CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY - (Mike Baños) A MULTI-AWARDED quilter from Gusa, Cagayan de Oro held high the Philippine flag by winning first prize in her category at the 2006 AQS Quilt Show & Contest held April 26-29, 2006 at the Paducah Expo Center in Paducah, Kentucky, U.S.A. which was dominated by entries from the U.S. and Japan.
Myrl Lehman Tapungot's entry, "Mystic Beauty II", won first prize in the Bed Quilts Category Group - Mettler(r) Imported by A&E, Inc. Second was Sagacious Sisters by Sagacious Sisters, Marysville, WA while third was Flower Symphony by Aki Ueda of Aichi, Japan.
Quilters from around the world, gathered as part of the 22nd Annual AQS Quilt Show & Contest Awards Presentation held Tuesday, April 25th at the Luther F. Carson Four Rivers Center, Paducah, Kentucky and webcast live on Quilters News Network. All 429 quilts were displayed at the annual quilt exhibition which brings over 35,000 quilters, collectors, enthusiasts and vendors to Paducah each spring, and has earned it the moniker "Quilt City USA."
Tapungot joined 428 other quilters in the annual contest. Now in its 22nd year, the competition offered $114,000 in total prize money. Her "Mystic Beauty II" quilt measures 89 inches wide by 89 inches long, and represents hundreds of hours of work. It will be featured in the Fall 2006 issue of American Quilter magazine, which will be in homes and on newsstand in early June, said the magazine’s executive editor Christine N. Brown in an email to Tapungot.
"We have been around for many years, and we have been winning awards for quite a while. We compete in the "group quilt" category, and as you might imagine it is harder for group quilts to compete with other quilts because they are done by several different hands, therefore different stitches," Tapungot wrote in a statement posted in her website http://www.mdeans.com/.
"But in order to offer large works to the general "quilt loving" public, we have to do our quilts as a group/team effort. Some of our quilts can easily take over a year of dedicated effort to complete. We pride ourselves in making quilts with near perfect, identical stitches, and even experts using magnifying glasses find it difficult or impossible to tell the difference"
"Mystic Beauty II" was chosen as a semi-finalist from a field of 806 quilts and compete against others within its category (Bed Quilts) . Three quilting authorities judged the elite group prior to the opening of the show. "Sedona Rose" by Sharon Schamber was awarded Best of Show and garnered the Hancock's of Paducah Best of Show award and a cash prize of $20,000. In addition, the quilt will become part of the permanent collection in the Museum of the American Quilter's Society.
AQS president, Meredith Schroeder said quilts are no longer relegated to serving as mere bed covers but have evolved into works of art, using fabric and thread as the medium. The quilts in this year's contest are from around the world and feature beautiful palettes of color. Entries arrived from 46 U.S. states and 12 other countries, including France, Israel, Korea and Australia.
There were fifteen categories in the judged contest and a special category for young quilters. The quilts include bed-size, large and small wall quilts and miniatures. Designs range from traditional Log Cabin, Mariner's Compass and New York Beauty to innovative designs using paint, threads and original designs.
Tapungot stressed that while she designs and directly supervises all the work done on her award winning quilts, it is a collective effort by M. Dean's House of Design, a small family business that started in 1984 in their residence at Villa Ernesto Subdivision in Gusa, Cagayan de Oro City.
"We employ some 150 handicraft people in the making of our beautiful quilts, all done by hand, to achieve that special look that can't be duplicated by any machine." Tapungot stressed. " This is a long, intricate process, because we do some of the finest stitching in the world. However, for maximum strength and accurate alignment, all of our piecing is done by machine."
As can be surmised from a multi-awarded craftsman, there is pride in their work, too. "We guarantee all of our quilts 100% ," Tapungot asserts with confidence. "If for any reason, you are not satisfied with the quilt you ordered, we will fix it, and if it can't be fixed, we will either replace it or cheerfully refund your money."
Although almost all of her quilters did not have any previous experience in quilting, M. Dean's established a family tradition among the quilters she employs who sometimes have three generations of their kin quilting together the award-winning designs in their homes.
"Many of our quilters' main source of income is farming, and quilting provides a valuable source of supplemental income between planting and harvesting," Tapungot explained. "Most of the quilting is done in the traditional way, in the employee's individual homes, providing scores of families in our area additional income and stability. This also affords the homemakers a chance to earn income while caring for their homes and families."
Tapungot is not bothered by the country's lack of a tradition in quilting, which was pioneered in Cagayan de Oro by another Filipino quilter from Carmen, Ellen K. Delgado and the Oro House of Patches.
"We have set up shop here off the beaten track and have grown independent of what is going on with the rest of the Quilt world. We offer original designs and methods few have the means or skill to do. We think you will agree that our Trapunto MAGIC is a complete departure from other more traditional Trapunto Quilting. We make lovely three (3) dimensional Quilts that will please the eye, the hand, as well as the heart. "
Tapungot and M. Dean's House of Design have won many awards over the years, the most significant of which include "Le Mariage d' Eryn", 1st Place in the Group Quilt category at the Houston International Quilt Festival held Nov 4-7, 2004 ("An amazing Trapunto quilt inspired by my lovely granddaughter and the hope that one day I will be there to see her wedding); " Enchanted Doorway II", 1st Place and Judges Choice award, Group Quilt Category, International Quilt Association's Quilt Festival at Houston, Texas held Oct. 21-24 1999; which again won 2nd Place, Group Quilt Category at the 17th Annual Quilt Show and Contest of the American Quilter's Society, Paducah, Kentucky, April 25-28, 2001;
“A Touch of the Heart” 2nd Place, Group Quilt Category (86"x110"), American Quilters Society held April, 1999 at Paducah, Kentucky (“A blend of Trapunto quilting using colored yarn, embroidery, and silk ribbon embroidery. 10 people worked on this quilt entirely by hand for 7 months!”); “Baltimore Album”, 1st Place Viewers Choice Award, 3rd Annual Quilt Show held in Mt. Angel Brewery, Mt. Angel, Oregon, February , 1999 ; “Rosie's Wedding”, 2nd Place, Group Quilt Category from the Houston International Quilt Festival held November 1996; and again 2nd Place, 3rd Annual Quilt Show in Mt. Angel Brewery, Mt. Angel, Oregon on February, 1999; “My Garden of Dreams”, GINGHER AWARD for "Excellence in hand Workmanship", Viewers' Choice Award, American Quilt Society in Paducah, Kentucky, awarded a $10, 000.00 dollar prize in April 1997 and now exhibited in the American Quilters Society Quilt Museum; “L' Art de Aimer”, 2nd Place, Group Quilt Category, Houston international Quilt Festival, November 1995, 85" x 105" (featured in an article: "Quilts: A World of Beauty" Journal of the International Quilt Association); "Purple Lilac Bouquet", 1st Place, Quilting in the Teton's Trapunto Category Viewers Choice Award 1993;
“Small Myomi”, 1st Place, Lampasas Quilt Extravaganza, Lampasas, Texas; "Texas Star", 1st Place, CPQG, Texas, appliqué wall hanging in 1993; and the multi-awarded “Rose Lilac Bouquet”, 1st place and Viewers Choice Award, Misty Mountain Quilters Guild, August 1993; 1st place , Wall Hangings 36" or less category, 22nd Annual Northwest Quilters Guild, March 1997; 1st place, Okefenokee Quilt Fest Ware CO Chapter, Georgia, Council on Child Abuse, 1992 and 1st place, Lane County Fair, Oregon 1997 (competing in the "Applique, trapunto and alphabet quilts" category).
Tapungot and M. Dean's House of Design also won many award in the annual "Miniatures From the Heart" contest sponsored by Miniature Quilts Magazine: “L' Art de Aimer”, 1st Place, Group Quilt (issue #30)1996 (size: 27.5 "x 28"); “Diamond Medallion", 3rd Place, Group Quilt (issue#24), 1995 (size: 8.75"x 10"0; "Yvonne's Flower Garden” 1st place, Group Quilt Category (issue#19), 1994; “Oprah's Quilt”, 1st place, Other Techniques Category, Judges Choice Award by Elsie Campbell (size: 29" square); "Akiko's Irish Chain", 1st Place, Group Quilt Category (issue#13) (size/type: 28" Square Trapunto/Irish Chain).
Perhaps the pride and philosophy which drive Tapungot and her wards are best expressed in the "The M.Deans People" credo posted on their website: "Welcome to the world of Dreamers and Doers. With her whimsical mind comes fantastic and magical images that delight the heart and the spirit. With their skillful hands, beautiful, tiny and perfectly matched stitches are meticulously sewn, and high-quality quilts are made. And together they create these wondrous, seemingly impossible quilts that one would want to keep forever as an heirloom, and a keepsake."