Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

Townspeople

August 14, 2008

'Painting' with fabric: Andover quilter's work shown around country

Betsy Abbott dreamed of quilting for years before taking a beginning quilting class at a local community college. Now, nine years later, she has several prize-winning quilts in shows around the country.

"I didn't think I had a creative bone in my body," Abbott said with a laugh. "I'm absolutely amazed by what you can do, what you can create with fabric. I consider myself a landscape artist, using fabric as my medium."

Abbott mostly creates free-form quilts, different from traditional quilts that have geometric, repeating patterns. Although she respects and admires traditional quilting styles, she said, she enjoys the open-endedness of creating a quilt without a pattern.

"I love color, I love fabric. There's something very tactile about it (quilting). This art form allows me to hold, move and manipulate cloth. That's why I fell in love with it," she said.

Abbott has been selected as a semifinalist in the American Quilter's Society annual Quilt Expo in Nashville, Tenn., held Aug. 20 through 23. Her quilt "Shag Rock" was chosen from a field of 472 quilts, and will be displayed and judged with quilts from all over the world.

She also had two quilts selected for the Images 2008 quilt show in Lowell: "Praise for the Morning," which depicts a sunrise, and "Fidelity," a scene with two osprey, created in memory of her parents. The Lowell quilt show is part of the four-day Lowell Quilt Festival. Abbott was notified that one of her two pieces won a third-place prize, she said.

Abbott lives on South Main Street with her husband, Don Abbott. For each of her quilts, she envisions a design, and meticulously cuts shapes out of different fabrics, piecing them together and pinning them on a large board.

Stepping back from the design, Abbott changes, adds and moves pieces until the quilt matches the idea in her head. Working several hours a day, she can spend anywhere from five to seven months to finish one of her quilts, depending on its design, she said.

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