Patchwork Art

Rising Sun to hold ‘Quiltfest’

Event celebrates the history,
future of local quiltmaking

(March 2014) – “It used to be quilts were the only thing of beauty in these log cabins,” says quilter Betty Ann Pavy. While created out of necessity to keep the family warm on winter nights, the beauty of old quilts continues to inspire new generations of crafters. Whether admiring an antique quilt in a museum or putting a new spin on an old pattern, modern quilters include those who admire the past and others who are eager to stretch the technical and artistic boundaries of fabric arts.
Pavy, 73, explains that the entire country saw a burst of interest in quilting in the late 1970s following celebrations of the county’s bicentennial. Many communities created patriotic quilts as part of the festivities, sparking renewed awareness and interest in the art form.


Photo provided

Pictured above is one of the many quilts that will be on display at the Rising Sun Quiltfest in March.

“I think they got better fabrics, better patterns,” says Pavy of the changes that grew out of that era. She traces her own love of quilting to about that same time period, estimating that she has been quilting since about 1975.
“I had three daughters, I did all their sewing when they were young,” she says, and once her children got a little older she was able to turn her needle to the more artistic expression of quilting. For Pavy, the lure of quilting comes not only in the satisfaction of creating something lovely, but also the challenge of trying to make each one better than the last. Part of the process is “trying to improve your skill every time,” she reflects.
“I still like the old traditional patterns, ” she says, but she also enjoys experimenting with new colors and new techniques. “You want to try it all,” she laughs. The quilt she is currently finishing for the upcoming Rising Sun QuiltFest shows this blending of influences. Her sampler quilt includes several traditional blocks, but she is using batik fabric – a type of hand dyed material that is often vibrantly colored which has gained popularity among quilters in recent years.
The Rising Sun QuiltFest is scheduled for March 28-30 at the Rising Sun History Museum, 212 S. Walnut St. Show hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the $5 admission is good for all three days. Organized by the Ohio County Historical Society and the Sunshine Switchers, the event will include a quilt show, vendors and informal appraisals, and a nationally traveling display of historically inspired quilts. The show will present a $500 Best in Show Award, along with $100 and $50 prizes to first and second place in six categories. Categories include pieced quilts, applique quilts, novelty, mixed technique, art quilts and artwork. The artwork category for quilt related pieces truly shows off the ingenuity of the artists.
Past entries have included fused glass work, paintings, colleges and metalwork. The art quilts show off a quilter’s original design as opposed to traditional patterns. Karen Gillard, vice president of the Ohio County Historical Society Board, explains that these quilts show off the full range of styles being utilized by modern quilters from very minimalist works to highly embellished pieces incorporating bead work and ribbon embroidery. Gillard estimates that the competition typically brings in between 75 and 100 quilts. While many of the quilts are by area sewers, Pavy says last year’s Best of Show winner was from Nebraska.
While the show features a special youth category to encourage those under the age of 18 to try out quilting, Gillard describes the quilt show’s typical attendant as being a woman between 50 and 85. “There really isn’t anything else out there that targets that group,” she says. Often, these women will bring guests with them, such as husbands or younger family members. Gillard says that sometimes these guests “find out they are more interested than they thought they would be.” She explains that men in particular are often fascinated by the large quilting machines and “get interested in the mechanisms of how that machine works.”
The Rising Sun QuiltFest began in 2002 with a special showing of 35 quilts from the museum and community collections. For many years, Betty Ann and Lloyd Pavy had held a show at their shop, and when they retired from their quilt and furniture store, the Ohio County Historical Society decided to carry on the tradition of an April show and started QuiltFest.
Pavy explains the importance of the show saying, “It’s local people who all love to do the same thing. It brings out the artistry of the women in this area, the talent.”
In addition to the competition pieces that will be on display, quilts from the American Quilt Study Group’s 2010 Star Quilts will be presented. Quilters copied or drew inspiration from 19th century star quilts and wrote up a statement sharing what they learned through the process. Thirty-nine quilts were created, and 25 of those have become part of a special traveling exhibit that crosses the country for special events. Among the quilts that were made for this project include a copy of quilt owned by one of Lizzie Borden’s relatives and a replica of a Civil War era quilt with 2,212 pieces.
Gillard is also looking ahead to a show that will coincide with the Rising Sun Bicentennial celebrations from mid-May to mid-June, featuring quilts from the museum collection. This show will incorporate genealogical research and historical artifacts to set the quilts in a family context. “We’re trying to get as many local families included as possible,” she says.

• For more information, visit: www.risingsunquiltfest.com or call the Rising Sun History Museum at (812) 438-4915.

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