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Island Chic

Art doesn’t always have to hang on a wall or sit on a shelf. It can tell time, block the afternoon sun, keep you warm or serve pupu for a party. Meet 10 Island artisans who create stunning, functional pieces for the home.


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Charlene Hughes hand-quilted this portrait of master quilter Gussie Bento.

PHoto: Olivier Koning

Charlene Hughes


An active quilter in the 200-member Hawaii Quilt Guild—Charlene Hughes stands apart from the rest. “Most of the quilters are traditional and they follow a pattern,” she says. “At the end of the quilt meetings we have a show-and-tell … and if it varies from the pattern, or is a little strange or a little bit arty, they say, ‘This is a Charlene quilt.’ I wish I could crawl under my chair!”      

Hughes made her first quilt in the 1980s as an anniversary present for her parents. Quilting resources were scarce on Maui at the time so Hughes taught herself to quilt from the library’s two lone books on the subject and started the Maui Quilt Guild 10 years later. She moved to Oahu in 2000.

Hughes went from using patterns and hand stitching all of her quilts to creating the designs herself and using a sewing machine. Hughes paints and dies her fabrics, and even incorporates transferred photographs into her quilts.

Most of her art quilts are featured in local galleries and range from $500 to $600. Two of Hughes’ quilts were even included in “Quilts for Obama: An Exhibit Celebrating the Inauguration of Our 44th President,” an exhibit in Washington, D.C. “I’m passionate for people to see quilts not just as bed covers, not just as blankets, but also as fiber art up on the wall,” she says. Call Hughes at 595-3416 for gallery showings, or visit www.hawaiicraftsmen.org/CharleneHughes.htm.


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