‘Quilts of Sampson’ to hang at Small House

Lauren Williams Staff Writer

January 6, 2014

A few visitors to the Sampson Arts Council dropped by the Victor R. Small House on Monday bearing quilts, not to wrap up in because of the cold weather but to showcase as pieces of artwork.

Beginning Thursday, Jan. 9, the arts council is hosting a unique art show called “Quilts of Sampson” which will feature close to 20 quilts and bring together examples of fiber art from across the county.

The show will kick off Thursday evening with a reception from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., a chance for members of the community to view the quilts and enjoy light hors d’oeuvres while mingling with the creators and owners of the quilts, possibly hearing some of the stories behind the fabrics and stitchings.

All of the quilts in the show were sewn in Sampson County or are owned by Sampson County residents, shared Kara Donatelli, executive director of the Sampson Arts Council.

“We’ve tried to represent many of the different areas of the county,” she said, noting that quilts from Turkey, Keener, Clement, Clinton, Newton Grove, Roseboro, and Harrells will be included in the show.

The quilts will also represent various time periods with some dating back to the early 1900s and some having been completed as recently as 2011.

Clinton resident Kay Raynor is one of the locals contributing to the show and stopped by Monday to deliver her and her sister’s quilts.

“We think this dates back around 1900,” she told Donatelli of her sister, Ann W. Herring’s, delicate yo-yo coverlet.

Raynor’s own quilt features a “Dutch girl” design and was made by her mother in 1931 for the first-born child in the family.

Other quilters and owners include Margaret Malpass, Amelia Surratt, Denise Scronce, Bill and Nita Aiken, Ann Herring, Joan Tsao, Elizabeth Tsao, Elsie McPhail and Merrie McLamb, to name a few.

According to Donatelli, the old fashioned but tried and true word-of-mouth technique is the primary way these and other contributors were contacted and how the whole show came together.

“I’d call someone about a quilt and they would ask, ‘Have you called this person,’ so then I’d call them and they’d say ‘Did you talk to this person.’ It was neat. It was really just word of mouth.”

The result of that sharing is a show that features both unique quilts and quilters.

Many of the quilts to be displayed were sewn by hand while some were created using sewing machines. Some feature traditional fabrics while others were made from everything from men’s ties to feed sacks.

“It’s going to be a pretty show,” said Donatelli, pointing out that quite a few of the quilts feature a star pattern. “That’s a little surprising; they say it (the star) is one of the more difficult patterns.”

“We’re excited. Quilting is such an old art form; it dates back so far,” she continued. “It’s something different. You know, people wrap up in some of these quilts or have them on a bed and don’t necessarily think of them as art so this is a chance for them to be on display as art.”

Given that quilting is an old art form, Donatelli acknowledged that “there’s probably not many young people who quilt.” She was excited, however, to add, that the show will feature a Sampson youth’s creation.

Elizabeth Tsao, a local 16-year-old whose mother, Joan, is also contributing to the show, has loaned her bright yellow, pink, and orange quilt named “Flower Garden” to the show. She made the quilt in 2010 and won quite a few awards with it, including first place in the N.C. Jr. Beta Club Convention’s needlecraft division, second place at the National Jr. Beta Club Convention, and a blue ribbon at the N.C. State Fair.

“It so pretty; it makes you think of summer,” said Donatelli, admiring Tsao’s choice of fabrics. “Maybe this will make some other young person want to take it up.”

“We hope everyone will come out and see the show,” she added, noting that the quilts will be on display through Thursday, Feb. 13.

The Sampson Arts Council is housed in the Victor R. Small House which is located at 709 College St. in Clinton. The art gallery is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. or by appointment.

For more information about the “Quilts of Sampson” show and reception, please contact Kara Donatelli at 910-596-2533 or send her an email at Also, please visit the Sampson Arts Council website at

Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 117 or via email at