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Why The Sopranos Quilt Didn't Get Made

7 May 2008

As my friends know all too well, I am slightly obsessed with HBO's The Sopranos, and inspired by a recent call for entries for an upcoming show in Long Beach, I came darn close to formally entering an art quilt dedicated to my Jersey boys.

But there was only one event on this planet that could ever eclipse the need to finish this quilt on time: This past weekend Richard and Dorothy Bolton (my in-laws affectionately known to me as “Dot and ***”) celebrated their golden anniversary.


Months ago they proposed that we simply meet up for some grub at a local restaurant, but their five children and spouses, and 12 grandchildren knew that to simply go to dinner at the local steakhouse would never, ever do.

So we came up with a plan.

We schemed, we deceived, we laughed wickedly as we coordinated an evening of events that would knock their socks off and bring back feelings and memories for them of newlywed bliss. And what surprised their five children (and us in-law kids) was how our diverse talents and abilities could artfully come together to see this momentous event to its fruition. Case in point:

• The manipulative, persuasive minds of my sisters- and brothers-in-law who coerced the older grandchildren to baby-sit the younger grandchildren and all sleep under one roof so that us elderly folks could enjoy a night out in Boston. Thankfully, us elderly folks came home to houses that were not TP’d nor burned down, and to the best of our knowledge, nothing has been posted to the local police blotter. Yet.

• The stealth abilities of my brethren-in-law who successfully broke into my in-laws’ basement to steal photographs with my in-laws none the wiser. The end result was a hardbound, limited edition, 50-year record of family memories.  A hush descended upon the dining room suite at the Copley Fairmont Hotel as my in-laws opened the album when dessert was served. This picture says it all…


• The ability of everyone to laugh at ourselves and create our very own, homemade and family-relevant version of a popular trivia game. We devised our own categories, and each family was responsible for coming up with more than 100 questions and answers total for all six categories. My favorite category was Boltons Behaving Badly. Here’s a sampling of the questions:

-Who kicked a nun in the shins then ran away? (Diana)

-Who is the most accident-prone Bolton? (John)

-Who, while MCing the annual student musical event at her Jesuit university, had a wardrobe malfunction of the worst kind on stage in front of her professors, the university president (a Jesuit), her boyfriend, and future in-laws? (I’m not telling.)

Yours Truly was responsible for designing and creating the trivia game board and accessories, and I made it entirely out of fabric. I silk screened the categories onto the wedges, cut and fused coordinating fabrics to the base, and then thread sketched with black thread. Many thanks to managing editor Helen Gregory for binding! Here’s what it looked like:


In order to pull this off, I consulted heavily with my Quilting Arts co-workers and extended network of arty friends from Make It University!™. We thought the felted eggs from ArtGirlz would make hilarious game pieces for each of the families. (Get it? Eggs for offspring? I’m so deep.)


We hot glued toothpicks on the felt eggs for feet, and I altered photos of each family to place on top.  For game play, when someone correctly answers a question, another felt shape is added to the egg, so I needed to make sure I had enough felted pieces for all six categories.


Two days before the big event I realized I was short on felted supplies and left a rather panicked voicemail for the Art Girlz. Tracy called back and said, “Never fear, Pokey! The Art Girlz Rescue Squad is here for you!” They kindly over-nighted other felted bits to complete the game board, and thanks to the haunting yet up-tempo tunes of Radiohead's “In Rainbows,” I finished everything a little before 2:00 AM Saturday morning.


The evening went off without a hitch and it was a night none of us will soon forget. Mission accomplished. All of us at Quilting Arts are indebted to them. (Quilting Arts would never have happened if they didn’t give me space to launch a magazine.) And on a more personal note, I thank them for welcoming a kooky girl from California into the clan.

Some pictures:



Here’s to you, Dot and ***...





*A special thanks to our neighbors at Make It University!, Expressly Yours Embellishments for getting the personalized mugs together so quickly!

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Caron Mosey wrote
on 7 May 2008 10:11 AM
Oh my gosh, what a GREAT idea - a family Trivial Pursuit game! And the game board is awesome! Congrats on a great idea! Caron
Cheryl Sleboda wrote
on 7 May 2008 10:57 AM
I didn't finish my entry either, but please don't give up on the Sopranos quilt! I hope you still make it, even if it's just for you. What wonderful pictures of the anniversary celebration and the board game is so wonderful! Congrats Dot and ***!
Jamie Fingal wrote
on 7 May 2008 11:01 AM
What a loving tribute to your in-laws - the happy couple! A labor of love in the making of the game - beautiful - love the colors and of course, the ArtGirlz felted eggs! And screen printed! They are blessed to have you in their family!
Natalya wrote
on 7 May 2008 11:40 AM
what a wonderful time, congrats to Dot and ***! and I am looking forward to seeing that Sopranos quilt one day soon, surely that'll deserve a blog post...
Virginia Spiegel wrote
on 7 May 2008 2:03 PM
Pokey - What a night! How luck for Dot and *** to have you as part of their clan. Congrats on a Bolton extravanganza V.
leslie jenison wrote
on 7 May 2008 7:07 PM
That family trivial pursuit game may be the coolest thing I've ever seen. My congratulations to the golden couple, and to the organizers of a beautiful tribute.
Pokey wrote
on 8 May 2008 11:10 AM
Thanks for the kind comments, everybody! It really was a great evening and I loved that all of our talents came together as they did. My in-laws were blown away, which is exactly what we wanted. On another note, I now don't owe anybody a quilted anything so I truly am hunkering down to make my Sopranos quilt. I think I have a pretty good idea for it, and I don't think I'll rest until I see this through! Since I'm not going to enter it into any show, I'll post my progress from time to time for feedback. (Who knows...maybe I'll muster up the guts to give it to the Man Himself, David Chase!) Again, everyone thanks for the kind words.
Jane LaFazio wrote
on 8 May 2008 12:16 PM
Pokey, thanks SO much for sharing that wonderful evening and totally cool stuff. I thought the hard bound book was the finale, but then NO, a gorgeous trivia game from silk no less! Beautiful. I bet Dot and *** are over the moon with the lovely loving tribute you all paid them. xoxo Jane
Mary Lois Brugler wrote
on 8 May 2008 4:32 PM
Thank you for sharing this special event with us! I absolutely LOVED reading everything! How creative, warm, loving, and thoughtful!
Tina in Boston wrote
on 8 May 2008 8:50 PM
Oh my, this was a fantastic event. Congratulations on doing such a great job, and Congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Bolton!!
Sonya wrote
on 25 May 2008 10:40 AM
How beautiful and thoughtful! If only we all could be so remembered with love like that! Beautiful game board, but tell me WHO on earth is surprised??! ;o) Congratulations on making it work for 50 years and counting!
linda mckittrick wrote
on 9 Aug 2008 11:06 AM
Ritual to celebrate "finishing" art: I do - literally - a "happy dance" with a spontaneous chant or song that emerges from within for JUST this occasion. Then I put on the tiara that I got from Esterita Austin (Misty Fuse) at a workshop and march around a bit. Afterwards I am off to feed the chickens .... and return to daily life - sometimes I forget to take off the tiara and the chickens cluck a bit in wonderment at the gold sequins.