ETA: We have surpassed our goal of $1/comment--503! So we are closing the giveaway a little early. Thanks so much to everyone who took the time to leave a comment to help raise money for this fabulous organization, MCC. The winner of the scraps will be announced Saturday, 4/21/12.
In the meantime, I thought I'd give a little rundown of how the auction works. All the money this weekend goes to Mennonite Central Committee, a very highly rated charitable organization where over 80 percent of the money actually goes to aid around the world rather than to administrative expenses. Their mission statement is "Relief, development and peace in the name of Christ," and here is a list of where their presence is felt. In their own words, "MCC strives to meet urgent needs in areas torn by disaster or war and to reach out to people forced to flee from their homes. MCC provides food, aid such as relief kits or blankets and other needed items in the days or weeks following a disaster.
I'll be posting pictures of what the yearly event looks like here in Fresno, as I'm not sure I've ever done that before. Lots of food booths--so yummy--the food is donated, and help is all volunteer. Plants are for sale, wonderful items--jewelry, decorative items--from around the world, used books, antiques, household items, you name it, it's probably here, all in the cause of raising money for people in need. There is a 5k run, a two-mile walk, a pancake breakfast. It's a place to reconnect with friends you haven't seen since the last sale a year ago and a place to meet new friends. There is music, homemade jams and pies, silent auction....and all proceeds go to MCC. Each year over $250,000 is raised here in Fresno during this weekend.
It's one of my favorite weekends of the entire year.
And the crown jewel in this amazing weekend is the quilt auction. People have been working hard all year long to make these quilts, donating their time, their money, hoping that people will bid the quilts up to a high price before the gavel goes down and the auctioneer says "Sold!" There are quilts that are all hand quilted, tied comforters, beautiful hand crocheted or hand knit afghans. Want to know the secret to making a quilt that sells for a lot of money? It's impossible to predict which quilt will be the one that goes for a lot of bucks. It isn't the color. It isn't the style. It isn't a special quilt block. The secret is simply this: finding two people, maybe three, but finally just two people who really REALLY want that specific quilt. We have seen exquisitely handquilted beauties bring hardly any money. We have seen little wall hangings go for a seemingly astronomical amount of money. Oh, the drama...
It's one of my favorite weekends of the entire year. Did I already say that?
Because I have never done this before, I thought I would show the five quilts that I have donated to this event. Each has been a collaborative effort between me and Ione Ewert Whitney, Mark's first cousin, who is an absolute artist on her long arm quilting machine.
The first quilt was a simple Amish Shoo-Fly (80x92), made and donated in 2003. Ione had already made a quilt similar to this one and I fell in love with it, its simplicity and her machine quilting using variegated thread. In 2003 it was the quilt that went for the highest price, $3,400. Her machine quilting in the black blocks and border is just beautiful, but even so, we were both shocked that it was the highest seller. Interestingly, a beautiful hand appliqued Baltimore Album quilt (104x116) only brought $3,000. And that's what I mean when I say you just cannot predict which quilt will bring the highest dollar amount.
We did another quilt the next year, 2004, Ohio Star Variation (86x113--an odd size but I had to work the body of the quilt to fit the dimensions of the border, not the other way around). There was a particular focus fabric that I just fell in love with and used it as the basis for each block. I found a pattern for the border which was a tricky but beautiful in design. This quilt sold for $3,100.
The quilt selling for the highest amount that year was a hand painted whole-cloth quilt by a local Fresno artist, Margaret Hudson (96x108, $3,300).
In 2010, we collaborated on California Garden (110x112), a design by Pam Bono Designs which is meant to look like hand applique but it is all pieced. There are 3,460 pieces in this king-sized quilt. It sold for $3,700.
That brings us up to today, Colorbox. I have posted my progress on this quilt. Until I made Colorbox, Ohio Star had been my reigning favorite donation quilt. Colorbox completely knocked it off the podium. Admittedly I have had a hard time letting go of this one. It is another king-sized quilt and it is simply gorgeous (104x104).
In case you are wondering how the auction works as far as donation, here goes: Ione charges me half of her normal fee for machine quilting, and that is her charitable donation. The quilt is assigned a "fair market value," usually around $500 for a king size, and if you have ever made a quilt of this size, you know that that about covers your costs in terms of fabric, batting, backing, etc., but certainly not the time you have spent actually making the quilt. Whatever the fair market value is, that is what I get to write off at tax time. The difference between the fair market value and the amount the winning bidder spends on the quilt is the winner's charitable donation. So if you are looking at it from strictly a financial perspective, it is a way to buy a quilt and write it off on your income taxes.
Making a quilt of this size and then giving it away is something I have to "psych" myself into. From the beginning, I remind myself that this is not "my" quilt. That usually helps keep me from getting too bonded with it. MCC is a wonderful organization and the work they do is vital to so many people, those who don't have the resources for the things we take for granted on a daily basis--food, clean water, a comfortable place to live. Sitting in my sewing room, a place that is comfortable and creative, with music, audible books, good lighting, snacks when I want them...things I take for granted way too often, making something beautiful with colorful fabric...the time and the money seems like a small price to pay when the proceeds go to a much greater cause--helping those truly in need.
So my hope is that two people will fall in love with Colorbox, raise their bidding numbers against each other, and be willing to pay tons of money for it.
I'm sure it will go to a really good home...
Now comes a chance for you to help. It's a giveaway!
THE GIVEAWAY: One 3" WOF (width of fabric) strip of Kona cotton in each of the sixteen colors in the Colorbox quilt, plus a couple of fabric scraps in each color--fabric that was actually used in the quilt.
I'm sure it will go to a really good home...YOUR PART: Leave a comment, and let me know your favorite charitable organization, if you have one. Or let me know if you have a given away a quilt that was really hard to let go.
OUR PART: Mark and I will donate $1 to MCC for each comment left on this post. Mark sings in a 170-voice men's chorus that performs four times this year--no admission to attend, but a freewill offering is taken at each performance. One hundred percent of the offering proceeds go to MCC. This year celebrates thirty-five years that the men have been singing and they hope this year to top $500,000 in total giving from these performances.
Leave a comment, tell your friends and have them leave a comment. Seriously. Please make sure that Mark and I write a really large check at the final performance of this year, April 29 in Arroyo Grande, California. We'll let RNG pick a winner for the Colorbox fabric scraps next Saturday, April 21, at 6 p.m. PDT.