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An Artist Who Paints with Fabric
Ruth Leopold

At Carolina Meadows there is a long hallway running from the Club Center towards the Activities building which features three different art shows a year. Included in the shows are paintings, photographs, collages and pottery all created by residents of Carolina Meadows. They serve as wonderful reminders of the depth of artistic talent in our community.

Some of the most striking pieces, however, are made not of paper, or paint on canvas, or clay; they are made of fabric. They are the works of quilters at Carolina Meadows, whose gorgeous creations adorn all the shows. Pan Vesley is one of those quilters. Her beautiful and witty creations have been brightening the walls for 5 years.

The number of quilted works Pan has created is astonishing, especially since she didn’t take up quilting until she retired from the work force. For years she was the Head of the Library of the American Kennel Club. In addition, she showed Soft-coated Wheaton Terriers at various Kennel Club events. Pan had been sewing clothing for her family for over 30 years, but when she retired, she decided to try something different. She took an adult education course in quilting and hasn’t looked back since.

When asked why quilting appeals so strongly to her, she replied that she loves the feel of fabric and the challenge of assembling the pieces into a coherent and pleasing whole.  In these turbulent times Pan says, “Quilting keeps me sane.” She tries to spend at least two hours every day working on her “WHIPS and UFOs” a.k.a. “works in progress and unfinished objects.” One wall of her apartment workshop is lined with specially built storage shelves which hold yards and yards of neatly stacked fabric in different colors and designs, stacks of magazines and labeled boxes of accessories. When not in her apartment, Pan likes working in the Art Studio as well. The studio has a sewing machine and fabrics galore.

Pan works with patterns she finds in fabric stores and magazines. She gravitates towards unusual patterns such as the Log Cabin-Pineapple pattern which features squares in different configurations. She used this pattern to sew a large quilt made entirely of neckties. She found the hardest part of the project was, “taking apart all those ties!”

When asked, “What was the hardest project you’ve ever worked on,” Pan replied, “A queen size bed quilt.” This quilt, which adorns her and her husband Allan’s bed, took over a full year to complete.  She wanted to have a mariner’s compass inside an oval as the center of the quilt and it took a long time to find a pattern for that. Then the squares surrounding the oval had to be carefully calibrated so that they met precisely at the corners.

Pan has exhibited her quilts in many shows. She was part of the North Carolina Quilt Symposium and the Durham Orange Guild of quilters. She shown her quilts at the Chapel Hill Library. She is still a member of the quilting group at Fearrington Village where she used to live.

The Fearrington group offers its members some fun quilting challenges. They are given a word to interpret in a quilt. After some weeks, members return with their pieces that “interpret” that word. “Notion” was one such word and Pan returned with a square centered around a circular cutter for cloth, a sewing “notion” that is a particular favorite of hers. Pan has made many of these word quilts. The four pictured with this blog are (left to right) “Wave,” “Notion,” “Patience,” (notice the 100 pearls sewn on the rosettes,) and “Contrast.”

Pan’s work is too extensive to document in one blog, so I offer a small sample of her work. Be sure to look at the current show in the Club Center. You’re going to get a chuckle out of one of Pan’s latest creations, “Which Came First”.

By Ruth Leopold

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