Quilt to be raffled off at show, by Jocelyn Zwiefelhofer. Via kodiakbearpawquilters.org
If there’s one art form that Kodiak would be known for – besides fishing – it’d be quilting. The Kodiak Public Library is full of books on it, there are several stores dedicated to it downtown, and many people can claim it as their craft of choice. And if you’ve somehow avoided seeing the colorful prints and designs of one local group, the Kodiak Bear Paw Quilters, they’ll be holding a two-day show this weekend with the theme of ‘Island Jewels.’
One guild member who’ll be exhibiting her work, Nicola Belisle, says she started quilting four years ago.
“When I really got heavily into it, it was a difficult time personally for me, and I lost myself in it and I created some pretty cool things for someone who had just started. It’s a very personal expression. You can take a pattern, you can give the same pattern to four different people, and everybody comes up with something that looks completely different.”
She says she’d always wanted to get involved in quilting.
“I went to funnily enough one of the shows here and I was just bowled over with some of the striking art that I saw, so they had an information table with classes, so I picked up a flyer and I took a beginning quilter’s class and four years later, it’s basically what I do. It’s how I make money.”
Belisle says quilting is rewarding, but is not a quick or “cheap” pastime. She uses one of her own quilts – which the guild will exhibit but not sell at the show – as an example.
“If I took it as a full time job of making it forty hours a week, it would have taken me five, six weeks to make. When you think of the amount of workmanship that goes in and how much it costs to buy the materials, I know that some people look at these handmade quilts and say ‘Oh, well I could get something at Walmart for…’ Yeah, the thing you get at Wal-mart is mass-produced and it’s not going to last for generations.”
Most of the proceeds from the sales will go towards the artists themselves, and 10 percent goes to the Kodiak Bear Paw Quilters.
“The guild uses the money mainly to further our skills. We bring in instructors from various places around the country and we also make a lot of comfort quilts, like service quilts. We’ll give them to people that are going through medical treatment, chemotherapy, death in the family, you name it.”
And Belisle says there are other exhibits, including one from a group of high school students who use math to quilt, and pieces for Quilts of Valor, an organization that sends quilts to veterans and those affected by war. You can check that out and more starting at 10 a.m. and ending at 4 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday at St. Mary’s Gym.
You can learn more on the Kodiak Bear Quilters website.