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October 24, 2013 | 12:00 a.m. CST
These twins are entwined with more than their identical genomes. Karon Huggler and Sharon Pendergraft have created quilts together from the first stitch.
The 69-year-old sisters have been fabric artists for about 30 years. The two have created around 20 quilts together.
Huggler is particularly drawn to the art aspect of quilting. She began with traditional and simple designs like the ones her mother made but soon moved on to more artistic quilts.
“Most think of quilting as putting pieces of fabric together,” Pendergraft says. “Karon does embellishing on it where she tints some of the colors, hand dyes some of the fabrics and does a lot of artistic shading and lettering and painting. It really is an artistic expression.”
Huggler has sold one quilt for $1,800 but says she couldn’t bear to part with any of the others. She has received recognition for her pieces, including having two quilts accepted into the International Quilt Festival in Houston. Six hundred quilts are submitted to the festival, but only 350 are accepted.
“I have to brag on her because she won’t do it herself, but just to have quilts accepted into that is prestigious,” Pendergraft says.
When Pendergraft isn’t helping her sister, she works on collaged mixed-media pieces. Quilting has never been her forte; she prefers mosaics and paper over fabric. The sisters take turns traveling to each other’s houses to collaborate on their art. There isn’t a single quilt Huggler has completed without the aid of her twin.
Huggler did not become serious about quilting until she retired in 2005 from her position as a financial secretary at Memorial Baptist Church. Her home workshop is an explosion of color. Swatches of fabric bedeck two of the walls, and several quilts hang on another.
Pendergraft doesn’t focus on the little details of quilting, but Huggler likes seeing the small pieces of fabric come together into one cohesive piece. She has no problem spending hours in her workshop sewing. “I was working on a piece for a couple hours late at night. And by the time 2 a.m. rolled around, I realized I’d been sitting up there working on it and smiling,” she says.
The sisters are involved in Artrageous, a group of about a dozen mixed-media artists who come together once a month. “She’s very dedicated,” Jackie Berry, a member of Artrageous, says about Huggler. “When she gets an idea, she doesn’t work fast. She’ll look at it, she’ll try pieces, and she’ll work at it until it’s perfect.”
The twins will continue expressing themselves artistically by threading together their love of art and their sisterly bond for as long as they can.