ETCETERA - Local man's 'Paisley Garden' quilt a contest semi-finalist

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Jess Berry hopes his "Paisley Garden" quilt will flourish as a champion amongst its competitors.

The Walla Walla man's meticulously hand-quilted and appliqued work is a finalist in the Pacific West Quilt Show that will run Aug. 26-28 in the Greater Tacoma Convention & Trade Center.

The queen-sized original design of pink and purple flowers with green leaves and goldenrod floral and border accents on a field of white muslin is one of many quilts Jess has produced. He retired in 1989 from a Texaco corporate office and moved from Seattle to Walla Walla.

His penchant for quilting developed in childhood. He picked up the art from his grandma and now it's therapy, he said. He quilts full time and said it's "the big thing any more."

"I like color a lot. I make traditional patterns and designs, mostly floral, such as iris and poppies, but with a twist, because they are distinctly me."

He constructs quilts by drawing a pattern on the fabric with water-soluable ink, sandwiches batting between the back or lining and top layer, then quilts through all three layers. The Paisley Garden quilt is filled with wool batting, Jess said. The beautiful stitched background design includes plumes, done from a stencil, and single and double crosshatching.

Its filling or filler pattern, is done with an intricate, hand-stitched quilting design that covers the entire background area around the appliqued motifs.

Paisley Garden will compete with 227 other quilts and wearable art entries from 18 states and Canadian provinces of the Pacific West region.

More than $25,000 in cash and prizes will be awarded to winners in 10 categories, a release noted.

Founded in 1992, the Association of Pacific West Quilters is producing the contest. Organizers winnowed the field from 430 submissions to the 227 selected. Jess submitted a CD image of his quilt in April. He produces one per year for fun, he said and has specialized for about 10 to 15 years.

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Local artist Celia Martin devised a way to entertain her cats, recycle wine bottle corks and raise funds for Blue Mountain Humane Society at one fell swoop.

The corks come from regional wineries. Celia bores a hole lengthwise through the cork, threads a piece of brightly colored cotton rickrack ribbon through it, knots it off and viola -- kitty toys faster than you can say catnip.

Celia knows from personal experience that the toys can endure kitty claws. "My cats have been playing with them for several months now and they're holding up just fine. My big guy is a chewer, but hasn't taken out any chunks." In fact, kitty Claudio Martin got in the first swipes with Celia's prototype, she said.

"I recently adopted a cat from the Blue Mountain Humane Society and decided to share some toys with the shelter kitties, and also help raise funds for BMHS," Celia said. She recently dropped off a big bag of the toys with Sara Archer, BMHS executive director. All proceeds from the sale of the toys will benefit the shelter, where they are being sold, Celia said.

The animal shelter is at 7 E. George St. Hours are noon-6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. Celia's work can also be viewed at www.etsy.com/shop/cmmartinwa. Outside her day job at a local business, Celia is also creative with beading, chain maille and polymer clay.

Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at annieeveland@wwub.com or afternoons at 526-8313.

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