Teaching & Judging in Brazil

In November, 2007, I had the priviledge of traveling to teach and judge at a quilt festival in Gramado, Brazil. My husband David traveled with me and this was one of our most memorable trips. Gramado is in the southeast portion of Brazil. We had to fly to Sao Paulo and change planes to Porta Allegre. Portuguese is spoken in Brazil. The airport in Sao Paulo was one of the largest airports I’ve ever seen. I was so thankful that David was with me on this trip. He helped me navigate through the long lines at the airport. We discovered that our plane for Porta Allegre was at an airport on the other side of the city so we took a bus to get there. Once in Porta Allegre, we were met by a driver who took us on a winding 3 hour drive up the moutains to Gramado.

Gramado is a quaint city in the mountains with wild hydrangeas growing everywhere. It has the look and flavor of a German/Swiss city becaue during World War II, many Germans and Swiss migrated to Gramado. There are chocolate factories, glass factories, large miniature displays, year round Christmas displays and wonderful restaurants scattered in the town.  Each year, Gramado hosts the Brazilian Film Festival. It also hosts the Festival of Patchwork and Quilting. Quilt makers come from all over South America to attend this week long festival.

The quilt makers in South America are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. They are also some of the most creative quilt makers. Their quilts varied in style and technique. Quilt making in Brazil is fairly new. They do not have the long history of quilt making that we have in the United States. I saw more original designs and art quilts at this festival than I normally see at shows in the U.S. The Brazilian quilt makers seem to be free in their approach to designing because they don’t have years of traditional quilt making and rules to hold them back.

They also do not have access to the variety of good cotton fabrics that we have in the U.S. Because of their high import taxes, good quality cotton fabrics average $25 per yard in Brazil. The quilt makers often add a lot of machine threadwork and embroidery to their quilts to cover the poor quality of fabrics that are available in their country.

I have included a variety of photos from our trip to Brazil for you to enjoy. You will see quilts from the show and my students (including an 8 year old student who did really well in my class.) There are photos of a glass factory we visited, the surrounding mountains, a miniature display of Frankfurt, Germany and the festival banquet, complete with Gauchos cooking and dancing through the night. If you ever have a chance to go to Brazil, I would highly recommend it. It is a country with a variety of regions and some of the best people you will ever meet.

To view an individual photo, click on the photo and it will enlarge. To view all of the photos in the gallery as a slide show, click on the green words that say “view in pic lens.”