Submitted by the San Juan Islands Museum of Art
To coincide with the “Conversation With Gee Bend” exhibition at the San Juan Islands Museum of Art in Friday Harbor, two inventive women proposed two projects. Julie Weaver and Judy Okulitch brought their ideas to the Rainshadow Quilting Arts Guild for a trial run.
They introduced making Gee’s Bend-inspired potholders for SJIMA to sell and promote the museum exhibition and quilting arts. The idea took off and all the parts came together: studying the Gee’s Bend designs, putting a heat reflective liner in the potholders and picking fabrics. In the same ingenious vein, they fashioned “San Juan Style” pincushions made with clean oyster shells as a base.
Then the equally enterprising volunteer, Hella Cascorbi worked logo stickers, with Okulitch on cellophane packaging. Then, the perfect hostess gift or a surprise gift for a quilter in the family was born.
Many quilters are accustomed to straight lines, regular squares and studied curves, so it was a challenge to deliberately take a more fluid approach to their designs to better reflect the more improvisational designs of the Gee’s Bend quilters. These gifts were ready for the opening on Memorial Day weekend and are still available in the gift area of SJIMA during regular hours.
To date, the Guild has made 110-plus potholders and about 64 pincushions for SJIMA. Approximately 10 quilters participated in the project: Weaver, Mary Zeretzke, Janet Wright, Barbara Ellis, Krispi Staude, Marj Stanley, Ebie Currey, Beth Phillips, Carma Avey and Marie Johansen. SJIMA is grateful to Westcott Bay Shellfish and their owners, Erik and Andrea Anderson, who donated oyster shells and all of those who donated their fabric, time and creative talent to this project.
After that project, RQAG member, Sheila Doyle and former quilter, Sally Shannon organized the Quilt Walk around Friday Harbor businesses from June 15-Aug. 11.
SJIMA thanks all of the volunteers and businesses that made the three projects possible. All involved offered an example of the teamwork possible between the communities and organizations on the island.
Regular hours for SJIMA are from 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Thursday-Monday until Labor Day when the exhibition closes. To purchase these colorful handcrafted items, you do not have to buy a ticket to the museum exhibition.