by Kathy Huff Cunningham
The timeless art form of quilting will be on display from November 3 through November 22 at the Aiken County Historical Museum. For its 36th annual show, the Carolina Pine Quilters Guild has chosen the theme of “Patriotism.”
“We at Carolina Pine Quilt Guild are so pleased and excited to put on this show every year. It is our pleasure to share our art with the community and encourage others to explore this art form with us,” said Sandy Arbuckle, past president of the guild.
About 65 members are active in the guild, which meets on the second Monday of the month at 7:30 p.m. at Trinity United Methodist Church. New members are encouraged to attend and join the group.
“Our members share the skills and joys of quilting,” said guild publicity chair Tiajuana Cochnauer. “The guild was started in 1985 by a small group of women, several of whom are still active. We have expanded the group and also welcomed two men.” Many of the guild members have been exhibiting their craft in the Museum quilt show since before the group was formally begun. The Museum initiated the quilt show in the early 1980s, and while it still hosts the exhibit, Carolina Pine Quilters has assumed the responsibility of mounting the displays.
Education and “Show-and-Tell”
Carolina Pine Quilters holds mini-workshops to educate the members in specific skills. Members explore, learn and demonstrate new quilting techniques. “We don’t quilt during the meeting — it’s a show-and-tell time,” said Tiajuana. She went on to say that all members are encouraged to complete their “UFOs,” which means Unfinished Objects in quilting parlance.
“We have members who dye their own fabric, some who make their own patterns. Some quilt by hand, others by machine and several are adept at using long-arm quilting machines. Some of our members are professional fabric artists of national repute. We have a wide range of skills and interests at Carolina Pine Quilters,” she continued.
“I enjoy taking quilting classes. My quilt called My Blue Heron is the result of a class taken from Barbara Shapel, a well-known quilt artist at North Carolina Quilt Symposium,” commented Patsy Kaufman, who won 1st place in the art/innovative category for My Blue Heron in the 2014 Quilt Show. “She not only taught us thread painting, but also how to sew it so that the subject is portrayed on both sides of the quilt. The technique of thread painting is becoming one of my favorite techniques in quilting.”
The guild uses its dues to support educational and outreach projects, such as proving comfort quilts for children whose families have some sort of police involvement. Members also make place mats for meal delivery to shut-ins, quilts of valor for veterans, and support for the guild members who have current cares and concerns. In addition, they also teach the children at Helping Hands to quilt.
Quilting in America
Quilting has a three-century history in the United States, but its history far predates the American quilt. The term quilt comes from a Latin word, culcita, which means stuffed sack. Quilts traditionally have three layers that are sewn together. This “cloth sandwich” has a top, which is usually decorated, a back, and a filler in the middle.
Early colonists brought patterns with them from England and Holland. However, pioneer life was not leisurely enough for women to produce artistic quilts, and they mostly pieced together whatever was at hand to make warm, patchwork bedcoverings, without regard for aesthetics. Quilts of different sizes were also used to hang inside window frames and over doors to block drafts.
Patchwork quilts were originally utilitarian blankets, but over the years gave way to the more time-consuming appliqué quilts. (There are many fine examples of these latter quilts surviving today; they are family heirlooms or showpieces.) Customs in different areas of the country saw young girls making a baker’s dozen quilts in advance of marriage, or a mother preparing several quilts for each of her children to take when they left home to start life as adults.
In rural communities the quilting bee began as an adjunct to barn raisings or other big projects; they were social gatherings with a purpose. Women brought quilts to finish quickly with the help of neighbors and friends, with the result that many families returned home with a new bedcovering. Some of these groups eventually grew into quilting clubs or guilds. When commercially made quilts became popular, these groups kept alive the art of quilting and produced beautiful patterns that are still popular today.
“My love of quilting goes back about 40 years when I took my first three sessions class in an attempt to construct a small pillow cover. Outside of this class I have had very few structured classes. I can say I am basically self-taught. I love every aspect in the quilt making process. Beginning with the pattern choice, choosing the fabric, piecing, appliqué on through the application of the binding. I am drawn to a challenge. It helps me widen my perspective on the use of new techniques using the lovely fabrics, patterns and notions available today,” explained Nora May, who won in 2014 1st prize in the Bed Quilt category for her Celebration of Stars quilt.
Visitors to the Annual Quilt Show will find many fine examples of quilting in categories such as wall hangings, bed quilts, art/innovative, landscape, pictorial, miniatures, and other types of quilted art.
by Kathy Huff Cunningham