ESCANABA - It goes without saying that quilter Rose Peltier has probably heard all the usual puns over her profession/hobby that would leave the average listener groaning. Puns such as "her life is going to pieces" and "she's keeping everyone in stitches."
But the truth of the matter is that Rose's quilting skills have evolved from merely piecing and quilting bedcovers and wall-hangings to designing and fashioning beautifully-patterned, prize-winning creations.
Rose makes her home in the Riverland area with her husband, James. The couple have three grown children and two grandchildren.
Rose Peltier demonstrates how to roll strips of fabric in preparation for making a spiral pendant at a class she taught at a recent “Artist Gathering” sponsored by the Bay Area Art Association. (Daily Press photo by Dorothy McKnight)
She was born and raised in St. Jacques, the 14th of 17 children. "But we were never all in the house at the same time," she said with a smile.
During the early years of their marriage, the couple lived in Racine, Wis., and Waukegan, Ill., where her husband taught school. When James got drafted and served in the military in Vietnam, Rose returned to the local area until his return from overseas.
"We went back to Racine, but then we had the opportunity to buy the family farm so we moved back up here," Rose said. "James worked at Harnischfeger and ran a wood yard in Ensign."
The Peltiers only had one son when the returned to Escanaba and two other youngsters joined the family after their return.
Banking has always been Rose's chosen profession, obtaining her first banking job right out of high school. When the couple lived in Racine and Waukesha, she continued in the field, working her way up to auditor.
"That's what's nice about banking," she said. "No matter where you live, there's a bank,"
After moving to the family farm, Rose secured a job with Wells Township and served on the township board.
"I took taxes and sent out the bills," she said. "I wasn't very popular," she added with a laugh. "Then I got a job with Butch, Quinn law office."
The job was supposedly on a temporary basis while their firm's administrator underwent surgery.
"But it didn't work out for her to come back so I had the job for the next 12 years," she said. After that job, Rose went to work for a short time with Delta Fence and later obtained a job with First Bank in Gladstone. She later transferred to the Escanaba office where she worked in the trust department.
But despite the busyness of her life, working and raising her children, Rose still found the time to pursue her passion for sewing and quilting.
Rose learned how to sew at a young age - mostly from her mother and as a member of 4-H as a child. She learned the art of quilting from her grandmother.
"And of course from home ec," she said. Because of the encouragement she received as a young person and teenager, Peltier said she would like to offer beginning sewing classes for children.
"Schools don't teach home ec anymore, so sewing is getting to be such a lost art," she said.
While her children were young, they became involved in theater at school and also took music lessons and piano lessons. Because of their interest in the arts, Peltier joined with Players de Noc and began doing costuming for the group - a volunteer opportunity that lasted for the next 18 years.
"I made costumes for 'Guys and Dolls' but my favorite costumes to make are fantasies and historical plays," she said.
She also became involved in the Quilting Guild at the Bonifas Fine Arts Center and also the Bay Area Art Association.
"I also served on the Bay Area Art Association Board when it first became incorporated in the 1970s," she said. Through her association with BAAA, Rose has taught a number of classes at the Bonifas Art Gallery. The most recent was a spiral pendant class.
But the duties of her household curtailed her involvement in quilting for a number of years.
"I just didn't have the time," she said. "Just raising my kids was my main focus. But after the kids were grown, I got back into quilting."
Rose now owns Superior Quilting, which she operates out of her family home. She readily admits that quilting has changed considerably from when her grandmother's days.
"Of course it was done much differently then," she explained. "My grandmother did almost all of her quilting by hand - hand piecing and hand quilting. I remember that the 'Grit' magazine had quilting patterns in it and my grandmother always cut them out."
Rose said quilters today don't even use a ruler to cut out their pieces because there are so many handy quilting gadgets that make the process so much easier and quicker.
"You would never believe the people who have quilts in their closets that they never finished because they don't know how to finish them," Rose said.
Rose recently became involved in the East Ludington Art Gallery in Escanaba where she has her wares on display and for sale.
Rose's quilting skills aren't just regulated to bed covers. She also uses her skill to create original wall-hangings, photo albums, purses and table runners.
"One of my biggest sellers are fabric potato-baking bags," she said. "They're easy to make."
Rose enjoys designing her own patterns. One particular design she calls "Dragolin's Garden," was patterned after a children's story she used to read to her daughter when she was a young child.
"The spikes in the design remind me of dragon spikes in the story book," she explained.
Another design - Forest Whisper - is unique in that the background is pieced and a tree is added later using wood-textured fabric.
"I put the tree in afterwards and the thread is worked in little circles," she said.
Rose even gets two of her young children, Colin, 10, and Ashlyn, 12, involved in her projects.
"I designed a pattern that I call Fractured Star; you can see the star but it's fractured," she said. "Colon cut the strips and Ashlyn ironed them. Then Colin got tired and complained so he and Ashlyn switched so that she cut and he ironed."
Rose won second place in the Tacoma (Washington) Innovation Quilt Show with this particular pattern.
Rose's pride and joy is a 14-foot long-arm quilting loom.
"I can do a king-size bedspread that's 120 inches wide," she said. The process of quilting the large spread can take from 16-24 hours, depending on the density of the pattern.
Rose's newest craze is making her own kaleidoscope to serve as a lens for her camera. Using the unique photographs, she makes her own greeting cards and has plans to make them into quilt patterns in the near future.
"To make the kaleidoscope, I just use recycled tubes and marbles made out of recycled glass," she said. "The only thing not recycled are the mirrors inside. But being a fiber person, I even use fabric to decorate the outside."