- Associated Press - Monday, April 21, 2014

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. (AP) - Chambersburg quilter Donna Gilbert has done it again.

In early March, Gilbert entered and placed in the top three in an international quilting competition, the American Quilter’s Society’s QuiltWeek 2014. The show, from March 12 through 15, drew quilts of all sizes, both hand-quilted and machine-quilted, from around the globe.

While many of us consider quilting a uniquely American pastime, Gilbert’s third-place win was the only American made quilt that took home a prize in her category, which was hand-quilted bed quilts. The top winner was from Japan, second place from Quebec. The quilt that took home Best of Show title was made in the Netherlands.

Gilbert has seen the Japanese sweep the awards in a single category, she said. As many as 175 quilts were entered in the AQS show, and were about equally divided among the six categories.

Her bed quilt “Grandmother’s Rose Garden,” is a medallion quilt featuring an image of a nattily-dressed early 20th-century woman at the center of circles of appliqued roses, black-eyed Susans and forget-me-nots. The portrait was copied from a photo of her grandmother, who loved roses. It took her three years to complete.

Gilbert picked up the pastime of quilting 17 years ago, after retiring. This is the third international competition she has entered. In 2010 she won first place with a wall hanging, “Precious Memories,” and in 2012 took home an exemplary award with her bed quilt, “Tropical Beauty.”

All her quilts are hand-quilted. It’s frustrating, she said, when hand quilters must compete against machine quilters - some competitions don’t judge them in separate categories.

In fact, she said “hand-quilting in competition is dying out. It’s becoming harder and harder to find judges who are true hand quilters (themselves). When I saw the competition, I was thrilled, because the judge is a well-known hand quilter and she teaches.”

The competitions are changing in other ways as well, Gilbert continued, as more entries are art quilts, which use modern techniques as well as traditional methods to create images or objects. Quilting is like painting with fabric, she said.

“The art quilts are another whole category, but the base is still the traditional quilter.”

Most people who come to the shows to view the quilts are traditional quilters, too. “They enjoy picking up a pattern, trying to make a quilt like their grandmother made, like the log cabin (pattern); those are the ones going to the shows,” Gilbert said.

Although the prize money for quilts at the largest show in Paducah, Ky., is awarded in exchange for the winning quilts, Gilbert hasn’t sold a single quilt she’s made. “There isn’t enough money for me to part with them,” she said, adding that after working for years on a piece, it becomes a part of her.





Information from: Public Opinion, https://www.publicopiniononline.com

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