WISH LIST: White Bluffs Quilt Museum is teaching the generations

Annette Cary, Tri-City HeraldDecember 18, 2013 

Wish Quilt Museum

Pam Powell, 60, of Richland, uses a rug loom to work on her project Wednesday at the White Bluffs Quilt Museum in Richland. Powell is a board member for the group that supports fiber arts.

BOB BRAWDY — Tri-City Herald Buy Photo

-- Editor's Note: This month the Herald is featuring a series of stories on the Holiday Wish Lists of Mid-Columbia nonprofits and how you can help.

The volunteers at the White Bluffs Quilt Museum are passing down a knowledge and love of arts and crafts through the generations.

On a recent day, a retired Hanford electrician was learning to crochet. On Wednesday mornings crafters gather to weave baskets. On any day someone might wander in with a family heirloom quilt, asking advice on how to repair or preserve it.

Last summer about 300 children attended small classes to learn to sew, create beaded jewelry and do other crafts. Among the liveliest sessions was Knitting for Boys Only, with young participants creating snakes and superheroes, said board member Jenny Treadway.

Calling the Richland nonprofit a quilt museum doesn't begin to describe its activities.

It was created seven years ago as a textile arts center for the Tri-Cities, serving as an umbrella group for quilting, fiber arts and other local guilds without a home base, and providing a place for arts and crafts to be exhibited, sold and taught.

It's a center for quilting, weaving, spinning, basketry and paper arts, among other textile arts.

Helping other nonprofits, in cooperation with Mid-Columbia craft groups, is one of its missions.

Quilts are made for every Habitat for Humanity bed, domestic violence programs and patients at the Walla Walla veterans hospital and the Wagenaar-Pfister House for Transitional Veterans in the Tri-Cities. Members may show up after a house fire to get a family started toward creating a new home with the gift of a handmade quilt.

This winter, students and adults donated 528 knitted hats to the Tri-City Union Gospel Mission to help keep the homeless warm.

Challenged to find projects to help stroke victims increase their manual dexterity, the museum came up with loom-knitting projects that gave former knitters and crocheters the satisfaction of creating again.

The classes for children pass along not only textile art skills to a new generation, but also teach skills from math to design to logic, according to board member Patricia Williford.

Classes for adults and joint classes for adults and children also are offered. And groups meet regularly for camaraderie and help on projects.

The quilt museum also may be one of the least-known tourism draws in the Tri-Cities.

Registration for a textile restoration class this spring is open and is drawing interest from across the United States, Treadway said.

The organization would like a larger building, giving them more space for displays, classrooms and a store.

It operates on a tight budget, spending less than $40,000 a year for all expenses, including rent, utilities and insurance, Treadway said. It has no paid staff.

On its wish list is cash donations to help pay general expenses, to help with community service projects and to pay for its children's programs, after it lost funding for them this year.

The museum also maintains a library of more than 1,000 textile books and manuals and welcomes additions.

Or people can help out by shopping at the museum, where handcrafted items are sold.

It is at 294 Torbett St., Richland, and volunteers staff it from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

Its most popular item is the $10 "damnit doll," made to take a pounding on a bad day.

Donations can be made through PayPal at the organization's website, www.whitebluffscenter.org; mailed to White Bluffs Quilt Museum, P.O. Box 4664, West Richland, WA 99353, or dropped off at the museum.

-- Annette Cary: 582-1533; acary@tricityherald.com

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