You don’t have to look far in Union County to find people who are interested in practicing and preserving arts and crafts.
Karen DuBois is one of those people.
She will be featured at the upcoming Waxhaw Bible Church annual Craft Fair on Oct. 25, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. The church is at 6810 Pleasant Grove Road in Waxhaw.
DuBois and her husband, Richard, moved to Waxhaw in 2004 from Kansas, where she grew up in a small farming community. With two of their four children and six of their grandchildren living in Waxhaw, the draw to move became too strong to resist.
In keeping with her passion for doing things the old fashioned way, she and her husband recently finished building their own house, with lots of help from family and friends, in a sort of a modern-day house raising.
Her friend, Karen McDougall, described DuBois this way: “Karen DuBois is the consummate fiber arts woman.”
Fiber Arts embraces hand felting, hand spinning of yarn, knitting, weaving, macrame, quilting, applique and a host of arts in between.
DuBois has spent her life doing a variety of fiber arts.
She is passionate about creatively fitting her work to the desires of her clients, though of course she makes many things without a specific client in mind.
DuBois’ forte is quilting.
From a historical standpoint, quilting is the great-grandmother of recycling and repurposing of fabric.
Not that long ago, creating a yard of cloth was an enormous deal. Fiber was sheared from sheep, picked from cotton plants or retted from flax, then laboriously spun into yarn, woven or knitted into fabric, painstakingly decorated with dyes or prints and then fabricated into clothing or other textile products.
It should be no surprise that our forebearers were loath to throw away anything that involved so much work. When clothes or other textile products wore out or were outgrown, the fabric was pieced together to create bed clothing and other necessities. The pieced textiles were often filled with other materials and sewn to a third layer to achieve warmth and durability.
Along the way, the quilters began to create unique, pleasing patterns, and the mundane task of salvaging fabric scraps evolved into an art form. And for some, it became a social event where quilters joined forces to create and interact while hand-stitching intricate patterns.
For example the 1850s saw “Aunt Dinah’s quilting party” memorialized in the folk song “Seeing Nellie Home.”
Returning to 2014, at the Waxhaw Bible Church Craft Fair, several variations of DuBois’ quilts will be on display and for sale. There will be bed and hanging quilts, lap quilts, baby quilts, quilted tablecloths and runners and a child’s fun quilt, with six removable dolls who each sleep in their own quilted bed.
I learned DuBois’ creative interests don’t stop with fiber arts. DuBois also gardens, teaches sewing and makes preserves. She also cans fruits, vegetables, meats, stews, sauces. And she regularly does volunteer work at JAARS.