Quilting Not Just for the Young at Heart

(Jeff Heyman, Photographer)
Ava Marchiel, standing with her quilting teacher Jennifer McCullough of Orinda, with her 42’ x 54’ quilt behind them, is displayed at the Orinda Library until March 1. Her first quilt, made at age 12, Marchiel is currently working on her second one.

    In an exhibit just outside the Orinda Library, hangs a 42” x 54” quilt created by seventh grader, Ava Marchiel, a sewing project which took 28 hours over a span of six months to complete.
    Marchiel, who attends Orinda Intermediate School, titled her quilt, “Litmus Test.”
    “I am fascinated by engineering and how things are made and so I had lots of fun designing and creating this quilt,” said Marchiel, whose quilt is on display until March 1.
    Her quilt instructor, Jennifer McCullough of Orinda, said she enjoyed working with the 12-year-old. “Ava is wonderful to work with. She is very thoughtful in her fabric choices and precise in her stitching,” she said.
    McCullough has taught quilting in her home studio for the last 20 years, to students ages 8 to 80.
    “Quilting has not been popular among younger people, simply because they have not been exposed to it – I hope to change that,” said McCullough.
    Marchiel’s mom, Maryam Asgari, said her daughter is on to sewing a second quilt.
    “She is currently working on a quilt that features a piece of fabric handcrafted by an indigenous artist in Panama, which features a sea turtle – to bring attention to climate change,” said Asgari. “She is planning on submitting it to the River of Words competition, held by Saint Mary’s College.”
    About the background of quilting, “It has essentially been around forever; some sources say as far back as 3400 BC,” McCullough said. “Quilting started in a practical way as people would make quilts to stay warm. It has evolved into an artistic form and now we see amazing 2D and 3D pieces hanging in museums around the world.”
    McCullough charges $10 an hour which includes the use of machines and required materials. If a student cannot afford the fee, McCullough said, “I have provided thousands of volunteer hours over the years, working alongside students making charity quilts.”
After producing hundreds of quilts, donating many of them to people in need, 

McCullough said her love for quilting began as a pre-teen, in a home economics class.
    “I enjoy getting lost in the creative process,” she said. “All the problems in the world melt away when I am surrounded by the beautiful colors and textures of my fabrics.”
    Over the years, dozens of new artists’ quilts are showcased at the Orinda Library.
    For more information about learning how to quilt, contact McCullough at 925.348.6708 or email bjcc2jen@gmail.com.

Charleen Earley can be reached at editor@theorindanews.com.

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