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Acts of Love
Real Stories, Real People: The Quilts of Judi Ruder
 (March 2nd to September 8th, 2012)
© 2010, Museum of the Aleutians. All Rights Reserved. Site by Spot Color Studio.Contact: mota@aleutians.org

I cannot sing; I cannot dance; I cannot draw or paint; but I can sew!  I can combine shapes and colors and come up with something that is pleasing to my eye, soft and warm to my touch, or something that has very special symbolism and meaning to me or to someone else…
-- Judi Ruder
My Mother in law was an old Kansas farm wife and an old fashioned quilter.  She made quilts from usable fabric cut from worn out clothing and sheets.  When she died her daughters did not want her quilting stuff and so my husband gave it to me.   There were two unfinished tops in the box and I vowed to learn how to quilt so I could complete them and give them to my sons.  Alas, the tops are still unfinished 15 years later – the problem?  I have 3 sons and only 2 quilt tops from Grandma!

I have always loved quilts – there is such a rich history of brave and resourceful women associated with quilting; a connection to our foremothers.  Then there are the fabulous patterns and glorious colors that ever change and never end.  Some quilt patterns are symbolic and have special meaning; some are geometrical patterns, and some are just a pleasing blend of shapes and colors.   Some quilts are specifically for utilitarian purposes - to be used and loved and worn out; some are memorials to people or events; some are works of art; and some make political statements.   There is such an endless variety I can never be bored when quilting.  Books, magazines, patterns, nature, stories, tiles on the restroom floor, carpet patterns, myths, history – everything around me - helps to come up with the ideas  for my quilts.

Homemade quilts are not just fancy throws or warm blankets for the bed: just about every quilt has some kind of symbolism, they have special meaning to the creator and to the recipient.  
The comfort quilts I make for folks who have cancer or are very ill represent love and caring.  If I know the person, I try to incorporate something of them: a special quilt block pattern or color, a theme or special memory.  If the quilt is for someone I do not know, I try to visualize what would be most helpful.  It may be something soothing or something bright and cheerful.  Usually the person requesting a comfort quilt knows the recipient and can provide a few hints: “he likes hunting”,” she likes flowers” or “for a little girl/boy”.

There is something so comforting about wrapping up in a quilt that you know someone cared enough about you to spend a lot of time and effort in the making. For me, quilting is the ultimate expression of love.

-- Judi Ruder