How far will your crafty self take you?

This Newby Quilting Artist Traveled to South Africa

Rose shares her experience with an audience at Sarah Center Women's Ministry
in Cincinnati, Ohio

Rose Green of Cincinnati, Ohio has only created a few quilts so far, but she’s had more success than most quilters would dare to imagine. When she made up her mind to learn the art and craft of quilting, she had no idea how far her quest would take her.

Her beginner quilting skills and a pure drive to succeed earned her a place as a contributor to the Michigan State University exhibit, “Conscience of the Human Spirit: The Life of Nelson Mandela.” She traveled to South Africa with the exhibit, along with other American contributors. Her work was a part of International Quilt Convention Africa. Her bio and a photo of her work are part of a book documenting the exhibit.

Never too old to learn something new

Rose’s voice takes on an edge of excitement when she talks about her success. She’s an artist, but she could easily be a motivational speaker.  When she spoke at a recent event, she acknowledged that her skill was important, but she also credited her positive attitude and her refusal to give up.

Rose was in her mid-60s when she began her quilting career a few years ago. She learned basic skills in a class at Sarah Center, the same Cincinnati women’s ministry where she’d learned jewelry-making skills.

She had been an avid jewelry maker, but quilting quickly became the focus of choice for her creative energy. Her home became a quilting studio. Her materials and quilting implements became more important than her need to keep things tidy. Her children complained about her messy artist’s environment, but Rose kept cutting, stitching, and quilting; and along the way, she developed a style that finely balanced quilting skills with contemporary art themes.

Contemplating a dynamic quilting future

At a point when Rose began to understand that she needed help moving her skills forward, she learned about master quilter, Carolyn Mazloomi, and felt compelled to connect with her.

Mazloomi is a nationally honored quilt artist, an author, a 2014 National Endowment of the Arts National Heritage Fellow, founder of the Women of Color Quilters Network, and a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering. Her skills and experience would easily intimidate any newbie quilter, but it never occurred to Rose not to contact her for help.

She sent Mazloomi a late night email and was shocked when she phoned her back within minutes. Her shock turned to encouragement when she learned that Mazloomi lived in the Greater Cincinnati area. She invited Rose to her home, where she toured her studio and witnessed first-hand some of the work she’d seen online. Mazloomi couldn’t mentor Rose personally, but she arranged an introduction with a friend that could.

One good thing led to another

When Rose Green spoke about quilting at a “World Book Night” gathering, her excitement charged the audience. She described her creative journey. Her audience hung on every word, still, it wasn’t easy to follow the chain of events that allowed her newbie work to become one of 51 quilts in a Michigan State University exhibit honoring Nelson Mandela. The odds were not in her favor, but she “claimed it” as her destiny and knew it would happen. That’s not a technique they teach you in Craft Jury 101.

Of course claiming it also meant learning the skills, creating the art, making the contacts, and getting the right information to the right people in time to be included in the jury. It meant ignoring well-intentioned friends who tried to tell her what her quilt should and should not be. After her quilt was accepted into the exhibit, Rose also took on a part-time job in order to be able to afford the trip to Johannesburg, but it was a small investment that is leading to big things.

Written by Carol, The Nice Lady
Originally published April 2015 on