Quilt Show Captivates St. Croix Valley

Beautiful quilts adorned the inside of the First Congregational Church this past weekend, many of which had personal meaning associated with them. Renowned quilter Bonnie Brown Hunter was on hand to sign copies of her book, Loon Lodge, while others, such as Julia Brady, demonstrated their craft. (Photos by Lura Jackson)

By Lura Jackson

 

Every time we make something, we imbue our creation with an aspect of ourselves – whether it’s our skill, our temperament, our interests, or our memories. Sometimes it’s a combination of all of the above. Crafted items that require a substantial amount of time to create become labors of love that transcend the meaning of their simple components. Such was the case with the dozens of finely-crafted quilts on display at the First Congregational Church in Calais over the past weekend, where the St. Croix International Quilters set up the always-memorable biennial show.

The soaring sanctuary of the church is never so colorful as when the quilt show is in town, and this year was no exception. The walls were lined with exhibit after exhibit of showcased quilts, each of them a work of art, while the pews were adorned with an array of patterned pieces – nearly all of them bearing a story.

One quilt, created by Lynda Duplissea for her brother, was based on the design of his tattoo. It contains a vibrant, glamorous peacock surrounded by fellow birds. Lynda wrote on its description: “He looks through a gate into the enchanted garden of family love.”

Another quilt on display was perhaps the most arresting in its appearance; it contained concert tee shirts from across the ages and, as such, was a simultaneous homage to classic rock. It was made by Liz Trouant at the request of her son, the owner of the tee shirts.

The importance of family and community was conveyed by each of the quilts, many of which were made as gifts or for special occasions. Handmade quilts have a uniquely comforting quality to them and, recognizing this, the St. Croix International Quilters distribute them appropriately when they can. Among the quilts were several placeholder signs, each representing a quilt that was made and donated to local hospice.

Quilting is a family affair in more than one way, as the 17 quilts made by local youth demonstrated. The names of some of the quilts spoke volumes about what intention went into their creation, from Mallory Stevens’s “Collaboration with my Grandmother” to Bailey Coulton’s “Red, White & Black for Dad.” Some of the youth worked together with their schoolmates under the instruction of staff, such as Princeton Elementary School’s project of a pink and blue baby quilt or Woodland Elementary School’s Grade 4 project.

The show provided several demonstrations over the course of the weekend, including Julia Brady’s example of producing gift ornaments for her family from her father’s Navy pants. She incorporates various touches, including a golf ball that he once used, and Navy trim provided by her son-in-law, into each piece. “It’s just fabric – you cut it, and it becomes a memory then,” Brady said.

Lynda Duplissea was on-site demonstrating hand quilting in the form of a wall hanging. The wall hanging was begun by a woman that attended her mother’s church in Florida, but she passed away before she could finish it. Lynda took over after the family expressed that they didn’t wish to keep it.

While there is a substantial amount of meaning involved in most quilts, there is also a great deal of skill involved in their creation. Among the most talented in the area is Bonnie Brown Hunter, who recently published Loon Lodge to enable others to recreate the iconic Maine quilt. Bonnie was on hand to discuss her quilts and sign copies of the book throughout the show.

 

If you’ve never been to the St. Croix International Quilters’ show, you’ll have to wait two more years until the next one – but if you’re a fan of thoughtfully-created art rendered in fabric, make a mental note to do so. Some of the area’s finest artists display their best works there.