Quilters Celebration 2010
Jean Wells Keenan shares her color and design techniques used in the quilt Amafu. The stark dark animals contrast with the fiery sky above.
Quilters Celebration 2010

This year’s Quilters Celebration proves to be exceptional. I share the experience with my good friend Robin. Robin and I met in the terminal of Fort Wayne International Airport in late August 2005. Alone in the terminal we watch the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and learn we have many things in common including a love of quilts.

We exchange email addresses and promise to stay in touch. I visit Robin and husband Jim at their Grant county farm and see the family quilts; Robin visits Fort Wayne and tours the Born Again Quilts studio. This year we rendezvous in Marion for Celebration.

Our first stop is the Marie Webster House where we meet The Quilters Hall of Fame President Joyce Hostetler and leave her with a copy of The Waynedale News. A short walk and we’re at the Marion County Public Library for Hall of Fame inductee Jean Wells Keenan walk-through of her quilts. Jean explains quilts have four layers-a top, batting, a backing and the story. Quilts feed the soul and Jean gives the group a visual feast. Her love of nature is evident. “Green is nature’s neutral” she states as she shows how she uses shades of green to make the more vivid colors pop. She explains how her ideas develop as she works on the piece. She rarely uses a ruler, rather she cuts shapes and changes and rearranges colors until the piece comes together. Her advice is to step back and look at the whole quilt-only then can you see if you have too much or too little of a certain color.

Jean taught quilt classes in Johannesburg, South Africa where she designs the quilt Amafu. She points to unique fabric dyed by a local woman and printed over it. Jean’s vision includes a fiery dark sky and colors that degrade down to light dusty desert tones. The dark animals contrast against the light desert dust.

Jean lives in Oregon, a descendent of pioneer stock. Her trail-blazing quilts are exceptional works of art. View them on the Web at

Our day comes to an end all too soon. Robin and I make tentative plans to meet again. Perhaps it will be to hang Robin’s family quilts, or then again, Robin hasn’t been to Waynedale!

Do you have a quilting question? Email it to or call 260-515-9446.

Lois Levihn

She is the author of the "Around the Frame" quilting column. She is a graduate of Wayne HS. Quilts have always been important to her, she loves the stories surrounding them, the techniques used in making them, & restoring them. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer