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‘Another canvas’

Artist Valerie Funk’s quilt entered into American Quilting Society quilt show

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012 9:34 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012 9:37 a.m. CDT
OST photo by AMY HANSEN Valerie Funk, shown at her residence in Osceola, describes how the artist Edgar Degas was the inspiration behind her ballerina quilt. Degas was a famous French Impressionist artist who was known for painting and sculpting images of ballet dancers.

It was Valerie Funk’s love of graphic arts and photography that first inspired her to start quilting.

“I think, first and foremost, I’m an artist,” said Funk, “but quilting is just like another medium for me. It’s like another canvas.”

Funk, who lives in Osceola, was a semifinalist for the 2012 American Quilting Society (AQS) Quilt Show and Contest held at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines Oct. 3 through 6.

Funk’s quilt titled “Through the Windows at Santa Fe,” was featured along with 184 quilts in the annual AQS contest.

The AQS contest usually draws a crowd of more than 15,000 people.

This was the first time Funk entered a quilt in a major quilt show. She began quilting in 2010.

“To be able to put a quilt into an international quilt show and have it accepted was just absolutely amazing to me,” Funk said. “It’s an honor to have them accept it into such a large show. You know, there’s so much talent up there and people have been doing quilting for years.”

Getting started

Funk’s love of quilting was a few years in the making.

In 2008, she got her associate degree in photography and graphic design.

That same year, she went into retirement after she had been an employee of the state of Indiana.

Once Funk acheived her college degree, she said she knew she needed to move on and find something else to devote her time to.

Funk relocated to Iowa without knowing a single person in the entire state, however, Iowa was still an ideal place because it was close to her family in Indiana.

It was hard, at first, for Funk to find new hobbies.

“As an artist,” she said, “I wanted to do something that I could create, that I could make, that would feed my artistic appetite.”


At the time, Funk was living in Madrid and saw an ad in the local newspaper for a beginners’ quilting class.

Funk said she was skeptical at first, but went to the class. She found she was surprised to see a lot of young quilters there.

One of the things Funk first liked about quilting was the ability to incorporate bright colors.

Now, Funk’s quilting has evolved from making quilts with purchased patterns to expressing her own artistic views with her own patterns.

For information on Funk’s quilting, her business email is quiltsbyval@yahoo.com

Funk said she wants to get to the point in her quilting career where she can be a quilt or pattern designer. A majority of the quilts she makes she donates or gives away to charity or good causes.

Personal stories

“For me, a lot of my quilts tell a story,” Funk said. “I don’t want to say it’s never just a quilt for me, but most of my quilts have a meaning or a specific thought that came into a head, and I had to put into fabric.”

This year, Funk had a quilt in the Iowa State Fair that was a tribute to her grandfather and his love of photography.

During the time of the interview, Funk was making a quilt that depicts a picture of a young man who was killed by a drunk driver in a motorcycle accident in Terre Haute, Ind.

Funk is family friends with the young man’s parents, and wanted to make a quilt of their son that had a lot of personal meaning.

“Like a lot of my quilts, something speaks to me and I have to do it,” Funk said.

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