Val Love

Cats are a favourite theme of Val Love, as can be seen in this lovely quilt!

She was born Valesca Fonderfecht in Holland, where her father was a trapeze artist in a circus. When her younger brother was born, her mother had difficulty coping with two young children, so Val was given to her grandparents to look after. When her parents decided to migrate to Australia, they were legally required to take Val with them, and so she found herself travelling on a ship with three people she hardly knew; in fact she didn't even know she had a brother!

She was nine years old in 1953 when the family landed in Melbourne. They stayed at a hostel there before moving to Newcastle, where her father worked in the steel mills. When there was a job shortage, New Australians were the first to be put off, so her father hitch-hiked to Queensland, finding work at the Rathdowney sawmill. The family moved to Rathdowney, where her father eventually worked on various farms in the district. During this time Val and her brother attended the Barney View and Innisplains schools.

After a move to Eumundi, the family returned to the Beaudesert district. Val left home at 15, going to work at Dr Stumms as a live-in domestic. She then worked at the Beaudesert Hotel as a cleaner and waitress before moving to the Grand Hotel in William Street. Around this time she met Les Love and they married and had three daughters, all of whom still live in the Beaudesert area.

Val became interested in sewing and opened up a little shop downtown, where she sold her finished products. She started selling fabrics when the sewing machine shop nearby closed down and she took over their stock. Soon she was running a little patchwork shop, the "Thimble and Thread Shop", with Coralie Clark. They started Beaudesert Quilters, together with Wendy Hanson and Diane O'Neill and a few others. When the group grew large they moved to our Community Information Centre, where they still meet today.

After selling her share of the shop to Coralie, Val started up the "Mulberry Patch" at Tamborine Mountain. Then Chris Grimmett and Val opened up a shop on the mountain on Gallery Walk, selling kids' clothes. When this closed, Val, with two other ladies, opened up a tiny shop on the mountain as the Mulberry Patch, selling patchwork and a lot of home-made articles of excellent quality. Val sold many appliqued dresses to Japanese visitors.

As the sales were not enough to live on though, Val started cleaning various venues in Beaudesert with a friend. She would start at 3am, finish at 9, and then travel up to Tamborine Mountain to open the shop. This was exhausting. Hilary had asked Val to sell her products at the Information Centre, so this became her main outlet.

Val's work is characterised by the brilliance of the colours. She says that in working with fabric all colours can appear together, just as they do in nature. She believes in taking risks with colour combinations, and her patchwork shows the exciting results.

Only the best fabrics are used, and for years Val imported fabric from the U.S., which made her work unique in Australia. The high cost of her fabrics means that she makes little profit from her work though, and she is now sourcing her fabrics more locally.

Val's quilts are spectacular, with blanket-stitched applique, but most popular in the Information Centre are her bags and her children's dresses, which are so colourful, with their matching sewn handbags.

Val is about to make a change in her girls' dress designs, from patchwork to the appliqued designs which were so popular with Japanese visitors at Gallery Walk on Tamborine Mountain.