Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Straight Out of Mungpoo

"Green Tangent" 2011
Earlier this year, I curated an exhibit called "Small Wonders: Doll Quilts by Andrea Balosky" at the Latimer Quilt and Textile Center in Tillamook, Oregon. Balosky, a visionary quilt artist who lived in in the Northwest and produced a substantial body of truly miraculous work starting in the early 1980's, moved to the Himilayas in 2004 to live a reclusive life and practice Buddhism. She now lives in Mungpoo, Darjeeling, India, and goes by the name Nyima Lhamo. 

Nyima and I met at the 35th Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show in 2010.
I met Nyima last summer at the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show, and after blogging about the experience, the owner of the doll quilts, Merrily Ripley of Port Angeles, Washington, contacted me to tell me about the doll quilts and express her desire to share them with the world. That's how the "Small Wonders" exhibit was born. During the time I worked on the exhibit and its accompanying catalog, I enjoyed much correspondence with Nyima and many stories of her enlightened view of the world. 
"Blue Skies" 2011
She hadn't made a quilt since 2004, but I think all of the excitement about the "Small Wonders" show may have helped trigger her to make another batch of small, wonderful quilts for the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative (AAQI). That, and a family member who was suffering from Alzheimers inspired her to pick up a needle and thread and make a group of small quilts for the AAQI. In one of the e-mails, she described making the quilts and how she picked cotton off local plants to use as the batting. 

Nyima picked cotton from local plants to use as batting for her new quilts.
AAQI posted a wonderful story about Nyima, and the extraordinary effort she made to create and ship the quilts. In April, one of her quilts called "Ribbon Sutras" was available for auction. I signed up for the auction but failed to click the link in the e-mail to complete my registration, thus failing to enter my last minute bid. But I was delighted to discover a friend, Lori Dejarnatt, who had taken a class with Balosky and saw her quilts in Camp Sherman several years ago, was the winning bidder. Lori, who had made a quilt of her own for AAQI and blogged about it, contacted Nyima with the news. Shortly afterwards, Lori received a reply that said, 

"Your mention of the AAQI quilt in your blog was the real spark for my decision to do the same. So, all this seems to have come full circle."

Lori D. won "Ribbon Sutras" 2011
Our circles overlap. Today I purchased two of Nyima's recent quilts - "Blue Skies" and "Green Tangent" - both made earlier this year. The new quilts are very much in the same vein as her previous work. They are bright, colorful and whimsical, but these remarkably simple, visually sophisticated quilts are all solid prints - a departure from her earlier work, which included mostly print fabrics. I am absolutely thrilled to add these two little gems to my collection. Nyima holds a very special place in my heart, and the quilts are a wonderful reminder of our long-distance friendship.


  1. Interesting post and I have already seen Lori's quilt on her blog - good to see the lady who made it and find out more about her. Thank you

  2. I'm so glad you were able to purchase 2 of her quilts. As with most quilts they really are better in person! I'm thrilled for both of us!

  3. What a great story! Thanks for sharing, and thanks to you and Lori for your generosity.

  4. I'm especially glad Nyima knows where three of these quilts will be. Hope she decides to make more in the future. She is truly gifted.

  5. I love your stories about Nyima. Her work is beautiful!

  6. Great story and beautiful quilts!

  7. The stories behind the quilts really are what make them special...