Article Published: Feb. 28, 2013 | Modified: Feb. 28, 2013

From left, Sandy Livingston, Lynda Shuford, Susan Sweet, Marge Zeliff and Rose Guthrie display their artwork at the Watauga Arts Council Gallery.

Photo by Frank Ruggiero

To commemorate a generous life and share the practical art of quilt making, the Mountain Laurel Quilt Guild is exhibiting 13 quilts at the Watauga Arts Council.

Mounting two walls and draped over bars, each of the exhibited quilts were started by or involved Maggie Harmon of Valle Crucis, a long-time guild member who died last year.

A muted civil war replica, named “Watauga Past,” and an “almost psychedelic” quilt, named “All Things Bright and Beautiful,” will be displayed, said Susan Sweet, the guild's workshop organizer.

There are novelty quilts representative of our area, like “Farmers Market,” and “High Country Christmas Tree Farm,” depicting 20 trees made by 20 guild members.

A replica of a 1930s Great Depression quilt, which would have been made from animal feed sacks instead of purchased fabrics, will be on display. “And they all started with just a stack of fabrics,” Sweet said.

The exhibit reception will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Friday, March 1, at the Watauga Arts Council Gallery, located at 783 W. King St., Suite A, in downtown Boone, near Paolucci’s Italian Bar and Grill.

The exhibit will run through the month of March. The WAC is open Friday and Saturday, from noon to 6 p.m., and Sunday, from 2 to 5 p.m. Weekday hours vary and can be determined by calling the WAC at (828) 264-1789.

Since the beginning of this year, the 35 Mountain Laurel Quilt Guild members participated in weekly workshops to finish Harmon's quilts.

“(Harmon) was always ready to help anyone who needed to be shown how to do something in quilting,” Sweet said.

In this exhibit, the guild used recognizable patterns, like “Delectable Mountains” in the “Blue Ridge Mountains” quilt and “Dresden Plate” in the “Calico Cabin” quilt.

Colleen Eskridge, a recent member and professional quilter, elegantly finished each quilt by attaching the quilt tops to the batting.

The quilts vary from 63-by-51 inches to 73-by-98 inches in size and vary from $250 to $350 in price.

Funds from purchased quilts will go toward the guild's workshops and inviting speakers.

The guild was founded in 1987 to promote appreciation, educate members and provide quilts for donation to the community. Over the years, quilts have graced every local hospital, Meals on Wheels, hospice, the Hospitality House and families in need. Last December, the guild distributed 77 quilts. In return, the guild accepts all donations of 100 percent cotton fabrics.

Seven years ago, Sweet and her husband moved to the High Country.

“I have always been a sewer and a weaver,” said Sweet, who has a bachelor of fine arts degree in crafts, with an emphasis on weaving.

But after joining the guild, she said, “I really have fallen in love with quilting.”

Depending on their complexity, quilts can take anywhere from two weeks to finish by machine, two months to finish by a group and sometimes years to finish if completely hand-sewn.

However, Sweet said, “If you can sew a straight line by machine or by hand, you can make a quilt.”

Guild meetings are scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on the first Thursday of every month. Meetings are held at the Senior Center Building, located at 132 Poplar Grove Connector in Boone. Anyone, including non-members, is welcome to attend.

Members range from young mothers to grandmothers, and men are welcome, too.

Membership is open to any person with access to a sewing machine and to any age or experience level, for an annual fee of $20.

During meetings, members show and tell their most recently completed quilts and bring any problems or questions for discussion. Other days for specific quilt work are arranged at the meetings and circulated through a newsletter sent to members' email addresses.

For more information, contact Sweet at (828) 263-8399 or (

Additional Images

From left, Sandy Livingston, Lynda Shuford, Susan Sweet, Marge Zeliff and Rose Guthrie display their artwork at the Watauga Arts Council Gallery.
Photo by Frank Ruggiero

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