SIDNEY — Gateway Arts Council will open “Loose Threads and Sanded Edges Exhibit” in its gallery, 216 N. Miami Ave., Friday, Nov. 16, with a reception from 6 to 8 p.m.
Admission is free.
“Loose Threads and Sanded Edges” is a furniture and quilt show featuring the quilts of the Loose Threads Quilt Club and the furniture of retired judge Gene Hoellrich.
Arts Council Executive Director Ellen Keyes said, “I am always looking for something special to give to those I love, and giving a handmade item, whether it’s the furniture or a quilt, is a gift from the heart. I know it will become a family heirloom.”
The featured woodworker is Gene Hoellrich, of Sidney. He served as a Darke County Court judge for 24 years. After retiring from the bench, Hoellrich found time to focus on his passion for working with wood. His late father, George, was a former president of Peoples Federal Savings and Loan, in Sidney.
Although Gene did not grow up in Shelby County, he decided to move, with his wife, Pat, to the family farm in Shelby County after he retired from the bench. This move to his family’s farm was perfect. It joined his love for country living with his life-long interest in woodworking, as the woods on the farm had an abundance of hardwood trees that not only supplied enjoyable scenery but also a source of wood for his furniture.
Several years ago, Pat was stricken with frontotemporal dementia. This disorder affects the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. As the disorder progressively worsened, Gene hired caretakers around the clock so that Pat could remain at home with him. Watching the woman he’d loved for decades slip away before his eyes had been devastating. For a long time, Gene could think of nothing but Pat’s condition. As the disorder took over and Gene learned that he had no control of its progression, he found some solace in going to the workshop attached to their home and creating something. This was something he could control.
As he wandered around the woods on his farm, he saw trees downed and others that should come down. Those trees were turned into lumber and the lumber became furniture. Pat’s caretakers and family have been the recipients of chests, tables, cradles and other items made from wood from Shelby County. Making furniture keeps him busy but just steps away from his beloved Pat. His latest gifts have been benches. This is fitting for a man who spent much of his life presiding from “the bench.”
Loose Threads Quilt Club was conceived on the Shelby County courtsquare in the summer of 2006, while Mary Ellen Egbert and Sharon Mohrbacher sold quilt raffle tickets for the Applefest Quilt Show. By the end of 2006, Egbert and and Mohrbacher made Loose Threads a reality.
Today, Loose Threads meets at the Amos Center every second and third Thursdays of the month. There are currently 16 members and most of the quilts they make are given as gifts.
“Tulips Make Me Happy” is a quilt that was made by Connie Muhlenkamp. She started it many years ago to prove that she could match up the seams of 2 1/2-inch squares. She got a lot of practice with this quilt because there are more than 1,000 squares. It now hangs on display in the exhibit.
Mohrbacher needed a project during her recovery from surgery, so she took on the “yo yo” quilt project. She took 3,330 quarter-sized handmade yo yos and individually, by hand, sewed each of them together. It took her approximately three months to assembly the quilt. It is also on display at the exhibit.
“Loose Threads and Sanded Edges Exhibit” will run through Jan 4. The exhibit is open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.