Saturday, February 10, 2018

Collin's First Juried Show

I urged Collin Ruff Fellows to enter the biennial juried show of men who quilt at the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum. Two of his quilts were accepted, and I was not the least bit surprised. I was fortunate to photograph both quilts when they were first completed.
"Earth" by Collin Ruff Fellows
"Neptune" by Collin Ruff Fellows

I felt a little bad about not entering, having been in the previous two shows, but I was thrilled for Collin. When he received his acceptance letter, he posted this message on Facebook.

In one of the comments he said,

"Now I have to figure out how to get out there to see them up."

Shortly after receiving the good news, I had dinner with Collin and his husband, Marlin, at one of their favorite local Mexican restaurants, Pepita's. We talked about the show, and what they were planning for the future. Less than two weeks later, a heartbreaking announcement from Marlin appeared on Facebook.

We celebrated Collin and his amazing quilts last night at the opening reception of "Boys Just Wanna Have Fun Too" at the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum in Golden, Colorado. The museum did a wonderful job with the display, paying tribute with the two quilts hanging together, along with a favorite mug shot and memorial statement. Thank you to Steve Bowley, Quilt Angel, for generously sponsoring this part of the exhibition.

I attended the reception with Marlin and his friend, Nick. The display was beautiful as it was poignant. Just as the world was just beginning to learn about Collin and his brilliant work, his friends and family were saying goodbye. We miss Collin terribly, but will always remember him, and not only for his quilts.

In Memorium
Collin Fellows

Collin Fellows was more than just your average, every-day, quilt-making biker. He was a big, burly guy with lots of ink and piercings. He enjoyed cigars, leather, and motorcycles, and had a soft spot in his heart for pit bulls. He was passionate about social justice, especially in the LGBTQ community. 

Collin was also an unusually talented artist. While studying at the Columbus College of Art and design in the 1980s, Collin found himself drawn to the use of hard lines, bold colors, and the shape-layering art movements of the early to middle 20th century. Over his life, he fed his artistic passion through the medium of many different forms of art including drawing, needlework, glasswork, woodwork, sculpture, and custom motorcycle building. 

Then, in 2014, Collin sat down at a sewing machine for the first time and found himself swept up into the world of quilting. Over the next few years, he completed more than 30, doing both commission work and charity quilts. Drawing on a lifetime of creative experiences, and after hours of design work, Collin's "Planets" series came to life. The "Planets" quilts are postage stamp quilts, so-called because each square in the quilt is an inch square-- about the size of a postage stamp. 

Before his death in November 2017, he had completed four of the nine quilts-- Earth, Mars, Jupiter, and Neptune-- and was working on a quilt exploring resistance to Fascist Politics. 

Collin stuck out at quilt shows, due to his alternative appearance. However, even a short conversation made it evident he was intelligent, articulate, and surprisingly soft-spoken for such a big, bearish man. His premature death left the world to continue to enjoy the quilts he left behind and wonder what more he would have done. Collin Ruff Fellows will continue to live on through his art. 

Collin Eric Fellows
(as written by his husband, Marlin Hofer)


  1. What an amazing talent,and such a sad loss. Thanks for sharing~

  2. Lovely tribute--such a talented man.

  3. Collin was an inspiration to me and a dear friend. I miss him every day. I am thrilled that his art may still be enjoyed by others.

  4. His quilts are just beautiful! Glad you talked him into entering the show! Sad that this talented man is gone way too soon!

  5. So Sad to hear of this. My sincere condolences to his family and husband.

  6. My deepest condolences on the loss of your friend. It is a huge loss for the quilting community, too.

  7. What a lose for us all. Sincere condolences from the north.

  8. That is so sad. Thanks for sharing his quilts and his story.

  9. I feel a great sense of pride, being the one who taught Collin to quilt, and seeing how he took to this art medium and accomplished so much in such a short time. And I also feel an immense loss, not only from loosing a good friend, but not being able to see where his quilting talents would take him in the future.