Introduction: June 27, 2016

Fiber artists, are you ready for some FUN?! After waiting for more than two years for official permission required by my publisher to proceed,  I am very excited to announce a brand new project: Inspired by Elvis. Thanks to an introduction by artist Etta McFarland, I finally made the right contact at Elvis Presley Enterprises and not only have I secured permission to proceed, but my contact (whose two sisters are quilters) said Elvis Presley Enterprises would be honored if I lead this celebratory project.

Truth be told, Elvis was my first crush. I was eight years old and living in Fort Richardson, Alaska. Three of us were named Donna in my second grade class, it was the year of the Great Alaskan Earthquake, the Beatles had performed for the first time on the Ed Sullivan Show, and for my birthday that year, I had my first slumber party. We went to see the opening of “Viva Las Vegas” at the movie theater on Post, and that was the moment when six best friends and I decided we would all marry Elvis. We contemplated the moves of Ann-Margret but decided our bodies would never be able to move those ways. Nevertheless, we made big plans amid giggles and whispers.

Celebrating Elvis. That is what this is all about. Will you wholeheartedly join in this celebration of Elvis? Do you enjoy his music, his movies? Are you Inspired by Elvis? If not, I ask for your honesty. I believe the results of this project will be better, most authentic, if participants can truly say they are inspired by Elvis. If this is not the case, please pass on this project and wait for the next one. I assure you, another project (two, actually) awaits, just around the corner.

Here is a bit of Elvis trivia. Do you know that there are currently 11,266 entries on Amazon for books on Elvis? Elvis recorded 15 songs with the word “blue” in the titles. “Elvis” is one of the most popular computer passwords. Elvis had a pet turkey named “Bow Tie”. Oh, and by the way—there are about 250,000 Elvis impersonators in the world today.

A book, to be published by Schiffer Publishing, will feature color photos of your beautiful original quilts, celebrating Elvis. The text in the book will come from you. Once you have begun to work on your quilt, I will ask each of you to provide a short narrative, telling your “Elvis story”, or Elvis connection, if you have one, an explanation describing how you are inspired by Elvis, a line or two telling the materials and techniques you used to make your piece, and last, why you chose the subject you picked. Filling out the questionnaire prompting your answers to these items will be very important. You will get a chance to tell your story, along with your quilt. This book is scheduled to be published in the Spring of 2018, but I cannot guarantee if you simply make a quilt it will be in the book. If you follow all of the guidelines, use your wonderful artistry, write up a great narrative, take careful time doing these things, and meeting the deadline, I would say you have a pretty good chance for success. But please understand the bar is raised.

I would love to submit the Elvis quilts to the Houston International Quilt Festival as a special exhibit. The special exhibits folks have already told me they won’t accept all of the quilts made for this project.

Please read the guidelines and rules carefully because no exceptions will be made. If you would like to participate, the next step is to complete the registration form. Make a list of your top six choices of the quilt you would like to make. Understand that if you list only one choice, this will not mean you will be assigned that choice. I can already predict the songs that will be chosen most often: Blue Suede Shoes, Jailhouse Rock, Hound Dog, and Return to Sender. If these are your top choices, make sure you include others as well. Only one quilt will be made per artist. If you know of an Elvis song that doesn’t appear on the list below, write it in. What I am not looking for, though, are songs that Elvis may have sung at one time or another, but they are not songs we immediately think of when we hear “Elvis”. For instance, Elvis may have sung “Jingle Bells”. Don’t choose “Jingle Bells”! On lists of Elvis songs I have seen “Hey Jude”. That song is most associated with the Beatles, so that would not be a good choice, either. He most certainly did sing “Whole Lot of Shaking Going On”, and it is a song we immediately associate with Elvis. See the difference? When you are considering songs, do some research on his 31 movies and their soundtracks. There are song titles you’ve probably never heard of that will provide all sorts of inspiration. Listen to the songs, read the words, watch the movies; in other words, go beyond the song title. Watch YouTube videos or read a book about Elvis.

This project will include songs, but you also have other possibilities. Your Elvis quilt could be inspired by an aspect of his personal life. A movie. His clothing. A place where he performed. Graceland. His dance moves, his family life, something about his “look”. Elvis was a singer, a musician, a performer, a movie star, a soldier, and a philanthropist, just to name a few. His look was iconic, his mannerisms endearing. No one could wear a pink shirt and matching socks like Elvis. Maybe one of his jumpsuits inspires you? I am sure if ten of you depicted Elvis performing, each piece would be very different. I think it would be interesting to intersperse these art quilts showing other aspects of Elvis, along with his songs, throughout the book. I am eager to hear your ideas. Please list these with some detail when you make your selections. For example, don’t just say “Elvis in concert”, say “early Elvis in concert in Germany”.

Since we are honoring Elvis with these quilts, make sure your idea and your quilt only depict Elvis in a positive light: no depictions of tacky velvet Elvis. Have fun, but do your best work!

This is my third large-scale project, and some of you may be participating for the third time. One of my goals is to make sure each collection of quilts is new and fresh, showcasing a wide variety of techniques and materials. Take a close look at Inspired by the Beatles and at Inspired by the National Parks. If the quilt you make is too similar to a quilt in one of these previous books, it won’t be included.

Don’t begin work on your quilt until I verify which selection is yours and email your confirmation. I hope there is great interest in this project, so don’t delay filling out and returning the registration form. There is a non-refundable fee of $40 for participation, to cover my expenses. As soon as I receive your registration form (sent via snail mail) with your six choices, your registration fee, and confirm that you registered your email address,  I will begin making assignments, emailing confirmations, and letting you know you can begin making your quilt.
Please closely read the Guidelines and Rules. If you have an idea in mind but are not sure, just ask.

Feel free to share this information with anyone you know who might be interested in participating.

Best,
Donna


Guidelines and Rules
Quilts are to be a visual celebration of Elvis.
Size: 36” x 36”. Make the best use of this entire size for the best visual impact. Look at the two previous books. You will see what sorts of things work well and what doesn’t work, when photographed for a book.
Due date for completed quilts, questionnaire and releases: November 11, 2016.

All work must be original: no patterns or other copyrighted material permitted. No photo transfer techniques are allowed. Do not replicate an album cover, or other Elvis promotional material. Quilts should generally not contain text: in particular, no lyrics or song titles. If you must include any words, check with me first.

The quilts must be constructed flat, since they will be shipped to exhibits stacked. Do not use embellishments that could damage other quilts in stacking, don’t use fragile embellishments, and don’t include any components on your piece which would require individual care or packing. Affix embellishments securely. This is not a 3-D project. Please keep this in mind: sparkly material, thread and embellishments do not photograph well. Don’t even think about using glitter! And do not have anything dangling beyond the 36” x 36” size.

Each quilt must contain a “regulation” sleeve, using only these instructions: http://www.quiltersunlimited.org/media/uploads/2013/07/14/files/Quilt_Sleeve.pdf. Each quilt must also contain a label on the back, with only the following information: Your name, your location, and the name of the quilt.

Two hard copy, signed release forms must be included with delivery of the quilt: one for Schiffer Publishing and the other to permit travel with exhibits. You will receive these forms with your confirmation. You will need to fill out a questionnaire, to be provided after registration, which I will edit and use in part or in full in the book. This questionnaire can be mailed or emailed before you submit your quilt, but must be submitted no later than November 11, 2016. Once you complete this questionnaire, no changes will be made.

Artists will be responsible for insuring their own quilts, or you have the option to waive insurance. In addition to the nonrefundable registration fee, artists will be responsible to deliver the quilt to and from me via mail or in person. If you are in the northern Virginia area, I’ll reserve a conference room in a Fairfax County Library where you may deliver your quilt in person on the deadline, November 11, 2016. If your quilt needs to be shipped, you will pay shipping and insurance to and from me. (Artists will not be responsible for shipping fees to and from exhibit venues.)

Images of your quilts may not be shared online until I give the O.K. This is very important and will require patience on your part. To share images of your quilts before the time is right could jeopardize the entire book project, so please stifle the urge, or you will find yourself on the bad girl list for future projects. I love exuberance but this is a process and we will proceed step by step. I work closely with my editors and with the marketing people at Schiffer to determine when images and information may best be shared. Different authors handle this in different ways, but please respect my rules. Quilts must be available to travel in various exhibits for up to two years, and no quilt may be sold until it is back in your hands.

I welcome suggestions and help in finding connections and securing venues and sponsors for exhibits or book sales. If you might be able to help down the road in any way, please let me know about your hidden gifts and availability. The pay stinks but this staff of one only functions by leaning on a trusty few.



Registration Form and Procedures:

1.  Type your email address and name in the boxes shown below, and click on the button that says "subscribe."  Then follow the instructions in the email you receive from me based on your registration to confirm that you agree to receive messages about this project.  This registration process is part of a requirement to meet government regulations intended to prevent spam or unsolicited emails.  I will be sending emails using a program hosted by a company named “MailChimp.” You MUST do this step to receive important information and updates in the future.
2.  Click on the link below to download the registration form: http://files.kurtdesoto.com/IEP-RegistrationForm.pdf