Saturday, July 25, 2015

Remembering Jean Lohmar.....

Tequila Sunrise by Jean Lohmar

On this beautiful July day while walking outdoors, something in the colors in nature all around me suddenly reminded me of my quilting friend Jean Lohmar who passed away in May.  The deep sky blue, the brilliant colors of the flowers, even the dark grey of the parking lot all jumped out and reminded me of Jean's love of color in her quilts.  Despite the sunshine I felt a moment of loss and sadness.

In June when I heard the news of Jean's death  I was not only saddened but surprised.  Jean always seemed ageless, always so energetic and active, planning another quilt with one in progress on her machine.  I know many of you who read my blog might have known her too.  She was an integral part of the home machine quilting revolution and was a quilter for many years, prolific in exhibiting and teaching, and recipient of many awards and recognition for her work.  

Back in the late 1980's I first heard Harriet Hargrave lecture and was beyond excited to try and quilt an entire bed quilt on my home sewing machine.  I searched and was able to buy a copy of Harriet's landmark book Heirloom Machine Quilting.  One of my favorite gallery photos included was a traditional quilt called Spoon River Christmas by Jean Lohmar.  I loved it, and made a mental note of her name.

Some years passed, and with trial and error, hard work and perseverance I succeeded at home machine quilting, entered quilts in many shows, and in 1998 taught my first classes at the AQS Quilt Show in Paducah.  One of my students was Jean Lohmar, who also had a winning quilt in the show that year.  

She introduced herself and I grinned and said with excitement: "Spoon River Christmas!!!"  From that moment we were friends, sharing quilting information and ideas, our paths crossing again and again over the years.  Jean was a part of my Camp Diane, and many of you knew her from her programs, lectures and trunk shows, many with her dear friend Millie Sorrells.  I always looked forward to Awards Night at Paducah; old friends Jean, Millie, and Marla just might be there!

Three years ago I was fortunate to see her one-woman quilt exhibit at Wisconsin Quilt Expo in Madision, WI.  It was a glorious retrospective, one quilt after another, as Jean always worked hard and when an idea struck, she made and finished a quilt.  It was amazing to see them all together like that, quilts that were old friends, some that I had missed in person but had seen in photos.

 Jean and I literally bumped into each other at the exhibit and had a hug, big smiles, and a quick visit, both marveling at how far we had come, how far quilting had come since we had first met.  With a smile and wave we said goodbye, always looking forward to another meeting at another quilt event.

Sadly, that was the last time I saw Jean.  I will remember her with happiness and fondness from all the times we were together: Jean smiling, energetic and smart and funny and caring. 

Many of you will miss her too, but we have the legacy of her spirit and her work for inspiration, and we will also remember what a true quilting friend she was, a very special lady. She will be missed.


p.s.  I inadvertently first posted a quilt photo of Mildred Sorrells' "Butterfly's Delight" at the top of this post and attributed it to Jean but that was incorrect, and that photo has been removed.  I found  the quilt photo online under Jean's name but that was not accurate.  Sorry for the error, and apologies to Millie.  Please play the video below to see a lovely array of Jean's quilts, and enjoy the photo of her award-winning "Tequila Sunrise," above, sent to me by her close friend Marla Yeager.  

In Remembrance of Jean Lohmar 1929 ~ 2015
For her obituary, please click HERE.
For a video of her work made by her son, click HERE.


Sally said...

Thank you so much for intruding me to Jean's work. It is amazing. I'm sorry I never got to see them in person. I'm struck by the fact that she used so many traditional patterns but yet they seem contemporary because of her great us of color and fabric.s Thank you again. Sally

Diane Gaudynski said...

Yes, Jean had a real eye for color and used it to bring traditional patterns to life, give them a very fresh vibrant look. She pieced and appliqued, and machine quilted it all on her home machine.

Judy Dietrich said...

Only a true friend could evoke such a powerful emotion in your life. Such a treasure to have the good memories & highlights with her. What a beautiful quilt of hers that you have pictured!!

margaret said...

Such a heartfelt post. That video is a treasure! I'm sorry I didn't know Jean but I felt such a kinship with her just from the video. Such a wonderful genuine smile and her quilts are gorgeous.

Rose said...

Diane: What a touching tribute to your friend. Her work is beautiful and inspiring. Thank you for introducing her work to us.

Mary said...

What a wonderful story to share with us Diane. Thank you. Our quilt friends are our best friends. I feel so fortunate to have mine.


Diane Gaudynski said...

Thanks for the great comments! Yes, our quilt friends are special. Those of us who traveled to shows and events for teaching and exhibits forged wonderful friendships over the years, but alas, we can't see these people often. Treasure your friends, they add a special richness to our lives.

Judy L said...


Thank you for posting this lovely tribute to our mother.


Janet Stone said...

Diane, what a lovely tribute to Jean. I was an admirer of her fabulous work and had the honor of meeting her at her exhibit at the AQS show in Des Moines several years ago. I told her I wanted to grow up to be just like her! And what a wonderful video of her and her quilts. Thank you for posting that. She certainly leaves a void in the machine quilting world and will be missed.

Joy said...

Jeans quilts are amazing, beautiful, and all done on a domestic machine. What a wonderful tribute.

AmyR said...

I knew Jean, she was a member of our local guild. (Her husband, Don, was my elementary principal. Small world!) I was thinking of her today as I just saw in the Dec Quilter's Newsletter about Millie Sorrels' win at Quilt Odyssey. She was also a member of our guild for a short time. And she and Jean did an exhibit one year at one of our shows. And so I was thinking of Jean, today, and came across this post when I googled her name. She was an impeccable quilter, and a beautiful person. I took my first quilting class from her, making placemats. Probably in 2000 or 2001. She said it was a good project for a beginner, as you did all the steps of quilting 4 times on a small project! I took another workshop with her, on trapunto. She was always so patient and kind, and willing to help. When I started to see some of her quilts, I was, and still am, amazed at what she created. I do so love the act of quilting. But I don't have her patience or skill to create on a domestic machine. I choose to quilt on a longarm. Her skill and artistry, and your's too, Diane, are admirable. I thank Jean, and quilters like you, for the inspiration your work gives me. It's overdue, but may God Bless Jean and her family.