Threads of tradition – Havana Main Street holds annual quilt show and sale

The fine art of quilting took over Downtown Havana on Saturday.

Beginning early at 10 a.m., Havana Main Street held its Sixth Annual Quilt Show and Sale in the Havana Community Center, vendors and volunteers for Havana Main Street pieces made by local quilters and seamstresses were on display and were also for sale.

The quilts ranged in size, and price from $65 to over $300. More than 40 quilts were on sale, with a few

individual mantle pieces up for silent auction. A raffle, too, was held for a larger, more expensive

quilt with tickets sold for the raffle a dollar a piece. All proceeds went to Havana Main Street for

town projects and various events, such as this one.

“When we first began, we used to show quilts in various merchant buildings,” said Wendy Adams, local Havana resident and quiltist. “But over the years, the number of sale quilts expanded, expanded, and expanded – over time, many people have got involved as quilting is a widespread hobby here, in Havana. I used to make all of the quilts in the Quilt Sale, in the beginning.”

Wendy said more than 16 people were included in the creation of each and every quilt available on sale at the community center.

“There is something here for everyone,

from contemporary, traditional, large, small, petite quilts, flannel, quilts from ties and t-shirts. Anything.”

Helping sell the quilts were a number of volunteers from Main Street.

“We see this event as a social gathering, to get people together,” said Reeva Marshall, who was in charge of the Havana Main Street volunteers. “There are a bunch of wonderful quilts here. We do our volunteering for the good of the town, to get people out of their houses but also for general involvement in the community – for things such as pickleball!”

There were more than 40 volunteers assisting in the sale and bagging of the selected quilts.

The Havana History and Heritage Society also hosted “Quilting… from Novice to Expert” at  the Havana Shade Tobacco Museum that morning. Sheila Callahan, master quilter and seamstress, gave an expert dissertation on quilts, quilt theory, and the various quilts of the world. Having learned quilting from a young age from her grandmother Maude Callahan, born in the 1880s and who in turn learned it from her mother, Sheila has quilted for over 50 years.

“My Grandmother’s quilting was born out of necessity, for her they were functional – mine, I think – is because I love it, and I have time to do it in my retirement.

Quilting has come a long way. I am a recovering perfectionist, and I have three addictions: dark chocolate, collecting fabric, and quilting. I love every single aspect of quilting. I even love dreaming up the idea of a quilt and searching for inspiration.”

Of the innumerable quilts on display in the Shade Tobacco Museum, Sheila Callahan brought a collection of quilts with a variety of uses and origins. Callahan, who has also taught introductory quilting at Women’s Prison here in Quincy, delved deep into the minutiae of the various masterworks on display. Quilts by Judy Brundage were also displayed, and their techniques explained.

A few of Callahan’s pieces, such as the bright, multi-colored ‘Stars for Ukraine,’ involved artistic responses to global political events – ‘Stars’ made about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Some such as “Watering Hole” involved threads collected from Africa and soon applied to a large, massive Quilt which, at first glance, appears very unlike a quilt more as an elegant tapestry of intricate patterns of wildlife imagery. Others, notably the abstract “Cranes” were akin to the geometric patterns of Orphic Cubism interspersed with small, varyingly different images of cranes. There were quilts for usage, decorations, cats, dining tables, mosaics, children’s quilts, quilts with trinkets, hand-sewn quilts, machine-based quilts, quilts for competitions, quilts both old and new. All of these types and more encompass the many approaches to quilt-making.

Noted, too, in Sheila Callahan’s Masterclass was the deep informality of quilting, and how quilting, much like sister languages, often have slightly different names for the same techniques that may vary depending on who taught the quilting to who.

Inspiration from Japanese Quilters, in particular the works of Kumiko Sudo, from who she drew on to create the

Omiyage – small, hand-quilted gifts originating in Japanese Tradition.

“To me, there is no bad time to start quilting,” Sheila Callahan again elaborated. “It’s for men and women, old and young people. If you approach, and there are many different ways to approach it, there are endless,

endless ways to make one. It will bring you endless, endless joy, and a lot of serenity.”

The “Quilting… from Novice to Expert” by Sheila Callahan presentation lasted approximately an hour. The Sixth Annual Quilt Show and Sale ended around 4 p.m.

Rubén Darío Uribe – Gadsden County News Service


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