The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

December 29, 2013

Andra Bryan Stefanoni: Quilt exhibit to feature time-honored art form

PITTSBURG, Kan. — One of my favorite wintertime activities is to be outdoors hiking or playing in the snow. The other is to come inside from the cold, curl up under a quilt and read a good book.

I have tried doing so under afghans, crocheted by both my grandma and my next-door neighbor, but my toes and fingers always poked through.

Comforters are just way too puffy.

Quilts felt just right — especially well-used ones. My younger son summed it up this way: “I love laying under an old quilt. It’s like a dog’s ear — soft and floppy.”

I suppose he and I came by that by way of ancestors who were quilt makers. I’ve long admired their skill and dedication to a project that could span months, bit by tedious bit, stitch by tiny stitch.

Thankfully, there are those who have taken great pains to carefully preserve quilts for their artistic and historical value, and there are those who make new ones to ensure that the art is not lost.

And there are folks like Jan Campbell and Elma Hurt, who fall into both of those categories as well as a third one: those who make the effort to share quilts with others in order to educate and inspire.

Jan and Elma are responsible for the first-quarter special exhibit of 2014 at the Miners Hall Museum in nearby Franklin. Called “Quilting and Its History,” it opens Thursday and includes historical and vintage bed quilts of the 1930s, vintage sewing supplies, vintage doll quilts and wall hangings.

New quilts are to be added each month.

Both Jan and Elma are avid quilters and members of the Little Balkans Quilt Guild.

Jan started sewing in 4-H at a young age, and has made her own clothes and most of her children’s clothing. She started making quilts when she retired 16 years ago and her husband suggested taking classes at Labette Community College.

She is now a “fabricaholic,” partial to bright colors, 1930s reproductions and batiks, and she also loves traditional quilt patterns like Log Cabin and Iris Chain.

Each year, Jan helps with the quilt show at the Crawford County Fair, where she has won many ribbons herself.

Elma has been a seamstress since age 13 and has won ribbons in 4-H clothing. She’s been a member of the Little Balkans Quilt Guild since 1994 and was chairwoman of the 2008 Little Balkans Quilt Guild quilt show. Like Jan, she has won many ribbons for her efforts.

I’ve known Elma for many years, and this summer I got to see an especially neat quilt she made and hung in her kitchen. It features historic postcards of Pittsburg area landmarks, printed in color on fabric.

In addition to the colorful exhibit the two have put together, quilt lovers will want to plan to attend three upcoming quilt-related programs at the museum, which is located at 701 S. Broadway in Franklin, just off Highway 69 north of Pittsburg.

Local quilter Elaine Huntsinger will present an heirloom quilts trunk show at 2 p.m. Jan 12. Jan and Elma will present a program called “The Evolution of Quilts” at 2 p.m. Feb. 9. And at 2 p.m. March 15, also National Quilting Day, members of the Little Balkans Quilt Guild will conduct demonstrations and offer displays.

I doubt they’ll let me curl up under any, but I might take a good book along just in case.

FOLLOW ANDRA STEFANONI on Facebook at and on Twitter @AndraStefanoni.

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