Breckenridge: Commemorative signature quilt on display in studio
September 3, 2012
A work of fiber art created by Judy Keim for Breckenridge’s 150th anniversary in 2009, the “Breckenridge, Summit County, Colorado and Beyond” signature quilt is on display at JK Studio, 100 Main St. in Breckenridge. The quilt was previously displayed, during its design stage, at the Barney Ford Museum.The idea for a signature quilt to create lasting local history for the town’s 150th anniversary was born of Keim’s search for historic, local quilts. The search proved less fruitful than anticipated, however, as the few quilts she found were either undocumented (of unconfirmed local origin) or created after 1950. Instead, Keim decided to preserve history in the form of art by making a signature quilt. Signature quilts, which have signed blocks, are part of a longstanding quilt-making tradition. Locals and part-time residents, visitors and businesses used permanent archival ink to sign 2-inch blocks, thereby preserving their names, ideas and drawings in local history. Squares could also be dedicated in someone else’s name. The finished quilt is 67 inches square and has 181 signed blocks including signatures from 23 states and England. Some people signed their names; others drew pictures, many with a ski-related theme. Young signers included the Creative Children from Breckenridge Elementary; members of one Breck family signed and drew pictures on nine of the blocks and Mayor John Warner signed a block too. Local artists crafted creative blocks, as did local groups including Arts Alive Gallery co-op, Summit Quilters and the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance. The couple from England signed its block while in town celebrating the two-year anniversary of its Peak 9 wedding.The quilt blocks were machine-stitched and the fabric writing hand-appliqud before the entire piece was hand quilted, primarily using cotton reproductions of mid to late 1800s fabric. The project doubled as a fundraiser, with a $10 donation per 2-inch square going toward future restoration projects and exhibits by the BHA, coordinated by Keim, the Breckenridge Arts District and the BHA. The Summit Historical Society and local historian Maureen Nicholls provided historical items used in presentations about the quilt. “This quilt is meant to be a community quilt that stays in the local area,” Keim said. “It was created to give people the opportunity to be part of local art legacy and history, raise funds and commemorate Breckenridge’s 150th anniversary.”Keim and her husband opened JK Studio in March. The signature quilt can be viewed there, along with other fiber artwork, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Keim will also give a talk on signature quilts past and present at 1:30 p.m. Friday, to kick off the countywide Fall for the Arts celebration taking place this weekend. Photography is not allowed but keepsake photos can be purchased onsite.