Quilty pleasures

Crystal Blue by event co-chair Donna Baxter took second place in the large quilt category. Donna has been a quilter for more than 20 years.
Crystal Blue by event co-chair Donna Baxter took second place in the large quilt category. Donna has been a quilter for more than 20 years. Sierra Star

About 115 quilts, hanging like fine art pieces, drew a crowd of more than 400 to the 22nd Biennial Quilt Show, put on by the Sierra Mountain Quilters Association (SMQA). The appreciative crowd stopped and studied each quilt, admiring and commenting on the creative placement of colorful fabrics and skilled workmanship.

Gail Esch, a quilter from Squaw Valley and first-time SMQA show visitor, said she especially liked the small pattern quilting and embroidery.

Mariposa resident Debbie Tucker said the event has inspired her to want to take up quilting again. “These quilts are magnificent ... just beautiful ... there’s so much talent here,” she said while admiring the Friendship Quilt.

“Back in the day, women didn’t have access to sculpting or painting,” said event co-chair Constance Peterson, “so quilting became their art. It’s a craft that has been passed down from generation to generation. It’s so nice to keep it going. Any age can quilt.”

Nancy Swanson has been a SMQA member for 20 years, and enjoys quilt work so much that she quit putting together jigsaw puzzles once she picked up quilting, saying that the process is similar.

Quilting for 40 years, Diane Ward was selected as this year’s featured quilter. The first quilt she created in 1977 was work-intensive, given that she had to cut each piece with scissors. Nowadays, it’s much easier and faster with special cutting tools.

The quilt show has been a tradition in Oakhurst since 1983. The association formed in 1981 with just 19 members; today there are about 120. The only qualification for membership then (and now) is a love of quilting (or sewing, needlework, or working with fabric in any manner).

The group meets monthly, holds two quilting retreats every year, and has hosted programs and workshops by highly talented, internationally renowned quilters and fiber artists.

SMQA is also dedicated to community service. Over its long history, the association has made and donated hundreds of quilts to service organizations, and also provides scholarships.

The theme of this year’s show was A Stitch in Time, and the opportunity quilt “Passing Fancy,” which was raffled off at the end of the event, was won by Ashley C. from Tulare, a member of both the Tulare and Porterville quilt guilds. There were also 13 baskets, mainly provided by sewing circles with a few from merchants, raffled off during the show.

Area quilters and Guild Members award winners were:

* Small quilts: first place, Georgia Harvey; second place, Penni Simily; third place, Collette Wear.

* Medium quilts: first, Collette Wear; second, Patty Cramer; third, Virginia Corriea.

* Large quilts: first, Patty Vincent; second, Donna Baxter; third, Kay Marshall.

* Best of Show: Patty Vincent