“Working with my hands has always been a pleasure for me…[and quilting] is so much more satisfying to me. Unlike clothing, which no matter how beautifully made is eventually discarded, quilts last for generations,” said quilt artist Kathryn Rouse. Before creating her quilts by hand, she made sterling silver jewelry and clothing while working as a teacher for three- to six-year-olds at the Racine Montessori School in her native Wisconsin. After retiring from teaching in 1983, Rouse decided to take a comprehensive quilting class at Gateway Technical Institute in Racine, taught by expert quilter Geneva Watts. Meeting once a week, the main objective of the class was to create a full-size quilt consisting of a pattern with a large oval set into a rectangle and surrounded by square blocks. Rouse was one of two out of twenty students that finished the quilt by the end of the semester. She then experimented with pieced and applique quilts and had more time to devote to quilting. Her quilts have been exhibited at the American Quilter’s Society, Paducah, Kentucky, and the International Quilt Show, Houston, Texas, among other local museums; they have been featured in the book America’s Quilts: Created by the Country’s Best Quilters (Publications International Limited, 1990). Rouse was first place winner during the 1994 national quilting contest sponsored by Land’s End and Good Housekeeping for her work Sunflower. Composed in two years, the quilt is based on a repeating pattern from the Russian Sunflower patchwork design, a combination of twenty traditional pieced blocks with twelve hand-applique flower designs derived from her perennial garden.
Headshot photography courtesy of Kathryn Rouse