Some Examples of the Art of Quilting at The Detroit News Exhibit, Including the Entry That Carried Away the First Prize

November 19, 1933
Detroit News Quilt History Project; Michigan State University Museum; Susan Salser; Quilts and Health
Detroit, Michigan, United States
Article on the first grand prize winner of The Detroit News Quilting Contest.
Some Examples of the Art of Quilting at The Detroit News Exhibit, Including the Entry That Carried Away the First Prize

An admiring crowd is constantly gathered before the entry that won the $100 grand prize. It is the work of Mrs. Arthur Fisher of Romulus, Mich., and is a horoscope design. The background, connecting stripes and signs of the Zodiac are worked in white and Alice blue. The stars are of pastel.
Mr. and Mrs. C.L. Heindel.
The art of quilting is not limited to the women of the family. Several men have entered examples of their needlework. Among them is Heindel, who learned quilting at his doctor's orders during an illness several years ago, because of its restful effect on the nerves. He and Mrs. Heindel are admiring his entry, a flower garden pattern.

The Quilt Club corner is a trading post at The Detroit News Quilt Contest and Show at the Naval Armory, where quilters exchange the gay patches with which they form their colorful designs. “Gran,” who is Mrs. Nellie Caldwell, of Howell, swapped with Beatrice, who reads the letters on the Quilt Club hour on WWJ. “Gran”, one of the first members of the club, has made many friends through her letters in the corner and on the air, and, when she injured her hand a few weeks ago, 124 of them wrote to her. Although she is 82 years old, a recent quilt of hers is on display.

Quilter Takes First Prize With Third One She Made

A frail woman who started quilting only two years ago carried off the prize for the best quilt entered in The Detroit News Quilting Contest and Show at the Naval Armory. And she won with the third quilt she ever made.

She is Mrs. Arthur Fisher, of Romulus, Mich., whose lovely blue and white horoscope pattern was awarded with the grand prize.

Mrs. Fisher began to quilt when she was confined to her home, an invalid with heart trouble. She attributes her now improved condition partly to the rest and relaxation which she found in piecing gayly colored bits of material into breathtakingly beautiful color schemes.

“My friends,” she explained Saturday at the Armory, where she was constantly surrounded by an admiring crowd of fellow-quilters, “were all talking about the Quilt Club Corner in The News, and the programs over WWJ, and advised me to join.

“No one will ever know how much happiness I got from those radio programs, when I couldn’t go out or do anything. And then, I made friends through the corner, too. Other members would write to me, telling me what they were making and doing. And many times they would stop to see me and my quilts when they were driving through Romulus. It certainly is a Godsend for a shut-in.

Mrs. Fisher did not know of her victory until she and a group of friends, arrived at the Armory late Friday.

“They all wanted to see my quilt so we began looking for it,” she explained. “When we found it there was a big crowd around, but nothing dawned on me, and it wasn’t for two or three minutes that I noticed the sign, ‘First Grand Prize,’ above it. I just couldn’t speak. I was so excited, and had to go and sit down to catch my breath.”

Mrs. Fisher has not decided what she will do with her prize money yet, but she added:
“Mr. Fisher hasn’t worked for 15 months, and we have four children at home to provide for, besides a married daughter. So I won’t have trouble finding a use for it.”

Although she is not an old hand at quilting, Mrs. Fisher makes up in painstaking care for whatever she might lack in experience. With a steel ruler and a pencil, she marked…(clipping cut off)
(clipping cut-off)
… trace a horoscope for me, and she got so interested she asked if she could make it herself.

“But even then, she wasn’t any too keen about it, and a dozen times I said to her: ‘Edna Marie, you’ll never in this world finish this quilt at the rate you’re going.’ I urged her to keep on, because I thought if she once did finish something lovely, she would see what a satisfaction it could be and enjoy sewing for the rest of her life.

“And that’s just what’s happened. The day she entered her quilt in the contest, she began another.”

Saturday’s crowds at the exhibit, in which more than 1,500 antique and modern quilts are entered, was even larger than Friday’s. But the spaciousness of the hall permitted everyone to circulate about freely, and there was no uncomfortable crowding.

Today promises to be an even bigger day, for nearly all of the thousands who came Friday and Saturday promised to return on the final day of the exhibit for one last look at the row upon row of beautiful needlework on display.

A special attraction day will be the presence of “Gran”—Mrs. Nellie Caldwell, of Howell, Mich., who through her letters in the Quilt Club Corner and on the air has made many friends in the club.

Mrs. Caldwell is being driven in by the chief of police of Howell, R. C. Hardy. She will be accompanied by five carloads of fellow townsman, and will wear a badge with “Gran” on it, so that all will know her.

Today, as previously, the show will be open to the public free of charge, from noon until 10 o’clock. And then, the approximately 30,000 quilters—both men and women—who have visited it will return to their frames full of new ideas of how to form bits of material into one of the oldest and most satisfying arts.

Offensive odors are trapped by a new order filter of simple construction, applicable to industrial systems. Plants employing odor-creating processes may use it to prevent air pollution.

Courtesy of The Detroit News Archives.

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