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30-foot quilt brings its maker joy

By LAUREL BLACK lblack@paducahsun.com

At 9 feet tall and 30 feet wide, it's safe to say Victoria Findlay Wolfe's recent quilt, "A Garden For All Seasons," was a big project -- so big, the author says, that "the scale of it makes me giggle."

"Comments like, 'Well, you must have a very big bed,' that makes me laugh, too," the quilter said. "It's good to keep a sense of humor, and have fun doing what you love."

The large quilt will be on display at Paducah's American Quilter's Society's QuiltWeek, along with other work from the New York resident.

"We had to make sure we had a spot we can put that," AQS Executive Director Bonnie Browning said of the enormous quilt (it will be hanging in the Dome Pavilion alongside about 26 others, she added).

What possessed Wolfe to sew a quilt that size?

"Each year I think I am going to get back to my garden," she said. "It's been a busy few years, and that hasn't happened yet. So I set about making a garden that would make me smile all year long. I love the aspect of making something that feels too large for itself."

Wolfe, a Minnesota native, picked up quilting from her grandmother.

"To be a little girl buried under her warm quilts during the Minnesota winter was wonderfully comforting," she said. "As I grew, I was transported into the world of color by her crazy quilts."

As an art student at the College of Visual Arts in St. Paul, Wolfe was sometimes considered "too crafty," she says on her website.

Even when she moved to New York in 1994 to focus on her art, she found herself returning to her sewing machine time and again in order to fashion her own clothes.

"I painted furiously, had a few shows, but in the end, I kept coming back to sewing," she said.

Browning said Wolfe's work stands out because she exhibits a mastery of traditional patterns -- in particular, the double wedding ring -- while adding "a new and fresh look" to them.

The interlocking ring pattern, which many trace back to the era of the Great Depression, appears in a number of Wolfe's quilts, which use an array of bright, cheery colors.

She will host a class on the Double Wedding Ring style from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday in the Roosevelt II Room, but Browning said in a March interview that Wolfe's classes were close to being sold-out.

The quilter also served as the emcee for the AQS Awards Presentation Tuesday at the Luther F. Carson Four Rivers Center.

And, of course, her giant quilt will be impossible to miss.

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