Monday, April 11, 2011

Sherry Phelps - utilitarian quilts of lasting beauty

Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
Sherry Phelps, quilter from Glen Cove, is proud to follow in the path of generations of women before her. She believes that the utility of a quilt is as important as its beauty. She hopes the quilts she makes will brighten a day. And she also hopes the quilts will go along on a picnic, and dry off a wet dog, and tag along with a toddler, and give a hug, and be used.

As far back as Sherry can remember there were homemade quilts around her house. Her grandmother was an accomplished quilter whose work was done entirely by hand. Her grandmother’s depression quilts were made from flour sacks and scrap fabrics, pieced by individuals and then quilted by sisters and neighbors joining together to create an item of utility and beauty. They were made of cotton, used for many years, washed often, and remain vibrant to this day.

Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
Sherry makes traditional quilts under the whimsical name Nana’s Quilted Hugs. Her inspiration comes from fabric colors and print combinations as well as traditional quilt block designs. She uses only cotton materials, from top pieced fabrics and muslin backing to unbleached batting. She uses only cotton thread, regardless of its tricky nature. She binds the finished quilt by hand. All quilts are machine washable and dryable.

For the uninitiated, there is a price one pays for working with cotton. It absorbs oil from the hands and makes them very dry. A good healing lotion is a must. Cotton dust released when preparing fabric is another occupational hazard and must be well controlled.

Sherry grew up in the Rocky Mountain west. She taught middle school English and history in Wyoming for 20 years. Her last teaching assignment was in southern China teaching English to international students. She took every opportunity to explore Asia, including trips to Singapore, Shanghai, Beijing and X’ian. She eventually settled on Long Island to be near her daughter and her family.


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