A selection of quilts depicting a flower theme hang in the San Juan Quilters Guild show on Friday at the Farmington Civic Center.
A selection of quilts depicting a flower theme hang in the San Juan Quilters Guild show on Friday at the Farmington Civic Center. (Augusta Liddic/ The Daily Times)

FARMINGTON — Local quilters are out to show they not your grandma's knitting circle.

More than 240 quilts of varying sizes, shapes, colors and styles from members of the San Juan Quilters Guild are on display through today in a new show at the Farmington Civic Center's exhibition hall.

Celebrating its 30th year together, the group of women, ranging in ages from 8 to more than 90, brought a wide spectrum of works centered around this year's theme, "The Splendor of Flowers."

But don't let the sentimentality of the theme lead you to think there aren't more daring appliqués on display.

Guild member Susan Bowman likes to try new approaches to producing her quilt pieces, prompted, perhaps, by her day job as a lab technician in the histology lab at San Juan Regional Medical Center.

One piece in the show in a challenge category asked participants to create works that both fit this year's theme and stuck to a certain scale.

So Bowman created "Red Sky at Night," a deep red and black landscape with a dark house accented by trees and blooming roses.

Using hand-dyed, "bleach-discharged" fabrics, Bowman began by spraying black fabric with bleach, later dying the night sky a moody, blood red using a process involving ice cubes and dye powder.

"You get a rippling effect as the ice melts," she said. "I was in North Carolina and took a class on it and came back and showed the guild members. And off they went with it."

Many of the guild members find the reason behind why they regularly quilt difficult to explain, but knowledge sharing and social exchange rank high on the list.

Edith Ann Galle, who will turn 90 next month, entered three pieces in the show, including a queen-sized, hand-quilted blanket called "Two Grey Hills," a mosaic comprised of mostly vertical strips accented by a halo of turquoise arrowheads in a Southwestern style.

Galle moved to Farmington in 1943 and spent much of the next 30 years working at Verdine's beauty shop as a hairdresser and raising three children.

"I've learned most all I know about quilting from the guild," Galle said. "I made so many friends I would not have made elsewhere. And also quilting is fun to do."

She's been a member for just about as long as the guild has been in existence, and like a lot of members' stories, she came joined through a friend.

Ellen Vandruff and Karen Brimhall show students of Sacred Heart Catholic School different tools used in quilting on Friday during the San Juan Quilters
Ellen Vandruff and Karen Brimhall show students of Sacred Heart Catholic School different tools used in quilting on Friday during the San Juan Quilters Guild show at the Farmington Civic Center. (Augusta Liddic/The Daily Times)

"A friend convinced me to come along with her and I kept going," she said. "I used to crochet, but then I quilted and quilting easily won out."

The guild meets once a month at the Civic Center and takes several trips and retreats throughout the year. The club encourages its members to share their expertise with each other when a guest speaker from out of town isn't showing the guild a particular technique or quilting style.

The show this weekend also includes a silent auction, and the proceeds go to the many community outreach projects the group does as part of its operating mission.

Shellie Purcell joined the guild approximately 18 years ago. She has two colorful baby blankets she machine-quilted in the show.

"We have many members with many talents," Purcell said. "I am part of the guild every year. I like to keep working on projects with fabric and spools everywhere at home. It's like, no matter how big a room is, it'll get filled up."

James Fenton covers Aztec and Bloomfield for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4621 and jfenton@daily-times.com. Follow him @fentondt on Twitter.