Shelly Burge

April 25, 1954 ~ November 12, 2021 (age 67)


Shelly Burge was a quilter, a teacher, an author, a judge, a devoted friend, and a much-loved wife, mother, and grandmother. Born in Nebraska, Shelly attended Lincoln High School and met the love of her life when she was just a teenager. Clint and Shelly were married in 1972 and celebrated every one of their 49 years together.

As a self-taught quilter, Shelly started entering her work in the Nebraska State Fair in 1977. Her pieces won nearly 150 ribbons including four Pride of Nebraska awards and five Best Original Design awards. In addition to being active in and president of the Lincoln Quilters Guild, Shelly was one of the founding mothers of the Nebraska State Quilt Guild (NSQG), served as president in 2004, and was awarded their Golden Thread Award in recognition of and appreciation for outstanding and consistent contributions to the art and heritage of quilt making in the state of Nebraska.

Shelly was recognized for her work locally, named Woman Artist of the Year in 1994 by the Lincoln/Lancaster Commission on the Status of Women, and was inducted into the Nebraska Quilters Hall of Fame by the Nebraska State Quilt Guild, just the fourteenth honoree in the twenty-six-year history of the award. Her original quilt design, Meadowlark Dance, was selected for permanent display in the Governor's mansion. In 1992 Shelly was commissioned to create a quilt that would celebrate Nebraska’s sandhill cranes and the Platte River. That piece, Crane River Morning, was donated to the International Quilt Museum and is permanently displayed at the University of Nebraska.

Shelly’s quilts have also received prestigious recognition in quilt competitions across America, Europe, and Japan. Her work spanned from the traditional – executed with precision – to creative and modern. She is perhaps best known for her miniature and art quilts that have won first place in national contests in California, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Florida, Texas, and National Quilting Association Shows; dozens of her quilts have hung in galleries around the world. As an author, Shelly wrote two books on quilting and her articles and patterns have been featured in more than thirty quilt magazines. Shelly completed the rigorous certification process to become one of 50 National Quilting Association Certified Judges and in 2015 became a member of the National Association of Certified Quilt Judges.

Over the years, she used her experience to teach quilting and connect with hundreds of women from all corners of the world. Her life’s work was founded on her belief that quilting was an honored art form as well as an act of community – women gathered together, needle and thread in hand, to create quilts, to share advice and support, and to care for one another. She made many friends, whether working on a quilt project or on the hunt for a rare, antique toy sewing machine.

She was an adventurer at heart and quilting allowed her to travel the country and across Europe. Shelly started teaching quiltmaking in 1984, and across her career taught for guilds, quilt conferences, and fabric shops nationally and internationally, including ten Houston Quilt Festivals, three National Quilting Association conferences, and the American Quilter's Society show. In 2000 she served on the teaching staff of Quilt Expo in Strasbourg, France, one of her favorite international trips. Shelly worked with the University of Nebraska Textile Department and the International Quilt Museum to teach quilting workshops for groups of visiting Japanese and Korean quilters. As an acclaimed artist and teacher, Shelly was the first recipient of the Jewel Pearce Patterson Scholarship sponsored by the International Quilt Association.

She loved the American Midwest, wide open spaces, the beauty of winter, the sound of snow under her boots, and the opportunity to stitch fabric and thread together to represent rolling prairie, geese in flight, the sun sinking down, the holy host of moon and stars, the way light bends and reflects off the water, and farmland stretching to the horizon. Shelly never stopped creating, always looking for new ways to represent the texture of places and ideas, often through her own hand-dyed fabrics.

Shelly is survived by her husband, Clint Burge, and her children, Vicki (James) of Chicago, IL, and Ryan of Lincoln, NE; her grandchildren, Jack, Eleanor, and Henry; her new dog, Scout; and by many family members and dear friends who will miss her.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to the University of Nebraska Foundation to benefit the International Quilt Museum Exhibition Fund (01136970), 1010 Lincoln Mall, Suite 300, Lincoln, NE 68508.

The family invites friends and loved ones to a celebration of Shelly’s life on Sunday, December 5, at the International Quilt Museum in Lincoln from 2 to 4:30 p.m.

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