Stunning Stitching Celebrated

My soul’s fed with a needle and thread: Eighth Annual Quilt Show offers exquisite fabric art designed by master quilters from across the state at the Bosque Arts Center

CLIFTON – For many quilters, working on a quilt is an integral part of their mental well-being. Their quilting is an anchor in an otherwise hectic day, a way to get their mind off the day’s challenges. The feeling of achievement when they finally finish their project after hours and hours of designing, cutting, sewing, piecing, adding batting and more sewing, gives a dopamine rush they do not get with other activities.

With the motto “My soul is fed with a needle and thread,” the Bosque Arts Center annually celebrates the superior stitching of quilting stars with the Quilt Show. It celebrates the colors, the fabrics, the diverse styles, patterns, designs and techniques of quilting

At the BAC’s Eighth Annual Quilt Show held June 9-10, master quilters once again had the opportunity to show their exquisite works of art to the public and win a prize or two. Over 60 splendid fabric art blankets were on show to admire and be in awe about. The popularity of the show which started in 2015, drew a steady stream of 400 visitors over the two-day show. Usually Saturday stands out as the busiest day. But this year was an exception with Friday drawing the most visitors.

Sharing their love for all arts and crafts, eight-year-old Reign Ross came with her grandmother Denise from Hewitt. Showing her pretty quilted hairclip bought at the show, she thought the show was “cool,” and “a lot of fun,” proving that quilting is not an art of the past.

“I have so much respect for the art of these quilters; their work is so beautiful” Denise Ross said, adding that she “mends, not sew.” The duo took the opportunity to visit the Ronald Jones Memorial Art Gallery on the BAC’s second floor, which houses the BAC’s permanent art collection.

Many of the quilters were on hand, as well as the “white gloves” – the volunteers explaining the quilts to the Quilt Show visitors – in the BAC Quilt took their time to show the backs of the quilts, to explain the intricacies of a certain design or technique.

“The craftsmanship and beauty of the quilts never ceases to amaze me,” BAC Program Director Deb Phinney said. “Once again this was a good show, with some really lovely quilts.”

Having the BAC Quilt Show juried by the National Association of Certified Quilt Judges lends credibility to the show as well. Substantial prize money in each category help defray the cost on making a quilt. Created in 2015, the NACQJ represents a group of quilt judges “Honoring excellence in quilts; encouraging success for quiltmakers.”

The certified judges believe in fairness, objectivity, a positive approach, and a broad and very deep knowledge of quilting techniques, color, design, and history. These qualities allow all quiltmakers to receive a consistent, meaningful critique as well as recognition of skill and achievement for the ribbon winners. The NACQJ feels the quality of quilt judging should match the dedication, time, and skill devoted to the creation of the quilts they evaluate.

Judge Sandy Gard from Oklahoma loves coming to the BAC Quilt Show, saying the superior quality of work always makes her job harder to do. And the quilts are as diverse as their creators. Gard awarded Best of Show to Elaine Smith’s “Through an Open Window.” It was not made from an existing pattern. Figuring out the geometry and making it all come out was a big challenge.

Smith also won the Judge’s Choice Award for her quilt “Hummin and Strummin,” a whimsical quilt created with many different funky fabrics making different colored guitars on a black background.

The medium-sized, machine-pieced, computerized, long arm quilted by Steve Chambers was a stunning panel of a tree seen through an open window with striking sunset and sunrise colors. The peaceful vibe made it volunteer Barbara Holt’s personal favorite.

Chambers usually enters quilts of his own in the show, but this year chose to collaborate in several projects. A retired music professor he provided the beautiful piano music for the awards ceremony on Thursday playing classics like “Over the Rainbow,” “As Time Goes By,” and “My Fair Lady.”

Quilters are a close-knit community, passionate about their hobby, and creative outlet. They detail their quilts to perfection – right up to the dragonflies or elephants in the border stitching, or using left-over fabric to create another complete image on the back of the quilt. Many of the quilters at the BAC Quilt Show know each other. They come to admire their fellow quilters’ creations, but also to be part of a network, a meeting of like minds and an exchange of information, tips and tricks.

On Saturday, Chambers enjoyed watching Judith Stone’s demonstration of some embroidery stiches at the BAC Quilt Guild booth, and talk about the best thread to use. Not surprisingly, Stone won the category Best Hand Quilting with the quilt “Baby Girl.”

NACQJ Certified Judges have the option of awarding a NACQJ award to one quilt achieving recognized standards of quilt-making excellence. Gard awarded this special recognition award to Teresa Nickell’s “Street Song,” inspired by old Italian or Spanish tunes called “Passacaglia.” With all the different colors in the design “La Passacaglia” by Willyne Hammerstein, Nickell imagined it dancing in the street – hence the name.

The quilt will be displayed in the company of other specially recognized quilts in the carousel on the NACQJ website. The intricate quilt with a multitude of different sized circles bursting with color also earned Nickell the People’s Choice award. She also won first place with her quilt “Little Log Cabin,” in the Miniature category.

Nickell learned quilting from her mother at the young age of 10. While she also takes orders for quilts, she mainly quilts out of passion and likes to experiment with all different styles and categories. She’s always on the look out for different patterns, which she will tweak into something original, then settle in front of the television or with some good music in the background she works her creative magic.

But as her personalized mug states “If you see me with a seam ripper, now is not the time.” With a lot of her children’s generation expanding their families, this year she was sewing a lot of baby quilts, and she is ready to make something “out of the box.”

A believer in adding different types of embroidery to her quilts, Nickell’s good friend Sidney Carlisle won second place in the category “Best Handwork,” with her quilt “Crazy for Purple.” All the different stiches and quirky additions made it volunteer Belinda Prince’s favorite.

“Every time I look at it, I see something new and different,” Prince said, pointing out a little spider, a violet, a piece of ribbon and lace, a tatted butterfly, knots and appliques.

Nancy Pugh was one of the original members of the BAC Quilt Guild and provided quilting classes at the BAC. After she passed away in 2019, the BAC Quilt Guild instated the Nancy Pugh Memorial Award, which went to Lavonne Mills’ “Under the Stars Sewing Sewcial 2022,” a traditional patterned quilt, invariably with Nancy’s favorite color purple.

From the very beginning of the quilt show, a special and uniquely created award the Special Art Recognition award, pays homage to the show’s art center roots. Judges are asked to work together and select a quilt they believe is deserving of an award based on their painter’s view of art in quilt form. This award incorporates two area artists in the judging process.

Over the years, the show has been lucky to have the talents of judges Mary Ellen Boren, Tony Eubanks, Kathy Tate, George Boutwell, Betty Graham, Nancy Boren, Lloyd Voges and Martin Grelle, Jo Beck and Robert Fobear. This year local artists Judith Baker and Mike Irvinehad the honor to judge the quilts on their artistic quality. The SAR Award went to Christine Poen with “All Around Town.” Poen also won first place with her “Harbor Sights,” and “Granite City.”

Also falling into the category that quilting is a true art form, is the Best Original Design Award. BAC Art Patron’s Ronald and Joyce Jones awarded this to Marie Walsch’s “Hidden Waterfall.”

Quilters enjoy meeting up with quality vendors at shows. Vendors are a key element of any quilt show, providing quilters and show visitors an opportunity alike to shop for beautiful fabrics, get information on the latest computerized sewing machines and other hobby-related stuff. For quilters sharp scissors are a must and a tool sharpener was on site for their sharpening needs. Many of the vendors had quilts in the show also.

The BAC Quilt Show thankfully kept a large number of their trusted vendors. Due to dwindling numbers of vendors, some larger quilt shows have been cancelled. The dwindling numbers are attributed to the higher cost of travel and more making participating in a show less profitable

Other awards went to Carilyn Alarid for her “Scarlet Macaw Bowl” in the category Domestic Machine Quilted; Best Long Arm Quilted, Computer for Stacy Clady’s “Metro Rings;” Best Long Arm Quilting, hand-guided went to Janice Forney’s “Bird Song,”

Other category winners were Katherine Dossmann with “Blame the Catnip,” “Cecelia’s Blooms” and “Ghastlie Swirls;” Ruth Ellen Fise with “Alex Anderson BOM,” and “Dear Jane -1930s Style;” Cheryll Lundberg for “Yee-Haw,” and “Presents from Santa;” and Charlotte Massey for” Sawtooth Srar Exchange.”

And each year there is the prized quilt raffle – the chance to take home a beautiful quilt. This year’s large special quilt “Forest Floor” evoked the beautiful colors of fall and the comfort of cooler temperatures. Cheryll Lundberg pieced the Wing and a Prayer Design, with quilting by Joyous Stiches.


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