Alta Sierra woman, 81, takes blue ribbon for 30-year project

10:13 AM, Nov 18, 2010   |    comments
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  • Anna Oates
  • Anna Oates, 81 years old

For over 30 years, Anna Oates of Alta Sierra toiled over a single project.  Little did she know that over three decades later, all of her hard work would be rewarded. SLIDESHOW: Anna Oates creations

SLIDESHOW: See Anna Oates house full of creations

GRASS VALLEY, CA - Anna Oates knows crafts. Painting, embroidering, wood work, creating lamps out of plaster, building a wall clock ... at 81 years young, Oates has done it all.

To walk into the Alta Sierra neighborhood home of Charles and Anna Oates is to be surrounded by a myriad of unique arts and crafts on every wall, in every room, that will hold your interest well past supper time.

Simply put, "I like to create things," said Oates.

Never seeking any public attention for her labor, Oates does like to share her arts with friends and guests. She's just not the type to enter any contests.

A framed, embroidered flower basket 30 years in the making has changed all that.

Back in 1979, "I had a whole bunch of embroidery floss, saw a (flower) pattern in a magazine, and decided to go at it," Oates said. "It was so tedious and took so long," she laughed.

Oates said she worked on her embroidered flower basket for a month here, a month there, and then it would end up in the closet, some times for over a year.

"I decided well, maybe if I can stick with it this time, I can finish and I did," Oates said with a sigh. It was October 2009.

After recently showing her multi-decade masterpiece to her doctor, Oates was convinced to enter her labor of love into the crafts competition at the Nevada County fair.

Unfortunately, Oates wasn't able to see her flower basket on display at the fair or able to see her competitors' efforts. Oates had a Toastmasters convention to attend in Southern California.

"When I got back home, I went to pick up my flower basket and they said, 'Oh, we got your ribbons, too,'" Oates said.

That's how Oates discovered she had won a blue ribbon and taken best in division.

"I was nervous driving back to the house," Oates said. "I was so excited and so full of joy. I didn't want to get into an accident."

Oates doesn't plan on undertaking any more decades-long projects. What she would like though is to "maybe write my memoirs down and have them published."

Considering Anna Oates, a retired key-punch operator from Torrace, finally received recognition for the thing she's done her entire life, who's to say she can't write with success, too?

By Brandon Atchison,



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