Rae Salkeld unfolds an ongoing quilting project in her sewing room. (Jensen Edwards/Grand Forks Gazette)

Local quilter’s art showcased in Kentucky

Rae Salkeld was inspired by a tiled church floor in Costa Rica

Speaking with Grand Forks quilter Rae Salkeld is an immersive experience. On the couches, quilts. Walls, adorned with fabric, stitched pieces of art. The rag rug under the coffee table – soft and lightly padded too.

The drapery designer has always been crafty and had an affinity for stitching. Salked completed her degree in textiles and design at the University of British Columbia in the 80s and clothes for her and her family, but it wasn’t until she moved to Grand Forks in the early ’90s that quilting took over.

“A friend took me to the local quilt guild,” Salkeld recalled. “That was the beginning of the end.” The project that solidified her identity as a quilter was a baby blanket for a nephew.

After hundreds of quilts, many award ribbons and what would certainly be thousands of miles of stitching later, Salkeld is taking her latest work of art to the American Quilter’s Society International Quilt Show, this week in Paducah, Kentucky.

This week, her quilt – a blue and white textile reproduction of an ornate tile floor from a church in Costa Rica – hangs beside works from 38 American states and 14 countries beyond Canada and the U.S.

Salkeld said she was encouraged by a friend last April, while at another quilt show in Idaho, to submit the “Costa Rica Challenge.”

“She said, ‘Well you have to put it in a show,’” Salkeld recalled. “She said, ‘More people deserve to see it than just you.’”

The Grand Forks artist insists that she doesn’t quilt for the prize money (though there’s a total of $121,250 USD up for grabs in Kentucky), nor to keep them for herself. Her works, for example, line walls at Hardy View Lodge, and she has trunks full in her home that she tries to offer to friends and family, in addition to selling what she creates.

“I started that way,” Salkeld said. “But, I mean, I have a large family but there’s only so many quilts that you can give away.

“I do so much quilting, I had to start to slow myself down from mass producing,” Salkeld said of why she took on a challenge that a friend put to her while on a quilting retreat in Costa Rica in January 2018.

“It was the first time I’ve ever done anything like this,” Salkeld said of the project. Meaning, “Costa Rica Challenge” was the first time that she’d made a quilt from a picture. When she began planning how to piece together the quilt’s second border – grecian blue and grey patches anchored with flower-like corners of navy – she felt the challenge take hold.

“I was getting frustrated with the angles and trying to figure out how tile work is different from fabric,” she recalled of the experience, when she was working on the project next with a friend visitng. Salkeld had to improvise in the grouted spaces of the tile work she was aiming to recreate.

“How to translate their angles and their parametres into fabric was frustrating me, […] so I had to put it aways because I didn’t feel it was fair to be grumpy while she was visiting.”

Eventually, she figured it out. She would piece together a four-inch block, consisting of 47 pieces. She then went on to multiply the section 44 times.

“I knew it was possible, it was just a matter [of concentration]. It was the most frustrating part and the part I’m most proud of because I accomplished it.”

Though she’s not expecting piles of cash prizes, Salkeld said she’s looking forward to Paducah because it means an opportunity to learn from other prolific and prominent artists.

“I just love seeing what everyone’s doing,” Salkeld said. “I can spend hours looking at a quilt and I take pictures of details that I want to maybe reproduce.”


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Castlegar autism workshop helps parents cope with wait times

Kootenay Family Place holding workshop Feb. 1

West Kootenay snowpack nearing record levels

High snowpack can mean a greater risk of flooding in spring, say forecasters

RDKB urges caution when reading into early snowpack reports

Staff say it’s too early in the season to have a strong handle on water flow projections

Treading snowy trails across the Boundary

Before the rain came this week, trails in the Boundary were well-travelled

VIDEO: Feds look to help 126 Canadians quarantined in China for coronavirus

China has confirmed more than 4,500 cases of the new virus, with more than 100 deaths

Sap thief taps Saanich park maple trees, faces hefty fine

One tree found with four taps in Mount Doug Park

B.C. reports first coronavirus in Vancouver region

First patient visited Wuhan, China, reported symptoms

Uber threatens legal action to ‘defend its right’ to operate in Surrey

‘I have no concerns,’ Mayor Doug McCallum replies

Victoria resident says WestJet employee uttered racist comment, refused to let her on plane

Customer claims she was told ‘You guys can’t handle your alcohol’ by WestJet employee

Bystander who tried to help dog being attacked not liable for its death: B.C. tribunal

Owner of dog killed tried to get $5,000 in damages from man who tried to save it

INFOGRAPHIC: See how fast your B.C. city grew in 2019

The province’s fastest-growing municipalities were located on Vancouver Island

Landowner hearings begin for Trans Mountain expansion in Alberta

Detailed route talks start in Spruce Grove, in B.C. communities soon

Alessia Cara to host and perform at 2020 Juno Awards

Multi-platinum Canadian singer-songwriter also up for six awards, including Artist of the Year

Most Read