Artisans turn precious family keepsakes into cherished masterpieces.
In many families, heirlooms are a way to tie generations past and present. Often, these treasured items are carefully placed in boxes, to be visited from time to time. For Connie Carrino, her special box included a collection of embroidery and crocheted pieces from her cherished grandmother, Rose Russo Carrino.
The younger Carrino would take time to look through the box and admire the intricate designs her grandmother, who she affectionately calls, Nonni, had created throughout her life. There was a collection of pillowcases, sheets, linens and handkerchiefs, adorned with intricate designs dating back to the 1920s. As Carrino became more familiar with the items, she noticed that when putting them together, these pieces told the story of how Nonni’s artistry evolved.
“I wanted to make something out of this, but I didn’t know where to begin,” Carrino says. For almost 20 years, Carrino thoroughly searched for a solution. She went to art shows, posted flyers in fabric stores, reached out to quilting classes and searched online. Then on a bitter cold night in December 2022 as she left a gallery showing, she saw a tiny sign for Quiltables.
“I couldn’t have found two more perfect partners in making this piece happen,” she says.
Quiltables is run by mother-daughter team Pam Johnson and Katie Kofoed. Together, they have 80 years of quilting experience.
“Quilting has always been important to both of us,” Johnson says. It was this mutual interest that brought them to create Quiltables after Johnson retired in June 2021. When starting the business, the duo thought the majority of their business would consist of finishing other people’s quilts with their state-of-the art robotic long arm quilting machine. As it has turned out, this is only a part of their business. They have turned many quilts into wall hangings, taking heirlooms and creating works of art out of pieces. They also specialize in finishing projects often started generations ago.
Each of them have specific aspects of quilting they bring to the table, which makes them a perfect balance to each other. Johnson does the hand work and applique, while Kofoed enjoys creating custom patterns, such as the roses on Corrino’s piece. Johnson made her first quilt in high school and has continued throughout her life. As a child, Kofoed saw her mother quilting and thought, “I wanted to do it, too.”
Creativity flows for the two of them with an eclectic group of “awesome customers, who help with the process,” Johnson says. The artistry of quilting has changed and encompasses “a huge range of people rather than just for the older generations,” Kofoed says.
Carrino says the duo did an amazing job of telling the story of Nonni’s life and evolution of her artistry. Together, the three of them laid out a beautiful show piece, which weaves together the pieces from Nonni along with the creative talents of both Johnson and Kofoed. After several meetings and emails, the final design was created and included not only the heirloom pieces, but also custom rose pattern stitching throughout and a photo of Nonni. “It is very customized and personal,” Carrino says.
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