Sisters of the cloth wear feelings on their sleeves
When fellow quilter Mary Biesecker told me “it’s better to have friends than material things,” I knew what she meant.
But I had to smile to myself at her use of the word, material. As “sisters of the cloth,” we quilters always seem to have an abundance of material on hand — as well as a good share of friends.
Biesecker of Grand Junction was referring to the growth of Sunset Slope Quilters, an organization whose ranks ballooned from 48 members in 1989 to a door-busting 220 this year.
“It’s a good place to meet people if you’re new to Grand Junction,” says Biesecker, an early member and 1989 president.
Nationally known quilting instructors, frequently sponsored at the monthly meetings, attract novices and experienced stitchers alike.
This year, Sunset Slope Quilters marks its 25th anniversary in the Grand Valley with a September celebration and a major public event on Oct. 1.
Ricky Tims of La Veta, an international award-winning contemporary art quilter and a concert pianist, will be in Grand Junction for two quilting presentations and an evening concert in October. Tims previously was named one of the top 30 quilters in the world. He also is co-host with Alex Anderson of “The Quilt Show,” an online TV program, and co-executive director of The Quilt Life magazine.
The appearance of Tims has been in the works for 15 months, says Judy Kiser of Grand Junction, the event organizer and chairwoman of the club’s ways and means committee. Thirteen committees, with many subcommittees within them, are busy with the details of Tims’ visit.
The special events in October are part of a two-year reorganization and fundraising campaign for Sunset Slope Quilters, says Phyllis Burdick of Fruita, the 2011 president.
“We want to be on solid footing financially to pay for speakers and workshops in the future,” she says, adding she is especially grateful to Kiser and her committees for their dedication to that goal.
Another aspect of the fundraising is a raffle quilt to be given away before the start of the Oct. 1 concert. The quilt, titled “Lucky Stars,” was created by Piece O’Cake Designs, measures 79 inches square and is appraised at $3,800. Tickets for a chance to win the quilt are $1 each.
On Sept. 14, Sunset Slope Quilters will have an indoor picnic in the atrium of the Clarion Inn to formally observe its 25th anniversary.
Biesecker and Shirley Hanson, past president from 1992, will introduce and recognize other past officers and give a history of the club. Four women were the founding mothers in 1986: Hanson, Shirley Hayes, Ann Moss and the late Merriel Mathews.
As the group grew, it moved its meetings several times to larger accommodations — from the Nellie Bechtel Gardens clubhouse to First United Methodist Church to the basement of the Elks Lodge to the First Presbyterian Church and, most recently in 2009, to the new American Lutheran Church at 631 26 1/2 Road.
Sunset Slope’s goal continues to be promoting the heritage of quilting and pursuing the art and perfection of the craft. Members also are active in community charities, donating their work to such agencies as Habitat for Humanity, The Pregnancy Center and Toys for Tots.
Last year, Sunset Slope made and donated 250 Christmas stockings to children in Mesa County foster care, a yearly project Biesecker started in 1993.
She and Burdick commend longtime member Ruby Davis of Clifton for her contributions to the club.
“Ruby started our Rendezvous,” Biesecker said of the popular annual learning session in which clubwomen offer classes to one another in their various specialties.
Davis also served for about a dozen years as the Western Slope documentation chairwoman through the state guild, Colorado Quilting Council, Biesecker says. Her efforts allowed many quilts in this area of Colorado to be recorded for historic preservation. These duties still are carried on today by Joan Walker of Grand Junction, another past president.
Other activities sponsored by Sunset Slope include National Quilting Day, observed each March at Mesa Mall, and the quilt competition and display each summer at the Mesa County Fair.
Kiser says she joined Sunset Slope Quilters in 1993 after moving to Grand Junction from Virginia. She was invited by Davis and since has served four terms as vice president in charge of programs.
Recently, Kiser says, “We’ve really been stretching ourselves and being more progressive.”
She cites a new website, www. sunsetslopequilters.com, as one example of moving into the 21st century.
As the Grand Valley’s population has grown, the club’s membership roll has expanded, Kiser says.
“Personally, I think we’re (quilters) just friendly, nice people,” she says. “Some of my best friends are quilters.”
Even better, as Sunset Slope members, you can have friends and plenty of material, too. Congratulations to this dedicated group on 25 years of success.
Email Sherida.Warner@ gjsentinel.com.