This article was written by William Peck.
Quite some time ago I attended a gala fund-raiser for the Vermont Symphony Orchestra at the Eastside restaurant.
In addition to the good eats, pleasant company and a live instrumental ensemble, a “silent auction” was held.
Items up for bidding ranged from a shrink-wrapped set of shiny new screw drivers donated by the Pick and Shovel, on up to a truly spectacular quilt sewn by somebody by the name of Carolyn Ferrara.
Well, I already had a few trusted screw drivers….but the quilt…that quilt… had my attention.
A large, queen-size quilt, the squares featuring violins, cellos, and french horns and trumpets as well as silhouettes of Beethoven, Schubert, and Mozart, it was calling out to me, a classical music enthusiast.
The intricate whorls of stitchery that make a quilt a quilt were of the highest quality.
So, with a hand on the quilt, I looked over to my wife and raised an eyebrow.
She nodded and I submitted my generous bid. At the end of the evening we walked out the door with the folded quilt tucked under my arm.
We have it hanging in our family room, a prized possession.
Fast forward to just a few years ago when I became a staffing member of the MAC, (short for Memphremagog Arts Collaborative), I acquainted myself with the works of the many talented artists and artisans who display their creations there.
Tucked in among the paintings, pottery, and jewelry was a colorful, eye-catching display of table runners, place mats and quilts crafted by one Carolyn Ferrara.
Just who is she?
Here’s what I have learned:
Carolyn was raised in New Jersey, just a town or two over from my own home town. She traveled to the mid-west to earn her degree in education and then back to the east coast to work at inner city schools in New York.
Eventually, married, she found her way to Vermont (good move for both of us..) and for the last half-century has resided in Westfield.
There she raised a family and had a long, satisfying career as a teacher in the nearby public schools.
About twenty years ago she was introduced to the world of quilting through a close friend, herself an expert, whom Carolyn regards as her mentor.
Involvement with classes and clubs served to increase her skill and to draw her into the local community of quilters.
She used her nascent skills first and fittingly to sew baby quilts for little ones in the family.
She became a denizen of the fabric stores in the area, invested in some pretty fancy sewing machines, and set up shop in her basement.
Many, many quilts later, pretty well all of her extended family have a quilt or two.
Carolyn tells me that she often finds her inspiration in nature.
Much time is spent conceiving and deciding upon the design for a new quilt, and more time sorting through bolts of fabric, searching for colors and patterns that jive with her inspiration.
There follows the exacting process of cutting the individual blocks of the quilt which are spread out on the floor for shuffling, rearranging and a final look-see before being sewn together and united to the batting and backing.
Lastly applied is the intricate, swirly quilting stitchery that distinguishes a fine quilt from a mere blanket or comforter.
Carolyn displays and sells her quilts and table runners at the MAC gallery on Main Street in Newport. However, she allows that she’s not in it for the money.
Rather she states that she simply enjoys being a part of the quilting community and that quilting has become her passion.
She says, “Quilting not only challenges my creative ability, but finishing a project gives me a great sense of satisfaction and accomplishment”
Do you ever age? I swear you look even younger than the last time I saw you.
Mrs. Ferrara was my elementary music teacher and later in life when my children were in elem. & middle school, she was their teacher & my coworker. Even then I found myself calling her Mrs. Ferrara. She has always been talented & creative beyond words. She has given to this community for years and years, always admired by all that know & meet her & always at the top of her game whatever she is doing!
Doctor Peck, this is an excellent & informative article. I didn’t know until now that the art work, made by local artisan’s at the Mac Center could be purchased.
Dr. Peck is another person I respect & admire beyond words. He is another person whom has given to this community & besides being a dr. he is also an artist. I’ve seen in his photographs of what his artistic eye sees.
It’s hard for me to call him by anything but Doctor Peck.
He delivered my last two babies. One in 1982 & the last in 1986. Yes, i’m 3 years shy of being a senior citizen, yet I still admire & respect the people in my life i’ve met a long the way, that have touched my life in different ways like Dr. Peck & Mrs. Ferrara. People like both of you, should always be addressed in a way that portrays that.