Quilt tells art school's history

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Chestnut Creek School of the Arts in Galax is celebrating its first anniversary this weekend.

By April Wright, Reporter


Kathy Cole and Karen Simpson had never quilted before, but it’s quickly becoming a hobby as they have set out to make a photo quilt to commemorate the first anniversary of Chestnut Creek School of the Arts.
About three months ago Cole, a volunteer at CCSA, came up with the idea to create a quilt to hang in the lobby of the art school for the first year anniversary celebration to be held tomorrow, Saturday.
Cole was fascinated by the idea that pictures could be printed onto fabric.
“I asked Karen [Simpson, an instructor at the school] to help me make a quilt,” said Cole, who became friends with Simpson through her involvement with CCSA. “She had never made one before, either, but said, ‘Let’s do it.’”
Just a few weeks ago, the two began selecting pictures to be represented on the quilt, showcasing memories from the first year. With an outline of blue, pink, green and gold fabric, pictures depict classes, accomplishments and people that have brought CCSA through its first year.




Even though Simpson, a sewing and fiber arts teacher, had never quilted before, she and Cole had both learned from their mothers. The Internet has also helped quite a bit, said Simpson.
“My mother was a seamstress, but I had never had interest in doing that,” said Cole. “But I’ve really enjoyed it, and it’s turned into something I love.”
The stitching is nothing elaborate, said Cole, but the two have worked hours and hours to make sure it’s complete before the gala celebration on Saturday.
“I haven’t sewed since I was a teen, and it just has simple straight stitches at 90-degree angles, but the pictures make the quilt so beautiful,” said Cole. “I’ve never considered myself artistic, but it has just come natural.”
Cole, a native of the area, returned to Galax to be closer to family after living in different metro areas for several years. She has worked as a psychologist and an instructor of leadership courses.
When she retired, Cole wanted to follow in the footsteps of her father — Irl Cole, named “Volunteer of the Year” in Galax several years ago. She wanted to devote her time to bettering the community and has been a volunteer for the Crossroads Institute programs, Grayson Land Care and CCSA since its opening last year.
Simpson, of Independence, has been sewing since she was barely tall enough to reach the pedals.
“When Kathy came to me with the idea, I said, “I don’t know too much about quilts, but I know about sewing,” said Simpson. “When I was little, I paid attention to my mom, who did a lot of quilting, and remembered a lot of things.”
Simpson and her mom, her biggest inspiration for creativity and design, have always made their own clothes.
“When I need help on quilting, I just call up my mom and ask for advice,” said Simpson.
For the past few years, Simpson has created felt pocketbooks, hats, jewelry, artwork and various kinds of scarves now for sale in three fashion boutiques in Florida and in the City Gallery in downtown Galax. She moved to the area from Florida just a few years ago, after visiting Galax and learning about CCSA.
“For two people that are non-quilters, it has turned out fabulous,” said Simpson. “I wanted to do this because it’s a wonderful gift to the school to remember the first year, and what a way to remember and give back. We laugh the whole time and have such a good time quilting.”
Simpson and Cole are now hooked on quilting and already have in mind to start their own quilts.