The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

September 23, 2012

Jo Ellis: Quilts can hold a deeper meaning

CARTHAGE, Mo. — Quilts, I believe, say something to us whether we are young or old, male or female, and what they say is not just “I will keep you warm through the night.” Many have a personal meaning. They may commemorate some event in our life. They may have belonged to someone we love, or have been made by someone we love.

When I was a student at the University of Missouri-Columbia, studying music before I turned to writing, I would return home most weekends to lead a junior choir at our church. They were a great group of kids, and while we may not have sounded like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, we had a lot of fun singing the gospels and trying to stay on key.

A neighbor, friend and fellow church member, all rolled into one lovely lady, gathered a quilt square from each choir member, embroidered their signatures on each square and quilted it as a wedding gift for me. I cherish it dearly, and have named it the Sunday school quilt because every choir member attended Sunday school in our church.

The son of that lady pressured me for years to sell him the quilt. Not only was his name embroidered on it, it had been made by his mother who passed away not too long afterward. Stingily (and somewhat guiltily), I refused. It meant, and continues to mean, a great deal to me. I just couldn’t give it up.

All the above is not to bore you with my life history. It is just an introduction to what I think is going to be an extra special Maple Leaf Quilt Show that will be exhibited at the Powers Museum during October, an annual event held in conjunction with the Maple Leaf Festival in Carthage.

About 30 pre-1950 quilts with locally historical significance, plus other historical bedcovers and textiles, will be on display at the museum, 1617 Oak St., from Oct. 7 through Oct. 30. There will be daily showings of the film “Why Quilts Matter.”

Preference has been given first to quilts pertaining to Carthage history, then Jasper, Newton and Barton county quilts, and finally to the region.

Additionally, Lori East, who is American Quilt Society certified, will conduct a Vintage Revisited workshop for needle workers and quilters. It will begin with an introductory lecture at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 12, followed by an all-day workshop the next day.

A fee will be charged for the workshop, plus the cost of a supply kit, and a sewing machine is required. The deadline for making reservations to attend the workshop is Oct. 1.

At 3 p.m. on Oct. 14, East will present a program titled “Lucy’s 1816 Masterpiece and How It Got to Missouri” in the museum gallery. That event is free.

East also will be available on Oct. 21, Oct. 26 and Oct. 28 to give 30-minute quilt appraisals or 15-minute evaluations. If you are interested in having the value or significance of a quilt appraised, an appointment is necessary and a fee will be charged. Details: 417-237-0456.

During the quilt exhibit, the museum will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays. It will be closed on Mondays, except for Oct. 8. There is no charge to view the quilt show, but director/curator Michelle Hansford said donations will be appreciated.

I hope you can go and listen to what the quilts are saying.

Address correspondence to Jo Ellis, c/o The Joplin Globe, Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802 or email

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