Tuesday, 7 January 2014

No Girls Allowed Quilt Bee - #NGAQB

About two months ago, my life changed forever. You see, a young man named Nicholas Ball (IG: @quiltsfromtheattic) contacted me, and we struck up a conversation. I was quite smitten with his aesthetic, and let's just be real: his adorable pug. Plus, it was pretty awesome to be talking to another male quilter in a female-dominated world. I had seen a few other men around, but it was always in passing, without an extensive dialogue happening.

So as Nicholas and I continued to engage, a wild and crazy idea began growing and nagging at me from that part of the brain that Paris Hilton usually lives in. I had already told Mr. Sparkles, "After three quilt bees this year, I think I'll give them a break next year. But, hmm… I wouldn't mind doing my own thang, somehow…" And then it hit me like a backhanded remark from a drag queen:


Could I be so bold? Was I asking for trouble for starting such a group in the face of a traditionally female-dominated world? Once embraced, would I now be forever ostracised by the female quilting community? Is this considered reverse discrimination? Is there an underground men's quilt club I wasn't invited to? What happens if... "Oh, fuck it! Let's just find out."

So I posted that image on Instagram (IG: @moll_sparkles), and 54 comments later, this wild and crazy idea, was beginning to become a reality. Followers starting tagging all the male quilters they knew, and quite quickly, a group of us formed. Then, weeks later as I was travelling through Japan, I sat down and composed an email to all of us, which basically said, "This shit is real, y'all."

There are now 14 of us. If there is a walk of life, we are from it. We have our own logo, hash tag (#NGAQB), private Facebook group, Flickr group, and are all active somewhere on social media. Oh, and guess what, January is our first month, and we are killing it! (You go, … um, … gurrl boooooyyyy!) Gosh, I haven't had a reason to say that one before! 


First on the roster is Mr. January, Sandy Greenberg. You might not know Sandy, but I bet you know his wife, Brioni Greenberg, a founding member of Fat Quarterly eZine. I sat down with Sandy for a quick Q&A, interspersed with the Lone Starburst blocks I made for him. He had this to say:
I’m Sandy Greenberg. I was born in 1969, while men were walking on the moon, in the suburbs of Chicago.  Being an only child I was given lots of attention and, since both my parents were teachers, my creativity was encouraged. I studied art in high school, at Illinois State University and finally got my degree from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.  I didn’t do much with it, other than get a job screen printing t-shirts. The creative bug was pretty much burned out of me. 
Fast forward a decade or two and after a pretty serious work accident (I sliced open my wrist cutting nine of twenty-two tendons, one of three nerves and one of the arteries) I met a lovely Yorkshire lass online. Days and sparks flew and I moved to Leeds, UK and got married in 2002. We have a lovely 4 year old boy who has been with us for 2 ½ years now. We also have three cats called Jimmy (13 ½), Maggie (5) and Norman Price (14 weeks). I like reading and watching Science Fiction, watching motor sports, travelling, and having fun with my boy.

I am married to the super talented Brioni Greenberg, aka Flossyblossy. She’s been a quilter for about 6 years. She is one of the founders of Fat Quarterly eZine and is co-author of FQ’s first book (the second is on its way). She also had her first solo book come out this summer, 25 Ways to Sew Jelly Rolls, Layer Cakes and Charm Packs. Having this influence in the house, and being constantly surrounded by fabric and projects it was pretty hard not to take an interest. 
I approach quilting as a technical challenge.  I am less bothered by the outcome and am more interested in the process.  I LOVE paper foundation piecing! I have no interest or love of fabric however. I pay no attention to lines or designers, just pretty colours and patterns. I’m a fearless skilled amateur. My second ever project was a pattern of curved flying geese of my own design and everyone thought I was brave and crazy. I just did it because no one told me that I couldn’t.  


I’m probably a modern quilter, I don’t really know. I tend to like uber-complicated patterns with small pieces and bright rainbow palettes. I chose the Lone Starburst block because I love it, but didn’t fancy making enough for a whole quilt. You can find tutorials here:  
My Social Media: 


Instagram: Curly_Boy1

Twitter: @Curly_boy1

And that, my lovelies, is how the No Girls Allowed Quilt Bee (#NGAQB) was formed, and where we are to this point. We don't mess around, and we are here this year to kick quilting boo-tay! It rocks the Casbah (LR!) chatting with other guys about quilting, and understanding what brought them to this fantastical place. By the end of the year we hope to show you a different perspective on quilting, all through the eyes of modern, male-driven quilts. We hope you'll join us on this journey.

January - Sandy Greenberg
February - Andrew Joslyn
April - John Q. Adams
July - Ryan Walsh
August - Shaun Abels
September - Giucy Giuce
October - Nick Ball
November - Scott Hansen
December - Joshua Helms
Floater - Chris Jones
Whip Holder - Andres Rosales

P.s. If you're a guy, and want in on some of this man-on-man quilt lovin', we've started a Facebook group called, Men Who Quilt. Come a knockin' and I'll gladly invite you in!

71 comments:

  1. Haha, brilliant! Even though I already have and have made a few blocks, this post makes it real!

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  2. Berry berry interesting! Good for you guys!

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  3. Who knew so many men quilted! Sometimes I feel a bit out of place at my LQS as apparently only old ladies quilt in my area but I hate to imagine how a guy feels in this creative arena.

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  4. Can't wait to see what you all get up to.

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  5. You go, guys!
    Very interesting to see who all these lovely guys are!
    Esther

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  6. A really great idea. Looking forward to seeing all you have to share.

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  7. What a great idea. I am going to love following your progress. I love the creativity of others and rather than feel left out, I feel like I am getting a look at a whole new world. You, my friend, are a genius!

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  8. Love, love, love those blocks!! It's that orange, blue and grey combo again - love it. I'm looking forward to following your bee's progress. I actually read Sandy's bio (I will admit to usually skipping through those things on blogs) and enjoyed it!

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  9. Well for heavens sake, why not have a guys only bee?! Looking forward to checking out all the great blocks, I love a good perve after all (at the blocks of course, although happy to look at more David Butler memes!)

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  10. I think this is awesome! All bees are formed around a common ground and sex is as good as any other as far as I'm concerned! I'm excited to see all of the awesome blocks that come from this bee :)

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  11. Kinda like a BOY BAND only more talented and interesting!

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  12. Have fun, I'm glad to have introduced you to Curly Boy, can't wait to watch from the sidelines!

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  13. Good job on throwing caution to the wind! Have fun guys!

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  14. Way to go boys! My son (almost 11) is interested in learning to quilt and has sewn just a few things with me. I was telling him there were a lot of men who quilt too. I told him about this and he's wanting to follow along and make himself a quilt with you all.

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    1. That is pretty awesome, Amanda! Tell your son I think he's super cool for wanting to make a quilt.

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    2. We all think this is totally cool Amanda and many of us are going to send your lad care packages! I've got some fabric I think he'd like. :)

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    3. Hey Amanda! Like the others, I just wanted to say how cool I think your son is. I've put a package in the post today with some fabric for him to mess about with. I'm sure whatever he makes will be awesome!

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    4. Hey Amanda. Like the others I just wanted to let you know how cool I think your son is. I've sent a package today with some fabric for him to mess around with. I know whatever he makes will be awesome!

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  15. Thank you for finding more men who quilt for me to check out. Too bad that you are not letting any of the women in, reminds me of real life.

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    1. This is a fun gimmick, not blatant sexism.

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    2. Really? That tends to be how trends start.

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  16. This is absolutely genius! What a fantastic idea! I'll definitely be keeping up on your progress. :)

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  17. This is a brilliant idea! I look forward to following along and cannot wait to get to "meet" you guys.

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  18. I think this is a fantastic idea! :)

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  19. Watching the progress will be very enjoyable. Some of us "old gals" will be jealous but it is a great idea! Have fun guys and to Erin: Some of us "Old Ladies" have some modern ideas! Watch us move!

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    1. I am sure some old ladies do have modern ideas but sometimes I don't get the service I deserve as the LQS ladies don't think I am a serious shopper!

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  20. Thank you so much for announcing this! I definitely feel the strain of being a male in a female dominated and oriented arena, trying to carve out my own niche in the mean time. I can't wait to see what you guys produce and will definitely be joining that FB group. (Instagram is just too much of a social media commitment to start up an account) ;)

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  21. Absolutely BRILLIANT! Love the January block - colors are bright and joyful. I can't wait to follow throughout the year. YEAH!

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  22. Ha ha! This cracks me up :-) I love it!!

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  23. who says that men shouldn't do needlework? So glad that you're doing this, showing off the talents of the guys who dare to be themselves - will definitely be following your progress this year

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  24. love love love what you Guys are doing, i'm looking forward to a year of the Male perspective, you go Booooys

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  25. This is awesome. I can't wait to see what you guys come up with!

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  26. Oooh, now why don't the girly bees get men with whips?! *sigh*

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  27. Way to go boys! Cannot wait to see quilting from a male perspective. This gonna be super! x

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  28. How much fun are you guys going to have, huh??!! Just hoping you'll still share your makes with us girls - can't wait to see what the boys do!! Have fun!

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  29. Sounds like a good plan to me! I'll be interested to see what you all come up with. :)

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  30. Wow! What a great intro to the NGAQB. I can't wait to read about next month's non-girl quilter. Sandy (and Molli) have set a very high bar! =)

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  31. Thanks for the great intro post, Molli! I'm looking forward to all the fun we're gonna have.

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  32. You have got an awesome group of bee mates! Love the idea and hope you continue to let us have a peek at what you are doing each month. Sandy is an amazing quilter, he was in a PIllow Talk swap at the same time as me last year and I was continually in awe of his work . You go Booooyyyys!

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  33. This is a great idea and I have no issues at all with being left out cos I am female. I am sure it takes a lot of guts for a guy to decide they want to enter into what is often perceived as a "female" hobby, but I hope that more do break down the barriers, and this kind of enterprise definitely opens things up a bit more. Just as we tell girls they can be mechanics, so we tell boys they can quilt!! And besides, no one gets uptight about the Saville Row tailors who are cutting and sewing, so I don't see why quilting should be any different! I am sure that many guys on the verge of joining this hobby will be quite pleased to see this bee taking place (and it might just be the "safe" way of them starting out too).

    Your blocks are, as always, just fabulous. I love the colours you have selected. I have never seen this design before but will now be storing it away as one of my future blocks!

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  34. I'll look forward to seeing what you all make!

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  35. AWEsome!! who'da thunk there were so many of y'all?? LOVE those blocks! Can't wait to read Mr. February's writeup! My hubby's learning about matching seams & cutting off points...he's ALWAYS helped me pick my fabrics and colors, and just last week, he helped me thread my serger. Yesterday, he bought me a new sewing machine. And he loves to watch me rotary cut (???why??). Think he'll be in next year's bee?

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  36. first time comment, long time reader here, but I just have to say you are awesome. Keep on sparkling and shaking things up in here. Your voice is an inspiration to all who just want to follow our own tune. thanks, man!

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  37. I can see a great future for NGAQB , :)

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  38. You crack me up. . . but I love this! Glad to meet the guys out there!

    Elizabeth
    opquilt.com

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  39. Your timing is impeccable:

    http://willywonkyquilts.blogspot.ca/2014/01/invitation-for-manifestations.html

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  40. I am so looking forward to seeing what you guys get up to.

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  41. Looking forward to future posts since this is awesome! You guys rock!

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  42. I am really pleased you have found a fab bee that you're really happy with but why did you have to bring gender into it? Sorry to piss on anyones chips here but yeah it is how misogyny gets started.

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    1. *sigh* Issabella you came all the way over here from Ryan's blog just to moan here too? This is so NOT how misogyny gets started. We are NOT anti-women. If you really believe that you really need to gain some perspective.

      Oh, and if you really felt "should respectfully bow out of the conversation at this point", why did you come over and comment again?

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    2. Check the time stamps. I came to Mollisparkes blog through blogger earlier on today prior to my email notification that Ryan had posted on his blog. I think you may need to gain some perspective yourself as it seems something is hitting a personal nerve as your comments aimed at me are overly personal and fairly condescending.

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    3. Sorry, I can't be bothered to check time stamps. Are you going to hit all of our blogs now too?

      The personal nerve you're hitting is that on the internet there is always someone who will be offended by something, no matter how innocent it is intended. Frankly I felt personally insulted that you would think that we were being misogynistic when we were being anything but. When I feel attacked I attack back. Simple. I can spend all day telling you how we're not being what you think we are but I can see it won't do any good. Believe what you want. Express what you want. Just be prepared to get it back when people think you're wrong.

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  43. To the naughty corner both of you! Issabella The Cat, I can understand how you may have misinterpreted the tone and title of our Bee name. This was absolutely considered. I had countless conversations with my other Bee mates, and even Mr. Sparkles about it. However, your interpretation is wrong. Curly boy, cease fire! I understand your passion and devotion to our group, and appreciate you standing up for what you believe in. But simmer down now!

    To both, I will write a blog post (hopefully today) further explaining why we did what we did. I love you both!

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  44. Boys, you go have fun and be the fabulous "male quilters" you were born to be! Haters gonna hate, the rest of us are going to just admire and cheer you on!

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  45. Great post, great project, great block! Looking forward to seeing what happens next!

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  46. I think this is just fantastic. I try to follow as many male quilters as possible as it breathes some fresh air into my own quilting. I cannot wait to see what you all come up with and look forward to all of the ideas your projects will generate for me. Go men!

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  47. This is amazing and it will be SO much fun to follow! Also, that block up there with the neon colors. Swoon....

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  48. Great post! Love to see this! Can't wait to see all your perspectives and styles! Loving it so far!

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  49. Great idea and a really fab first block! I am so glad the prez of our quilt guilt is participating -- we all love him, and I know he'll bee a terrific beester. BTW, when can we expect an NGAQB calendar??

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  50. Super cool, and people should just relax and let the guys have a bee if they want!!! Good grief.

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  51. I am far from offended by this all male quilting bee - I think it's awesome! Great way to show the world (well, at least the quilting world) that there are men who quilt. I will be following the progress you make on those bee quilts! I am glad too see most comments are positive. You go, boys!

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