The Upstate Heritage Quilt Trail in Upstate, SC, Adds Two New Quilt Blocks to Their Trail

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183 Blue Heron

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The Upstate Heritage Quilt Trail, (Oconee, Pickens and Anderson Counties in SC) is pleased to announce the Blue Heron quilt block, created by their 2015 Quilter of the Year, Penny Little of Salem, SC. The Quilter of the Year award was created to honor quilters who not only are talented artists, but also give back to their communities in very meaningful ways.

Little is a member of the Lake and Mountain Quilters’ Guild making charity quilts for donation through the Guild programs and helping with a variety of Guild activities and programs. She leads the Hi-Fiber Art Quilters. She donates her time and expertise to the Tamassee DAR School, where she teaches sewing and quilting to aspiring young people on a weekly basis. She has been active in supporting the Oconee Animal Shelter making pet beds. Little has taught many classes for the OLLI program at Clemson University and done classes and demonstrations of her skills at Blue Ridge Arts Council and Locker Hooking at a Quilters of SC retreat.

Her quilts have won numerous awards in local and regional venues as well as national and international competitions. Her accomplishments in the world of art quilters is impressive. “African Bride,” has won first place at the 2006 Lake and Mountain Quilters Guild show and was also a semi-finalist at both the International Quilt Association’s Houston show and the American Quilters Society show in Paducah, KY, that same year. In 2012, “Numida I” took 3rd place at the Lake and Mountain Quilters Guild show and was also a semi-finalist at Paducah. “Reflections of Africa” was a semi-finalist at two AQS shows in 2014 as well as taking second place at the Lake and Mountain Quilters Guild show. These are just a few of her many awards in competition. She has also had a number of one-woman exhibits throughout the upstate.

Little was born in Detroit, MI, attended Eastern Michigan University, is the mother of three sons, two daughters-in-law and six grandchildren. She and her husband lived in several states and Tokyo, Japan. She is a retired travel agent and enjoys the good life living on Lake Keowee near Seneca, SC. As a young child, she can remember cutting up clothes and hand stitching the fabric into doll clothes or turning cardboard into little houses or villages. Later she made clothes, upholstered furniture, macramé or any craft that was popular. This quilter’s story started in 1994 when she was introduced to the world of quilt making and found her true passion. Her first quilt took two years, a block a month for twelve months followed by hand quilting for another twelve months. After joining quilt guilds, reading books, and attending workshops she became an adequate quilter. Although traditional quilts were useful, for Penny they were monotonous to make. That all changed when she discovered art quilts. The guideline for designing quilts is “there are no rules”. A typical quilt of Little’s may have an African theme, be made entirely from scraps, have no straight lines only curves or a focal point or embellishing from beads to seeds. The fabrics are frequently batik or her own hand dyed fabric.

When designing a quilt, ideas and color are the most difficult for her, she relates. Inspiration comes from fabric, workshops, travel, and books. Fabrics depicting African animals have inspired several of her quilts since her first trip to Kenya in 1995, second trip to Tanzania in 2006 and last trip to Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe in 2011.

Little says, “A really fabulous day for me is quilting in my studio. I never lack for something inspiring to work on, talk about, design or get excited about. I enjoy teaching quilting to children and sharing my skills with others. In 2015 I was honored as Quilter of the year by the Upstate Heritage Quilt Trail. I was given a quilt block to be painted featuring a quilt made by me. I decided to donate the quilt block to the Lake Keowee community to honor quilters and artist. The great Blue Heron, which was inspired by Toni Whitney, seemed perfect for the lake community. The Heron took days and days to cut feathers and fused together and sew the edges.” The quilt was made by using hand dyed fabrics and batiks.

Toni Whitney, of Big Fork, MT, is the designer of the Blue Heron pattern. While pursuing a career as a wildlife painter, Whitney discovered the art of fusible applique in 2005. From her website (www.toniwhitney.com), “dabbling in textiles proved to be a thrilling experience that merged easily and effortlessly with painting…this medium seems to come hand in hand with the nicest group of people I have ever had the pleasure to meet, Quilters!”

When asked about the inspiration for the Blue Heron pattern, Whitney responded, “I live outside of a very small town in NW Montana in a heavily forested area. While I knew there were great blue heron in these parts it was a rarity to actually see one, I myself never had. I was thinking of my sister one morning and feeling particularly blue. She had passed suddenly many years ago with reasons never fully explained and finding closure for myself proved difficult. On this day of remorseful pondering I happened to look out of my window to see a beautiful great blue heron staring right back at me as if I were the oddest thing it had ever seen, perched, if you will, directly on top of a balsam fir just as comfortably as a chickadee, the top of the tree bent almost in half from the weight.

“Every morning for a few weeks following that day I would happen to look up at just the right moment to the bird, gliding low, silent and graceful over me,” said Whitney. “The peacefulness of witnessing such a large creature somehow effortlessly and quietly making its way through life out here in this wilderness which seems much too harsh for such a delicate creature somehow eased my soul and reminded me to take things lightly, try to live gracefully regardless of where I’m at and if I’m in a precarious place that I feel could snap at any moment sending me hurtling down to a horribly painful experience, I have but to lift my spirits and fly.”

The Keowee Fire Commission has unanimously agreed to display the quilt on the station on Highway 130, just north of Route 183. Rich Caudill, chief of the station explained the Keowee Fire Commission was established in 1993 as a fire tax district by the community and covers a service area of 30 square miles. This encompasses the Duke Energy facility, the lake communities of Waterford, Wynward, Waterside, Keowee Harbors and Keowee Key. The current station was built in 2008.

Little resides in the Keowee Key community on Lake Keowee in the upstate of South Carolina. In her usual selfless fashion, she has dedicated her award, the Blue Heron quilt square for community display and the fabric quilt that she beautifully crafted to honor the talented artists and quilters of Keowee Key.

184 Winter Cardinal

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A Winter Cardinal quilt has also been added to the Upstate Heritage Quilt Trail at the Peck home on 202 Winterberry Lane in Seneca, SC. Jane Peck shared with us that “after downsizing from our lake house on Hartwell, it has taken some time for me to invite cardinals onto our feeders. At the lake I would have 6 to 7 families. Needless to say, I have missed them. Therefore, along with time welcoming all the birds in our new neighborhood, I want to especially show the joy of sharing our home with the Upstate Heritage Quilt Trail by placing the Cardinal block for all to see. I believe the meaning of a Cardinal visiting your yard is a visit from someone close to you whom you have lost. Watching the Cardinal family, I have been fortunate to have witnessed the male bird feeding his young, protecting his mate. The art of creating a quilt has been something I have admired and the sentiment placed in each and every stitch has always caught my imagination. I am reader and a gardener. Taking great pride in my garden over the years, welcoming the birds and butterflies have given me peace.”

This quilt pattern was a project for work to show applique patterns using Batiks and Prisma dyes. Debra Lunn and Michael Mrowka, owners of Lunn Fabrics in Lancaster, OH, create ideas for batik fabric for Robert Kaufman. Barbara Palumbo and Scott Clark worked together to make an appliqued quilt pattern for each season to promote new lines of fabric. The Cardinal was created in 2008 at the Studios of Lunn Fabrics.

Barbara Palumbo has been an avid sewer since a child and had been doing decorative painting for approximately 20 years, but had no experience quilting. She began by taking classes at Quilt Beginnings Quilt Store in Bexley, OH, and is still taking classes in different sewing techniques.

Scott Clark was hired by Lunn’s to design the caps (chops) that are used in making batik fabrics. Prior to that he designed patterns for screen print design companies. Lunn Studios still continue to make patterns that are available at the store and on-line.

A total of four season quilts were finished. Palumbo said about the quilt designs that, “It gave us a permission to play with applique.” “Also it was good resource to promote the Elementals’ line of batiks in each of the quilts and showed how you could make the fabric work for you”

Lunn Fabrics is located at 317 E. Main Street, Lancaster, Ohio, 43130, phone 740/654-2202. Visit their web site at (www.lunnfabrics.com) to view Lunn Fabrics complete line of Artisan Batiks, Patina Handpaints and Prisma Dyes.

For further info about the Upstate Heritage Quilt Trail call 864/723- 6603, e-mail to (info@uhqt.org) or visit (www.uhqt.org).

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