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Apple Butter Festival quilter stretches creativity

October 08, 2008|By TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. -- If you buy a chance on the Apple Butter Festival quilt, you might win something pretty special.

This year's creation by Rika Bennett, the unofficial festival quilt maker, used a technique called sun printing to make "Peacocks and Flying Geese," the queen-size quilt she began more than one year ago.

In shades of blue, violet and turquoise, Bennett said she alternated pieced blocks of fabrics with plain blocks that she painted and sun printed with book-pressed images of woodland leaves that she collected close to her home.

"Once I painted the blocks, I laid the pressed leaves on the wet fabric and put them in the bright sunlight," she said. "It resulted in a perfect photographic image."

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Bennett said she saw the sun-printing technique on a quilting show and taught it to herself. "The secret is a hot, cloudless sunny day. With that it takes about 10 minutes to get a sharp image," she said.

This is the 17th quilt Bennett has made for the Apple Butter Festival. "It's stretching your creativity that makes it satisfying," she said.

"The actual quilting is an extension of your creative image. I've burned up a couple sewing machines doing 10 hours of sewing a day on the festival quilts," she said.

Bennett has been a member of the Delectable Mountains Quilt Guild since it began in 1981. "I joined at the second meeting," she said.

"I think the guild itself has grown," Bennett said. "We have a regular daytime meeting, but now we offer an evening meeting for the younger people that work, so this guild can be passed on and continue to grow."

Beth Peters Curtin, festival director said about 2,000 chances are usually sold to win the Apple Butter Festival quilts. She said the money is used toward community projects, such as the welcome signs into Berkeley Springs.

The quilt is hanging at the Berkeley Springs Antique Mall. Employee Irene Horten said many chances have been sold since the quilt went up on the wall behind the front desk.

Chances may also be purchased at the Berkeley Springs-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce office and at the Chamber booth during the Apple Butter Festival next weekend. The drawing will be held on Sunday at 4:30 p.m.

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