The quilters of the Rim Country spread love with the many quilts they donate and the funds raised through their events.
There are five quilting groups: the Strawberry Patchers, the Shoofly Quilters, the DPS Quilt Angels, the Threadplayers and the Frill Seekers. Many of the area's quilters participate in more than one group. Quilting could be considered one of the Rim Country's crafts of choice.
Community service is closely tied to the creative efforts of all these quilters.
The DPS Quilt Angels, founded by Willene Smith about a year ago, was formally chartered with the Arizona Quilters Guild in Oct. 2007. They had a quilting marathon in Feb. 2008 to make comfort quilts for Department of Public Safety officers around the state to give to people involved in the accidents to which they respond. The goal of the marathon was to make 300 quilts, Smith said.
The 45-inch-by-60-inch quilts are made by every chapter of the Arizona Quilters Guild as the one statewide charity project of the guild, Smith said. Quilters in the Rim Country affiliated with any chapter in the state guild have been making the comfort quilts since 1990, she said. More than 5,000 of the quilts have been delivered to D.P.S. since the project was started. The quilts have been used in the delivery of a newborn and by an 87-year-old woman and all ages in between.
"It takes about two months to prepare for the marathons. We order batting in monster-size rolls and can get more than 30 quilts out of one roll," Smith said.
A couple of weeks before the big event, Smith and the rest of the DPS Quilt Angels had already sandwiched and pinned together 200 quilts and had them ready for the sewing machines.
"The quilts go to other groups besides D.P.S. We give them to the Time Out Shelter and sheriff's office," she said.
People are not the only beneficiaries of the generosity of quilters. Smith said her groups have made dog beds and comfort quilts for kittens at the Payson Humane Society as well.
"These are very dedicated groups," Smith said.
The groups are maybe a little addicting too. Barbara Boehm made her first quilt three years ago and joined the Shoofly Quilters. Now, she is the chairman. It was the first quilt group in which she has participated.
The Shoofly Quilters started in 1996 and were chartered by the Arizona Quilters Guild with 23 members. Now there are about 64 members and almost all of them very active.
The Shoofly group has held its share of marathons, calling them community service days. In the past, the members would set aside three consecutive days in both the fall and spring to mass-produce quilts.
"We make between 200 and 250 quilts and give them to area firefighters, police, the D.P.S., the sheriff's office, the veterans hospital, Payson Community Kids or any group that needs them," Boehm said.
In addition to the three-day marathons, Boehm is setting aside a half-day each month for the Shoofly Quilters to work on the community service quilts. One of the primary beneficiaries of the group's ongoing project is RTA Hospice and Palliative Care.
"We give them between 20 and 30 quilts each month," Boehm said. The quilts used by the hospice clients are then given to their families.
A fiber arts group called The Threadplayers is a spin-off group.
Most of the members are affiliated with other quilting groups. They wanted an outlet to create unique quilts based on their own designs, as well as to work with fibers in a variety of creative ways, said member Alyce Leach.
The group started in Oct. 2002 and meets monthly for business. It holds periodic workshops to practice new techniques.
A group project, "Rim Country Experience," was a 14-piece pane first displayed at the first Rim Country Quilt Roundup, where it was awarded first prize for Viewers Best of Show. It was later showcased in the national magazine, "American Quilter."
Leach said recently the members challenged each other to make a piece drawing from a song title, with a color in the title. The pieces showcase the many diverse talents of the members. A number of the pieces will be on display at The Threadplayers "Expressions in Fiber II," an exhibit planned for May 3 and May 4 at the Gila Community College campus in Payson.
"Quite a few of the members still do traditional quilts and volunteer their time at community service projects with other local chapters," Leach said.
The Strawberry Patchers, a chapter of the Arizona Quilters Guild was organized in February 1994. Currently it has a membership of 31. Anyone interested in quilting, no matter their skill level, is invited to attend the meetings.
The group meets in the Isabelle Hunt Memorial Public Library Activity Room on the first and third Thursdays of each month at the Pine Cultural Hall in Pine, Ariz.
The Strawberry Patchers set up and conduct training activities, participate in local events, do potluck luncheons and a wide variety of fun stuff throughout the year.
The group's two main fund-raising activities are an annual quilt show in the summer and a raffle for a quilt, which they call an Opportunity Quilt.
The money collected from the sale of tickets for the Opportunity Quilt and the admission fee for the show, allows the Strawberry Patchers to give, on average, from $3,500 to $4,000 to local organizations annually.
The group also makes quilts and provides fabric for community service projects. Some recipients have included:
- Gila County Sheriff's Posse
- Isabelle Hunt Memorial Library
- Pine Elementary School/Black Stallion Program
- Payson Public Schools/Black Stallion Program
- Pine Strawberry Archaeological and Historical Society, Inc.
- Pine Strawberry Firefighters Association
- Pine Strawberry Food Bank
- Cub Scout Pack 7354 of Payson
- Strawberry Elite
- Sweet Charity/Angel Program
- Tonto Rim Search and Rescue
The group's 2008 Opportunity Quilt, "Oh My Stars" comes with two matching pillow shams and measures 106-inches-by-119-inches.
The drawing for the 2008 Opportunity Quilt will be held Dec. 11, 2008. Tickets are one for $1 or six for $5 and you need not be present to win. If you would like to buy tickets, please send checks payable to Strawberry Patchers, P.O. Box 594, Pine, AZ 85544-0594 and the group will include your entry in the drawing.
The 12th Annual Strawberry Patchers Quilt Show will be held June 6 through June 8, 2008 in the Pine Cultural Hall.
Expect more than 100 glorious quilts and wearables, plus the popular Berry Patch Boutique with a variety of handmade items for sale by the group's members and many quilting and sewing vendors for relaxed shopping.
Another feature of the show will be quilt appraisals by Karen Housner, provided through appointment only.
For information, contact Elaine Putnam (928) 476-3511. Admission is only $2.
This show is open entry to all and ribbons are awarded by viewers' choice.
To contact the Strawberry Patchers, get in touch with 2008 Chapter Chair Kathy MacCleary, (928) 472-4410, firstname.lastname@example.org; Marty Mitchell, membership, (928) 472-7104, email@example.com; Leslie Peacock, secretary, (928) 468-1866, firstname.lastname@example.org; or Marlene Bonney, treasurer, (928) 476-4711, email@example.com.
In May of 2006, a group of Strawberry Patchers formed a fiber arts group called the "Frill Seekers." They meet on the fourth Thursday of each month in a different member's home or they may take a road trip in lieu of a meeting.
In the last year-and-a-half, the 11 members (who are still current members of the Strawberry Patchers) have grown in their quest to produce quilts, wearable art, wall hangings and purses in a nontraditional manner. Currently they are making each other "pages" for themed books. Everyone chose a theme and the other members were challenged to make something within the theme.
The Shoofly Quilters and DPS Quilt Angels both invite anyone interested in quilting to join them. The Shoofly Quilters meet from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. every Tuesday at the American Legion Hall, 709 E. Highway 260, call Boehm at (928) 472-4340. Contact Willene Smith about the meetings of the DPS Quilt Angels, (928) 476-3587.
The Strawberry Patchers meet at 9 a.m. the first and third Thursday of each month at the Pine Cultural Center. For information, call Marty Mitchell at (928) 472-7104 or visit the Web site www.strawberrypatchers.com.
For information about the Threadplayers, contact Alyce Leach at (928) 472-7609.
The Shoofly Quilters meet from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. every Tuesday at the American Legion Hall, 709 E. Highway 260, call Chairman Barbara Boehm at (928) 472-4340.
Contact Willene Smith about the meetings of the DPS Quilt Angels, (928) 476-3587 -- this group meets in a private home and does not have formal officers.
The Strawberry Patchers meet at 9 a.m. the first and third Thursday of each month at the Pine Cultural Center, its spin-off group, Frill Seekers, meets the fourth Thursday of the month. For information, call Membership Chairman Marty Mitchell at (928) 472-7104 or visit www.strawberrypatchers.com.
For information about the Threadplayers, Barbara Boehm said to contact Alyce Leach at (928) 472-7609.
Upcoming quilt shows
Expressions in Fiber Art II, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, May 3 and Sunday, May 4 at the Gila Community College Payson campus, presented by The Threadplayers. For more details, call Nancy Bollard, (928) 476-2305.
12th Annual Strawberry Patchers Quilt Show will be held June 6 through June 8, 2008 in the Pine Cultural Hall. For more details, call Elaine Putnam (928) 476-3511.
Rim Country Quilt Roundup will be Nov. 14, 15 and 16 at the Mazatzal Hotel and Casino exhibition room (old casino and restaurant). Details pending; for more information, call the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce, (928) 474-4515.