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Issue 31 | Oklahoma

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For most Quiltfolk trips, one thing we try to consider is what the weather will be like when we’re there and how conducive it will be to our ability to travel. When planning for the Oklahoma issue, we wanted to make sure we avoided the infamous tornado season. While we love shots of quilts blowing in the wind, we didn’t want to push our luck.

Still, when we asked Oklahomans what their spring weather was like, most quoted actor and Oklahoma native Will Rogers: ​​“If you don’t like the weather in Oklahoma, wait a minute, and it’ll change.” Thankfully, we got very lucky during our visit, only running into light rain now and then. 

But we think that quote says something about the resilience of the folks of Oklahoma. Throughout its tumultuous history, from the Trail of Tears to the tragic events of the Tulsa Race Massacre and the challenges posed by the Dust Bowl era, Oklahoma has been tested time and again. Yet its people have displayed remarkable fortitude, determination, and ingenuity. They’ve transformed hardship into opportunity, harnessing the state’s abundant natural resources to forge a tight-knit, industrious community centered around family values and collective progress.

Feeling at home in Oklahoma isn’t just a sentiment; it’s an embrace of the state’s warm hospitality and rich cultural heritage. From the powwows of the Cherokee Nation to the rodeos of the Oklahoma Panhandle, The Sooner State’s diverse array of cultures and customs is woven into the fabric of everyday life. The spirit of community runs deep in Oklahoma’s veins, and its charm lies not only in its picturesque landscapes and bustling cities but also in the genuine kindness of its people. So whether you’re a native Oklahoman or a visitor passing through, you’ll find that feeling at home in Oklahoma is as natural as the sun setting over the plains.

Writers: Rebecca Bratburd, Meg Cox, Teresa Duryea Wong, Diane L. Murtha, Frances O’Roark Dowell, Sharbreon Plummer, and Carmen Schell. 

Photographer: Azuree Holloway 

Photo Stylist: Trevor Holloway

Previews From Issue 31

Beverly Huggins Kirk

Beverly Huggins Kirk’s journey of self-discovery weaves together moments of loss, growth, and cultural identity. From commemorating her father’s memory with a tie quilt to reclaiming her passion as an empty nester, Beverly embraces her own unique voice and empowers other women through her Scissor Tales Quilt Guild, shaping narratives that celebrate triumphs and confront historical complexities with grace and honesty.

Cindy Rennels

Cindy Rennels’ passion for horses led her from the plains of Illinois to the heart of Oklahoma’s equine culture. Initially immersed in the world of barrel racing, she took an unexpected dive into the realm of antique quilts and became a prominent figure in the quilting community and a respected seller with a vast inventory. The more quilts she bought, the more she fell in love with them and inevitably began building a collection of her own, while continuing to run and revamp her business amidst life’s unpredictable twists and turns.

Debra Harl and Avis Choate

The winning quilts from the Cherokee National Holiday Quilt Show are placed on the stage at the Chota Conference Center in Tahlequah for all to see. One quilter’s work has been on that stage so many times over the years that her children call her ribbon collection the “wall of glory.” Her name is Avis Choate, and her daughter, Debra Harl, happens to be one of the volunteer organizers of the show, which is held during an annual celebration that commemorates the signing of the Cherokee Nation constitution in 1839.

Dee Bushrod

Dee Bushrod quilted for many years before she found a process she truly loved. Pixel Quilts was born from a desire to create quilted pixelated portraits, and she has made many over the last three years, from celebrities to the late Queen Elizabeth II, even to a self-portrait. Dee works from her home studio in Tulsa, where she’s made so many quilts that, sometimes, she wonders if she’s neglecting her family. (She’s not—they’re very supportive.)

Dianne Kuper

Dianne Kuper is a small town girl who lives on a farm that’s been in her family for generations. But before retirement, she and her husband, Jeff, lived all over the world in places like England, Australia, and even Egypt. The one constant throughout their moves? Quilting, of course! Dianne sought out a community of quilters wherever they went and made sure to never be without a sewing machine. Now that they’re settled back in Oklahoma, she makes quilts for loved ones and for charity, and she’s even teaching her grandchildren to quilt too.

Friendship Quilt Group

Bring international women together, and what do they have in common? Stitching! Friendship International Women in Edmond offers a semester quilting class to the international women of the community called the Friendship Quilt Group. In 2024 alone, 31 different countries have been represented. Vicki Daniel, one of three volunteer teachers, said, “Quilting is a universal language. Many of these women knew some kind of sewing or stitching, and this common interest binds us all together.”

Granny Mildred’s Timeless Trail of Tears Quilt

Mildred Choate Taylor has been quilting on and off for most of her 80+ years, but there is one quilt in particular that is cherished by her granddaughter, Casi Morris. It is Mildred’s timeless interpretation of the forced removal of her Cherokee ancestors to Oklahoma, the Trail of Tears.

Inappropriate Quilters

With their quilting dress code of a strand of pearls, Leslie Bercher and Rochelle Rice host the Inappropriate Quilters podcast. Rochelle said, “You don’t need to wear makeup or even have your hair done, but pearls make you feel pretty.” You won’t believe their crazy start-up story, but the success they’ve found proves they’re onto something special. Hosting the podcast brings them as much joy as they give. Leslie said, “Who gets to connect with people all over the world AND hang out with a best friend?”

Lela and Mike O’Dell

Discover the heartwarming tale of Lela and Mike O’Dell, whose shared love for quilting has woven their lives together in unexpected ways. While Mike’s journey from nurse to entrepreneur and owner of Legit Kits started with a simple sewing machine purchase, Lela found solace and creativity in repurposing fabrics for her quilt designs. Their individual paths intersect in a beautiful mosaic of creativity, community, and the shared joy of quilting, showcasing the power of art to unite and inspire.

Lindsey Faith

When Lindsey Faith developed arthritis, it spelled the end of her career in sculpting and ceramics, but it marked the beginning of a unique form of quiltmaking entirely her own. The art school graduate fell back on her creativity and formal education, then took the plunge into free motion longarm quilting to create cute and cozy whole-cloth quilts based on her original quilt pattern designs. The warm tones and nature-inspired motifs give an intrinsically calming and healing effect to those who view them.

Patti Coppock Bucklin

When Patti Coppock Bucklin created a darling quilt based on her young grandson’s drawing, she swept up the hearts of everyone who saw it. That quilt was titled Bob, and he has become an iconic character of the modern quilt movement. Bob was voted People’s Choice at QuiltCon 2020; there are even socks featuring the quirky guy, and quilters everywhere have followed in Patti’s footsteps, creating their own quilts based on children’s drawings.

Rachel B. Hayes

Rachel B. Hayes is a trained artist who knew she’d found her medium when she combined textiles with light and gravity. Her work has hung all over the world, and she’s collaborated with multiple types of artisans. These days, she works from a large studio in Tulsa, where she plans, plots, and creates massive pieces that evoke quilt patterns. Using all kinds of textiles like heavy duty outdoor fabrics, vinyl, and acetate, Rachel builds awe-inspiring pieces that combine with their surroundings and seem as though they were always meant to be there.

Shannon and Vicki Conley

Explore the fascinating connection between science and fiber art through the journeys of Shannon Conley and her mother, Vicki. Both scientists by education and career, these two women bring their love of the natural world into their quilts, creating works inspired by everything from national parks to blood vessels. They’ve shown their art together in multiple exhibitions and demonstrate time and again how their scientific backgrounds have enriched their artistic pursuits.

Tulsa Modern Quilt Guild

Tulsa Modern Quilt Guild (TMQG) fosters a welcoming space where age, background, and skill level melt away in the joy of creation. Through innovative outreach projects, inclusive practices, and a passion for spreading the art of quilting, TMQG leaves an indelible mark on its members and the wider community alike.

Vintage Sewing Machine Center and Museum

The Vintage Sewing Center and Museum in Tulsa is not your average kind of place. This is a collection of over 1,000 sewing machines spread throughout an old-house-turned-museum, and every machine on the shelves sews. That’s all due to the tireless efforts of its fascinating caretaker—and guy who can fix anything—WK Binger.

Look for the following articles on the Quiltfolk Journal! 

Jason Wilson

Jason Wilson, a geometric painter from McAlester, finds inspiration in patterns, meticulously handcrafting vibrant works that often defy belief. Drawing from childhood memories spent with his quilting “grandmas,” his process pays homage to familial artistry while also pushing the boundaries of his craft. Now, he spends hours explaining to people that he didn’t use a computer to get his precise, mind-bending compositions. He is also part of a unique art collective called Qu’aint, consisting of five quilters and one painter. This collaboration has the makers creating quilts inspired by Jason’s paintings and vice versa.

Coming: July 9

Ann Solinski

Ann Solinski’s journey into modern art quilting began with a surprise gift, leading her to craft unique pieces that have been exhibited across Oklahoma. Embracing her Korean heritage, she blends tradition with innovation, infusing her quilts with vibrant colors and personal narratives to create striking textile art. Along with six other Oklahoma artists—five quilters and one painter—Ann is part of a unique art collective known as Qu’aint. This collaboration between paint and textile has inspired each artist to think in new ways and ultimately helped elevate their creative output.

Coming: July 9

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