The career pathway from hairdresser to national award winning quilter is not clear cut, but for FM Quilter Clem Buzick it makes total sense because it was the pathway she took.
Clem began sewing Barbie clothes at age 8 on a 1958 Singer sewing machine didn’t take up quilting until the 1980s when she did a favor for one of the hairdressing clients. The client wanted to take a class in Eleanor Burns’ Log Cabin Quilt In A Day technique but needed 3 or 4 more students so Clem signed up. That put the quilting bug in Clem’s ear,
Her second project was a queen sized hand applique quilt that she hand quilted. “I always go for the hard things.”
After buying herself a long arm quilting machine, she moved the large machine into some spare space in her hair salon. One of her customers asked Clem if she would quilt 2 wall quilts for her and from there her quilting sideline took off. “I did more than 75 quilts in my first year and paid off my machine in 11 months.” She cut one day a week of work doing hair to devote the extra day to quilting. The second year she did 125 quilts. It became clear she couldn’t do hair and quilts, so she chose quilting.
Clem landed on the national stage quite unexpectedly. Client Ann Helbling brought a quilt to Clem that Clem thought demanded some exceptional quilting. Clem talked over her ideas with Ann and got the go ahead to really go for it. Ann entered the quilt in a big show in Salt Lake City where they were thrilled it was awarded Best of Show. In the spirit of going for it, Ann entered the quilt in the American Quilt Society’s national show in Grand Rapids where it again won Best of Show.
Clem never looked back.
Clem’s partnership with quilter Beth Nufer came about when Clem saw one of Beth’s intricately pieced geometric quilts in the Salt Lake show where, to Clem’s surprise, it did not win a prize. “I thought the design was amazing but it was kind of let down by the background filler quilting.” She thought “I need to quilt for this woman!”
A few months after the Salt Lake show, Clem received a call out of the blue from Beth asking her to quilt one of her quilt tops and a brilliant partnership was born. Clem and Beth’s collaborative quilts have won awards at many quilt shows including the International Quilt Festival in Houston, the largest quilt show in the world.
While Clem is best known for her partnership with Beth, she also designs and makes quilts for herself. “I’m drawn to things that are whimsical and bright” and likes to make quilts that make people smile.
After 26 years, Clem says she was never really confident as a hairdresser but with quilting she has no doubts. Clem’s best advice for un-confident quilters is not to be afraid to try.