Guild quilts exhibited at Virginia Quilt Museum

In the fast moving world of the Internet and social media, quilters are gathering in bees and guilds as they did more than two hundred years ago to stitch, chat, be inspired by one another’s work. Oh, they also gather on the Internet, sharing information in blogs and social websites.

“Unity in Diversity – A Collection from Country School Quilters”, at the Virginia Quilt Museum, will give you some insight into this community. Country School Quilters, organized in 1989, is one of seven chapters of the Richmond Quilters’ Guild. The group of about forty-five members meets in Montpelier one evening a month. Meetings offer a program on a quilting topic or technique, sharing of quilts completed or being worked on and chatting and sharing just like the women sitting around a quilt frame on the frontier of this country.

Exhibit curator, Estelle Porter, said the “quilts encompass many styles and techniques such as Baltimore Album, whole cloth, surface embellished with beads, found objects, crystals, Angelina fibers, ribbons, painting and drawing, dyeing, discharge dyeing, resists, thread painting, photo transfers and couched thread scraps. Some quilts are entirely hand made.

Many are machine quilted. Some quilts use traditional patterns while others are completely original. Several quilts have won prizes and/or have been exhibited in national competitions and several quilters have been published in national magazines.”

There are over 100 quilt guilds in Virginia. They may have as few as ten to over a hundred members each. A guild may meet morning, afternoon or evening depending on other obligations of group members. In addition, there are many “bees,” groups of quilters who meet more casually, but regularly to sew, learn and support one another. It is safe to say there are thousands of quilters creating art and household items at any time in Virginia.

The exhibit is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Virginia Commission for the Arts, many Virginia Quilt Guilds and individuals. “Unity in Diversity” can be seen at the Virginia Quilt Museum from Sept. 14 through Dec. 17. The Museum is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 4pm at 301 South Main Street, Harrisonburg. Parking in the municipal lot behind the museum is free.

Phone 540-433-3818 for more information and for group tours.

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