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A Companion Piece: The Making of Quiltfolk Dogs

Van Gogh Dog (2017), a 20" x 20" portrait quilt by Christina Blais of Woodbridge, Connecticut. Photo by Donna Callighan’s Photo Designs.

Companions come in all shapes and sizes. Human, animal, even inanimate objects can keep us company—think Wilson, a volleyball that became the unflappable companion for Tom Hanks’ character in Castaway

For quilters who find companionship in pets, we know that they stay by our side, day after day, as we cut, sew, create, cry, and laugh. They say art is made with blood, sweat, and tears, and I am in fact living proof of that. I’ve definitely had more than my share of sweat (think hot flashes). I’ve shed a few tears here and there. And I most definitely could win ribbons in the blood category. Case in point: I once made a mistake with a rotary cutter and a finger, and only after the emergency was over did I discover that I had bled all over my constant companion: my dog Tom. I was horrified, but he didn’t seem to mind.

Great companions are that way. They are patient. They listen. They don’t judge. They remain steadfast, right by our side. Dogs, such as Tom, are such beautiful creatures with amazing personalities. In fact, mankind’s love for dogs goes so far back that 12,000 years ago, a woman was discovered buried alongside hers.* When archaeologists uncovered her remains in the region that is now Israel, they found that the woman and her pet dog were connected even in death. Her hand was found laid over the pup—indisputable proof that dogs really are a woman’s best friend.

Ralph of Eugene, Oregon, poses at the Owens Rose Garden, sitting on Land of Lincoln Sampler (2011), made by Kennette Blotzer. Pattern by Carol Hopkins Designs. Photo by Breanna Briggs.
Irwin (2022) by Rebecca Lilly Segura of Floresville, Texas.

Our First Special Edition: Quiltfolk Dogs

The Quiltfolk team and I were keenly aware that there are a lot of dog quilts in the world. So, it made sense that for Quiltfolk’s first “companion” publication (i.e. our first special edition), we chose to focus on and celebrate our popular pals, our furriest of friends: dogs. Quilters and their love of dogs go way back; I’m guessing that as long as there have been people sewing and quilting, there have been dogs by their side.

For Quiltfolk Dogs, we also wanted to bring in the voice of one of America’s beloved quilters and dog lovers Victoria Findlay Wolfe to write our foreword, and she quickly agreed. Victoria has shared her dog stories across her social media channels, and we know that a quilt made in Victoria’s studio wouldn’t be a true “Victoria quilt” unless it included a few stray dog hairs from one of her three companions. Her dogs are always welcome to snuggle on her quilts, and if they chew it up, Victoria says she’ll just make another one. That’s some dedicated dog love for sure!

(L-R) Edith, Agatha, and Cleo join Victoria Findlay Wolfe in front of her Better Days (2022) quilt. Photo by Lindsey Trapp Photography.
Victoria Findlay Wolfe and her dog, Cleo, amongst just a few of Victoria’s fabrics. Photo by Lindsey Trapp Photography.

I envisioned this publication many years ago, but I never had the resources to pull it all together. Collaborating with Quiltfolk was the perfect partnership. Working on Quiltfolk Dogs was fun and unforgettable. Quiltfolk Publisher Mike McCormick, Editor in Chief Breanna Briggs, Graphic Designer Janelle Frazier, and I spent a lot of hours sifting through entries and making difficult decisions in order to select the submissions that best fit with our publication. And even though we started with a completely blank slate and different visions for how the book would look, our numerous Zoom calls, emails, and texts allowed us to merge our diverse ideas into one style that would communicate our vision to showcase dogs in quilts and dogs on quilts.

There are some stunning quilts in here by well-known artists, such as Jill Kerttula, Jane Haworth, Shannon Conley, Holly Cole, and so many more. And there are priceless photographs from dog-loving folks from all over. You will see dogs snuggled with quilts, dogs on quilts, dogs staring back at you adoringly, and even dogs leaping into the water while their owners sit in quilt-covered chairs. Each page is a special treat! We hope that you will dig in to Quiltfolk Dogs and sit back and chill for a while as you turn these pages that are filled with love and admiration for our greatest companion, our dogs.

*Source: The Times of Israel, “Man’s Best Friend” 

Moe Dog (2019) by Judy Kriehn of Garland, Texas.

About the Author

Teresa Duryea Wong is a writer, quiltmaker, and antique quilt collector as well as a member of the International Advisory Board of the International Quilt Museum. Learn more at: https://teresaduryeawong.com

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