Local woman’s entry in quilt semifinals competition

PADUCAH, Ky. – Mary Arbour-Pendergast of Gladstone is a semifinalist for the 2014 American Quilter’s Society QuiltWeek that will take place at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Ariz., on Feb. 5-8. Mary has been chosen to display the quilt, “Lunar Dreams,” along with 249 other entries in the competition.

Awards will be presented to the top three entries in five categories, along with five overall awards, including Best of Show. Winners will be announced at the show and posted on the AQS website, AQSshows.com. More than $50,000 will be granted, including $10,000 for the Best of Show and $3,500 each for Best Wall, Traditional, Innovative, Modern, and Computer-Aided Quilt.

Mary has been quilting for 15 years and her newest creation is a 59×59-inch wall hanging on which she has used crystals for the first time. Although she had long had the idea she wanted to do a project using crystals, she wasn’t sure just what the project would entail.

“I was collecting crystals for years,” she said. “I really didn’t know what I was going to do with them, but when I decided to make the quilt, it took me three weeks just to get the crystals on.”

Mary estimates there are approximately 1,700 crystals on her wall hanging at a cost of about $300. The design of the quilt is Mary’s own vision, however, the actual quilting was done by Sally Gustafson.

“I’m very proud of it (the wall hanging) but I don’t think I’ll ever make another one.”

In addition to creating the crystal-encrusted wall hanging as a first time effort, entering the AQS show is Mary’s first major competition.

“When I made the quarter-finals, as far as I was concerned, that was the prize,” she said.

As a finalist, Mary is well aware that her quilt will be under even greater scrutiny by the judges.

“The beading has to be absolutely uniform, and if there’s any flat space with no beading or if there’s a bulge, it will not win a prize,” she said.

When she prepared to submit her quilt for judging, Mary was nervous, but not concern that her entry wouldn’t be ready for the scrutiny, but for having her treasured creation leave her possession.

“Do you know how hard it was for me to pack it up and ship it out?” she stated. “My heart was in my throat the entire time.”

Regardless of how Lunar Dreams places in the final judging, all semifinalists’ quilts will be displayed at the show, which is expected to draw more than 15,000 people.