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BY LIANA BAYNE
One lucky animal lover could end up in bed with a celebrity like Johnny Depp or Betty White, thanks to local quilter Melissa Felts.
Felts spent two years and a few hundred dollars assembling a quilt bearing the autographs of 20 celebrities.
The quilt is being raffled on Labor Day to benefit Rikki's Refuge, an Orange County shelter that provides a home to animals that would otherwise be killed.
"I needed something different to do," said Felts, a member of Virginia Star Quilters guild.
That's what led her to the idea of creating an autograph quilt--she wanted to do a quilting project unlike those she'd done before, one that would be unusual enough that people would want to bid on it.
Felts sent almost 120 letters to celebrities in September 2010. She said she looked for those with different specialties, including sports, music and acting.
She got 20 signatures back, which was a perfect number for the quilt.
Those who put their mark on a piece of fabric for the project include actors Anjelica Huston, Cloris Leachman, Betty White, Raquel Welch, Martin Sheen, Johnny Depp, Matt Damon, Tim Allen, Sally Struthers, Kiefer Sutherland and the late Elizabeth Taylor; musicians Usher and Dolly Parton; NASCAR driver Ryan Newman; poet and author Maya Angelou; animal experts Victoria Stilwell and Jack Hanna; comedians Bill Cosby and Whoopi Goldberg; and retired game-show host Bob Barker.
"I thought it would spark interest in different people" to have so many autographs, Felts said.
It took Felts about a year and a half to transition from her initial idea to completion.
Felts looked up the addresses of various celebrities, purchased fabric for them to sign and mailed it out along with self-addressed, stamped envelopes for the return journey.
Waiting for famous people to mail their autographs back gave her plenty of time to figure out what kind of quilt design she'd make, she said.
"I wanted to make a beautiful quilt, and I didn't want the signatures to take over," Felts said.
Once she chose the pattern and the fabrics, Felts started sewing the top of the quilt. She said the initial sewing took a month and a half.
A handmade quilt with the autographs of 20 celebrities--ranging from Johnny Depp and Elizabeth Taylor to Bob Barker and Maya Angelou--will be raffled on Labor Day to benefit Rikki's Refuge, a nonprofit animal shelter in Orange. Tickets $1, or $5 for six. For more information or to buy tickets, visit blog.rikkisrefuge.org, contact Rikki's at 540/854-0870 or firstname.lastname@example.org.