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home : arts & entertainment : arts & entertainment October 13, 2015

7/2/2013 1:58:00 PM
Quilter is 'inspirational instructor'
Ruth Ingham is an artist, appraiser and quilting instructor. photo by Jim Cornelius
+ click to enlarge
Ruth Ingham is an artist, appraiser and quilting instructor. photo by Jim Cornelius

By Jim Cornelius
News Editor

Ruth Ingham has been teaching for most of her adult life - whether it's instructing students in Saudi Arabia or as a part of the annual Quilters Affair that precedes the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show.

This year, Ingham is being honored by the quilt show as an "inspirational instructor."

"I guess I've taught art for 40 years," she said in an interview at Black Butte Ranch, where the teacher, quilt-appraiser and world traveler makes her home.

She describes herself as "somebody who can communicate in a variety of different ways." Sixteen years of teaching art in Saudi Arabia honed that skill, because she was working with students with a wide range of nationalities, languages and cultural backgrounds. She developed the ability to communicate with hands-on demonstration, visually through drawing and verbally.

Ingham was in Saudi Arabia with her husband, Leonard, who worked as an engineer for ARAMCO (now Saudi ARAMCO). Her children have also worked extensively in Saudi Arabia.

Ingham took up quilting when she returned to live in the United States. Teaching the craft was a natural evolution.

"I already knew how to teach, so I just kind of took it from there," she said.

This year she'll be teaching reverse appliqué by machine, and finishing techniques.

The teacher also considers herself a student.

"I still go to a lot of classes," she said. "There's always something new to learn."

Ruth was on hand for the beginnings of the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show.

"It started very small, but they started adding classes and when they started adding classes, I started teaching," she said.

Quilting has boomed in the years since.

"It's grown tremendously," Ingham said. "It's still quite varied depending on regional preferences. I think West Coast quilters are more inventive than in other parts of the country. There's always something new."

Technology has revolutionized quilting.

"We've got a lot of new tools that have been invented in the past 30 years that we'd never have dreamed of 30 years ago. It frees you up to look in new directions."

Ingham welcomes the diversity that has entered the quilting world in recent years. People of all ages, backgrounds and interests are taking up the art - including men.

"It's very multi-age and gender - lots of men quilting now," Ingham observed. "And they're good. If you're going to be a male quilter, you've got to be good. It's great to see it, because they're very adamant about what they're doing."

Ingham's teaching role extends into her work as an appraiser. She teaches maintenance and restoration of old quilts. Families ask her to assess their heirlooms and she teaches them how to properly clean and store the quilts.

"They should know how to serve them, because they have great value - not only historically, but monetarily, too," Ingham said. "My mission is to help them understand the process and take care of what they have."

Ever the traveler, Ingham was headed out last week for Hawaii - a little break before she's back to plunge into her calling: teaching an art form she has come to treasure.

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