CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Joni Hoffman of Duck, Braxton County, received the 2016 Vandalia Award on Friday, May 27, at the annual Vandalia Gathering at the State Capitol this year. The Vandalia Award is the highest folk life award that is presented by the state of West Virginia. It celebrates the heritage, spirit and wonder of West Virginians who are dedicated to the preservation, promotion and presentation of folk life traditions.
“In the true spirit of a Vandalia Award winner, Joni is inspired to nurture new quilters and pass this exacting tradition on to others,” said Randall Reid-Smith, commissioner of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History. “She teaches classes, participates in the West Virginia Quilters and drags her quilting frame around the state to encourage people to quilt. And, I know from experience that if you stop to watch, you sit down to stitch.”
A native West Virginian, Hoffman discovered quilting in the summer of 1969 while visiting a high school friend. The friend’s mother was sitting on a wrap-around porch at an old-fashioned floor quilting frame and the Vandalia Award winner stopped to watch. Sensing that she had an interested observer, the quilter invited her to give it a try. Although she believes that her friend’s mother probably quietly ripped out her beginner stitches as soon as she left, Joni was hooked.
“I knew I was meant to be a quilter the first time I had a thimble on my finger and a needle in my hand,” Hoffman said. “Quilting is my blessing and my curse. A blessing because it gives me peace when I am at the frame; a curse because the frame is always calling me.”
Hoffman started quilting in earnest when, as a young bride, she moved to Europe with her husband. She discovered that she also had a knack for teaching, so as she improved her own skills, she was sharing with others. After returning to the United States – and home in West Virginia – she continued to work on her skills. She joined two quilt guilds, read quilting books and went to quilt shows. For eight years, she enjoyed the company of a group of women who quilted together as the All Thumbs Quilters.
She has won prizes for her own quilts and for quilting she has done for others, including awards at the Mountain State Art and Craft Fair at Cedar Lakes, Three Rivers Quilt Show in Pittsburgh, Pa., and shows in Virginia. She has won the Best Hand Quilting Award twice at the West Virginia Quilt Festival.
Hoffman teaches a basics-of-hand-quilting class for West Virginia quilt guilds and has taught elementary school children to make a Log Cabin quilt block. She is active with the West Virginia Quilters, Inc.
She quilted the Sesquicentennial Quilt that features quilt pieces made by men, women and children from around the state. It is a traditional reminder that West Virginians love their heritage and will carry it on and on.
For more information about the Vandalia Gathering and the Vandalia Award, contact Caryn Gresham, deputy commissioner for the division, at (304) 558-0220.
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History is an agency within the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts with Kay Goodwin, Cabinet Secretary. The division, led by Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith, brings together the past, present and future through programs and services focusing on archives and history, arts, historic preservation and museums. For more information about the division’s programs, events and sites, visit www.wvculture.org. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.
Media Note: Photos of Joni Hoffman can be found at http://goo.gl/bJSPnm
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