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Quilt artist’s work in display in Saipan’s Joeten-Kiyu Public Library

Debbie Winkfield has been quilting for 40 years now. For her, quilting is a connection of memories. Photo © Lyn Lirio

DEBBIE Winkfield’s Quilt “Coral Kingdom” is an artwork made out of reused and recycled materials. Her under-the-sea themed quilt is now on display at the Joeten-Kiyu Public Library.

In an interview, Winkfield said it was her first time to quilt for public display.

I do quilt for my kids and grandkids but I never did this one before.”

She said she only quilt just to use up her scrap fabrics.

The fabrics that she used for “Coral Kingdom” were mostly donated by her girl friends.

They gave me fabrics with bright colors. I am happy that we can use it in a way that everybody can enjoy,” she said, adding “I tried to think of what can be used with so many colors and to me it is appropriate because we live on the island, that’s why I picked under the sea theme.”

For her, quilting is making a connection [of memories]. She used her daughter’s Phonpeian skirt, took out the flowers and include it in the quilt. She also used her aunt’s 1950s dress which she did not throw away.

It is an art that is not behind the glass.”

A retired teacher from Saipan Community School, Winkfield worked on the quilt for two months. She started sewing it in August.

In September, she had to stop because they have to go to the Philippines to seek medical help. She continued the work when she came back in Saipan in November and donated it to the library when she completed it in December.

She said she was inspired to go on quilting whenever she saw her grandchildren – one and three years old – enjoying seeing many colors.

Every day, when I was quilting they came in. In fact, when this one [Coral Kingdom] was on the ground, my one-year-old grandchild was stepping on it, he was playing on it. They were excited and I really enjoyed watching them getting excited,” she said.

Winkfield started sewing when she was in fifth grade. She started quilting 40 years ago.

My mother sent me to sewing school. I keep all the scraps. I don’t want to throw away so I just saved it,” she said.

She confessed that she had collected scraps of fabrics since then, which occupied one-full room of her house.

I told myself I have to do something with it or the fabric will go bad. That’s why I started quilting because I don’t want to throw it away,” she added.

Winkfield said she doesn’t sell her quilt. She just gave them to her family.

I have been doing quilting but only for my kids and my friends, only for using up my scrap. It is only the first time I have been doing this [for the library].

Through her quilt, Winkfield wants to encourage people to reuse and recycle clothes and make something out of it.

Don’t throw your trash. Respect what you have. You can use it even in small things. No sense in throwing it away. That is why I can’t. It hurts when I throw it away,” she said.

Lori Lyn Lirio
Lori Lyn C. Lirio is a veteran newshen having worked for the People's Journal Tonight for more than 10 years. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications degree from the Lyceum of the Philippines University. She currently writes for the Marianas Variety, Saipan's number one community paper. .

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