Art and Craft Collide at the Festival of Quilts

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The distinction between “art” and “craft” is often the subject of debate in creative circles. But, wait. Craft is defined as “an art requiring special skill.” As a verb, craft means “to create with skill and careful attention to detail.” So, maybe the debate is over.  Maybe art and craft shouldn’t fight anymore.

This weekend, art and craft throw up white flags and join forces in Anderson, as the Quilters’ Sew-Ciety of Redding presents its “Festival of Quilts.”

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The Quilters’ Sew-Ciety is a vibrant, dynamic volunteer organization. Its members gather every second Tuesday to share their latest creations, raise funds, sell and swap supplies and share information about upcoming quilt events and workshops. Philanthropy is also at the heart of the group’s mission. The Sew-Ciety has donated over 200 quilts to organizations like Shasta County Children and Family Services, Women’s Refuge and the Veteran’s Hospital.

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Each meeting (although 200 attendees may constitute a convention) of the Sew-Ciety features a regional, national or international guest speaker. This month, Elaine Miller, whose first full-scale sewing endeavor was a double-breasted pin-striped suit with hat, presented a short but impressive history of her art. Elaine, whose friends describe her as eclectic, admits that, really, a short attention span is the explanation for her diverse repertoire.

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Her presentation included a succession of what Elaine describes as exercises in sewing, binding, free motion quilting and stencils – pieces that are works of art in their own right. She also displayed masterpieces like “Cowgirl Dreams,” a quilt of boots that won 1st place at the 2005 Tehama County Fair and a triptych that took 1st place for machine quilting at the 2009 Pacific International Quilt Festival.

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April’s meeting also included a chance to preview the organization’s annual “Opportunity Quilt.” Each year, a member of the Sew-Ciety creates a quilt that is raffled to benefit a local non-profit organization. This year’s recipient of funds from the Opportunity Quilt is Wings of Angels, a local organization that provides support to families with children suffering from pediatric cancer or other life-threatening illnesses.

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The quilt, “Goose in the Cabin,” was created by Art Theide, one of the group’s outnumbered male members. Art’s masterwork required 50 to 60 hours of painstaking piecing (sewing of fabric strips) of randomly patterned fabric to create blocks of identical sizes and hues. Close inspection reveals the random nature of his fabric choices, but, take a few steps back and a pattern of light and dark-colored blocks emerges.

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“Goose in the Cabin” will take its place this weekend among the Festival’s dizzying display of over 300 feats of fabric ingenuity. It’s also an opportunity to put to rest any residual cogitation of art vs. craft. Even if the debate rages on, you’ll never describe quilting as “craft” again.

What: Quilters’ Sew-Ciety of Redding “Festival of Quilts”

When: Sat., April 17 – 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sun., April 18 – 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Where: Shasta District Fairgrounds, Anderson

Cost: $7. Tickets available at the gate.

For more information about the Quilters’ Sew-Ciety of Redding or the Festival of Quilts, visit quilterssewciety.org.

Adam Mankoski is a recent North State transplant who feels completely at home here. He enjoys experiencing and writing about the people, places and things that embody the free spirit of the State of Jefferson. He and his partner own HawkMan Studios and are the creators of Redding’s 2nd Saturday ArtHop. Email your North State news and events to adamm.anewscafe@gmail.com.

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is a recent North State transplant who feels completely at home here. He enjoys experiencing and writing about the people, places and things that embody the free spirit of the State of Jefferson. He and his partner are the owners of HawkMan Studios and the creators of Redding’s 2nd Saturday Art Hop.
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