August 14, 2007
Albany --- With the record setting hot weather you might ask yourself, "Why in the world would people think about making a quilt?"
Come to find out, many people make them during the summer to use during the winter, with more and more people deciding to learn how to make them.
"Oh, there's Adean. Hey, Adean," shouts several classmates.
Not many students get such a warm welcome when they come to class, but if you take quilting lessons from Gerry Jordan, you learn to expect the unexpected.
"I love puzzles, picture puzzles," says Gerry who teaches quilt making, and loves puzzles made of cloth. "To me a quilt is like putting a puzzle together."
Several people come every Thursday afternoon to her classroom to become students again.
"I'm getting an education on how-to make a quilt," says Mary Willis who started learning about a month ago and finished one quilt already.
"This is fun, better than school work," says Brianna Garcia, a 10 year-old, sixth grader, and beginning quilter who wanted something to do during the summer vacation.
Brianna got school sick, as she describes, where she got tired of being home doing nothing.
She decided to learn the centuries old craft from a teacher who might have psychic powers.
"I can tell when a student is having problems without her asking me," says Gerry, who somehow listens to all the classroom conversations at once.
She started her love for handicrafts at the bottom by selling her arts and crafts.
"I had been selling them out there on the honor system in the bathroom at the Marine Crops Logistics Base" says Gerry who never had an item stolen.
Then, a customer commissioned her to make a quilt, and she gave it a try.
"And, I loved it," says Gerry.
A national Quilting in America survey in 2006 shows lots of people love quilt making, with the number of quilters almost doubling in 10 years to about 27 million now and who spend $3.3 million yearly for materials, magazines and cloth, among other things..
Gerry loves to teach anyone wanting to learn, never turning anyone away. Somehow, someway she always makes room.
In the classroom, you would find it hard to tell Gerry from her students. She sits and adjusts sewing machines right along side its owners. Occasionally, she reads the machine's owners manual, and if it doesn't answer her question, she researches it when she gets home.
Her students appreciate her teaching style.
"She's very patient with you," says Lena James, who is making a baby quilt for her first granddaughter.
"I don't know where I get patience from," says Gerry, but she has lots of it.
Gerry has no patience with people who misuse a homemade quilt for padding to move a refrigerator, for example.
Don't even think about using one of her creations in a pet's bed.
"If I ever catch a dog sleeping on my quilt, they'll never get another one," says Gerry. "A quilt is somebody's heritage."
Some quilt makers don't want to part with their creations even when they depart.
"They are funny about their quilts. I tell you quilts are valuable. Some of them want one of their quilts to cover their caskets instead of a blanket of flowers."
As checkered as a person's past might be, she believes a person's heritage needs protecting. So, she teaches people how-to preserve it, while showing that a person never gets too old to teach.