A Patchwork of Lives
On alternate years, members of the Wellsboro-based Mountain Laurel Quilt Guild exhibit their works of art at the Gmeiner Art and Cultural Center for one month near summer’s end. This year is special, though, as 2018 marks the twentieth anniversary of the Guild’s formation. The exhibit will run for seven weeks, from August 8 to September 23, with a formal reception at the Gmeiner on August 10 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. This year quilt fanciers can also see small, intricate quilts dotting the widows of local shops and offices for “shop hop” season. These unique creations are like brochures for the event. There are thirty-nine of the little masterpieces.
The Mountain Laurel Quilt Guild is a guild in the traditional sense we learned about during our history classes. It is a merchant guild dedicated to the commercial and artistic success of its members, and to giving back to the community. Founded in Wellsboro in 1998, this particular guild started with the friendship between two Tioga county quilters, Mary Jane Ehlich and Madalene Murphy. They and their ambitious and creative friends quickly grew the group to over 100 members in the first year. Today, the Mountain Laurel Quilt Guild boasts 123 “amazing women,” according to Kate Means, one of the founding members and a former guild president.
“Everyone has struggled,” she explains, and the Guild is a great place to find friends and mentors, and to enrich one’s life through “continuous learning and giving.”
“One thing all quilters do is share,” says Kate. She explains that many projects the Guild members create are donated to local organizations, including those that offer hospice care, services for individuals faced with domestic violence, and foster care programs. Quilting is more than just technique, she says, and has been a source of community activism throughout history; Mansfield University even has an entire class on quilt-based activism. The upcoming exhibit in the Gmeiner is no exception to this community-based philosophy, with this year’s proceeds going to Seeds of Hope, an organization dedicated to helping families in crisis.
The Guild’s anniversary celebration/opening reception includes live music, refreshments, and the opportunity to win handmade door prizes. For the first time in Guild history, there will be a market, appropriately enough on Labor Day weekend, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. September 1-3. All other weekends of the exhibit will feature technique demonstrations at 1p.m. Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays.
The Guild meets at the Gmeiner at 7 p.m. on the third Monday every month. For event and other information visit www.mountainlaurelquiltguild.org or call Kate at (570) 404-4541. And if you see a quilt you absolutely must have, the Gmeiner on September 3 is the place and time to make your purchase of a one-of-kind work of art.