38th annual quilt show: 'I think they're exquisite'

38th annual quilt show: 'I think they're exquisite'
Unbroken Quilt Show. Photos by Emerson Malone

EUGENE, Ore. - An Oregon quilt club created a burst of color with nearly 130 quilts on display last week at the Lane County Historical Museum.

The 38th Annual Unbroken Quilt Show, organized by the Pioneer Quilters, ran Tuesday, April 23, through Sunday, April 28, at the Lane County Historical Museum, 740 W. 13th Ave., in Eugene. The show cost $6 per day or $16.50 for a weekly pass.

The quilts varied in size from child sized to king sized. They hung from the rafters, the walls, and along the stairways, covering nearly every wall of the museum.

Julie Spencer came to the show with her mother. “I think they’re exquisite,” she said. “The kind of work going into these is something I don’t have patience for.”

Spencer pointed at the intricate stitching on a quilt with hints of watercolor in the fabric. “The finger coordination and skill is extraordinary,” she said.

Spencer said she was delighted to see so many quilts in one place.

“You always think the hard crafts are going out, but then you see something like this,” she said.

At the show, quilter Jamie Wagle worked on her Travel Square quilt. The quilt, a patchwork of 6-inch squares, is a collection of blocks created by fellow club members about places they have visited.

“I Call it Travel Square Plus because I used some travel squares and some blocks from a deceased quilter,” she said. The quilt includes blocks from Donna Andrew, a club member who passed away a few weeks before the quilt show.

Andrew left an unfinished quilt.

“She asked that we finish quilting it and take it off the frame," Wagle said. "So we took it two weeks before she died, and we’ll finish it and give it to the family.”

Quilters at the show said the club is like a family.

Marlene Smith, a club member for 20 years, said, “We can network and talk about problems in a safe environment. Women make a close connection through quilting, and the friendships last for years.”

She added, “I heard a woman say that around the frame you can just get something out, without having to make eye contact, and while you’re making something beautiful.”

Lois Scott, the featured quilter, brought 18 quilts to the show. An enormous blue and white quilt hung above her, its detailed patterns forming diamonds in an intricate cross-hatch.

“You can see how big the blocks are,” she said, pointing above her. ”I called it Jack’s Carpenter Square because [my friend Jack] found it so fascinating when I was putting it together.”

Scott took delight in sharing her hand-stitched quilts with visitors, asking them all to sign her guest book.

“Isn’t it lovely?" she asked. "I just got it finished last summer. I started it years ago, but you know how it is. You start something, then put it away, then get it out again.”

Spencer, a visitor, admired Scott's quilts. “I go through her book and see a lifetime of quilting," she said. "And she just gives them to her family and friends. I want to be her friend.”

Bob Hart, the museum's executive director, is glad to have the quilters each year. He said the proceeds from the quilt show benefit the museum, and they donate hundreds of gifts to the gift shop.

“It’s an activity that has evolved and blossomed into the 21st century,” he said, standing before a quilt his office manager quilted.

“People around quilt frames still talk about family and neighbors," he said. "It’s a glimpse of what life was like before battery operated technology.”