Dad doubles as ‘Mr. Mom’ ... and ‘man quilter,’ too
This guy is almost too good to be true. Take a look at his curriculum vitae, and see if you don’t agree.
Mark L. Sherman, who lives in Coral Springs, Fla., is:
■ A prize-winning quilter.
■ Happily married to his wife, who is a physician.
■ The consummate Mr. Mom, raising two children (their son graduated from college as a pharmacist, and their daughter attends college).
■ A graduate gemologist specializing in pearls.
■ An antique collector.
■ A collector of Tiffany glass.
■ A fantastic cook.
■ A gardener who cultivates bromeliads, staghorn ferns and orchids.
Pretty impressive, huh?
But Sherman, 55, says he’s your typical man in many ways. Hardheaded, he would rather walk barefoot on hot coals than read directions.
“When I get an IKEA cabinet to put together, I take all the pieces out of the box and start trying” to assemble them, Sherman jokes. “Later, when I can’t figure it all out, I call my wife to come and read the directions to me.”
He’s also different from some female quilters, who often refer to their piles of UFOs (unfinished objects) languishing on storage shelves. Multi-tasking is not Sherman’s modus operandi; he finishes each quilt that he designs before starting another.
Large projects appeal to his masculine side, Sherman says, explaining that his quilts often measure 8 feet by 10 feet. When custom-dyeing quilt backings, he starts with fabric that’s 110 inches wide.
“That’s really heavy when it’s wet, and it takes some manhandling that the ladies might not want to do,” he says.
Dedicated to his craft, Sherman works 10 hours a day Monday through Saturday in a garage that he remodeled into a state-of-the-art quilt studio. He says he sleeps only five to six hours a night.
“I’m happy that way,” always moving forward with varied accomplishments, he says.
After hours of turned-edge machine appliqué (his favorite method), Sherman quilts his creations on an A-1 longarm machine.
Recently at the American Quilter’s Society QuiltWeek in Paducah, Ky., his quilt titled “Poppy’s Rainbow” received first place in the category of large quilts, long arm/midarm machine-quilted. The same quilt won best of show last November at the World Quilt Show-Florida IV in West Palm Beach.
Made in honor of his late father, “Poppy’s Rainbow” was purchased by a bank in Paducah. Before it’s installed there, the quilt likely will travel to the International Quilt Festival this fall in Houston.
Through his business, Remarkable Quilt Design Co., Sherman travels twice a month to lecture on “being a man quilter” and to teach his techniques, particularly machine trapunto, “showing quilters how much we can enhance our work and sculpture our quilts.” Trapunto is the process of padding portions of a quilt design for a high relief effect.
Anyone can master trapunto, Sherman says. His class is titled “Machine Trapunto for the Timid Quilter,” and stitching is done with a walking foot. Naturally, he takes his method to another level, using three to four layers of wool batting, then only two layers in other areas of the quilt, and finally another one to three layers of cotton batting.
Since 2001, Sherman has been quilting, studying color theory and how to paint with oil “to learn the art side” of the business. Now that their two children, Matthew and Sara, are no longer living at home under Dad’s watchful eye, he has more time to quilt and travel. His wife, Dr. Sherry Woodhouse, often accompanies him on trips, and they make a vacation out of his speaking engagements.
He says she appreciates quilts, often sharing ideas as his designs materialize and many times choosing his quilts’ titles. She kids him about his incessant talk of all things related to quilting. Some details Sherman hopes she doesn’t always know: the fact that he owns 250 pair of scissors (his favorites are Dovo brand made in Germany). He keeps them all oiled and sharpened, and “they’re to die for,” he says.
“My poor wife,” Sherman laughs. Sometimes at his quilt classes, other women crowd around him, giddy about his expertise. But she’s not jealous. “She just says, ‘Honey, if they can afford you, they can have you.’ “
Despite the ribbing, Woodhouse values her husband’s many interests outside his quilt studio. He keeps an immaculate flower garden in a humid South Florida environment that’s virtually a greenhouse in itself. Many of the blossoms inspire his quilt designs, which start from photos, proceed to drawings and finally become enlarged patterns.
Over the years, Sherman also has become as adept with a chef’s knife as he is with a rotary cutter. He provides all family meals and brags about knowing his way around the kitchen.
“I have two recipes that I’m world-famous for,” he says, “my Caesar salad and a chocolate cake from the 1940s.”
On this special day, however, he draws the line at stove duty. For Father’s Day, Sherman expected his children to be home to celebrate, and “it’s a day I don’t have to cook. Somebody’s got to cook for me.”
I’m sure Sherman is being wined and dined today. He’s one “man quilter” who certainly deserves it.
Happy Father’s Day.
Email Sherida.Warner@ GJSentinel.com.