An array of colorful quilts decorated Forist Lane in Merced as the Gateway Quilters’ Guild celebrated its biennial quilt show “Quilts Along Forist Lane” this past Saturday, Sept. 28.
The quilt show began mid-morning at 10 o’clock and ran through the afternoon, ending at 4 p.m. Residents were treated to a walk-through of a collection of custom quilts crafted by members of the Quilters Guild.
The quilts were displayed throughout the neighborhood on trees and steel pools, where they were hung by heavy clamps, decorating the streets with a multicolor of fabric work. Quilts inspired by animals, music, holidays, and even scenery were on display for attendees to see.
The display of quilts and patch-work alongside a garden setting was inspired by the Livermore quilting show “Quilting in the Garden,” held at Alden Lane Nursery. After visiting the show, Susan Hammon, this years featured artist, was inspired to bring the theme back to her neighborhood on Forist Lane.
“They were beautifully shown,” Hammon said of the quilts that were on display at the nursery. “Forist Lane is my street, and I thought to myself — why don’t we have it here! Luckily I have wonderful neighbors that went along with the event.”
Being an active member of the Quilters Guild for the past 30 years, Hammon was able to influence the Guild to do just that. In previous years, the quilt exhibition had been celebrated at the Merced Fairground but, its past two showings have called Forist Lane its home.
This year’s show was also Hammon’s first time being honored as featured artist.
“After 30 years, I felt like it was finally time,” she said with a laugh.
Hammon remembers her first introduction into the world of fiber arts as embroidering tea towels with her Aunt Hulda. She grew up in Livingston and throughout her youth and adolescence immersed herself into embroidery, sewing, and tailoring. After attending an exhibition featuring quilting at the DeYoung museum in San Francisco in the 1990s, Hammon soon became inspired to learn the “beautiful art form.”
As part of the show, she opened the doors to her own home, bringing attendees into her living room to view her work. Quilts and patches inspired by Beauty and the Beast, the city of Paris, Halloween, Christmas, and Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo, decorated her living room.
“I took classes, lectures… I was a real active member,” she recalled, mentioning that her journey has included years of dedication, patience, and discipline.
The late quilters Delores Balagia Arzamendi and Shou-Wen Chen were honored in memoriam. On top of quilting, Arzamendi was owner of Quilted Treasures, a teacher, seamstress, and mother to six children. She loved gifting her children, grandchildren, and her children’s students with handmade items she would make.
Chen, originally from Taiwan, joined the Quilters Guild, after retiring to Merced from years of living in the San Francisco Bay Area. She volunteered at Applegate Park Zoo, the Merced Theater, and the California Welcome Center. Quilting was just one of the hobbies she enjoyed alongside gardening, traveling, and raising her rescue dog, Tyler.
Founded in May of 1985, the Gateway Quilters Guild brings together residents who love to quilt, hone their artistic skills, and share ideas with one another. Meeting monthly, the group works to share their completed quilts alongside of their stories, to gain insight about the craft from regionally and nationally recognized quilters, and to learn new techniques in guild-sponsored workshops. Throughout the decades, the are Gateway Quilters Guild has worked tirelessly to celebrating and preserve the quilting arts in Merced and the surrounding communities. With this in mind, one of the guild’s major activities involves helping children and adults in need by making and distributing quilts throughout the community.
For more information on the Gateway Quilters Guild, readers can find the organization on Facebook.