The Marie White Masterpiece Award is sponsored by Road to California in memory of Carolyn Reese’s mother who was a co-founder of Road to California. Nancy Prince and Linda French were awarded $7,500 for winning this category.
Nancy’s love of quilting began when she was 16 when her grandmother made a crazy quilt for her out of her grandfather’s wool suits. Due to family commitments, it took a long time before Nancy could start quilting. About 20 years ago, with her children grown, she finally had the time and opportunity to begin her quilting adventure. Nancy made traditional quilts for about 4 years but found that the repetition from making the same block over and over again was not for her.
Her journey into thread painting was quite by accident. Sixteen years ago, during a hiking trip in the Smokey Mountains, Nancy’s husband took a photograph of a waterfall. Appliqué was her passion at the time and she wanted to make a memory of the time spent in the Smokey Mountains. The waterfall created a problem because there was no movement in the selected fabric. Nancy thought that a bit of thread and a zigzag stitch could give some movement and direction to the water. There was a lot of trial and error but she finally got the stitches to look realistic. An overhanging bough was Nancy’s next challenge. Long story short, she figured it out and as they say, “the rest is history.”
On This Winter Day was inspired by Nancy’s love of period clothing. She was infatuated with the way of life during the late 1800’s, especially the mode of transportation. About 8 years prior to beginning On This Winter Day, Nancy had made a late 1800 winter competitive quilt. She loved the winter attire on the people and the cozy feeling she got when looking at the quilt. Plus, that quilt did well in competition, so her choice for a new quilt was quilt simple: another winter quilt.
It took close to 7 years, approximately 2,000 hours, and in the vicinity of 75,000 yards of thread to complete. Making the quilt was a journey of passion, commitment and the inevitable ups and downs. For Nancy, “there were days of tremendous highs and other days of great frustration, so much so that there were times I thought about giving up. But I had worked too hard and taken too long to give up and I am certainly glad that I journeyed on through the highs and lows.”
Nancy remarked that “whenever I make a new competitive quilt, I want to try some new ideas and techniques not only so I don’t get tired of making the same thing over and over again but also so the viewer is not seeing the same thing from me with each new competitive quilt.” For On This Winter Day, Nancy discovered a new way to thread paint a design so that the thread looks “tweedy.” She also mastered Punch Needle to make the fur on the ladies and children’s coats look realistic. Other details included finding appropriate size leather, silver buckles and horseshoes for the horses to give them the realism they needed. Nancy raided a miniature store for trims, flowers and buttons to accentuate the hats and clothing. Nancy loves detail and believed that with On This Winter Day, that the new ideas and techniques she used greatly enhanced the realism of each thread figure and the quilt as a whole.
Nancy tells it best about what happened when she learned she had won her award: “I live in Orlando, Florida so there is a 3 hour time difference between Orlando and Ontario, California. I had carried my cell phone with me all day knowing that the winners would be announced that day. Around 10 PM Orlando time, I heard an email come in on my cell phone. I had pretty much given up hope at this point of a win so I was jumping-up-an-down excited and honored that On This Winter Day had won the Marie White Masterpiece Award. Knowing that this was an unbelievable award, I decided to fly out the next day to Ontario. So at 12 PM that night I am making airline reservations for a 6 AM flight the next morning.”
Nancy stood by her quilt and answered questions during the show. She thought it “was so rewarding and way more than just fun!! At the end of the show I was exhausted but elated. Winning an award is an honor at any show but winning the Masterpiece award at Road was a very special few days in Ontario for me. My husband told me after I had been home for a few days that he only saw the bottoms of my shoes because I was flying so high. It just doesn’t get much better than that!!”
Nancy and her husband plan on using her prize money to take a vacation. She is teaching on a quilting cruise to Alaska next year and her husband wants to go along.
What does Nancy plan to do next? “Currently I am in the planning stages of a new competitive quilt. Due to my teaching schedule, I don’t have concentrated areas of time to commit to the quilt so I can only work on it as time permits. Of course, I have some new ideas and techniques planned and yes, it will be another winter quilt but a totally different look. Hopefully this one won’t take me 7 years.”
Congratulations Nancy for winning the 2015 Mary White Masterpiece Award.