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Laffin's quilt bridges international gap

Ann Laffin spent weeks cutting out delicate fabric branches, bird feathers and stalks of grass, eventually putting them all together to recreate a sunset scene inspired by a photograph she took of Jackson Bottom Wetlands.

As a member of the Westside Quilter’s Guild, Laffin does a lot of art quilting as part of the group’s monthly prompts and challenges. Laffin accepted the challenge to quilt a scene representative of the Tualatin Valley, and later recreated the piece when Sister City Association of Hillsboro representatives decided to present her work to Yoshiharu Shimoyama and Ken Ito of Fukuroi, Japan.

“I couldn’t be more overwhelmed they chose my quilt,” said Laffin. “It’s really an honor.”

The city of Hillsboro formed a “sister city” relationship with Fukuroi about 25 years ago, said Mary Ordal, who has worked for the city of Hillsboro and the Sister City Association for years. At the time, the cities were about the same size, both had strong agricultural roots, and Hillsboro was home to several Japanese companies.

“Twenty-five years ago, Japan was very exotic,” Ordal said. “It’s a way to get acquainted with another part of the world, and creates lifelong friendships.”

The relationship between the cities is currently changing, Ordal said, as volunteer interest has declined through the years.

Up until last year, high school students from both cities participated in exchanges. Sister city volunteers have been discussing potentially exchanging university students in coming years, Ordal said, and perhaps creating stronger relationships between businesses.

Although Laffin doesn’t consider herself an artist, Shimoyama and Ito were awed by the beauty of the quilt, Ordal said.

“I thought, ‘I hope I can make exactly what they want,’” said Laffin. “It was a lot of pressure. I usually just quilt for myself.”

Those interested in volunteering for the Sister City Association of Hillsboro can contact Sheril Brown at the city of Hillsboro at 503-681-6139 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .




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