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Local quilt maker passionate about her craft

Jean Osborne is one of the many quilters in the area who will have their creations on display as part of Heritage Days
Jean Osborne with one of her fabulous quilts displayed outside of her house. This one


ean Osborne has been quilting since she was in her 20s, but says that over the last 12 years it has become more of a hobby, one which she considers to be an art form.

Osborne is one of the many quilters in the area who will have their creations on display at the St. Aidan’s/Saint Christopher Church as part of Heritage Days beginning on May 19.

Osborne took the time to show me many of her colourful, intricate, and elaborate quilts on a beautiful sunny Saturday afternoon recently. When I arrived she had two quilts displayed on the railing of her porch, allowing the sun to highlight the stunning colours for me to see.

Some quilts can take from 6 months to a year to complete, especially if the quiltmaker is as meticulous as Osborne. “I like dense quilting,” says Osborne. “My piecing, that means putting the top all together, is all hand done and so is my quilting.” Once in a while she will send a quilt to a long-arm quilt maker, someone expert in quilting using a special quilting machine, but she only does this if the quilt is an extra large project. “I prefer to say it’s been completely hand done. It’s just what I love to do because I like to slow down the process.”

For Osborne, quilting is a relaxing, almost meditative process, one which she says has helped her through tough times. Each quilt, especially those made for family and friends, is made with careful consideration of colour values. She feels that colour carries with it emotions and that when she is making a quilt for someone, she is matching the colours to the person and that she is stitching her love for them into the quilt.

Even though the style of quilting that Osborne doeshas its origins in historical block patters, and carries with it a set formula, when she conceptualizes a quilt pattern it’s her own. The freedom of it being an art form is what matters to her and she takes advantage of that freedom, using quality fabrics wherever she can find them: garage sales, second hand stores, etc. She likes experimenting and even allowing colours to “vibrate” or clash at times. “I don’t care if I write a storybook and it’s the princess and the pea and this house is bulging with quilts, I don’t care, cause I gotta do it. It’s a passion and it’s a driven hobby.”

Osborne gathers inspiration from every aspect of life: nature, her garden, her family, and sometimes things that are more abstract, like emotions. In her office she has pictures of her family, keepsakes from her travels, pieces of artwork, and piles and piles of neatly folded sections of fabric. Quilting is also a portable hobby and Osborne will often sit outside and enjoy the sun while she works, or take a current project with her when she visits her daughter. “It’s just something to do,” she says. “Which I really like.”

Osborn’s office is quite small, so her house has become both a storage area and a workplace. When she is ready to place the quilt top together with the batting and the back, she uses her kitchen floor. Often her husband Hans will arrive home to discover that he is not allowed in the kitchen and that supper will be late because Osborne is not quite done.

Osborne says that she has been moving towards the idea of selling her quilts at craft fairs, and has flirted with the idea of setting up her own store front out of her home, but she doesn’t want to rush it. She has a stockpile of finished quilts, in trunks, hanging from racks, on her couches, beds, and chairs (she says she’s created between 45 and 50 quilts by hand), however, finding the time to promote herself has been one of the challenges. She is excited to be part of the Quilt Show and Historical Display on May 19 and says she will have approximately six quilts on display and for sale.