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Candy St. Lawrence talks quilts and their deep meaning

By: Michael Ganzman
Freelance Writer

Making quilts is often regarded as one of the most challenging things a person can put their hands to. Quilt-makers themselves often spend months creating a single quilt and a select few go beyond creating quilts and study the form from all sides, with all perspectives.
Candy St. Lawrence is one of only 100 officially certified quilt appraisers in the United States certified by the American Quilter’s Society.
St. Lawrence has lived in Mountain City for the last 14 years but she originally hails from California and has lived in several other parts of the country as well. After working for 30 years in Chicago, she and her husband decided to retire and move to one of two different places.
“It was going to be northern California in the mountains or here [Johnson County] in the mountains,” she said. “And the land we wanted in northern California burned so it was a good thing we didn’t buy it.”
Soon after moving, St. Lawrence co-founded the Tennessee Sunrise Quilt Guild, a group of 35 quilt enthusiasts who meet once a month. When together, the members of the guild show off quilts they have been working on without fear of being judged.
“There are social rules,” St. Lawrence said. “You don’t criticize anybody else’s work…everybody always applauds and says nice things and takes pictures and that’s the way it is.”
The guild also has teaching sessions for less experienced quilters and every year all of the members create a collectively crafted guild quilt that is then donated to a charitable organization.
St. Lawrence also makes quilts of her own and works as a professional quilt appraiser based in Johnson County. She has appraised hundreds of quilts since her certification was approved in 2011. These quilts have varied in shapes, sizes, prices and pretty much every other way imaginable and have been sent to St. Lawrence from far-flung areas of the United States.
“I would say people have sent me quilts from at least a thousand miles away,” she said.
A recent quilt that St. Lawrence appraised has been placed in the Southeastern Quilt and Textile Museum in Carrollton, Georgia. The quilt features a log cabin design and was dated by St. Lawrence to be around the post-Civil War era.

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