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Instructor's quilting legacy is on display this weekend

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Janet Bamesburger admits she was bitten by the 'Quilting Bug' and acknowledges the affliction is 'highly contagious.'
McCOOK, Nebraska -- When her children were nearly finished with high school Janet Bamesberger's daughter thought her mother might need a project to occupy all her newly found spare time. She began all those crafting projects she never had time for as a mother of four. Then one day in her crafting pursuits, she was sitting in a class in Oberlin when she contracted a life-altering "affliction" -- she was bitten by the "Quilting Bug" and it is highly contagious.

This weekend a 20-year legacy to that quilting bug will be on display at the Wrightstone Fine Arts Gallery on the McCook Community College campus when quilts made by past and present members of Janet's quilting classes will hang on display. The quilting exhibition will be on Saturday and Sunday, (Sept. 28-29) from 1-4 p.m. and is open to the public and free of charge.

Janet has been teaching quilting classes at MCC since 2003 and her classes just keep getting more and more popular -- one of the most popular of all the subjects offered by the Center For Enterprise.

"Janet is a joy to work with and her students often register for the next class as soon as information becomes available," said Sharon Kircher, "It is one of our first classes to fill."

Back in the early 1990s, Janet started teaching quilting classes in her hometown of Bartley but in 2003 when the college needed someone in McCook, she began driving 25 miles each way to teach the one night a week classes in Walsh-Brady Hall. Then word spread, and the 10 spots available in the quilting classroom were filled. So she had to add a second night and when those spots were filled she had to add a third night. This semester that third class has been filled as well.

She's running out of nights of the week.

Quilting classes meet on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6-9 p.m. and last for 10 weeks each.

"It doesn't take long to get addicted," she said, adding that more than half of her students are students who have taken classes before. Some students hand-quilt, others with a machine, and others have someone else machine-quilt with a longarm, so she tries to accommodate the students' needs with the flow of the class.

"I try to keep it easy enough for the beginners so they don't get discouraged and interesting enough for those who have taken the classes before," she said. One way to do that is to constantly change the types of projects, techniques and materials students do from semester to semester: small quilts or wall hangings, baby quilts, T-shirt quilts, full-sized quilts. This semester students are doing "jelly roll" quilts.

Her students arrive at class with varying motivations and varying experience. Some have no experience, some quilted many years prior and use newfound free time to re-discover their interests. Some want to make baby quilts for their first grandchild. She's even had daughters sign up their mothers. Quilting attracts students from all walks of life, from young mothers to retired great-grandmothers, most every profession and even men.

"I try to make sure this is a fun class, it's a non-credit class, so there are no grades and I don't want to make anybody nervous," she said.

"It's good therapy and such a comforting hobby that you can just lose yourself for three hours," she said. "Class time is always just such a happy time for all of us, and there is such a sense of accomplishment when we complete a project."

And if you would take all those finished quilted accomplishments that Janet's students have produced over the years they would stretch across three football fields.

Janet said one of the most rewarding aspects of teaching quilting, is the smile on a student's face when they leave class with a finished project and you know they are on their way into the wonderful world of quilting.

When the quilting classes end just prior to Thanksgiving, Janet invites each night of quilt class students to her farm home for supper, and that evening they make a label for their project.

Janet said that being a member of a quilting guild has created many friendships. At one time, she belonged to three guilds...the Piecemakers in McCook, the Lebanon quilters, and the Nebraska State Quilt Guild, holding offices in each, as well as teaching workshops. She has fond memories of being a member of the Bartley Busy Bees Club, which made quilts for others -- a time she fondly members "as a true quilting bee."

Some of the granddaughters have learned to quilt at 'grandma's house....and some still want to buy some fabric and make a quilt at grandma's house!

"What fun to share that special time with them!" she said. Many years ago, she promised to give away her quilts to her grandchildren when she turned 80...well, she admits, "that time is fast approaching, and decisions better be made soon for designation!"

In the meantime she is enjoying her relationship with the college, she said the facilities and the logistics are all ideal and she just absolutely loves meeting and sharing her common love and spreading the symptoms of the "Quilting Bug."

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What a wonderful story - I too have connections to the Bartley Busy Bee Club as my mother, Christine Purvis was a member for many years. I have her cute Busy Bee pin hanging in my sewing room all these years later. Quilting truely is an addictive life style but what a happy way of life and I'm so glad I got bite by that same bug many years back. Quilting bridges generations and it's so fun to share with your daughters and granddaugther this art. So from my group of quilters in Idaho to Janet and her quilters - Happy Quilting! Marcia Purvis-Beeman

-- Posted by mbeeman on Wed, Sep 26, 2012, at 1:09 PM

Thank you for the story. I work for a community college and wish we had classes like this.

-- Posted by Jane Harmon on Wed, Oct 3, 2012, at 12:19 PM

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