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Quilter to display work in holiday-themed exhibit

Mary Pickels
| Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015, 7:48 p.m.
QUILT EXHIBIT: Featured exhibitor, Ginnie Allmendinger Leiner, of Greensburg, shows the backside of one of the displayed quilts, during the opening reception for 'Changing Seasons: The Quilts of Ginnie Allmendinger Leiner', held at The Foster and Muriel McCarl Coverlet Gallery in the Fred Rogers Center at St. Vincent College.
Kim Stepinsky | for TRIB TOTAL MEDIA
QUILT EXHIBIT: Featured exhibitor, Ginnie Allmendinger Leiner, of Greensburg, shows the backside of one of the displayed quilts, during the opening reception for 'Changing Seasons: The Quilts of Ginnie Allmendinger Leiner', held at The Foster and Muriel McCarl Coverlet Gallery in the Fred Rogers Center at St. Vincent College.
Ginnie Leiner’s Lady of the Lake quilt.
Submitted
Ginnie Leiner’s Lady of the Lake quilt.
Ginnie Leiner’s Road to California quilt.
Submitted
Ginnie Leiner’s Road to California quilt.
Ginnie Leiner with a stack of her Christmas quilts.
Submitted
Ginnie Leiner with a stack of her Christmas quilts.

Into each life some rain must fall, poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow told us.

And into each quilt she makes, Ginnie Allmendinger Leiner includes a bit of darkness.

“I believe a little black in every quilt is appropriate as quilting, like life, needs the dark to help us appreciate the light,” she said.

There is plenty of light in Leiner's quilts, from red winter berries and falling snow to orange jack-o-lanterns and pastel sweaters and mittens.

Cream and brown, green and gold bring seasonal colors of harvest and winter to life.

The first of a two-part exhibit, this one with a holiday theme, is on display at St. Vincent College's Foster and Muriel McCarl Coverlet Gallery in the Fred M. Rogers Center in Unity.

“Changing Seasons: The Quilts of Ginnie Allmendinger Leiner,” may be viewed through Jan. 22.

Leiner, 61, of Greensburg, is the membership and development coordinator of the Westmoreland Museum of American Art.

She received a bachelor of arts degree in history from St. Vincent College.

Throughout a recent opening night reception, quilt aficionados and those curious about their tales walked through the gallery, admiring Leiner's work.

Most of the 22 quilts were hung on walls, although one was draped cozily across a bed.

“I have shown them in a few places, a local church, in county fairs in Illinois. This is my first large, group showing,” Leiner said.

Born and raised in East Moline, Ill., she moved to Pennsylvania in 2000. She is married to St. Vincent College philosophy professor George Leiner.

She has quilted for 42 years, beginning at age 18, and is largely self-taught.

Her biggest accomplishment was undertaking a project to make 15 Christmas quilts for family members in one year.

“I gave them all away on Thanksgiving 2013. I let each choose their own quilt,” she said.

“It was a bit insane. I was a bit obsessed,” Leiner said.

Twelve of the quilts are on display in the gallery.

“Ginnie was sewing clothes long before she ever considered making quilts. To date she has made 143 quilts, with countless ones planned for the future,” said Lauren Churilla, curator of the McCarl Gallery and lecturer in history.

Leiner's daughter, Rebecca Allmendinger Newcomer, contributed most of the quilts' cross stitching.

The mother of two and grandmother of three, Leiner said she has a “stash of material.”

That doesn't keep her from looking for new fabric stock.

“My husband teases that if I don't show up at Jo-Ann's (Fabric and Craft Stores), they call to check on me,” she said.

“It's a creative outlet. I can remember as a kid drawing patterns. I guess I was practicing,” she said.

Like the best-laid plans, Leiner's patterns sometimes change.

“You make a plan and you start following it and then a voice says, ‘What if?' I always listen to the ‘what if,' ” she said.

Mary Pickels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-5401 or mpickels@tribweb.com.

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