One hundred quilts, six generations and a world of hope
Renske Helmuth has been seriously quilting for 25 years. She draws inspirations for her designs from near and far, whether it’s something in her own garden, in a calendar or even scenes she witnessed while travelling internationally.
For many years, Renske has given quilts to friends, family and many charities. While some quilts may only take a short time, her more intricate quilts can take months to finish often with the hands of other quilters who support creating an intricate design.
Some of these large, intricate quilts have sold for more than $40,000 when she designed and helped guide the creation of featured quilts for the Mennonite Central Committee New Hamburg’s relief sale.
And now, the talented quilter will be inviting people into her home to showcase more than 100 quilts to raise funds for the Canadian Foodgrains Bank. The showcase is being supported by friends from the Waterloo Country Quilters’ Guild.
“You come up with an idea, you try it out, and that is the fun part…the process,” says Renske, who can’t even recall how many quilts she has created through the years.
The majority of the quilts have been created by the award-winning Renske herself, however this is a family showcase with five generations of quilters having their work displayed, including a quilt created in 1850 by her husband Laurence’s great-great-grandmother. The youngest quilter is Renske’s nine-year-old granddaughter Evelyn.
While the quilts will be exhibited throughout the family’s farmhouse, Laurence’s collection of antique farm equipment will be displayed on the lawn. A local food truck will also be available for visitors.
As a long-time supporter of the work of Canadian Foodgrains Bank, Renske has travelled to Nepal, Kenya and Tanzania with Foodgrains Bank member, Mennonite Central Committee to see firsthand the work her donations have supported.
She fondly recalls shopping in Tanzania for materials in the local market: “I did the pointing, she (the community host) did the dealing.”
But what she remembered most is the people.
“How people could still be positive in really bad situations. We think we have it so bad at times, well, we don’t. They have a simple lifestyle and seemed to be more content than we ever are.”
On both trips she also enjoyed seeing how Foodgrains Bank members work with local partners, “We saw the sand dams, a very low-tech solution can be the answer. The smaller projects are way more efficient. You have to deal with local people. You don’t say from here what they should be doing.”
The showcase will take place on Friday, Sept. 9 from 9 am – 8 pm and Saturday, Sept. 10 from 9 am – 4 pm at 6833 Wellington Rd. 9 in Moorefield, Ontario. Admission is free, but a $20 donation is suggested. There’s limited space for viewing, so Renske would like those interested to register in advance.
Visitors will also be able to bid on five of Renske’s quilts. You can submit bids privately and at the end of the showcase, the highest bidder gets to walk home with a Renske Helmuth original quilt.