Gina Perkes, Sharon Schamber Seek $100,000 Prize

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Quilters Sharon Schamber and Gina Perkes are in the running for the $100,000 grand prize in the Quilting Challenge contest by a quarterly magazine of the same name.

Schamber's "Scarlet Serenade" and Perkes' "Masquerade" have traveled the quilt show circuit.

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Gina Perkes

"Scarlet Serenade" won the Best of Show Gammill Longarm Machine Quilting Award at the 2006 International Quilt Festival and the That Patchwork Place Best of Show in the Innovative Appliqué Large category in the 2005 International Quilt Association annual judged show.

Her husband Gene estimated she had 780 hours of quilting time in "Scarlet Serenade."

"Masquerade" is the quilt, Perkes said, she has shown the most. It won her the first best of show she ever received from the Arizona Quilter's Guild a few years ago and was honored with a best of contest for Artwork at the Quilter's Society's Nashville 2005 show. It also won third place in a Machine Quilter's Showcase.

She does not usually keep track of the time it takes to create a quilt, but she happened to log the 60 hours it took to make the top of "Masquerade."

"I'm not at the same level as Sharon, but maybe someday," Perkes said.

Schamber describes the quilt competition world as "professional" and "intense" and the women as "artists not brought up in the art world."

"I hate to use the world competitive in a male sense. Women (quilters) are detached and can focus on the road where we teach 50 to 60 percent of the time, so we are all exhausted, versus quilters who stay at home more and lead a grounded, healthy life.

"Gina does a good job bridging both worlds," Schamber said.

Perkes' nine-year-old son, Dalton, sometimes draws and designs pieces for her quilts.

Of course, the two Rim Country residents are not the only two quilters up for the prize.

There are 38 more "world-class quilts" that will go before three judges, said Darren Cohen of Reality Publishing, the publisher of Quilting Challenge magazine.

"Judges will look at the overall composition and how the design was executed," Cohen said.

The public may view the 40 quilts and cast ballots Online at www.quiltingchallenge.com/voting.

The online system allows for a single vote per person. Public votes count for 25% and voting, is open through Dec. 10.

Magazine representatives will notify the winner mid-December and the results will be on the Web site.

Quilting Challenge is in negotiation with the Today Show to have the winning quilt and quilter on for a segment, as happened in 2006.

In return for the prize money, the quilter must give up the quilt, which the magazine then auctions and splits the proceeds between muscular dystrophy, spina bifida and cerebral palsy nonprofit organizations.

Is it hard to give up a quilt?

"Not for me. For me the enjoyment comes from the process of creating. Once it is done, I am ready to move on to another quilt," Perkes said.

"Compared to last year, (the first of the competition) the quilts are twice as good."

"It is a big deal, anything with a $100,000 prize would be, but, the less I know, the better I feel about the whole thing," Sharon Schamber said.

She prefers to concentrate on the "incredible" new quilt she is working on.

"It's one of the best I've done -- it's medallion-style with a black center, a ring of red and brown Celtic appliqué," she said.

Perkes had not looked at what could happen to the winner either.

"Right now I am busy being a mom, running kids to sports and building a house," she said.

"There are so many quilts that deserve to win. I am happy to be a finalist," she added.

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