Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Best of Show in AQS 2007 Quilt Show in Paducah Kentucky

Sharon Schamber of Payson, Arizona, won Best of Show at the 2007 AQS Quilt Show in Paducah, Kentucky. There were 729 quilts entered, and 411 chosen for display.

Her quilt is called "Flower of Life."She won $20,000 from Hancock's Fabrics of Paducah and gave the quilt to the Museum of the American Quilter's Society (MAQS) in Paducah. It will join her entry from last year, which also won Best of Show.

I was lucky enough to get to interview Sharon, and her husband, Gene, on Saturday, April 28, the last day of the 2007 show.

If you'd like to see a larger photo, click here.

It was just as beautiful from the back.

If you'd like to see a larger photo, click here.

Sharon has 1000 hours in the quilting alone. And the quilting is where she starts the design process. She said she sketches out the quilting in complete detail first, and works back from that point. It's all drawn out, then she makes the other things fit the design she wants on the quilting. As she summed it up, "the quilting cannot be manipulated," so it has to be decided first and everything else works from there.

When I first noticed this pattern above the flowers here it struck me that it looked like stained glass windows in a cathedral. Just as I was thinking that, I heard Sharon answer a question someone had asked by saying, "This quilt is more of a spirit thing.. It's a cathedral." She told us that this piece was really from her heart.

Asked where she gets her ideas, Sharon answered in a way I've heard from many creative people, "Ideas really appear. They come from other sources," she said. She concluded by saying, "Creativity is a flow." She says she doesn't look at quilts at shows because she doesn't want to use other people's ideas unwittingly.

She had many, many questions about the unusual binding on this quilt. It is sewn on the bias, with cording, then knotted and attached. Her husband told me she will be putting information on this binding at her website, www.sharonschamber.com. She spent 45 hours making the binding alone.

If you are noticing the subtle gradations in color, and thinking it would be impossible to find that in your local store, it was impossible for her, too. That's why all the fabric in this piece is hand-dyed by Sharon, herself.

You may wonder how Sharon has the time to devote to such pursuits and still maintain a household. Well, she "does nothing domestic," she says. That falls to her husband, Gene, who does all the cooking, cleaning and other household chores while she focuses on quilting. He was a real charmer and is obviously devoted to his wife and her art.

It is obvious that Sharon was born to be a teacher, and she had no shortage of students this afternoon. People were firing one question after another at her and she was graciously answering all of them. She is a celebrity in the quilt world.

 I was not the only one snapping photos either.

One of the questions she had was about basting. She says one of the keys is to baste the old fashioned way. She is not a believer in the safety pin method because she thinks it makes the fabric crawl. Her rule on old fashioned basting stitches is about three fingers wide.

She started quilting in 1998, but lest you think she only picked up a needle then and has already progressed to this stage, don't despair. Prior to that her husband tells me she was operating a factory and selling clothes she designed for weddings and pageants, including for some Miss America contestants.

She has been sewing since before she was six. She joked, "I had a baby bottle in one hand and a needle in the other." It wasn't quite that early, but somewhere between the baby bottle and age six she was well on her way.

The quilters in attendance had all kinds of questions including how she ships her quilts. Just in case you have need of this knowledge because you, too, have been asked to exhibit your quilt, here's what Sharon suggests. She rolls hers on the bias to avoid wrinkles. She uses wool batting, which also cuts down on wrinkles.

Sharon had another quilt in the show, too. She won second place in the bed quilts, mixed techniques category. This quilt also uses hand-dyed fabrics.

If you'd like to see a larger photo, click here.

She used a variety of quilting techniques on it.

This quilt was hanging just a few feet away from the best of show winner, so Sharon was getting the occasional question about it as well. But the focus was on her "Flower of Life" quilt and how she did particular things. She was very patient - the consumate teacher.

Sharon spent about two years working on her best of show winning quilt. She said she doesn't know how many hours she has in the applique because she worked on it at various times.

She has seven quilts going at any one time and has about 35 completed quilts. By the way, she said some take longer than this one.

Check http://www.patsyterrell.com/2008/04/aqs-quilt-show-in-paducah-kentucky-in.html for more about the show, including hundreds of photos of quilts and vendors from the AQS 2007 Show

Check www.patsyterrell.com for the blog, art, and more.


Featheronawire Sally Bramald said...

Thank you for those of us who cannot get to see her quilts in person, this is lovely and even lovelier to hear what has gone into them.

gina said...

Hi Patsy
I too was super impressed with Sharons quilt when I saw it at MQS. I wrote a bit about it on my blog www.QuiltersBuzz.com and linked to your interview and photos. Great job.

Patsy Terrell said...

Thanks, Bird on a Wire. It was wonderful to meet her and hear her talk about the process.

Patsy Terrell said...

Thanks, Gina, for including a link on your blog. Sharon was a delightful person and I was thrilled I got to interview her.

Litamora's Quilt & Design said...

You are so lucky to meet Sharon. She is such a source to inspiration. I just love her quilting!

Patsy Terrell said...

Sharon was lovely. It was fortuitous that I just happened to be there when she was with her quilt and got to meet and interview her. She was very gracious.