The Intrepid Mary Moore

A couple years ago I wrote my first piece about my neighbor, the quilter and artist Mary Moore. Even today a few people a week visit the blog and read about that special day I spent with Mary. This year the North San Juan Fire Department asked me to compose an update about Mary’s work, especially her most recent quilts. That article is below, along with several photographs of her current efforts. (The article will also appear in the Spring North San Juan Fire Department newsletter, mailed to each resident of the fire district.) If you’d like to read the first piece I wrote about Mary, visit It is wonderful to spend time with her; I have a feeling I’ll be back to visit again.

For six years now, Mary Moore has been creating a particular quilt to mark the 150th anniversary of the founding of the North San Juan Volunteer Fire Department. She wanted the quilt to be a celebration of the many services our fire department offers us–from fire prevention to EMT to rapid response. Most of the six years was spent gathering the fabric she’d need: ten types of fabric with fire fighter themes, borders that are actually little roads, and some neutral patterns and colors. This double-bed sized quilt is especially warm since it is filled with wool from sheep in Sweetland, an old town site near North San Juan.

The center portion of the firefighter quilt. Dalmations, fire hats, and other fire fighter images cover the quilt, with neutral patterns of green and yellow buffering the patterns. Do you see the little roads that serve as borders?

Moore invented the pattern of the fire fighter quilt herself. After much thought, she says, she was doodling while watching a movie and the pattern came to her. The amount of each of the ten types of themed fabric helped her determine the quilt’s geometry. After she’d gathered the material and created the pattern, assembling the quilt’s top took only about a week. Quilting it was a nine month process–more time consuming than usual due to that thick Sweetland wool. The quilt is sewn entirely by hand.

Dalmations grace the center of the fire fighter quilt.

Each year for many years, Moore has donated one of her handmade quilts to be the grand prize for the raffle at the Scotch Broom breakfast. (Held every Mother’s Day for decades at Fire Station One in North San Juan, the Scotch Broom breakfast is a major fundraiser for the NSJ Volunteer Fire Department.) Moore’s workshop–a bright, airy loft in her mountain home–is a clear indication of her devotion to the fire department and her yearly gift of a hand made quilt. Beside the finished fire fighter quilt, the quilt she’s planning for 2013 in in mid-process, a floral mountain theme with bamboo batting–a single bed quilt for warmer weather.

Moore intends to donate this quilt--a single bed quilt with bamboo batting--to the 2013 Scotch Broom raffle. The quilt features mountain flowers, including the dogwood blossom, one of Moore's favorites.

Mountain flowers: a close up of the 2013 quilt, in progress.

Next in the line of production is the 2014 crazy quilt, for which Moore recently learned to crochet.

Pieces of the 2014 Crazy Quilt, under production.

Crocheted figures and designs, all created by Moore, grace the evolving crazy quilt.

Moore is constructing several "brown birdies" to pepper the crazy quilt.

Whatever the project, Moore’s attention to detail and accuracy is uncanny and keen. As she traces the tiny roads of the firefighter quilt with her finger, she explains that a quilt with fire trucks needs roads for the trucks to travel on. Her quilts are complete little worlds.

The roads on the fire fighter quilt

Moore is indefatigably creative–working recently with a quilters’ online social network that collaborates on goals, themes, colors, and fabrics. This community of artists and quilters feeds Moore new inspiration and helps her keep her projects focused. She’s more organized now, she says, and even has a few moments here and there to sit and do nothing. Probably, in those moments, Moore will dream up another quilt design to help support the fire fighters she appreciates so deeply. On Mother’s Day, she will enjoy breakfast at Fire Station One and see whose name is drawn for the grand prize, who will walk away holding yet another artistic rendering of her philanthropy.

The grand raffle prize for the 2012 Scotch Broom Breakfast, held each Mother's Day at Station One in North San Juan. Tickets are widely available; also feel free to email me to arrange to buy tickets:



Filed under Community, photographs

2 responses to “The Intrepid Mary Moore

  1. Wow, I think the Fire quilt is probably the most original yet! I better squirrel away all my change and buy as many tickets as I can…. thanks, Carolyn, for the great post.

  2. What beauty! Cozy, colorful warmth to wrap in on a chill night. Thank you for letting us know about Mary, Carolyn. Great post. xo

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