Fargo woman aims for the stars in the world of quilting
FARGO—The two quilting enthusiasts living about 1,400 miles apart didn't know one another, but their work had recently caught each other's eye.
Clem Buzick of Fargo was drawn to a vibrant quilt at a show in Utah.
"I would love to get my hands on something like this,'" Buzick recalled telling a friend.
Around the same time, former Hollywood stunt woman Beth Nufer, who'd already started making a name for herself designing and making quilts, admired Buzick's intricate stitching at a show in California.
"The quilting was unbelievable," Nufer said, taking note of the artist's name, as she looked to recruit a partner with a special quilting talent.
No matter how great the work though, Nufer had reservations about contacting this quilter named Clem, having no idea the name was short for Clementine.
"She thought I was a guy, and she didn't know if she wanted a guy to quilt her quilt," Buzick laughed, while working at Creative Dimensions Quilting, her south Fargo studio.
The two have since become a team, causing a buzz with first place finishes at high-profile shows, including the International Quilt Festival in Houston, the largest in the world.
Nufer comes up with colorful 3-D type geometric designs and painstakingly stitches together the quilt pieces at her home in Brookings, Ore.
She then sends the quilt top to Buzick, who adds batting and lays down stitching in subtle but mind-boggling detail, often guiding her large quilting machine freehand.
Whether working on a show quilt or a small, local project, Buzick usually gets free rein.
"I've got my dream job," she said. "I can do whatever I want."
From hairdresser to quilter
Buzick said she fell in love with sewing at age 8, after her dad showed her how to use the family's old Singer sewing machine.
She continued sewing for fun, but as an adult, took a different artistic path as a hairstylist.
About 10 years ago, she accepted an invitation to try a quilting class; dabbling in it at first, then investing in a long arm quilting machine.
Soon, she had many friends asking her to quilt, so she gave up her 26-year hairdressing career to quilt full time.
Part of her work involves teaching quilting classes locally and at shows in other states.
In her studio, the bulk of her time is spent on the 60 or so ongoing projects for local customers.
The show quilt work, usually done only one day a week, requires a much more intense approach, as judges sometimes examine the finished products with a magnifying glass.
With George Harrison vinyl playing on the turntable in her shop to keep her in a calm groove, Buzick tries to put any mistakes she makes and their fixes in perspective.
"I'm glad I'm not a brain surgeon because you mess up on a surgery and you mess up somebody's life. This is just a blanket, no matter what," Buzick said.
Aiming for 'Best of Show'
In addition to the category win at the international show in Texas for their quilt "Diamond Effervescence," the women nabbed another first with it at the Road to California show in January 2018.
Buzick's favorite quilt, called "Carnival," was awarded best Mid Century Modern at the Pacific International Quilt Festival in Santa Clara, Calif., in October 2017.
Currently on the show circuit, "Carnival" has drawn an appraisal of $12,500, according to Nufer.
A quilt's value goes up the more shows entered and accolades earned.
A few of Buzick's quilts done for local clients will be on display during the Metro Quilt Expo at the Ramada Hotel in Fargo on May 11-12.
Nufer doesn't travel to many shows, allowing Buzick to represent both of them at most locales.
In fact, the women have only met once in person, but they talk weekly over the phone.
"We really complement each other," Nufer said, adding, "I'm glad I found her."
Buzick is highly motivated about her art, hoping someday to be among the biggest, 'best of show' quilt show winners.
"I want to challenge myself to get that good," she said.