Smithfield Herald

Making the practical beautiful

Penny Prichard of Benson will enter this quilt in the Vintage View Quilt Show.
Penny Prichard of Benson will enter this quilt in the Vintage View Quilt Show.

Layers of colorful fabric stacked on a table in Benson will soon be on display in Raleigh.

Penny Prichard, who lives in Benson, teaches at West Johnston High School. In her spare time, she is a quilter and president of the Capital Quilters Guild, which is putting on a quilting show this weekend.

Quilting, Prichard said, is a skill usually learned “on a grandmother’s knee,” but she picked up the craft in 2002, when her two boys were young.

Prichard said she loves the colors and the patterns but most of all the friendship of fellow quilters.

“It’s very calming; it’s good therapy,” she said. “It’s a good creative outlet for me.”

Prichard said quilting started with women who made clothes; they would have material left over and want to use up the scraps. A person can stay warm by wearing a burlap sack, she said, or they can sandwich the burlap between something beautiful and soft.

“I think the human soul craves art and craves beauty, and that’s why we do it,” Prichard said. “It’s just to take something practical and make something beautiful.”

Only a person’s hands are busy while quilting: that leaves room for listening to an audio book, watching TV or making friends. “The quilting bee, sitting around the frame, was therapy,” Prichard said. “You worked it all out together, and friendships were formed... You stitched away and worked things out.”

The show in Raleigh is a chance for quilters to have their work judged, to share tips and advice and admire others’ quilts. Some 500 quilts will be on display March 14-16 in the Kerr Scott Building on the N.C. State Fairgrounds in Raleigh. Among the quilts will be vintage quilts from the last 100 years and before.

Prichard is entering three of her quilts and one her mother and grandmother made. “I didn’t realize my grandmother did embroidery work on there until just before my mom died,” she said.

The Capital Quilters Guild is partnering with the Carolina Longarm Association to host the show, which will present two Quilts of Valor to veterans.

Deirdre Jersey, one of the show’s organizers, lives on the Johnston County side of Willow Spring. She’s exhibiting her first quilt and excited to see what the judges say.

Jersey described quilting as both artistic and utilitarian, with both women and women participating. The craft saw a surge of interest during the bicentennial in 1976, she said.

“It’s both artistic, creative and traditional,” Jersey said. “We want it to live on and on and continue to make quilts, because there’s a lot of love and attention that goes into one.”