O'Leary

Webster Groves resident Marty O’Leary displays her quilt depicting the Mediterranean Sea.

She stood at the Mediterranean. Looking down at the crisp blue water, from the light brown sand to the white foam and clear sky, Marty O’Leary took in the image of the Spanish sea.

“From the waves down to the sand, it looks just like the Mediterranean,” O’Leary said, describing her replication of the image in her quilt depicting the vibrant scene.

The Webster Groves resident makes her home at the Pacific Place retirement community. She began quilting 10 years ago to create a wedding gift for her oldest granddaughter. Inspired by other family members asking for quilts of their own, O’Leary has been quilting ever since. She has created 27 quilts in the past 10 years.

O’Leary followed in the footsteps of her great-grandmother who was also an avid quilter. She honors her by using her signature feather wreath pattern on a label attached to the back of her quilts.

“They’re not just regular quilts,” O’Leary said, who make all her quilts by hand. “I don’t follow any patterns. It takes me a long time to figure out what I want to do. I like putting the colors together.”

Anyone can machine quilt, according to O’Leary, but the method of hand quilting is much more difficult and time consuming. She tries to work on her quilting for a couple of hours a day, but often loses track of time as she quilts and watches television.

“I don’t know what people do who don’t have hobbies,” O’Leary said. “What do they do with their time? I like to create things. To show something.”

O’Leary’s daughter, Luanne Rimel, said her dedication to quilting can be tied to her making quilts for family members. While her family lives throughout the country, O’Leary connects with her family members through the quilts she makes for them.

“She really thinks about not just the colors they like but also the things they like,” Rimel said. “A lot of people make quilts with what they want to see. But (O’Leary) makes the quilts based on what the recipient likes.”

The public can view O’Leary’s quilts beginning with an Open House on her 90th birthday, Friday, Nov. 9, 5 to 8 p.m. at Old Orchard Gallery, located at 39 S. Orchard Ave. in Webster Groves. The quilts will be on display through the month of November.

“I’m opening it for people from Pacific Place, church and my book discussion group – anyone who wants to come,” O’Leary said. “I think a lot of people will be there. I have people who are really interested in seeing my quilts and I’m excited for all the kids to be there for my birthday.”