Baldwin A fledgling local quilters group is taking quilts to the public in a new way via a walking tour through the town's businesses.
The idea aims to show off beautiful and interesting quilts and create foot traffic in the businesses, which range from exercise salons and flower shops to a bank and law office, and even the U.S. Post Office.
Roxine Michael, a member of the Maple Leaf Quilters Guild and one of the tour's organizers, said last week that the group worked with Baldwin's city officials and Chamber of Commerce to get the 45 quilts displayed in 29 local businesses and public buildings, including the Old Castle Museum, which has a historic quilt collection, and the city and Baker University libraries.
"We started a few months ago to organize the exhibit," she said, crediting Sharon Vesecky, guild member and owner of Cygnet Fashions and Fabrics in Baldwin, with the idea.
WHERE THEY could, Michael said, organizers matched display quilts with the most appropriate businesses pioneer-era quilts at Peachy's, Baldwin's old time-style general store; a Victorian fan quilt in Baldwin Floral and a Dresden Plate pattern variation quilt in Vichees, a local restaurant.
Most of the exhibit quilts are downtown, Michael said, but a few are displayed in shops and offices along U.S. 56 on the north edge of the city. Jack Murphy's law office on the corner of U.S. 56 and County Road 1055, has nine.
"It's been a nice way to keep traffic in businesses," Michael said, "and for the most part, everybody's wanted to do it."
Michael said she'd received written communication from some other Kansas quilting groups interested in visiting Baldwin to do the walking tour, which will be in place through the month of September.
PHILIP SIBONA, owner of Peachy's Grocery and More, across from city hall at Eighth and High streets, said at least two out-of-town groups already had visited his shop to see the display. One was affiliated with a church.
Last week, Peachy's featured a Lone Star quilt with "1919" embroidered in one corner and a scrap quilt made about 1910, both made by members of the Michael family.
"It's kind of interesting," Sibona said, "the kind of people who come in the out of towners."
Sibona also said a walking tour pamphlet, with art work by Baldwin artist Chris Musgrave, was available in some stores to help visitors find all the quilts. He said it seemed quite useful to such groups.
The brochure lists quilt locations and the hours that businesses are open to the public, as well as names of quilts on display, their makers and owners.
QUILTS FOR the exhibit were provided by guild members and various Baldwin citizens who have family collections and are willing to share.
Nutt Real Estate Inc. displays a quilt made by Don Nutt's sister, Nadine Wren, in the 1930s or '40s. Michael said the Dresden Plate variation pattern was fashioned from recycled feedsack fabrics a common practice of that era.
Several new quilts in the exhibit have been done by Y'Vonne O'Dea of Ottawa, including one she created for a master's class with master quilter Enola Gish of Baldwin. She took the class through the Kansas Folk Art Apprenticeship Program.
The quilt, "Ezekiel's Wheels," is at the Cranberry Merchant, a gift shop just off U.S. 56 at 106 Sixth St. Also shown there is O'Dea's "Pineapple" quilt, made from materials purchased in an Amish fabric store at Rutledge, Mo.
OTHER O'DEA quilts in the exhibit reflect her thoughts on a range of issues from environmental concerns to politics, including "Restore The Cheyenne Bottoms," hanging in Roberts Drug Store, and "Rah! Rah! Rhetoric," emblazoned with such political slogans as "I Like Ike," "Honest Abe" and "My Hat is Still in the Ring," at the Whitley Insurance office.
"She must sew all the time," Michael said of O'Dea. "We're really lucky to have her."
Other guild members who have contributed to the tour exhibits include Deborah Taul, whose "Country Children" quilt hangs in Gambino's pizzeria on Eighth Street; Jean Lawson, with several quilts at Betty B's, also on Eighth; and Mary Jane Chubb, whose "Cactus Rose" hangs in the Jones Family Practice Center.
EVA POTTER'S baby quilt hangs in city hall, Gordon and Sandy Wakeman's yellow school bus quilt hangs in the USD 348 district office and the new city library has three quilts, "Variable Star," "Indian Design" and "Sunflower," all owned or made by Chubb or Taul.
A Lone Star quilt owned by Mike Curran, a Baldwin High School teacher, and made by his grandmother, Thelma Spencer, hangs in PTS Professional Tanning Salon. Curran's wife, Donna, also is a member of the guild's quilt tour committee.
Brenda Day, director of the Old Castle Museum, 515 Fifth, said that for the tour, she was rotating items from the museum's collection of 12 quilts, a couple of coverlets and carriage covers and four paisley shawls.
TWO ON display last week were a "Double T" made in 1879 by a quilter named Laura Mauck, probably for her high school graduation and wedding, and the oldest quilt in the collection, a white and "turkey red" quilt with the inscription "Margaret" and "Made in 1800" in one corner.
Day said the quilt probably was made for Margaret and not by her, although the museum has no documentation on who Margaret was or where she lived.
"The quilting is very unusual," she said, pointing out the systematic but subtle changes in stitch widths, "and the stitching is very fine."
In the post office, guild member Sarah Wilson, who also is Baldwin's postmaster, shows her eye-catching "Drop a Pebble" quilt. Made by her late sister, Catherine Cain, who also lived in Baldwin, the colorful quilt was inspired by water ripples caused by dropping a pebble into a pool.
MICHAEL SAID the guild planned at least one walking tour annually and perhaps an additional seasonal show at Christmas.
Guild members also have made a Maple Leaf Festival quilt that will be given away in exchange for donations at the festival, which is Oct. 17 and Oct. 18 this year.
The queen-size quilt features the standard quilters' maple leaf pattern and is on display at Cignet Fashions, 713 Eighth St. Any guild member can take a donation.
Organized in February, the group has "just boomed," Michael said, noting membership already is up to about 40.
One of the attractions, she noted, is that the meetings are in the evenings at 7 p.m. the fourth Thursday of each month at the Baldwin Senior Center which gives quilters who work outside of their homes during the day a new option for getting together.
Several members, including Michael, also are involved in the long-established Kaw Valley Quilters Guild, which holds daytime meetings, making it convenient for those who are interested to belong to both.