Teaching and Exhibiting Abroad: Nadelwelt Quilt Show with Paula Nadelstern

Quilt artist, instructor, and author Paula Nadelstern shares some tips for teaching and exhibiting work abroad.

From May 22-25, 2014, I taught three days of classes and exhibited 12 quilts at NADELWELT, an annual quilt festival run by Partner Medien, a magazine publisher and distributor, in Karlsruhe, Germany.

Nadelwelt Exhibition Hall, Karlsruhe, Germany
NADELWELT Exhibition Hall, Karlsruhe, Germany

Some of you already know that my last name means NEEDLE STAR in German. How self-important and improbable that probably seems to some who read the promotional signs announcing PAULA NEEDLESTAR AT NEEDLEWORLD. At least ten people asked me if I made up my last name and another bunch wanted to know if I was aware of its meaning in German. (For the record it is my husband’s family surname; his father was born in Poland.)

Paula Nadelstern quilt at NADELWELT Exhibition

Paula Nadelstern fabrics

Here is my take-away about teaching and exhibiting abroad.

1. Do it. Preparation is time consuming, even stressful, but the perk of getting to know another culture through the camaraderie of quiltmaking is worth it.

BERNINA International booth at NADELWELT


Andrea Heller, Paula Nadelstern, Regina Klaus
I look like a miniature person! With Andreas Heller and Regina Klaus from BERNINA International


Owner, Rotterdam Quilt Shop
Shop-owner from Rotterdam in the vendor mall, with a quilt and fabric from my PALINDROMES collection

2. Even though one airline offers a seemingly lower price per flight than another, check to see what the baggage allowance costs are. In the end, the flight that seems less expensive at first might turn out to be more expensive with add-ons. For example, although the first suitcase on Air Berlin was free, the second cost $200 and I needed a second for my class story boards. Also, Air Berlin charged to reserve a seat in advance, a new sneaky practice.

Paula Nadelstern, NADELWELT Exhibition
Paula in the classroom with her wonderful translator, Paula


student quilts
Student quilts. Two different simple blocks rendered in complex fabric using ideas from Paula’s book: PUZZLE QUILTS: Simple Blocks, Complex Fabrics

class sign

3. Immediately upon receiving an invitation to exhibit, find out whether the venue will pay for shipping the quilts both ways. Insist on this. And find out if they plan to insure the quilts while in their possession.

Paula Nadelstern quilt

Paula Nadelstern book signing

4. For shipping class supplies, books and quilts abroad, use FedEx Great Rates. Packages must weight over 11 lbs; you must have a FedEx account (easy to get). The original quote at a FedEx Shipping Center for three boxes of class supplies and books weighing 75 lbs altogether was close to $700. I called the Great Rates Hotline on Monday to ship Tuesday and the price was $191 (64% off). By the way, when I brought the packages to an authorized FedEx store, the guy at the counter knew nothing about Great Rates but my receipt printed out with the Great Rate discount price.

GREAT RATES HOT LINE: 877 463-7408; http://ask.van.fedex.com/learn/great-rates

5. When shipping quilts, try not to attract attention to these packages containing our priceless possessions. Write: EXHIBITION MATERIALS, NOT FOR SALE.

sewing machines on cart
Heidi, the helpful BERNINA classroom mentor, collecting all of the sewing machines after three days of classes.
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