Annual Natrona Heights quilt show bursting with color

Updated 3 hours ago

Nancy Pauli has been involved with needlework and crafts of all kinds since she was a small child at her grandmother’s side.

But she kept putting off starting to quilt until she retired because she thought it would “take over my life.”

“And it has,” says the former health care administrator, “in the most wonderful way.”

The Saxonburg resident has connected and reconnected with friends in quilting groups.

“There are opportunities for working on our own projects as well as on an endless amount of charity projects. Folks of all levels of expertise and beginners are welcome,” Pauli says. “It is a constant learning process with loving support from an ever increasing wonderful group of friends. We laugh that our sewing sessions can often be ‘group therapy’ sessions.”

If every picture, as Rod Stewart once famously crooned, “tells a story,” ol’ Rod could sing the same about quilters like Pauli and the diversity of their creations.

Tales unfold

Those tales are all unfolding at the annual quilt show under way through March 1 at Community Library of Allegheny Valley’s Harrison branch, Natrona Heights.

Pauli, whose entries include a wall hanging she dubs “Trees and Stars,” hopes people appreciate the love and artistry involved in the projects at the show and are encouraged to learn, or return to, the needle arts.

“There is a level of project for children, women and men to have the satisfaction of creativity,” she says.

Author-poet Megan Vance of Natrona Heights also is optimistic her entry, a twin quilt, and those of others, might inspire more people to try the art form.

“It is so fun,” she assures. “I love to sew so I wanted to try it and see what all the fuss was about. It is addicting and has no calories either.”

What show offers

She likes that the exhibit offers a showcase of the sewing arts and an opportunity to learn about quilting history.

“I hope that the viewer can see the beauty of what can be made from 2 1 2 - inch scraps of fabric,” says Marlyn Mendicino of Saxonburg.

She has a “scrappy quilt” at the library. “That just means that it is made up of a lot of left over pieces from other quilts,” she explains. “It has over 288, 2 1 2 - inch squares pieced together, then over 50 flowers hand appliqués to it.”

She and a group of her friends from Saxonburg have attended the show for several years and enjoyed the experience. “We thought that this year we would like to enter some quilts,” she says.

Mendicino had a life-long desire to quilt, but did not take it up until she retired in 2013 and joined a quilt group.

Quilting with purpose

“I wanted to quilt with a purpose and all the groups that I am involved in do quilting for shut-ins, the Butler VA Hospital or other charity quilting projects,” she says.

She is thrilled because three of her grandchildren have shown an interest in quilting.

Quilts make people, both their creators and their viewers, feel good, believes Darlene Artman of Tarentum, who has been in every library show. She is displaying a quilt that honors her mother-in-law who died last year.

Quilts are functional art, says Dorothy O’Donnell of Brackenridge, who has entered a dimensional flower wall hanging.

“You can use them to keep warm and they warm the heart and home with their unending use of colors, patterns and techniques,” she explains. “Most are made for a loved one and have a family history or story behind the hours of work that go into them.”

Andrea Kymer of Natrona Heights has entered a work made for her by fellow quilters as a surprise housewarming gift.

She is a member of the Crooked Creek Dam Quilters. “My sister, Clarice Shay, teaches quilting, so I was gathered into the fold,” she says. When someone views one of her creations, Kymer says she hopes they take “smiles and happiness.”

There is plenty of that to go around at the 2019 library quilt show.

Rex Rutkoski is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.