Thursday, June 07, 2012

Meeting Tula

"She's just a kid, Byron!"  Of course, he asked who I was speaking of.  This was about three years ago, shortly after I discovered the fascinating fabric designs of Tula Pink.  I was amazed at her youthful talent and remain so.

Fast forward to the present, where I met new friend Lee in a Flickr swap group.  Lee noticed I live in the Winston-Salem area and so does her mother.  Long story short, Lee is the person who told me Tula would be coming to sign books and speak on June 6 (small world!)  I called my sponsoring LQS and got signed up.  Over the next month, Lee and I counted the days and squealed (via text) with our excitement.
Original drawing and board for Hushabye owl pattern
Yesterday afternoon, I went to the book signing.  I took some fabric and my new book by Tula.  There were only a handful of people in the shop, I didn't have to worry about monopolizing her time.  I told her I was a true Tula Pink nerd, as I read her blog, interviews with her, and anxiously anticipate the release of whatever line of fabric that I have heard is coming out next.
Book signing with Lee's mom
I told her how much I enjoyed the drawings she did by hand when she started the process and she asked me if I was coming to the talk later that night.  She brought all of her drawings!!!
Original drawing for Neptune line
The event was a Graylyn International Conference Center.  The name sounds like it might be a mega-sized complex, it's actually a palatial old home, turned into a venue with several intimate settings.  We met in a parlor-type room, with a wine and cheese try on the back of a grand piano.  There were probably 100 people there.

Tula shared all about the fabric design process from her perspective.  She told the stories that she imagined when she created several of her lines, including Parisville and Nightshade.  Here are a few other things I learned.

  • Is Tula Pink her real name?  She says, "it is now!"
  • By the time she graduated from college, Tula was the executive art director at major recording company.  It's a long story, but the woman is driven.
  • There really is a huge difference in big box store fabric vs. quilt shop fabric.  Minimum thread count requirement for quilt shop fabric is 72x72 threads per square inch.  For big box stores, the minimum is 18x18 threads psi.  They are actually two separate industries, run altogether differently than each other.
  • It takes about 18 months from the inception of a design until it is on the bolt and ready to sell.
  • When presenting a design for production, her color palette is paint chips, yes, that kind (she has boxes of them from the same places you get them. :)
  • Tula lives on a 600 acre farm she owns in Montana, aka Big Sky Country.  She was afraid to go to the grocery (over an hour's drive away) for fear of never being able to find her way back home.
Quilt from recent market, made with Birds and Bees line
Back of the Birds and Bees quilt
Tula is entertaining, personable and captivating as a speaker.  She's funny too.  It was a wonderful, fun day! 
Saltwater!  This is the design that is currently on Tula's drawing board.
It is her 100th design: a composite of the best of faves and all her work so far .  It will be in stores next year.


  1. She is talented! I loved your post about her and the great pics.

  2. So glad you had an awesome day!=) Thanks for the lovely information.

  3. Thanks for sharing Teri..very interesting, and a very talented person indeed!

  4. Great post! I love Tula, as well and really enjoy her work. So fresh, so unique. Thanks for sharing your visit with her! (I think in another life her name was Jennifer - she's much better as Tula, though :))

    1. Thanks,ladies. Taya, before I went to see Tula the other night, I was googling to find what her name used to be (I had read it before at some point.) I came across "Jen" so, I guess that was the shorter version. I think it would be great if you got to rename yourself around age 20... might solve lots of issues one had accumulated by then. ;)

  5. Wonderfully talented - inspires me to want to sketch

  6. Wow! Lucky you! Just found this on google. I love her fabrics they are such a story telling kind of art! I can't have a favorite line because they all speak to me differently. Thanks for sharing this story! Pam