Crazy Quilt was a Canadian television program that aired from 1997-2011 and was aimed at children four to eight years of age. The show took young viewers on an adventure through the use of crafts, creativity, and storytelling.
Mimi Meckler portrayed “Maggie”as the host of Crazy Quilt and for the last 25 years she has been a teacher at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario,Canada.
She has taught a variety of courses in General Arts, Animation, and Theater Studies, and most recently has taught a course in a post-degree program which involves helping animators learn how to act and create little characters that can act.
Outside of teaching her hobbies include: Traveling, reading mystery novels, having an interest in languages, doing crossword puzzles, and go hiking.
Meckler got involved with Crazy Quilt when the producers from Treehouse TV sent out a notice, stating that they were looking for performers that could be the host of Crazy Quilt.
“I thought I’ll just go and try out, because they seem to be very open to who they were looking for and they didn’t know if they wanted a man or a woman. They were just looking for somebody who was a good fit.
So I went down and I auditioned and they asked me to make a very simple craft and tell a story, so I made the simplest craft and I told them a little story and it was really fun. I didn’t expect that I would get it at all. I guess I was nice and relaxed and they enjoyed that and asked if I would do it. I was delighted to do it,” said Meckler.
Since then Crazy Quilt has made an everlasting impact on many people, who at the time were young children, and are now adults.
“It’s funny when people recognize me and say her voice is really similar, and then in class someone gets it, and then whisper it to someone else, as in the show it’s just my voice and my hands, not so much my face,” said Meckler.
Meckler says the inspiration behind Crazy Quilt came from when the show’s producer Ricky Glinert, was looking at the various genres of shows that were for adults. She was wondering if whether or not those shows can translate into shows for children.
“She thought a craft show would be good because kids like crafts but would it be possible to come up with a craft that would be appropriate for really little kids, and trying to figure out how to do that, and then she realized that you don’t want to just have crafts but you want to have a craft with story. So she put those two things together and voila! You have Crazy Quilt.”
Crazy Quilt provided many valuable learning experiences which were educational for young children.
“The big thing about the show is that we had educators (people who helped school boards write the curriculum) and they worked with us as consultants, and so they were always available to us to talk about what a certain story could be about, what the appropriate level was, so we would talk about things like family relations, understanding your emotions, getting along with your friends, or learning about how the world works in terms of machinery bulldozers and stuff like that,” Meckler began.
“We tried to come up with crafts that were inspiring and flexible so that kids could make it at whatever level they wanted to, and they could see that sometimes I would try something and it wouldn’t necessarily work the first time, so Jackson would help me and say try doing it this way. We wanted to encourage people to feel comfortable to play, and then once they had the crafts, then to encourage their imagination, and so that is why we told stories.”
In addition to that educational component Meckler was joined by her raccoon friend named Jackson, who was a peer to all the young children that were watching.
“Jackson is the four year old. he’s the kid right? So he gets excited about things, he doesn’t know how things work, he tries to do things and they come out in his own special style so he’s someone for the kids to really identify with,”said Meckler.
The presence of Jackson also created a friendship that viewers could enjoy as they watched the show.
“I have to say that I had two friendships. I had one with the puppeteer John Nolan, and I had one with Jackson. In my mind they are two separate and wonderful people and they were both very special to me.”
Meckler then went on to share a memory of a magical moment that had occurred while on the set, due to everyone believing in Jackson.
“Jackson became a real feature on the set and I remember very clearly one day, we were on lunch break and I look over and there’s Jackson sitting at the counter and he’s reading a newspaper, and he’s turning the pages and I went ‘Oh! It looks like Jackson got a newspaper!’ And it took me a while to realize that of course puppets can’t read.
Nobody in the room reacted, so it was strange that everyone thought that was the truth: That Jackson was reading a newspaper on his break. Because we all believed in him.”
The taping of Crazy Quilt was all very fast. Meckler explained that they would do on average two episodes a day.
“We would rehearse a whole bunch of shows at the beginning of each session. We would rehearse a couple of weeks of taping just for us to know what the story was, and how to make the crafts. So once we had that under our belt, and then we’d go into taping for a week or two and we would do about two shows a day. So usually we didn’t get more than one take so what you see is what was actually happening,” she said.
While the show’s purpose was to educate young children, Meckler personally learned a few things herself.
“I learned how to make crafts. It was a fun thing for me and it was a challenge, and trying to help the craft designers to figure out what people who were not craft designers could and couldn’t do, I wrote a number of the stories so that was an interesting challenge: writing and trying to figure out what would be appropriate for our format and for our audiences.”
After Crazy Quilt ended, Meckler went onto other projects that were heartwarming.
“We did a few live appearances at special events and conferences so I would do some craft making with kids, and I did a couple of visits to Ronald McDonald House where they have families with kids who are ill and worked with them.”
Meckler shared what the most rewarding part was in being part of Crazy Quilt.
“Actually doing the rush and trying to get the show on TV and feeling so invigorated and exhausted at the same time was really special. And over the years various people who have recognized me and it was nice to know that the show was memorable and people really enjoyed it.”