Riëtte Dolezal has a passion for quilting, and her artworks are really something to behold. Get It visits her at her home in White River to find out more about this fascinating pastime.

Riëtte retired a while ago, and has since taken up quilting. “Quilters must be mad,” she jokes. “They buy pieces of expensive fabrics, cut it into small pieces and sew it back together again.” Well, that is certainly one way to look at it! Her quilts are exquisite works of art and the skill she has developed in such a short time is astonishing.

“This is what I enjoy most about it: the fact that every quilt, every single block, is an artwork,” she says. “The art does not only lie in choosing a pattern or ‘picture’, but also in selecting the right fabric and even the colour of the thread.”

Most of Riëtte’s quilts feature vibrant coloured blocks and patterns set against a white background and extremely fine quilting. It is evident that every single piece of cloth is chosen with a specific end product in mind, much like an artist choosing and mixing paint colours. It is not only about piecing together fabric blocks, and many quilts also feature appliqué work. But the greatest skill probably lies in the quilting itself and Riëtte certainly knows what she is doing: she literally utilises the needle as a fine artist would use a paintbrush.

Her studio is any quilter’s dream and boasts a selection of hundreds of pieces of material in different colours and patterns.

It is exciting to envisage the endless possibilities to mix and match and it is acutely evident that she really is passionate about colour. She has also treated herself to a sturdy quilting frame, which is a large structure that holds and pulls together the back, batting and top parts to ease the whole process.

Although South Africa boasts a huge quilters’ community and the competition is quite extreme, one of Riëtte’s beautiful pieces has won an award at the 2019 South African National Quilt Festival. This led to her being named a master quilter by the South African Quilters’ Guild. According to the guild’s website, the award is a “reflection of the outstanding workmanship that the quilter has produced” and this is certainly no insignificant feat. But nothing comes without hard work and one could well imagine the enormous amount of time going into just one piece. According to Riëtte, she starts at about 4am and quilts through the day.

However, it is not all work and no play for her. She loves the Kruger National Park and regularly packs her trusted camper to go camping for a few days! Now we wonder whether she takes some time off from quilting to rather enjoy what the park has to offer.

“Quilting is a passion and I really cannot help but pack something to keep my hands busy,” she says. “I sometimes take handwork and other times I load my Bernina machine to sew a few blocks after a long game drive.”

Riëtte also loves playing golf and this is one of the reasons she moved to White River Country Estate six years ago. “Golfing really is fun, especially when it is played with good friends and on a lovely course. It is also good to spend some time in the sun and the picturesque Lowveld surrounds.”

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Riëtte at [email protected]

Members of the Lowveld Quilters’ Guild get together once a month at Macadamia Village in White River. Quilters from all over the Lowveld join in the fun and the gathering boasts demonstrations and vendors selling all things quilt. It is an opportunity to engage with like-minded people and members can also indulge in an extensive library featuring quilting books. Anyone interested in joining the guild is more than welcome to contact the chairman, Cathie Kotzé, on 083-626-4431.

Text: LIEZEL LÜNEBURG. Photographer: TANYA ERASMUS

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