If anyone could figure the odds of an international finance engineer ending up in Grand Coulee running a quilting business, Marlene Oddie could.
She’s opening her KISSed Quilts business at 12:15 p.m. Friday in the little shop that was last an ice cream parlor at 301 Main Street in Grand Coulee.
Oddie, with masters degrees in engineering and business administration, spent a decade steeped in the world of high, arcane finance, figuring out complex problems in derivatives markets around the world for Bank of America.
But now, she says, “Quilting is my passion.”
She took up quilting as a release from all that when a San Francisco church started an outreach project involving quilts. Oddie ended up taking over the project a couple of months later.
She and her husband moved to Walla Walla, Wash., in 2003, when Duncan Oddie took a job with Siemens, working on windmills there. He’s now a mechanical engineer at Grand Coulee Dam.
In Walla Walla, Marlene realized she missed quilting and took a class in “long-arm” quilting, using a big machine as a tool to add intricate designs in thread that add depth to quilts.
Those who understand the intersection of art and mathematics may appreciate the patterns that Marlene sees when commissioned with a new piece to quilt. It’s a creative side she hadn’t known existed until she took it up.
Although KISSed Quilts (Keep It Simple and Stunning) will offer necessary notions, thread and some fabric for local enthusiasts, her main business is quilting (that’s the stitching) the already pieced-together creations of others.
But she’s gained a following for her own creations too, writing regularly for The Country Register, a quilting publication that just went national, and winning awards with her designs.
Her “Rosie’s BOMb” quilt will be juried into the Pacific West Quilt Show in Tacoma in August, and will be hanging at the her grand opening Friday, and subsequently in the chamber of commerce office. Her “Spinner” won the EQ Layout Design Challenge last year, published in Machine Quilting Unlimited, July/August 2012 and juried into the Road 2 California this past January.
“I’ve appreciated the welcoming arms other quilters in the area have already started to show,” she says. She’d even like to work on putting a Quilt Trail together through the Coulee Corridor to help promote tourism and quilting. Anyone interested is welcome to participate, she says.