By Dedra Cordle
Each year, the descendants of Georgie Barnhouse get together in Clendenin, W. Va for a family reunion. There, they sing, dance and have something of a trade show. The wood carvers display their sculptures; the knife makers showcase their wares; the painters hang their artwork and the quilters try to find enough room to spread out their creations.
“We have a lot of creative people in our family,” said local quilt artist Annette Reynolds.
It is a close-knit bunch, but like all families, they do have members that are known to teasingly brag from time to time, especially since the majority of them are artists of some renown. While Reynolds said she is not overly fond of doing so, she is quite proud of a recent accomplishment in the quilting world.
“I wouldn’t say I am the best quilter in my family, but I am the only one who has their quilt hanging on display in the National Quilt Museum,” she said with a sly grin.
Even though she has been immersed in the world of arts and crafts since childhood, Reynolds said she had no interest in taking up quilting until she hit a wall in her painting. The inspiration struck when she came across a fabric store in Longview, Texas and fell in love with all of the beautiful and colorful fabrics. That incident took place seven years ago and she has not stopped quilting since.
Like most quilters, she started by using patterns to hone her skills, but she soon branched off into the world of quilt art where practitioners use imagery or original ideas. Reynolds she said she prefers this medium because it is all about the color and design.
Though she has given away many of her quilts to family, friends and church members, most are kept folded neatly inside the closets in the home she shares with her husband, Gary and dog, Gina. She said she does not like to enter them into contests because she is not a competitive person. However, her sister Marsha Beane is quite competitive and she felt some of that trait needed to be passed along to Reynolds for just one competition.
It happened when Beane was on a trip with some girlfriends to Paducah, Ky. to experience QuiltWeek, which was on their bucket list. During this long-anticipated adventure, the group of avid quilters attended the famed National Quilt Museum during the annual ‘New Quilts from an Old Favorite’ contest. While perusing the exhibit, Beane thought of her sister and grabbed an application for next year.
“I felt she had the artistic talent and the ability to make it as a finalist,” said Beane.
Reynolds was not so sure and expressed hesitance about entering the contest. Beane quickly shut that thought process down.
“She told me ‘You’re doing this’,” said Reynolds. “She really pushed me.”
With the challenge in hand – to make something new from an old Nine Patch – and her sister prodding her along, Reynolds went to work. Five months later, her creation ‘Dressed to the Nines’ was complete with crystal beads and hand-dyed silk and satin fabric from Reynolds’ aunt Adah Lynch, who is a well-known watercolor artist.
Reynolds knew her quilt was special, but she said she was beyond surprised when she learned she was a finalist in the competition and that her quilt would hang in the museum and travel across the country for the next two years.
She said seeing it in person was an experience she could not imagine.
“It was surreal seeing my quilt hung with all these other beautiful quilts.”
Reynolds said that while she may not have wanted to enter into the contest, she is glad that her sister pushed her into doing so. She even believes she may have come away with a competitive bug since she plans to enter into the museum’s 25th anniversary contest next year.