LS: Art of Quilting Column October 12, 2008
Stars align for cyber show
It’s probably the most significant alignment of stars since Fons met Porter.
I became a true stargazer last month in the hamlet of LaVeta, nestled at the foot of Colorado’s famous Spanish Peaks.
That’s where Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims tape their online video/Web magazine called “The Quilt Show.”
I was thrilled to get an insider’s peek at the groundbreaking endeavor these talented co-hosts started in April 2007.
Anderson and Tims were wrapping up their fourth series of shows, which feature guest quilt artists from all over the world. The shows are filmed twice a year in front of a live audience inside Tims Art Quilt Studio and Gallery. The shows I observed will be aired January through June on the Web site.
On this particular day, they taped two separate segments, one shining the spotlight on Anderson and the other on Tims.
Anderson gave tips on making “Daisy Chain,” a quilt she designed with beige and cream-colored fabrics and featured in her book “Neutral Essentials.”
She said she enjoys the subtlety yet richness of neutral tones.
When Tims took his turn behind the lights and cameras, he demonstrated how to make a kaleidoscope quilt of bright fabrics from a strip-pieced strata.
“It looks complicated, but it really isn’t,” he said of the method, which is available on DVD.
Not only is Tims a world-class quilt artist, but he’s also an incredibly talented musician, composer, photographer and videographer. He lives on a ranch outside LaVeta.
His father, Richard Tims, was in the audience on that day, as he often is.
“We knew he was special pretty early on,” the elder Tims said of his son. “We bought him a piano when he was 3.”
Anderson, too, is a real pro. Most quilt enthusiasts know her from the former “Simply Quilts” television program, which ran for 11 seasons with her as host.
For her contributions to quilting and textile art, Anderson will receive the prestigious 2008 Silver Star Award on Nov. 1 at the International Quilt Festival in Houston. She is a resident of Livermore, Calif.
Together, Anderson and Tims truly are luminaries in the quilt universe.
Their online show runs smoothly with no script, no cue cards, no retakes. They move deftly from cutting table, sewing machine and design wall to a comfortable sitting area where they chat. Neither outshines the other, and their respect for one another is obvious.
Tims says Anderson helped him learn “how to be a host” because he had no previous experience at it.
She, in turn, credited Tims with teaching her “to lighten up some.” Anderson is known more for her traditional quilt style, while Tims developed what he calls a “caveman style” that eschews many of the rules.
They laugh easily together, as Tims’ partner, Justin Shults, emcees the tapings with the audience of about 40. Both hosts address the crowd personally after the spotlights are turned off and answer audience questions.
Their film crew works with precision in the small gallery space, and they have fun together, too. Some of the members fly into Colorado with their equipment a few times a year from Chicago and California. Many are showbiz veterans. A couple of them work for “The Oprah Show,” and the foreman (who is actually a woman) has a Hollywood career, having previously teamed with Anderson on “Simply Quilts.”
Here’s how it works for viewers: Go online to http://www.thequiltshow.com, where you can join for free or purchase a subscription for $24.95. Thirteen shows are offered per series, as well as block-of-the-month projects, chats, forums, images of quilts and quilters’ profiles.
Anderson’s husband, John, is one of the online show’s biggest supporters. He also attended the taping in LaVeta, where he sold DVDs of the series, books and other products by his wife and her business partner, Tims.
John Anderson compares “The Quilt Show” to a worldwide quilt guild. It boasts more than 31,500 members in 94 countries.
“It’s really the future of the educative arm of quilting, with access to such talent,” he says.
Whether “The Quilt Show” reinforces the allegiance of the dedicated millions or entices newbies into our fold — preferably both — I have to say that Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims bring pure star power to cyberspace.
E-wmail Sherida.Warner@ gjsentinel.com.