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‘I like to make everything my own’

Krystle Wagner • Jul 28, 2018 at 9:00 AM

Elizabeth Clark motioned as she explained the meaning behind each piece of fabric used in her entry titled “Xavier’s Quilt.”

Clark’s work is among more than 170 quilts on display during the Lighthouse Quilt Guild’s “Color My World”-themed show, which began Friday and continues today (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.) at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Grand Haven. Admission is $6.

The annual show is part of the Coast Guard Festival.

Clark’s quilt features dogs, food, fireworks and other things that are a family friend’s favorites. The quilt was a gift for a young man who recently graduated from high school.

Clark, 80, joined the Lighthouse Quilt Guild when she moved back to Grand Haven after purchasing her grandmother’s home in 2000.

Clark was 16 when her grandmother introduced her to quilting. As a young bride living in Grand Haven who soon became pregnant, Clark said her grandmother brought a bag of scrap material and said it takes the same amount of time to make a quilt as it does before a baby is born. Clark and her grandmother pieced and quilted the material together by hand.

Clark said they finished the quilt not long before her daughter was born. Over the years, Clark made her daughter’s clothing and also took up weaving. 

Clark, who had a career as an ombudsman, returned to quilting when a friend died. Clark and about 20 friends turned their late friend’s clothing into queen-size quilts for the friend’s daughters. Clark said it helped them heal while also providing a quilt for the daughters.

In addition to being full of color, Clark said she believes quilts are meaningful.

“I think they have tremendous healing power,” she said.

Clark makes quilts to celebrate graduations, babies, anniversaries and other occasions. She also oversees the Lighthouse Quilt Guild’s community outreach program. They make and donate quilts for Ottawa County’s Maternal and Infant Health Program, Tri-Cities Area Habitat for Humanity, and North Ottawa Community Health System’s Breast Evaluation Center.

Clark said her quilting now is about color.

“I like to make everything my own,” she said.

Next month, Clark will have two quilts in the juried American Quilter’s Society QuiltWeek in Grand Rapids.

Clark said she’s found that most quilters aren’t competitive and are interested in sharing new techniques. Sharing fabric and techniques is what makes the guild powerful, she said.

Clark encourages anyone interested in quilting to attend a guild meeting. She noted that they have a lot of young members and people who are looking for ways to express themselves.

Although quilting may seem daunting, most quilts are built in pieces and blocks, Clark said.

“It can be made in small increments,” she said. “If you give up, you can make a potholder.”

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