Bethanne Nemesh won $1,500.00 at Road to California 2017 from sponsor American Professional Quilting Systems for Into the Western Sun.
When Bethanne Nemesh began quilting, she “could not tolerate” the fabric choices being sold in stores which she described as “grandma” style calicos.” Then, in college, she met a well-known fiber artist who specialized in dying and using printmaking techniques to create her own fabric. This experience and the “batik revolution” opened Bethanne’s eyes to all the different fabric possibilities—and she was hooked.Into the Western Sun, remembers Bethanne, was inspired by two things: First, a trip she took to the American Southwest and second, a family story. Bethanne says that she was deeply touched by the color and shape of the desert, and in awe of the many plants and animals that manage to live there despite the harsh environment.
The family story was of Bethanne’s “many times great grandmother, Cora, who immigrated in a Conestoga wagon from Tennessee to Kansas to homestead a farm.” Her story made Bethanne think of the entire westward expansion and the many settlers who were unsuccessful in their efforts, perishing on the journey. Perhaps, considered Bethanne, “If they had been more knowledgeable or respectful of the landscape they had hoped to cross or tame, they would have fared better.” It was also Bethanne’s hope to make an environmental statement; to encourage people to live within their environment and not try to control or tame it.
It took approximately 700 hours to complete Into the Western Sun. Bethanne does a lot of environmental research on her quilts. She enjoyed learning many new things about the desert. And, as always, she also learned a few new quilt construction pros and cons for her next quilt.
Winning Excellence in Longarm Quilting was a “deep honor” for Bethanne. She intends to use her prize money for a family vacation.
Where does Bethanne go from here? Besides having several new quilts in the works, she intends to continue to grow as an artist and as a teacher. Bethanne enjoys meeting and learning from her students as much as they learn from her.
The Paisley Peacock was made and quilted by Bethanne Nemesh. Bethanne won $5,000 for Outstanding Traditional Quilt fromJanome.
While both of Bethanne Nemesh’s grandmothers made quilts, quilting for Bethanne was largely a process of self-discovery. Her mother didn’t quilt, but she did sew and Bethanne remembers “truly hat(ing) the fabrics from my youth. The late 1970’s and 1980’s calicos did not do much to inspire a young artist.” It was when Bethanne went to college and met a fiber artist who did hand dying and printmaking that she realized she didn’t have to tolerate what the stores had to offer. Later, when she moved to Pennsylvania with the rich quilting culture there, Bethanne really took off with her quilting.Paisley Peacock was inspired by a henna tattoo that Bethanne got at the beach one summer; the tattoo had swirling paisley designs. She was also inspired by a rich ribbon edged sari fabric from India.
The quilt took close to 200 quilting hours, but that only tells a part of the story. The design time for the quilt was also significant, but most of her work was with the edge treatment. Bethanne is known for doing specialty edges on her quilts. The handmade edge for Paisley Peacock is a combination of beads enclosed in a sleeve of fabric and individually made tabs placed carefully around the quilt. The edge itself took an additional 150 hours to complete.
Bethanne was “quite surprised” that Paisley Peacock won one of the top prizes at Road 2016. Winning Outstanding Traditional Quilt was an enormous honor for her, “especially since a huge number of entries at the show were traditional.”
What did Bethanne do with her prize money? In August 2016, Bethanne sustained a hip injury that required extensive surgery. She is still not fully recovered and so trying to maintain her 2,500 square foot front yard garden of perennials has been challenging. Winning this prize allowed her to hire a professional landscaper to design and execute a drastic –yet still beautiful– scaled down version of her front garden.
After achieving this honor, Bethanne hopes to continue to push herself creatively making meaningful show quilts. She is currently working on two quilts that she really feels strongly about. Bethanne also hopes to travel and teach at a west coast show in the near future.