If there's one thing that life has taught me, it's always to "expect the unexpected". Well, I simply cannot imagine a better example of this than the tale I am about to tell.
Well, a few weeks ago, Moya visited a beautiful Tudor mansion close to where we live in southern England: it's a magnificent stately home and parkland estate called The Vyne which is owned and opened to visitors by an organisation called The National Trust.
Wearing her rosebud brooch, she spent several happy hours visiting the house and gardens, ending up in the property's enticing gift shop.
It was there that a member of the shop staff noticed and remarked on Moya's brooch. When Moya mentioned that it had been created by a friend of hers, the lady in the shop expressed great admiration and suggested that my quilling might be of interest to one of the managers at The Vyne. Telling me about this afterwards, Moya wasn't entirely sure whether that was because they might want to offer quilled items for sale in the shop, or whether there was some kind of exhibition coming up where quilling might be displayed ... but she passed on the name of a contact who turned out to be the 'Visitor Experience Manager' for the property, so I decided to get in touch.
The e-mail that I sent was necessarily vague, since I did not really know the precise context of the enquiry, nor the name of the lady that Moya had spoken to in the shop! Nevertheless, I took the opportunity to introduce myself and provided some links to photos of my work, not really expecting to receive any response.
Imagine my surprise, therefore, when the Visitor Experience Manager contacted me last week, expressing interest in my quilling workshops! In my e-mail, I had included a few lines about the history of quilling, which seemed relevant since The Vyne is such a historic property. Crucially, I had mentioned that the art of paper filigree was a popular pastime for young ladies in the late 18th Century and had been referred to in a famous novel of the time ('Sense and Sensibility') written by Jane Austen.
Well, it turns out that there is going to be a 'Jane Austen Day' at The Vyne on 21st July 2012 - and I have been asked to go there and demonstrate quilling!
They are expecting visitor numbers to be "in the thousands", so my standard two-hour workshop format for 10 people would not really be suitable. Instead, I am going to offer visitors a choice of two different quick 'drop-in/hands-on' quilling activities: firstly, to make a simple quilled gift tag that they can take away with them; and secondly to make a single quilled shape that can be added to the decoration of a picture frame (to be retained by The Vyne), just as it would have been done in Jane Austen's time. The frame decoration is also something I can be working on throughout the day by way of demonstration.
I see this as an excellent opportunity to spread the word about the art of quilling, and help bring it back into the public eye. It's also exciting to think that this might potentially open up other opportunities to promote quilling in conjunction with The National Trust. Bearing in mind the adage of "expecting the unexpected", who knows just where this is going to lead?