A common thread

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A common thread

BY JACQUELYN LEWIS<br>THE ISLAND PACKET
Published Sunday, March 26, 2006 in The Island Packet  |  775 Words  |  /IslandPacket/features

Members of the Palmetto Quilt guild want people to know that their hobby goes beyond blankets.'
While utilitarian items such as covers come to mind when the word "quilt" is mentioned, there's a whole other side to quilting, guild member Carol Paradis says.'
"Quilts are not all for beds," she says.'
For example, Palmetto Quilt Guild president Maureen Dunn once came across a huge, $10,000 quilted mural of butterflies that was commissioned to hang in the lobby of a multi-story office building, she says.'
The other guild members agree it's not unusual to see quilters piece together creations like this -- landscapes, portraits, clothing and other fabric works of art.'
"It's not just what you would ordinarily think of," says Eileen Joyce, who has been a member of the guild for six years.'
You don't have to be a granny to make quilts, either, Dunn adds.'
"People tend to think (quilting) is an old lady thing, but when they go to a show, they are amazed," she says.'
Dunn, a rerney, learned the hobby in her spare time while she was in law school. She says quilters come from all walks of life. In fact, the first quilting group she belonged to in California included men and women of all ages, including a retired male police officer and a female Folsom Prison guard, she says.'
The local Palmetto Quilt Guild has more than 150 members, and while most are women in their 30s and older, Dunn says, they come from all backgrounds and work in myriad styles and media.'
A sampling of their creations will be on display at the Palmetto Quilt Guild's upcoming show, the Palmetto Quilt Guild Festival, Friday and Saturday at St. Andrew By-the-Sea United Methodist Church.'
The bi-annual, two-day event, which is the 15-year-old group's eighth festival, includes an exhibit of 160 quilted creations, ranging from tote bags, jackets and miniature quilts to huge pieces that took years to create.'
Guild member Kitty Sager's "Ascension Church in Wildflowers" took seven years to make, she says. The oversized quilt includes the image of a church in Gaithersburg, Md., which Sager created using a paper pattern. The quilt also boasts squares that represent the state flower for each of the 50 states, and one square contains more than 200 tiny pieces of fabric, Sager says. The back of the quilt is covered with Bible verses.'
Another example of what's on display is a quilt Paradis made using a box of rock 'n' roll T-shirts featuring music legends such as The Beatles, Pink Floyd and The Grateful Dead. She says the squares came from a box of donated shirts she found while volunteering for The Bargain Box thrift store on Hilton Head.'
All 160 quilts will be vying for first prize at the festival, judged by a professional quilter from the American Quilters Guild.'
In addition, Dunn says, the festival will include a gift boutique and a drawing for a hand-appliqued quilt, "It's All About Color," created by members.'
The proceeds from the drawing will benefit yet another aspect of the guild that the group says also proves it's about more than just blankets -- its community outreach program.'
The guild meets for quilting sessions once a month, but it also teaches quilting at local elementary schools and organizations like the Boys and Girls Club of Hilton Head, and provides scholarships for local high school students planning to major in the visual arts in college. '
Members also give workshops and trunk shows at local retirement communities and make lap quilts for charities such as Citizens Opposed to Domestic Abuse.'
"We want to encourage more people to get into quilting," Dunn says.'
And more people are learning to appreciate the art form, the quilt guild members say -- especially now that modern techniques and fabrics are all the rage.'
"Quilting is big business nowadays," Paradis says. "There's a resurgence."'
She points to about 10 national quilt-related television programs on channels like HGTV, quilting magazines and large competitions in major cities such as Houston and Chicago.'
"Quilting has exploded," Paradis says.'
Dunn says the Palmetto Quilt Guild's last show on Hilton Head in 2004 drew about 1,000 visitors. The group is expecting an even bigger turnout this year.'
"People are really into it," she says.'
For more information about the Palmetto Quilt Guild's eighth annual Palmetto Quilt Guild Festival, call 301-4547.