Meet Carolyn Billheimer — quilter extraordinaire
Ladera resident Carolyn Billheimer has been quilting for many years. It started when her children were little, and her mother-in-law visited and taught quilt making to Carolyn and her daughter’s Brownie troop. Carolyn was hooked!
She quilted on the side while raising her children and having a long, active career as a librarian helping local schools, companies and other organizations convert to the digital age. Now that she has retired, she’s quilting pretty much full time, creating large quilts with elaborate designs and smaller, beautiful wall art pieces.
“The kind of quilt making I do is considered modern rather than traditional. I love working with bright colors and creating unique designs,” Carolyn says.
She is a member of several local modern quilting guilds — often entering her work in their shows. The guilds sometimes will have a prompt or theme to challenge quilters. The quilt she is working on at left resulted from the challenge to make a quilt to express a poem. She chose Fire and Ice by Robert Frost.
Behind her in the photo at left is a work in progress. She sews elements of a quilt and then hangs them up on the wall, adding, moving, or subtracting pieces as she designs. Each element is exactingly made so points are sharp and curves are smooth (and that’s not easy!) She is constantly challenging herself to learn new techniques and experiment with new designs.
“Quilting is my guilty pleasure,” Carolyn says a little ruefully. “I’ve probably made over a hundred big quilts. I give them to my family and friends for milestone birthdays or other celebrations and donate them to foster kids, NICU (neo-natal care) and charities.
“But I never take commissions or sell them,” she adds. “It would ruin the fun!”
During the early days of Covid, as a key member of Ladera’s own “Mask Avengers,” she donated many yards of beautiful and fun fabric to be made into masks.
These days, following in her mother-in-law’s footsteps, Carolyn is continuing the quilt making tradition in her own family. At left, Carolyn’s grandniece Eloise shows off part of the quilt that she is making with her Aunt Carolyn‘s help.
For those of us who love seeing quilt art, Carolyn recommends the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles and the Pajara Valley Quilt Associations’ show at the Santa Cruz Fair Grounds on February 24/25, 2024, where you can see 300+ quilts on display.
This article originally appeared in the Ladera Crier; used with permission.