Many of the best-known quilters in the world are quilt teachers. Whether these famous quilters design fabric, write books, produce patterns, or invent tools, teaching quilting is a key element of many successful quilt businesses. But, have you ever thought about the lifestyle of a quilting teacher?
When you’re at a quilt guild meeting watching an amazing program, have you considered the number of hours spent making stunning quilts to entertain and inspire your group? How about during a well-executed workshop, have you ever contemplated what the quilt teacher does to prepare for class?
This week, we will begin exploring various aspects of teaching quilting for a living in a multi-part series. First, we will focus on the lifestyle of a quilt teacher. In the coming weeks, we will explore the financial aspects of teaching quilting. We will examine how the global pandemic has shaped the industry, and learn about a variety of ways quilt teachers connect with their students online.
Meet Lyric Montgomery Kinard, Owner of Lyric Art
I was fortunate to sit down and talk with Lyric Montgomery Kinard the savvy businesswoman and artist behind Lyric Art. Lyric lives in Cary, North Carolina with her husband of 31 years, and 3 of their 5 children. Like many moms, Lyric has supervised her high school children’s virtual schooling during the pandemic.
Lyric started sewing when she was 11 years old. By high school, she was making her own clothes. She wasn’t bitten by the quilting bug until she was a young mom. A friend invited Lyric for some grown-up time at a quilting bee. She was instantly in love with quilting.
Teaching Quilting for a Living
Lyric has teaching in her blood. Both of her parents were public school teachers. Lyric is the oldest of six children. Today, 4 of the 6 are teachers of some sort. When she decided that she wanted to earn enough money to be able to buy beautiful fabric without hurting the family finances, teaching was the obvious choice!
Lyric is known as a leader in the quilting industry. She is an award-winning quilter, published author, and the 2011 International Association of Professional Quilters Teacher of the Year. She has also appeared on Quilting Arts TV and The Quilt Show, and written numerous articles for Quilting Arts Magazine. To describe Lyric as very accomplished in her field would be a huge understatement!
The Importance of Building a Support Network
I wondered how Lyric manages to balance her busy teaching schedule and the needs of her large family. She explained that the key to her success is her support network. Whenever Lyric faces a challenging situation in her life, she creates the solution by partnering with others.
When her children were preschoolers, she found a way to have some focused time without them. She partnered with two moms from school and established a carpool. On Lyrics’s day to drive, all of the kids played at her house after preschool for a few hours. On the other two days, the kids played at the other homes. Meanwhile, Lyric could focus on developing her art, and building her business without interruption.
Scratching the Itch To Travel by Teaching Quilting
Lyric was partially attracted to teaching quilting for the travel opportunities. She began traveling and teaching at quilt guilds about 12 years ago. At the time she still had young children, so Lyric limited her bookings and the distance she would go. She called upon her support network to ensure her children were well cared for in her brief absences. After 10 years of traveling to teach, Lyric began getting opportunities to travel and teach internationally.
Extensive Travel Preparations
Preparing to travel as a quilt teacher can be a very involved process. Lyric uses a spreadsheet, refined over many years, to manage all of the details of her bookings. Guilds are run by groups of volunteers who divide up responsibilities. Lyric may discuss details of a particular trip with up to 5 different people. Just handling the administrivia of a single booking can take between 2 and 8 hours.
When it is time to travel, Lyric spends an entire day packing her luggage, maxing out the 50-pound weight limit on her 2 checked bags. She also hauls a 70-pound carry-on! (shhh don’t tell the airline – and definitely don’t try this on international flights!) Rounding out her ensemble is a rolling briefcase that holds her audio-visual equipment.
She spends another day packing and shipping items to the guild representative before her arrival. Lyric takes publications, kits, and supplies to sell. The sales of these products represent a substantial portion of her income. She generally spends at least half a day traveling on either side of the event.
Is It Worth It?
Getting to the venue sounds like an exhausting process for a traveling quilting teacher. Lyric assures me that once she arrives, the effort has all been worth it! In her experience, quilt guilds treat their visiting teachers like rock stars! Especially as a young mother, Lyric enjoyed a break from her maternal responsibilities. She enjoys what she does so much that it feels a little like a vacation.
Join me next week, as we continue talking with Lyric about the financial side of teaching quilting for a living.