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Hoffman Challenge dolls on tap at annual Quilt Show

by Joyce Hollister

The top 43 entries in the annual Hoffman Challenge, doll category, will delight the eye at the Carson Valley Quilt Guild’s “Quilts from the Valley” show this weekend.

The dolls come from around the country – from New York to California, Louisiana to Kansas – even one from New Zealand.

The dolls are each unique, reflecting the skill and imagination of the maker. The only thing they have in common: they must each use a “recognizable” amount of the same piece of fabric for the doll’s clothing. Their makers also create the doll bodies, usually in the form of soft sculptures.

One of the dolls is called “Beach Babe Barbara” and is clothed in a bikini, flashing her eyes at you, while another is “Jamaican Bead Seller,” dressed in what could be a traditional costume.

All are examples of quilting and sewing as fine art.

The Hoffman Challenge has four other categories, various types of wallhangings, clothing and quilts, and the contest began as somewhat of a fluke in 1987 at the National Quilting Association show in Eaton, Penn.

A bolt of Hoffman California Fabrics fabric was not selling, and one quilter challenged another to make a quilt with it by the next show. The challenge was opened to more quilters, and two national quilter’s magazines opened the challenge to quilters across the country. It is now it its 12th season.

At the last Carson Valley Quilt Guild Show, the Hoffman Challenge wallhangings were on display.

The results of the Carson Valley Quilt Guild’s in-house Challenge 1998 will be exhibited this weekend. According to member Sue Muller, this year’s challenge was “whimsical.” Quilters were to use three of five designated fabrics and add a “whimsical” fabric of their own choice.

The guild’s “Opportunity Quilt,” a queen-sized quilt made by several of the guild’s members, will be given away in a raffle during the show. Tickets are $1.

In addition, a number of the members took part in the making of a quilt to raise funds for breast cancer research. The quilt, according to show organizer Marianne Christensen, is called “Sky Garden,” and is blue and white and features flowers and stars. It is part of the “Quilt for Cure” national program, and proceeds from raffle tickets will be sent to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation in New York.

Tickets on this quilt are $1 each, and so far over $300 worth of tickets have been sold, Christensen said.

Past presidents’ quilts will also be shown. Each year, the outgoing president of the group is given a quilt top or quilt blocks, and she either makes the quilt herself or enlists other members to help her finish it.

The children’s corner will offer quilting projects for kids at the show. Youngsters in the guild’s Youth Education Outreach program will help children with projects designed to teach the art of quilting and develop an appreciation for the art form.

This year, kids will learn about block patterns using wallpaper as guides. They will cut out designs from wallpaper as they learn the technique. they will also make lapel pins of felt and fabric.

Youths in the program will display their unfinished and finished quilts in the children’s corner. The youth group meets once a month to learn the art of quilting.

Food will be sold, and some 18 vendors will offer wares for quilters, from fabric to patterns and stencils, “all those things that quilters love,” Muller said.

As people visit the show, they may have their scissors sharpened by Rudy Valdez, who will sharpen scissors and various other blades used for sewing.

The show will take place Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Douglas County Fairgrounds on Pinenut Road in Gardnerville. Admission is $4.

For more information, call Christensen at 265-2828.