By D. J. Morrow Ingram
Stepping into Nora’s Quilts is like stepping into a kaleidoscope. Colors, prints and patterns abound in the fabric selections and quilts on display. But the glow comes from Nora Cope herself.
Cope, who is preparing for a book signing of her just released book, “Nora, A Lifetime Collection of Quilts,” has been a quilter for many years. She began quilting while running an art store in Houston and eventually quilting became her art.
“I love working with the colors, patterns and shapes and how they interplay. They are like paint on an artist’s brush to me,” she says.
When Cope’s husband Richard retired in 1981, the pair moved to Rogers, Ark., where she opened Patchwork Emporium.
“I enjoyed quilting so much that when we moved to Rogers I decided to open a store focused only on quilting.”
The Patchwork Emporium drew quilting enthusiasts from across the country and globe due to Cope’s eye for fabric. She is a charter member of the Houston Market.
She is also known for surrounding herself with creative talent to help her customers. In 1998 the shop was one of ten featured in the annual “Quilt Sampler” edition of Better Homes and Gardens magazine. Cope and the store were featured in the magazine and her “Crown of Thorns” quilt graced the cover of the magazine. That same quilt serves as the back cover of her book. A hand appliquéd quilt, “1986,” is on the cover.
Cope says she prefers selecting the fabrics and color schemes to making the finished product and she hopes her book will provide some inspiration and guidance to others.
“Some people find it difficult to look at bolts of fabric and imagine them pieced together to make a quilt. Not me. They come together in my head.”
Nora’s Quilts sells both hand- and machine-appliquéd quilts, and Cope offers her expertise in choosing fabrics and patterns. Dozens of finished quilts are on display and while most are technically for sale, Cope finds it difficult to part with them and is reluctant to send a quilt home with someone whom she feels may not take proper care of it.
“Once I had sold a quilt to a woman who invited me to her home to see it. To my dismay she had placed the quilt on a bed in a room without drapes, in full sunlight. Knowing what the sun would do I simply removed it from the bed, gave the woman her money back and took it home,” she says, laughing at her audacity. “They truly become a part of me.”
It takes Cope at least a year to make a quilt and, often two or three. The correct choice and mix of colors is so important to her that she is known to wait for months or years for the right fabric to finish a quilt. She also doesn’t take orders for quilts but instead prefers to work with a customer to discuss ideas and possible color schemes and become “inspired.”
A wealth of knowledge, Cope is happy to spend as much time as a customer is willing to walk through the store and explain different quilting techniques or to find the perfect fabric. Her enthusiasm for quilting is contagious and she has inspired many novice quilters over the years.
Cope’s book is available at her store and she will be available to sign copies Jan. 23-28 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nora’s Quilts is located in the Plaza Shopping Center at 81st Street and Lewis Ave. The phone number is 298-0271.