Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Up Close and Personal With Tony Hoffman

 I live in a small town of about 9,000, well maybe 18,000 if you count everyone in our county.  So when the message came out that Tony Hoffman - yes, that's the Tony Hoffman of Hoffman of California - was going to address our newly-formed quilt guild, I was ecstatic!  Of course I jumped at the chance to see what was on his mind.

Turns out, it was batiks!  He and his factory manager Tim Watts from Bali, Indonesia, gave an hour-long presentation on how their batiks are made on tropical Bali. Pretty fascinating. He brought along a 'chop', which is the intricate hand-crafted copper form used to transfer the dyes onto the fabrics to create those wonderful prints and effects we've all grown to love.  Workers dip these chops into the waxed dyes and then stamp the fabric. Over and over and over, yard after yard after yard. No wonder batiks cost a dollar extra per yard in the stores.

The sad thing is, I forgot to bring along my camera.  And what's a blog without pictures? So not wanting to disappoint, I did the next best thing and I took a photo of this.

 It's what I got in my sample bundle that he gave away to all that attended.  How fun is this? 

One interesting fact I learned is how they ship their fabrics to the states.  All the batiks are created in 15-yard lengths. Then a seamstress sews three of these 15-yard lengths into one large 45-yard length which is then rolled to make a large bolt for shipping. Once it reaches Mission Viejo, California, workers then cut the large bolt back down to 15-yard bolts to send out to their retail shops.  If you look closely at the bottom of this purple batik in the photo below, you can see the stitching from the factory.

Tony Hoffman also brought along sample swatches of all their current batik collections. They were stunning! I felt like a kid in the candy store - ah, the possibilities....

 But the one collection that caught my eye the most was the fabric that makes up the 2013 Hoffman Challenge collection. OMG (I know OMG is over used these days, but it is appropriate here) - they are absolutely gorgeous!  Since I didn't get a photo of them, the next best thing was to take a picture of the Challenge brochure, just to give you an idea of what I'm talking about. I don't believe the fabrics have officially been released yet, but will be sometime later this month.

Rich teals, aquas, golds and greens - for those of you who are up for the Hoffman Challenge, I know you'll have a blast using these fabrics. I won't be creating anything for the Challenge, but I'm certainly going to come up with some projects to include these gorgeous fabrics.

Now that I'm finished gushing over the presentation, I wanted to share with you one point that I found very interesting. Tony Hoffman said that within five years, 60% of the fabrics shipped out for retail will be pre-cuts.  60%!  That's a tremendous trend for the industry. To address that usage, the Hoffman company has purchased new cutting equipment to make precision packs. In addition to their famous Bali Pops (2-1/2 inch strips), they are introducing Snaps and Crackers to compete with Layer Cakes and Charm Packs.  So, maybe they'll soon be known as the Snap, Cracker & Pop company!

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