July 13, 2015
Leah Perri for the Winona Daily News
Stitches in time teach more than nine: Fountain City woman’s quilts are learning tools for kids
Angie Bork displays one of her “wee quilts” at her home in Fountain City, Wis. They’re designed for four- and five-year-olds and are donated in schools in the U.S. and abroad.
“It is a mission: I love to do it. I would never be able to sit in a chair all day. It’s not in my grain.” Angie Bork, 87, on sewing handmade quilts for children across the world
Angie Bork is on a mission. A quilting mission.
Last year, the 87-year-old Fountain City, Wisconsin, woman made nearly 500 handmade quilts. But she didn’t sell them.
Instead, she donated them to young children in schools and institutions throughout the U.S. and abroad.
She recently sent nearly 80 quilts to a school in Kentucky, and her sister, Anne Pellowski, recently brought about a dozen to Ecuador on her latest expedition. Bork has also sent her quilts all over Wisconsin; to Joplin, Missouri, after a tornado struck the town in 2011; to Africa, Guatemala and other places.
Now, she is working on another batch that will be shipped off to Rwanda in the next few months.
These are no ordinary quilts. Specifically geared for children ages three to five, the quilts, aptly named “Wee Quilts for Wee Folk,” are meant to be used as learning tools. Each quilt is made up of strips of different fabrics – the fabrics can depict anything from animals, to plants, to people, foods, seasons, sports and more.
Bork said the pictures allow children to make up stories and help with vocabulary skills and identification games.
“They are teaching tools. I always say, ‘the quilt is the child’s.’ Let them have it and learn things with it.”
“The way I do it, I don’t think anyone else makes (quilts) like I do,” she said.
Bork spends about eight to 10 hours each day quilting and sewing. She also manages to stay active by constantly walking around the house, reaching her pedometer goal of 10,000 steps a day.
Seems like a lot of activity for someone her age? Not for Bork, who says it is hardly work to her. Besides, she was never one for idleness.
Having lived and worked on a farm in rural Wisconsin as a young girl, and then having raised 10 kids on a farm in Fountain City, Bork has always been used to being busy.
When the kids went off to college and farm work began to wear on her body, Bork turned to quilting in 1986 to keep busy. In 2007, her daughters set up her very own studio, complete with storage bins, multiple tables and two sewing machines.
Bork said she first got the idea to do these unique quilts when she was looking for a special gift to give to a needy school in Waumandee, Wis., back in 1998. She created her very first Wee Quilts for Wee Folk project on a whim, and was amazed at the result.
“I saw how good they were using these quilts, it was amazing,” she said. “Since then, I’ve had an inspiration to do these quilts for other kids.”
Bork said the work is very rewarding, because when the kids receive one-of-a-kind quilts made especially for them, their faces “just light up.”
“I love that part of it the best of all,” she said. Some of the kids write thank-you letters back to her, she said. One group even made a “quilt” out of paper, which now hangs in Bork’s hallway.
Bork’s daughter, Mona, who often helps her in the studio, said her mother has always been extremely giving. Even in their busy household growing up, Bork was always volunteering at the church or hospital. Even now, for Christmas, she only asks for more fabric for her quilts.
“She takes everybody to her heart — she really does,” Mona said. “This has become a wonderful way for her to stay busy but also to give.”
“She needed to give, and this was a good way for her to do that.”
Bork shows no sign of slowing down, and will continue to make quilts as long as she can.
“It’s the perfect setting for me, and perfect spot for my mission,” she said of her studio, overlooking her farm.
Thanks to the Winona Daily News for sharing this article.