The Fabric of Life

Cut from the Same Cloth: Bosque Arts Center Quilt Show offers diversity in 84 dazzling quilts from unique quilters stitched together by common passion

CLIFTON – Besides the obvious skill, creativity and time involved in making a quilt, on talking to quilters, you discover that each and every quilt has multiple stories to tell - how the specific technique proved a challenge to execute, how special symbols are sewn into the quilt, how certain fabrics hold memories for the quilter, the reason a certain quilt was made.

The 84 exquisite quilts from all over Central Texas on show at the Seventh Annual Bosque Arts Center Quilt Show June 11-12 were no exception – each quilt innately embodied this storytelling. And each story as unique and diverse as the quilter that made them, and as diverse as the techniques and patterns used.

Whereas these exceptionally beautiful show quilts are not for the traditional physical comfort, they all hold love and memories in each fabric, design and stitch. And if the quilt was made from fabrics that already held a history, those memories were even stronger. It is probably why quilters find it so hard to sell a quilt – so many memories they become heirlooms.

Like Molly Culp’s Best in Show quilt “Enchanted Garden” – much of the fabric came from her deceased son Mark’s stash. Maybe Debbie Stubbs subconsciously channeled her dear friend Nancy when choosing the colors purple and teal, some needle-turn appliqué and design for her quilt “Harmony.” Nancy Pugh, one of the BAC Quilt Guild founders passed away last year, and the Quilt Guild decided to offer a Memorial Award in her name.

Also in her honor and loving memory, Pugh’s quilts adorned the BAC Atrium walls where the Quilt Show Award Ceremony was held June 10. Her husband Bill, also a quilter, was honored to judge the award. According to the couple’s daughter Cindy Shockley, the quilt totally personified her mom.

“It is a blind judging,” Pugh said. “So I was so thrilled to hear it was Debbie’s quilt, as she is a very good friend of ours.”

The quilts were from novices to the quilt shows to some, like multi-award winner Judy Beskow. Her “Bird and Butterfly Garden” was a heavily modified pattern, with hand embroidery and yo-yos, with free motion graffiti quilting. She had her granddaughter’s name Joy sewn into the quilt, the fabric suppliers name and butterflies. Her “Texas Proud” using Texas wildflowers and other Texas scenes was represented at the Go Texan Quilt Show at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

Beskow usually has several WIPs – Work In Progress, from PhDs – Projects half Done – to UFOs - Unfinished Objects – going at the same time because she has HIPS – Hundreds of Ideas Piling Skyward and WHIMMs – Works Hidden In My Mind.

Which brings us to a common thread that connects quilters - quilters’ only jargon. Like any other hobby, sport or pastime, its enthusiasts use their own lingo, set of terms to set them apart from the others, the non-quilters.

A Honey Bun, a Jelly Roll or a Layer Cake are not baked goods like you would think, but names for coordinated bundles of pre-cut fabric strips or shapes, as is a Charm Pack.

Flimsy, Wonky, Crazy and Fussy Cut are not negative or demeaning terms in the quilters world, and Square Up has nothing to with line dancing. WOW is a special TOT as in White On White and Tone-on-Tone. Several silly acronyms are related to the separate pastime of shopping for fabrics and threads. A FART – Fabric Acquisition Road Trip or SEX – Stash Enhancing Excursion always end in PIGS – Projects in Grocery Sacks to grow the STASH – Special Treasures All Secretly Hidden to a SABLE – Stash Accumulation Beyond Life Expectancy.

The BAC’s Tin Building Theatre was transformed into a Vendor Marketplace offering stash-hungry and gadget-loving quilters the chance to visit with several vendors with “all things quilting,” and to view demonstrations of new techniques and appliances.

Even with computer sewing machines, quilting requires skill, precision, patience which is why most quilting is WISP – Work In Slow Progress and at the end of the road, most quilters will exclaim TGIF – Thank God It’s Finished! Because of the long and winding road to perfection and an award-winning, a much-admired quilt demands patience and precision. But any frustration is gone once a quilter picks up the next piece of fabric that screams to be used, or sees that challenging pattern throwing down the gauntlet.

Another common thread that binds quilters is that they call their favorite pastime therapeutic and excellent stress relief. When quilting, the mind concentrates on completing the task at hand, which lessens daily stressors, and with that, lowers blood pressure. And there are more benefits to quilting. Research published in the Journal of Public Health showed that making quilts helps people's cognitive, creative, and emotional well-being, particularly among older adults. Because of the mental activity, it can lower the risk of dementia, it can boost self-confidence and it improves hand-eye coordination.

“Quilting is better than going to the psychiatrist,” Best in Show winner Culp said with a smile, explaining why she quilts. “But every new quilt has to be a bit of a challenge.”

Former Tarleton State University Music Professor Steve Chambers was the only male exhibitor but he had four pieces on show. His grandmother and mother quilted and upon retirement he took up the activity, finding the hobby relaxing. And he was able to access a lot of their stash.

Chambers’ enormous “He Leads Me in Paths of Righteousness” purple, black and white, solvable labyrinth seemed simple, but on closer inspection was a highly complex and intricate pattern. This quilt was a perfect example of how quilting can be a geometry-rich learning tool, teaching symmetry, perspective, measuring, cutting, constructing patterns and how different colors can change a pattern. It won second place in its category.

“Life is a maze and we never know what is around the next corner,” Chambers explains. “But that need not be fearful as God lights our path – sometimes far into the distance – sometimes one step at a time.”

His other pieces were made for friends and family, incorporating their love for dogs and sunflowers – beautiful symbols of friendship, filled with loving memories.

Chambers’ “She Walks in Beauty” made for a dear friend also won a second place in its category.

“Ruby never met a stranger,” Chambers said. “She was the epitome of kindness, love to all, grace, and charm – delight to all who knew her.  She made the world a better place to live.”

Sadly, Ruby passed away a few weeks before Chambers was able to finish “her” quilt.

With all the creativity, love for colors and designs you would think the art and craft of quilting is all that matters. But quilters can be very competitive; sewing to win, sewing to improve, with each new quilt having the next challenge. At the BAC Quilt Show, besides judges’ recognition, thanks to generous sponsors $2150 in awards that were distributed to what were considered the best quilts.

Culp also won Best Original Design with “Flight to Freedom.” Culp was especially lucky to find the best possible backing material for that quilt – fabric with Lincoln’s Gettysburg address.

“That fabric was so right for the quilt,” Culp said.

No stranger to winning awards, Katherine Dossman produced a very successful, beautifully understated, expertly executed quilt “Modern Koi.” It won First place in its category Wall Hanging, and the NACQJ award. The NACQJ recognition qualifies the quilt to be displayed on the NACQJ website and it will be registered. The Special Artist’s Recognition Award is an award judged by other artists.

This year, area artists Lloyd Voges and Ann Patton agreed that Dossman use of color and design was worthy of the SAR award. They had a hard time choosing between that and another quilt from Rita Schormann called “Pieced Border Mystery.”

Quilting has evolved through the ages, with computer designs and sewing allowing the quilter to become even more elaborate creative, in less time. To balance this development, this year Carlisle Real Estate sponsored the new “Best Handwork” quilt.

“With all the computer work, we are losing the handwork skills like appliqué, needlework, embroidery and lace making,” Sidney Carlisle said. “This is why we wanted to sponsor this.”

Putting her money where her mouth is, Carlisle’s own “Butterfly Collage” was hand-embroidered and hand-quilted.  Her “Crazy For Purple” showed a multitude of embroidery stitches. She even had to hand-dye fabric and trim to have enough purple swatches to work with.

Because of COVID-19, the 2020 BAC Quilt Show was cancelled, making this year’s show extra special.

“The quilt show this year was the largest both in number of quilts and attendance since our first quilt show held seven years ago,” BAC Program Director Deb Phinney said. “I think the past year everyone endured actually provided some time for excellent quilt making and a reason now to come out and visit our show.”

And this year, once again men and women cut from the same cloth, bound by a common thread gathered to show their art and recognize that of other quilters. It brings a Chinese proverb to mind – “An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but it will never break.”

Photos by SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS

©2021 Southern Cross Creative, LLP. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

1 comment

  1. Saranne Penberthy 16 June, 2021 at 21:22 Reply

    The BAC Quilt Show article perfectly expressed all that the show encompassed…creativity, diligence, originality, and friendship. Thank you.

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