says:

    A fun post with a serious topic. I make pictorial art quilts, and as soon as I say that I make quilts, people start to tell me about their grandmother who made quilts.

    The obligations of teaching I understand too, as I too travel teach. It is a lot of work.

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