Quality Quilts

Nearly 200 quilts, hanging like pieces of fine art, were on display during the 21st Biennial Quilt Show June 13 -14 at the Oakhurst Community Center.

The show, put on by the Sierra Mountain Quilters Association, was attended by more than 400 people from the the Mountain Area and the Central Valley who were impressed by the quality of workmanship and the variety of quilts at the show.

Co-chairs of the event were Virginia Corriea, and Sharon Cox, with an additional 17 association members serving on the show committee.

“The hot weather did not keep anyone home,” Cox said. “Attendance was about 420 people, including men, women and children, with a range of ages from 3 months to 95 years.”

Cox said the show raises funds for the charitable work the association does throughout the year including ‘Quilts of Valor,’ providing quilts throughout the country for wounded members of the military, and the ‘Cuddle Quilts’ program that donates quilts to Valley Children’s Hospital, Helping Hands Pregnancy & Parenting Center in Oakhurst, womens’ shelters, the sheriff’s office, and California Highway Patrol.

“We donate more than 400 quilts a year,” Cox added.

Corriea, who helped start the “Quilts for Valor” program within SMQA, said the show also provides a great opportunity for the public to see the beautiful work, and learn techniques from some of the best quilters in the area.

“The show also provides the chance for the 125 members of our guild to see the work of our other members,” Corriea said.

Corriea, who has been a member of the association for 15 years, was also the featured quilter at the show, with 30 of her pieces displayed on the community center stage, and another 20 on the show floor. Her quilts have won multiple awards and have been displayed nationally.

Although all the quilts have a unique story behind their creation, one in particular was very personal.

Sheila Bruner’s 54 X 67 inch piece ‘That’s Amore,’ depicted her husband’s mother and father standing in front of a Ford Model A in 1941, in Minnesota.

“After his father died in 2010 at the age of 93, my husband found a small black and white photo in his father’s wallet of his mother and father, Joseph and Dorothy,” explained Bruner, who owns Bruner’s Creative Quilt Works in Mariposa.

Bruner, who has been a member of the association for 12 years, said she loved the picture and the lifetime of love that it represented.

“I decided that I wanted to interpret it in a quilt, and used every technique that I knew to bring it to life,” Bruner explained, “including machine piecing, starched machine applique, fabric ink to draw the faces, and thread painting for the trees and bushes.”

She spent ‘several hundred’ hours designing, piecing, and quilting the piece over a two- month period.

The quilt was accepted to the juried Pacific International Quilt Show in Santa Clara in 2013, and was also displayed at the 2013 Utah Home Machine Quilt Show, and the 2014 Road to California Quilt Show in Ontario.

“There are many talented quilters in the area,” Bruner said. “Although this is a small show compared to ones in large cities, the quality of work of some of these quilters is comparable to the quilts found in the larger shows.”

Kathy Millhollon, president of the quilters association, said she’s amazed at the tremendous quality of quilting work, and the great success of the show.

The quilt show has been a tradition in Oakhurst since 1983. The association formed in 1981 with 19 members. 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.

The theme of the show was Sierra Blooms based on the beautiful opportunity quilt, “Colonial Cockscomb,” which was raffled off at the end of the show, raising $8,000 alone. The winner of the quilt was Barb Ashcroft from the Santa Barbara area. Twenty gift baskets provided by area merchants and eight sewing circles were also raffled off during the event.

Area quilters and Guild Members who won awards are:

* Small quilts: first place, Collette Wear; second place, Laura Fisher; third place, Georgia Taylor.

* Medium quilts: first, Georgia Harvey; second, Diane Ward; third, Rosita Cummings.

* Large quilts: first, Donna Henning; second, Sammie Baker; third, Virgina Corriea.

* Best of Show: Sinta Borland