Friday, May 12, 2017

Remembering a Fine Lady and Master Quilter, Claire Booth

Claire Booth. Photo shared by Veila Lauerman.
I learned that Claire Booth has passed a few days ago. She was 95 years old. I spoke to Claire about a year ago. She had started a new project and hoped to finish it.

In 1991 when I started quilting I learned that the church Gary was serving was the meeting place for a quilt group started by Claire. Holly, another newbie in town, and I joined the group. They met weekly in the balcony of the church where a quilt frame was set up. Holly and I moved on, but those ladies are still meeting.

The Quilters around the quilt frame in the 1990s. Claire is standing in the far left background.
I was 38 years old. Claire was four years older than I am now. Her specialty was applique. Claire upcycled cereal boxes to make templates. She never had to buy a pattern. She could look at a photo of a quilt pattern and recreate it.
Claire Booth's String of Beans quilt
hand appliqued and hand quilted

Claire made a pattern based on a quilt on the cover of a magazine
Made by The Quilters

Claire Booth's wool houses
Claire said she liked applique because it was 'forgiving' and I eventually realized that my precision in piecing was spotty and turned to more applique.

The Quilters 1995 project 

The Quilter's 1993-4 project 
The members contributed blocks. Some cutting the fabrics, some pieced the top together. They group sat around the quilt frame to hand quilt. The best at binding would bind it off. The quilts were sold and the proceeds was distributed to charity.

The Hillsdale Daily news ran an article on Claire.

And articles on the group appeared as well. Janet Lee was our church organist as well as the Lifestyles Editor at the paper,

 This article also interviews me about my start in quilt making as well as Clarie's quiltmaking history.
The Quilters around the quilt frame. I am on the far right. Claire is on the back left.

I had become addicted to quilting with these ladies. When I heard that in the past they had put on quilt shows I was excited. I encouraged them to put on a show while I was still with them. The ladies said sure, if I did all of the organizing. I was undaunted; I had a background in outside sales, advertising copywriting, and high school journalism classes. 

So I became publicity chair of The Quilter's Palette, piggybacking on an established yearly show of art and garden tours. We ran the show for two years before my husband was assigned to a new church and we moved. 

After seven years in Hillsdale my husband was assigned to a church in Lansing, Michigan. Claire made Gary a wall hanging based on a greeting card image.

The Quilters made friendship blocks and signed them as my goodbye gift. The pattern was Kimono Girls. I then made the blocks into a quilt.

The last project I worked on with The Quilters was the Biblical Block Sampler. The church purchased it as a goodbye gift to my husband. The photo below shows Claire on the right. I am on the left. The quilt was on our bed for many years.

In the United Methodist Church when pastors move they are to 'let go' so the congregation can bond with the incoming pastor. Gary took this very seriously so I had little contact with The Quilters after we moved. I meet up with Robin several times to see a quilt show in Flint, MI and once we had a surprise when Naomi came to Gary's church when visiting her daughter in Lansing.

A few years ago when a current member of The Quilters friended me on Facebook. Velia now keeps me apprised of the group, which still includes several women who were my friends so many years ago!

Being a part of a small group of talented women early in my quilt life was an amazing and rare gift. I will always be grateful to Claire and the other women for teaching me, tolerating me, and encouraging me.

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