Nothing poky about this bolt of art quilting energy

Patricia “Pokey” Bolton of Boulder is the host of “Quilting Arts TV” on PBS, which is filmed in Cleveland. Her goal is “to get the next generation involved” in the quilting arts, Bolton says.



A day in the life of Patricia “Pokey” Bolton would send the Energizer Bunny hightailing it for his rabbit hole.

As the founder of Quilting Arts magazine and host of “Quilting Arts TV,” this petite dynamo divides her time between two states — Colorado and Massachusetts.

Bolton and her husband, John, both are firmly entrenched in the publishing industry. He recently took a position as senior vice president at Interweave Press in Loveland, which publishes Quilting Arts, its sister publication Cloth Paper Scissors and many other specialty craft magazines. His wife heads Interweave’s quilt and paper division as editorial director.

That necessitated their new home in Boulder, yet her Quilting Arts staff and editorial team still require her attention in Stow, Mass., 30 miles west of Boston. Bolton spends plenty of time in the air, jetting between the two locales.

Her Quilting Arts magazine is 10 years old this year and continues to cover contemporary textile works, surface design, embellishment and motifs. Bolton, 39, is a visionary in her field and shows no signs of gearing down.

“We are hitting the ground running in 2011,” she says.

Besides taping another television series — featuring leading fiber and mixed media artists and their techniques — Bolton has a new special edition magazine coming out in April. Titled “101 Patchwork Projects,” Bolton says it has 200 pages of quilts and smaller projects “for beginners and those who want to try patchwork for the first time.”

She keeps track of her frenetic schedule with the help of an iPhone, an iPad and a Mac computer.

During the precious time the Boltons have together, their biggest challenge “is not to talk shop” at the dinner table, she says.

Her first name is Patricia, but she’s known by most everyone as “Pokey.” The nickname has nothing to do with being a slowpoke — far from it for those trying to keep up with her. But her fans often wonder where Bolton picked up this moniker.

Actually, her middle name is Pocahontas because she’s a descendant of the legendary Indian princess. The name has been passed through generations of her family, Bolton says, and in her case, it was shortened to Pokey.

So now you know.

Besides her 21st century professional duties, Bolton serves on the board of the national Studio Art Quilt Associates and as vice president of education for the International Quilt Association in Houston.

On the latter, she distributes information about this international guild and works on grants and outreach programs to further quilting.

“My goal, and what I feel most strongly about, is to get the next generation involved” in the quilting arts, Bolton says.

When she finds time to play in her own studio, Bolton enjoys surface design and screen printing, and she often works with a Thermofax machine (a piece of outdated office equipment originally used for photocopies and transparencies).

“I like to combine techniques, too,” she says, explaining that she sometimes creates collages with a colorful fabric base, then applies wool with a felting machine, adds silk roving, rubber stamping, machine and hand stitches, and perhaps even beads.

Bolton is one of several celebrity quilters who have made fiber art for an online charity auction, scheduled Feb. 16, to benefit the American Cancer Society.

The one-day event is called “One Cause, One Wednesday, One Hundred Collages,” sponsored by Fiberart For a Cause. The goal is to raise $8,000 in one day.

Because Bolton’s father died of lung cancer at age 59, she says the cause is important to her. She is to have two fiber collages for sale; to learn more, go to http://www.virginiaspiegel.com and click on Fiberart for a Cause.

In Bolton’s quest to share her passion for fiber arts, she started “Make It University!” at International Quilt Festival a few years ago.

The hands-on event offers hourlong workshops where festival-goers learn new techniques for art quilting and mixed media, meet top artists and trade art with others. It is jointly sponsored by Quilts Inc. and Cloth Paper Scissors, the Interweave magazine founded in 2004 by Bolton. “Make It University!” quickly became a festival highlight.

Since then, yet another Bolton brainchild has appeared on the scene. An artistic getaway called “CREATE Mixed Media Retreat” was so successful last year in the Chicago area that she’s proud to announce the second annual CREATE for May 18-22 in Costa Mesa, Calif.

This event is jointly sponsored by sister publications Quilting Arts and Cloth Paper Scissors. Registration opens Tuesday. Go to http://www.create mixedmediaretreat.com.

With all these accomplishments to Bolton’s credit, I’ll be eager to see where her imagination takes us next. At her pace, our time-honored tradition will move boldly into this second decade of a new century.

E-mail Sherida.Warner@ gjsentinel.com.


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