DALLAS -- Dallas resident Rhue Luna's quilt, "42 Windows," has been called "a labor of love."
A long time in the making, the creation has a shot at being named a winner next week at the 2010 American Quilters Society's Quilt Show & Contest, taking place in Paducah, Ky., April 21-24.
Luna, 64, said she worked on the quilt in pieces at a time for three or four years. She doesn't like to use patterns, so the designs in each of the quilt blocks are her own. Luna said her inspiration was quilts of the 1840s and 1850s.
Having only entered one other contest in the 1970s -- a Woman's Day quilt and coverlet contest in which she placed 11th and had her quilt and patterns featured in a book -- Luna took a chance on entering "42 Windows" in the Paducah competition. The international contest, in its 26th year, is touted as one of the most prestigious and is expected to draw 30,000 people.
"I thought it would be interesting to see if it got noticed," Luna said.
More than noticed, Luna was notified last month that "42 Windows" qualified as a semifinalist, along with 386 other quilts.
"Mine is so different that I thought it would be my chance," Luna said.
Rachel Greco, the owner of Grandma's Attic in Dallas and a quilt historian and appraiser, is not surprised. Greco appraised the quilt before Luna shipped it to Paducah.
"I thought it was outstanding," Greco said. "I was impressed."
Greco said a traditional applique quilt like "42 Windows" is rare, something quilters who learned the craft in the last 30 years don't often undertake anymore.
In the late 1970s, quilters starting using cutting tools that made the process faster. She said that opened the door to what she calls "slash and dash" quilting.
Greco said that was clearly not the case with "42 Windows."
"It really was a labor of love on her part," she said.
Luna describes her quilt as "folk art," using old-fashioned design techniques displaying modern themes, including blocks featuring President Barack Obama holding a flag with his parents and another displaying an eagle.
"It's kind of American looking," Luna said.
If her inspiration was the quilting styles of decades past, Greco said Luna nailed it.
"Though it has modern themes, it's exactly like what they created in the 1840s and 50s," Greco said.
Luna is humble about her chances of placing in Paducah, and will likely have to wait at home to hear the results -- which will be announced on April 20 with the show opening the next day -- as she couldn't find lodging within 100 miles of Paducah.
Greco said qualifying for the contest is an honor and a testament to Luna's skill.
"It's great to see someone in our community competing on a national level for such an impressive prize," she said.
Constantly engaging in creative pursuits -- it drives her crazy when she doesn't have something artistic to do -- Luna is overjoyed to see the quilt she put so much heart into be recognized.
"I was so proud of it," Luna said. "It's like the ones I had admired for so long."