By Amelia Tarallo
Hometown Weekly Staff
Have you ever seen an art quilt? What about a pineapple quilt? What about a banana quilt?
If you’re an experienced quilter, these phrases probably make sense to you. If you're not, then it may be a good idea to check out your local quilting guild to find out more.
On Wednesday, August 18, Bird Park played host to the Rhododendron Needlers Quilt Guild (RNQG), where members showcased their quilts and the techniques they use to make these wonderful pieces of art.
A crowd gathered at the stone music court to watch the showcase. Some had planned to be there, bringing seats and picnic blankets, while others paused their regularly-scheduled walks to catch a glimpse of some of the quilts. The showcase was the first for the guild, and it didn’t disappoint.
There were close to 20 quilters who showed off their skills during the proceedings, representing about a quarter of the total membership of the guild. Each one came with a unique combination of fabric types and techniques in the finished product.
Jacquline from Sharon showed off one of her quilts with a funny anecdote. “This quilt was my very first completed quilt," she said. "It took a long time. It actually started as a jacket class,” she said, getting some laughs from the audience. Instead, Jacqueline made what is known as a log cabin quilt. “A log cabin is where you start with a centerpiece and you add a piece to that dimension, and then you keep adding and working around like you're building a log cabin,” Jacqueline explained. As a new quilter, she added multiple borders and accidentally added appliqué to the back (a no-no when working with flannel fabric). On the top of the quilt, Jacqueline had added a bird with a cat at the bottom. “I call that one, 'The One That Got Away,'” said Jacqueline as a parting thought. The trials and tribulations of her first quilt are a wonder compared to her "Poppy", an art quilt that hung in the New England Quilting Museum just two years ago.
Carla came onto the stage while fellow members held her large quilt. “This quilt that you’ll see momentarily started out as a small wall hanging," she began as the quilt unfolded, earning a laugh from the audience. “And it was supposed to go to my daughter, who likes octopi.” The queen-sized quilt was one of the most detailed quilts of the evening, using collage techniques to produce different-looking textures on the fabric.
One could spend all day picking out favorite quilts, many of which took months (and in some cases years) to create, and the stories behind them; there simply wouldn't be enough room in the newspaper.
The quilting showcase represented the first time the guild had been back together since COVID-19 began. Members were there to support one another and demonstrate their love for the craft to those who may not have much experience with quilting.
“I think people were really happy to see each other, and be outside,” said RNQG President Venera Emmi. “This really came out of the COVID experience. Each meeting has a show-and-tell, but that’s just getting up in front of fellow members, so they're accustomed to it to a certain extent.”
Rank-and-file members of the Walpole community, however, were anything but accustomed to the bright-colored RNQG quilts on display at Bird Park. To that end, the showcase allowed attendees to appreciate the great care and passion put into creating these works of textile art.