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Friday, May 22, 2009

Quilling with Malinda Johnston

As I mentioned in last week’s blog, I wrote to Malinda Johnston to introduce myself to her as the American representative of the English Quilling Guild, back in 1990. I had no idea, at the time, I was writing to THE Malinda Johnston. For those of you who don’t know Malinda, she is the founder and former owner of Lake City Crafts. We “visit” (that’s Malinda’s term) on the phone every once in a while to catch up on mutual quilling friends. I asked Malinda how she had gotten started. She told me she bought a quilling kit at a local craft store, she enjoyed doing the kit and went back to the store and “volunteered” to teach quilling . . . the first step in a long journey. Malinda said once you learn to make the basic shapes, the rest is easy! She started making patterns and little kits for her students in the craft store, and then in 1974, she took a really big step and launched Lake City Crafts. She started her company with her first instructional book, Gallery of Quilling, and “that year, she expanded her line to include four kits, and quickly added six more kits and 18 colors of paper”. The quote is from the 20th anniversary edition of the Lake City Gazette. In many ways the Lake City Gazette was responsible for American quillers organizing and eventually becoming the North American Quilling Guild. It was her newsletter that let us lonely American quillers know there was a quilling guild and that there were other American quillers!

For a long time Lake City Crafts was almost the only game in town. Once Barbara Maddox’ Quill Art was sold and Hazel Pearson just seemed to disappear there were only a few places to buy quilling papers and they were all mail order. When I say mail order, I mean MAIL ORDER!! There was no internet, so the only option was to write or call for a catalogue and wait. As I said earlier, once we American quillers ‘found’ each other, there was no stopping us . . . and Malinda was there every step of the way. When a small group of American quillers decided to go to England for the first International Festival of Quilling, Malinda was in attendance. When that group decided to have a “reunion” meeting in New Jersey the following June, she was there. That’s when I first met her face to face. Malinda is a delightful person and totally down to earth. I remember when she was working on her book “The Book of Paper Quilling” (published in 1994), she said it was kind of like having a baby; it took so long! I was honored that she asked me to submit some of my designs for her book. It was the first of its kind, lots of tutorials, instructions and patterns for more than 50 projects, and designs submitted by thirteen different quillers. There was little bit of everything. For years, many quillers have regarded this book as the quiller’s bible. Her second book “The Weekend Crafter Paper Quilling” was similar, with lots of projects by many different quillers. Over the years, she has been my mentor and has played a major role in the resurgence of quilling, and now is enjoying a well deserved retirement. At this writing, she is enjoying a visit to Paris with her daughters. She told me she was going to bring her sketch books and pretend to be an artist on the left bank. You go girl!!

1 comment:

Inna D. said...

Thank you for sharing this fascinating story!