Artist shares how God has blessed her with creative talent despite losing her eyesight
Story by Katelyn Pattterson
Photos by Josh McSwain
Diane Rose quilts because God blessed her without a talent.
She was born with glaucoma, which left her vision-impaired, but not without light perception and color until 1984. That year, four days before a cornea transplant, her cornea ruptured, fell to the back of her eye and killed the optic nerve. As a result, she is totally blind.
“I was never treated like a blind person or act like one, so don’t ask me to do what society expects,” Rose said. “It ain’t gonna happen in this lifetime.”
Even without sight, Rose was heavily involved in the Nashville music scene as a journalist covering the various aspects of, and personalities in, country music.
“1988 was when I learned to quilt,” Rose said. “I think it was in ‘85, an evangelist came to the church. I got tired of always going to church and people would say, ‘Oh, let’s pray for your eyes.’ There are other things in my life that can be prayed for.”
The guy walked up, and he said, ‘I want to pray for you,’” Rose said. “I kind of stepped back, and he went, ‘Not for your eyes. God is telling me that he is going to bless you with a talent that is colorful. It won’t be given to you right now, but you will know about it when you start doing it. You will be well-known throughout the world, and you will stand in front of dignitaries, princes, kings, queens, governors and presidents. This talent will be all over the world. It will be prayed over and you will create it and be able to teach other people with disabilities to create and bless others.’”
And create she did.
Since August 14, 1998, Rose has made 1,100 quilts. She has sold quilts to country music legends such as Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn, along with former president George W. Bush. She also presented a baby quilt to Prince William and Kate, before Prince George was born, while she was visiting England.
“The [quilts] are prayed over,” Rose said. “I’ve had many people that were sick and dying that wanted my quilt over them as they went to heaven.”
“You start with your imagination, or you start with a regular quilt pattern,” Rose said. “All quilt patterns are in print, or I can listen to a video on my computer that has the speech program.”
The “Harvest Moon” quilt that Rose made came completely from her imagination.
“I thought, ‘A moon with a dark sky and then have some pumpkins, a hayride and a campfire, that would be cool,’” Rose said.
“You could do the process of quilting in several different ways,” Rose said. “A lot of people will do appliqués on the sewing machine. I hand appliqué.”
An appliqué is needlework where pieces of fabric are sewn or stuck onto a larger piece of fabric to form pictures or patterns. Rose has an Accucut machine that she uses to cut shapes out of fabric for her quilts.
Stephanie Wright met Rose when she was a student at Baylor. She said Rose is someone who bounces back quickly, and she has tried to take that on herself from Rose.
“What started out as a once-a-week volunteer thing very quickly turned into a friendship,” Wright said. “She definitely feels more like family to me now. She’s just such a warm, caring person. From the time that I met her, she just absolutely welcomed me into her home with open arms and was always so interested in what was going on with me personally. I’ve always admired the way she’s always persisted and has never let anything get her down for long.”
Rose sells her quilts and other items to make a living for herself. She is also a motivational speaker, evangelist and teacher. Diane Rose Ministries is dedicated to weaving her passion and hope into discouraged hearts. Rose and her ministry are in the process of building the Faith House, a home for people with disabilities to live, learn to sew and quilt and develop strength, courage, commitment and self-reliance.
“Anything that she sets her mind to doing, she’s going to accomplish,” Melissa Lewis, a friend of Rose’s, said. “Being blind has definitely not held her back. The way I look at it, if I can do what I have done, without sight, how much can you do?” Rose asks.
Rose is available for speaking and teaching and sharing her life experiences with all organizations, quilt guilds, churches, community organizations, or business functions. She is also looking for donations toward the construction of the Faith House. More information can be found on her website here.