Eric Gunson discussed his quilts with hordes of interested quilters.photo by Katy Yoder
Eric Gunson discussed his quilts with hordes of interested quilters.photo by Katy Yoder

When folks strolled around Sisters last week during the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show, most of the men were there patiently accompanying their wives around town.

There's no doubt that many of them can appreciate a good quilt as much as any woman, but very few have ever sat down at a sewing machine and created a quilt themselves. It would take a dose of courage and a real love of the art of quilting to enter this mainly female realm and join the ranks of so many skilled seamstresses.

In Sisters, Eric Gunson has not only joined the ranks, he's turned his love of quilting into a solid family business. Gunson grew up watching his mother Beverly come up with wonderful creations using her sewing machine. Seeped in the art of quilting since his childhood, he had an appreciation for the creative process.

"My mother is a very talented seamstress. I've been around quilts since I was a little kid," said Gunson.

Like most boys, Eric didn't see quilting as a skill he wanted to perfect. He was more interested in other activities like black-and-white photography and hiking in the hills around Eugene, where he grew up. But nine years ago, with his mother's encouragement, Gunson decided to take the plunge into the world of designing and creating quilts.

Gunson sees his craft as a combination of graphic arts and sewing. His specialty is in foundation paper piecing which is his method of sewing. Gunson creates his designs and patterns on the computer. His favorite part of the process is watching his creations go from graphic art to a physical representation of his design.

He has a dozen designs and patterns for sale as kits through his family's business, Pieceful Expressions. His first design was dedicated to his grandmother, Frances Bradshaw, who loved to pick Lady Slippers, a tiny orchid in the Coburg Hills outside of Eugene.

"At first, I had no idea how hard my first design would be to make," he said.

Gunson is inspired by hikes he takes along the Metolius River and in the hills around Eugene.

"My own garden is a great inspiration, too," he said.

Because of his unique choice of professions, Gunson has no end of stories about people who can't quite figure out that he is the real designer and creator of the quilts he sells.

"Some guys get really quiet, and others act like they just didn't hear me right. It's really interesting to see what their reactions are," he said.

Another predictable result of his unique status is the number of quilters who stop by his booth and end the conversation by saying they have someone they'd like to fix him up with.

"I can't tell you how many mothers have tried to fix me up with their daughters," he chuckled.

With five or six quilt shows around the Northwest that Gunson attends, there's no shortage of new stories on the horizon. Gunson is used to his unique situation and seems to enjoy talking with people about his business and his craft. Watching him communicate with patrons, it's easy to see that he loves talking about quilting and any other topic that may come up. And yes, all you mothers: Eric is still single.

To contact Eric Gunson at Pieceful Expressions go to their Web site at http://www.piecefulexpressions.com.