Jo Francis Greenlaw (JG): This is Jo Francis Greenlaw interviewing Darlene Chistopherson at the Quilters’ Save Our Stories Project on Saturday, November 4th, 2000 at the annual Houston Quilt Festival. Well welcome to you today, Darlene. You have brought a quilt for us to see. Why don’t we put that out first, so we know what our touchstone object is?
Darlene Christopherson (DC): All right. This is something I made while living in northern Virginia. This is the second appliqué quilt that I did. [10 seconds pause. looking at quilt.]
JG: Well what can you tell me about this?
DC: Well while my husband and I were living in northern Virginia, I realized right away that it was just the perfect place to take classes. I lived fifteen minutes down the road from Jinny Beyer. Ellie Sienkiewicz was up the road. Susan McKelvey–and those are just the names that we recognized. The teachers in that area–their names might not be recognized but their teaching skills and their quilt making capabilities were so good. I knew I’d really gotten lucky there so my friends and I took marathon classes–for like two years we were professional class-takers. And this one was really a combination of taking Amish and Baltimore Album and a medallion class. A friend of mine, Lenore Parham, taught me that I could draw my own patterns and until I called it a pattern, it was nothing but a piece of paper that you could throw away. And that I pencil had an eraser on the other end and it was no big pressure on try to create your own pattern and how easy it really is. This is just a few shapes repeated. I can draw better to the left side than I can to the right, so I did mirror-imaging so that I could draw one side and fold it in half. Friends were sharing shapes with me so it just sort of developed out of a lot of years–I mean two years–of really taking several, several classes in the northern Virginia area. I was afraid we were going to get transferred and so I didn’t want to miss a class. You know you never put it off if you think you’re not going to be there for very long.
JG: This is all hand quilted?
JG: Absolutely beautiful. Do you ever do machine quilting?
DC: No. And I probably never will. Not because I don’t like it, but because I’m not very good at it. I’m real comfortable with my hand quilting. I will machine piece. I plan on doing a lot of tops but I don’t plan on machine quilting them because I know I’d mess them up. And I don’t want to stop and retool and relearn something. I’d rather look at someone else’s machine quilting and see what kind of work they do and have some tops done by other people. But until now, in twenty years–in more than twenty years–I haven’t until just this year had someone else machine quilt. I hand quilt everything.
JG: How long did it take you to make this quilt because it’s a fairly large size? Do you know the size?
DC: It’s about eighty inches square but I think we have to measure it. I know it took a while on the appliqué, but not because I was stitching so much. You can see that it has a lot of white space that I deliberately left for the quilting. The reason it took a while on the appliqué is I would do one part of it and then think about the next part, and then think about the next part, because it’s a medallion. I would think about what should happen in the next border out–and then the next border out. And as soon as I’d made up my mind, it would just be days, to finish the work so it took a period of a year to do, but not because it was the stitching time. I know exactly how long it took to quilt. Because when we moved from northern Virginia to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, I knew that I’d be packed up. You know, your whole sewing room is packed up in boxes. I mean, you’re going to be in temporary housing and then unpacking, and so on. So I had this basted. I put it in a basket with my quilting tools, and that’s all I allowed myself. Because I knew I also had a deadline on it. I wanted to have it finished by a year from then. When I left northern Virginia, I worked with Jinny Beyer on the Hilton Head Seminar staff. Actually, I got off the plane from doing that, and walked in the door, and the next morning the movers were there. [laughs.] And packed up everything and went off the South Dakota in the middle of February. So this helped me through all of that. I mean, that was not a happy day for me, because I did not want to leave northern Virginia and my quilting friends even though I was moving back to family. So anyway, I had this in the basket, and it took me eleven and a half months to quilt it. I didn’t allow myself to start anything new, and that’s a rare thing. [laughs.] So that’s the only reason I know how long this one took.
JG: Do you often only work on one piece?
DC: Never. [laughs.]
JG: You have more than one going, in general. Have you exhibited this quilt?
DC: Yes, I have. I showed it at the Bellgrove Show. It was called “Century of Quiltmaking”–was the official name of the show. Bellgrove was the name of the–I guess it’s a museum–it’s a plantation–that is on the historical registry. They used to put on a symposium every year. It was in that show. It took–it was in large appliqué, I believe–and it took Best of Show, Viewer’s Choice, and best in my group at Large Appliqué and one other–there was four ribbons on it that year.
DC: Well what about your quilts–do you live with them? Do you sleep with them?
JG: Yes, yes. The thing is I feel a little guilty about it. I keep them all. I don’t give them, very many of them. I can name on one hand how many I’ve given away because I’m an instructor. If I’m going to spend two years on something and then have something to show for what I do, I have to keep it. And I don’t have a book yet. And even if I did, I would still want to show people my quilt and not just a picture of it so I keep them. They’re all over the house. They’re on the backs of wooden benches and across the backs of chairs and on hanging wall racks with little things on the shelf above, and in bathrooms and bedrooms, [laughs.] and over the ends of beds. I went out and got comforters – not comforters, coverlets, that were fairly neutral so that I could put any color quilt anyway I want, draped off the end or catty-wonkus on a bed, and just throw them on there. And pile them in baskets.
JG: Are they all sizes?
DC: All sizes; small wall quilts, large wall quilts, bed size. I have a couple that are queen-size– to the floor. And a couple that are queen-size not to the floor, and that was in my Virginia days. [laughs.] I promised myself I wouldn’t start another quilt that size until I finished quilting several of those. I have a couple that are very large that I want to quilt by hand. I won’t have someone else finish them so that I’m not starting anything large; trying not to start anything large.
JG: What is the fabric content that you’re using here on this quilt?
DC: The fabrics are all cotton. The batting in this quilt is a low-loft polyester, much to my dismay. If Hobb’s one hundred percent wool had been out in the middle of the 1980’s that would be in here but this has a very low-loft polyester. The reason I chose it was because I wanted to get the finest hand quilting I could and I was trying to save mileage on my hand and not use cotton. All my friends were saying, ‘Oh you must use the cotton,’ but it’s hard to put a needle through. I just chose the poly. It’s not a terrible, terrible disaster. I just wish the wool had been around then because that’s what I use now.
JG: Do you concentrate on natural fibers?
DC: Yes. See, back then I was kind of, you know–also, what was available then? There was one hundred percent cotton which was hard to work with by hand or poly and that was it. And I knew what I was doing when I did it but now I will not use it any longer. I’ll use one hundred percent wool or cotton.
JG: What is your influence in quilting?
DC: I teach hand appliqué primarily. I like to teach beginners and give them confidence. I like to teach hand quilting. I would love to teach hand piecing but there’s what, two of us? [laughs.] So I don’t do very much of it but I still hand piece. The combination of patchwork and appliqué is what I really, really have enjoyed over the last several years. In the last two years I’ve been–since living in Texas, I have been driving up and down the middle of Texas, teaching a series–a long series of classes on the combination of patchwork and appliqué using patterns that I came up with to do a block quilt with a border and sashing because that way I–in eight classes I could share with them all of the things that I’ve learned along the way. It’s traditional. It’s hand. I teach them a lot about design, fabric choices in every class, and good technical skills in every class. At the end they actually have a quilt. But another reason for doing it that way is because we can come back together and come back together and they can ask me questions and each other, and I get to know them a little bit better. It keeps–that’s the way it was given to me when I received it in Virginia. So I finally developed something so that I can give back the way I received. It’s really cheating because I get back so much. I get to have a group that gathers and regathers and I can see their work grow and become something like this. And they say, ‘Oh thank you, I really love it,’ and they’re off to lunch, whoosh. You know. But in that series I get to see them grow and become more confident. I get to see their questions and help them make turns while they still can so I have really enjoyed that in the last couple of years.
JG: You sound like a wonderful teacher. Where were you taught, how did you learn?
DC: My first class was in little old Leesburg, Virginia, from a lady that was a real stickler for hand work, historical quilts and authentic everything. She became a good friend of mine and still is a good friend of mine. She taught on a sampler in a series. I learned how to be a better teacher from her and how to make it a more pleasurable experience and how to reward people and encourage people. She was my first instructor. Then I moved on to the quilt shop in northern Virginia–was growing while me and my peers were growing, moving into a bigger facility, and attracting more and more teachers. The teachers who were there were the teachers on the staff of Jinny Beyers’ Hilton Head seminar. So I could, as a young mother, just on a weekday, go over to the quilt shop and take a class from any of them. So I would go down the list and take classes from one after another, even if it was doll making which I had no interest in. I just wanted to see how she taught. I knew that I would learn something from every class no matter what it was. We did that as our form of entertainment.
JG: Did you have quilters in your family?
DC: Yes, my mother’s mother made quilts and they were primarily the thirties’ look. The pastel yellow embroidered blocks and hand quilted one-inch grid. I have one that I was given for a wedding gift and not everyone got one. I think–every time I’m asked that I remember that when–my first year of marriage my husband was in Vietnam. After work I would have to go by my grandmother’s house because she needed some help. She would say, ‘Come in. Come in,’ and I was always in such a hurry to get home and read my letters. I would just blow her off half the time. My younger sister came out one time and said, ‘She wants you to come in and see her quilt. Come in.’ I said, ‘No, I’ve got to get home and read my letters.’ And I didn’t go in and I never saw the quilts–and never saw the quilts. I got the one as my wedding gift, I had it at home but that guilt just [laughs.]–the guilt of just not going in there and spending a few minutes with her and looking at her quilts. Especially now–in my early years of quilting I just thought about that all the time.
JG: What happened to all those quilts?
DC: They got dispersed. I suppose aunts and uncles have them and their kids, you know. I’m the only one in my family that has one.
JG: How do you live with quilting? How does it affect your family?
DC: Well my family is part of the reason why I technically started and kept doing my quilts the way I did. Because as soon as you just become absolutely overwhelmed by the desire to stitch every minute you also have to remember that you have a family. [laughs.] And so-hand everything is portable except when it’s a big quilt that you have to haul around. So that’s why you have to start a new project. So if you’re thinking about how it’ll work with your daily life–my child–we have one child, one girl. She was about a year and a half when I first started. As she was growing up, I would design my work hours around going to her dentist appointments and her play dates and sitting outside the school waiting for her. It was always so easy to take handwork to everything. As she grew, I actually sat on a bleacher and tried to trace appliqué patterns in the wind while she was at a softball practice. [laughs.] That’s why I never–you don’t leave the family room to go the sewing machine. When he comes home at five, she’s home doing her homework I stayed in the room and stitched. I built in my little workstation–it was a chair and an ottoman. She could sit right beside it and do things and he was across the room but that’s why I started by hand and stayed by hand. Even now, she’s twenty-four, gone, and my husband and I are free as a bird; I still do primarily most everything by hand because it’s what I’m comfortable with.
JG: Do you ever use a frame?
DC: A floor-sized frame?
JG: Any kind.
DC: Not the floor model. I use a wooden hoop on my lap. I heavily baste so that it can be moved around. I use either a plastic square or a wooden hoop I’ve used since the beginning the quilting because I learned that way. I stitch one way and have to turn my work. If I had learned on a floor model, I could’ve learned to stitch forward and backward and left and right but I’m stuck.
JG: Do you consider yourself a traditional quilter?
JG: Very much so.
JG: Well, with that in mind and all the technology that’s coming out now with computerized embroidery machines do you see a different kind of quilter developing?
DC: Oh, yes. You know, my group of friends in northern Virginia had quite an attitude when this started to happen. I’d say, and I really believe this then and now, if it weren’t for this happening to the quilt market–what I used to say to my friends and to my students is, ‘What if we were all doing red, white and blue schoolhouses?’ Quilting would’ve died a long time ago. Now the growth of quilting is because of new technology, computer designing. That doesn’t mean I–just because I can’t do it all, don’t want to do it all, doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be welcomed in. I welcome it with open arms because it means more quilt shops, more online shopping, more tools, more fabric for the rest of us. And more quilts to see at the show so the more the merrier.
JG: How do feel about the influence of men in quilting?
DC: I love it. I’ve known men in quilting since I’ve been quilting. There were–I think they need to come out. [laughs.] A lot of men keep–we don’t even know about all of them. In Sioux Falls, I was in a mall demonstrating and a man came sneaking up to the table and he kind of said, ‘You know I make quilts but I don’t tell anybody.’ This was Sioux Falls, South Dakota, not Houston or Washington. ‘But I don’t tell anyone.’ And I said, ‘You should tell everyone.’ ‘Well you know, I don’t tell my men friends that I make quilts.’ But while I was there I met several men who made quilts. Now some of them might have been denim but still. I think it’s great. They have a different view on design than, well some, I can’t say they all, but very often they have a different view on design than I do anyway.
JG: A special vision.
DC: More graphic.
JG: What about wearable art?
DC: I love to be a viewer of it. My first stitching of clothing was in junior high. My instructor taught me on a wool suit with lining. And covered loops and covered buttons and–it was great–it was tailoring in junior high. Some people learned earlier but for some reason I’m good at this but I’m not good at that. I think it’s because it’s done on the machine. [laughs.] Well I had a machine that really didn’t work well for a lot of years. That’s the only reason why I really rejected it. Now I have a better machine and that’s why I’m anxious to start using it again. That was why–I know that’s why, because I had a bad machine. Maybe I would’ve done more wearable art if I could’ve finished things nicer with my machine. But now, there’s just so much time in the day. I love it. I wish I had the time to do it but I–I like admiring what other people can do.
JG: Are you a member of quilting guilds or of sewing bees?
DC: Yes. Everywhere I’ve lived I’ve joined the local guild. I belong to NQA [National Quilting Association, Inc.] and AQS. [American Quilters Society.] I’m going to join IQA. [International Quilt Association.] I thought I was a member but, you know, they don’t send a renewal. And Appliqué Society Online and there’s a National Appliqué Society now. I’m a member of that. I was a member of Baltimore Appliqué Society but it’s just so far removed that there’s just really no real membership feeling. It’s just a newsletter so I stopped being a member of that.
JG: As a woman, as all four of us in this room are women, what do you think quilting has done for us, as women, historically and presently?
DC: Well, historically it gave us a voice, and presently it gives us a voice. For myself personally, I can tell you that when I was twenty-five years old and working, a working woman, I couldn’t have sat across the table from you and talked without being so nervous. Quilting gave me a confidence that–I knew it when it happened. I just felt it come in and it was there. I brought home an eight-pointed star and said, ‘Look what I did,’ and from that day on I knew I was good at something. It just gave me this confidence. And now I speak publicly to hundreds of people, and teach. I travel. I didn’t drive alone at night before. [laughs.] I don’t know how to describe–this is what turned that corner for me. Having that confidence gave me the next one and the next one and the next one. My daughter watched me grow up. I watched my daughter grow up, my daughter watched me grow up. [laughs.] But she didn’t choose quilting, she chose – she was born extremely shy. I could see it the day she was born. I could see it the week, the month after. She was extremely shy. [clears throat.] She chose ice hockey. She didn’t choose something creative, because I was already in that arena. She chose women’s ice hockey, as her way of–she cured herself of being shy. She went out and did it deliberately by being a goalie. [laughs.] Ice hockey. And she still is–like I am that’s her occupation. This is my occupation. I just think–I know that’s what she did because I know, this is how this happened to me. And she watched it happen.
JG: Are you an artist?
DC: Well I don’t like to say that–yes I am. I can draw my own designs. I can draft my own patterns. And I can come up with–everything that I make I design myself but it comes from somewhere else; from another quilter or looking at an image of something. Big word, ‘artist’ is.
JG: Are you trained as an artist?
JG: No educational–
DC: No. The art lessons that I have had have been through studying quilts first and then going out and finding books on design and art. All the words, all the words that I was hearing the first few years while I was trying to study quilts are in the pages of the design books. I mean, there they are in “Fundamentals of Design,” there they are. You would think–if you didn’t look at the cover, you would think it was an art book. I mean a quilt book but it’s an art book so I kind of learned it backwards. First I learned it from quilts, like relief and balance and contrast and texture and tone and line and all of that. All of that came from quilts first then I went after hearing those words so often, taking notes and thinking, ‘Now that’s well-balanced,’ and so on– then I went and learned that those were terms that you learn in art class.
JG: Did you have a career before, when you said you worked?
DC: I did not go to college but I worked in offices.
JG: Did that influence what you do today, your background and your working experience?
DC: I don’t believe so, I really don’t. I stopped working when my daughter was born. I missed working a lot. I mean, my motor was running a mile a minute, and then I was home. So I went out and found a creative outlet, and then my motor started running again. So I suppose in that way, but what I was doing before was just jobs. It wasn’t a career, it was just a job. I had no–nothing to work toward, no future in it. Ford Motor Credit and jobs like that. [laughs.]
JG: I hate those.
DC: [laughs.] Yeah, well I often say if I had been born a little later, if computers the way they are now were available then I might never have taken my first quilting class because I love them. And I would really love to work in that field but not now.
JG: Do you have–if you were judging–what makes you think a quilt is particularly great or worthy of best in show?
DC: Gosh. I have judged but not a show of this size. You know I love traditional—so the years where–I think we’ve passed through those years where we separate a quilt from being best of show only if it’s hand done or if it’s traditional or colorful as opposed to monotone. I just think when you– when it grabs you visually first and then you get up then it draws you in to study it and when it does draw you in and you see how technically and wonderfully it was done. First it has to pass those three and then you get down into really–how much of this is visual and how much of this is technical. That’s a hard one because sometimes it’s all about visual, and you get up close and oh, it wasn’t that great technically. [laughs.] I guess it would just really have to draw my attention first visually, whether it’s modern or traditional.
JG: Do you have anything hanging in museums?
DC: No. Well not that I did by myself alone but that I’ve worked on with others.
JG: What do you think makes a quilt particularly acceptable to a museum, in a collection?
DC: That’s a good question. That depends on the museum. My mind goes right to Baltimore because for a few years there I was a little bit involved in helping with the Baltimore Appliqué Society. We made quilts for them. We made quilts for museums in the area to raise funds. One museum would consider this a craft, and the next one down the street would consider it an honor that we were helping them and gladly receive what we were doing. Museum quality quilts, it depends on the museum. If it’s an art museum, then anything goes, really–anything that’s acceptable visually but if it’s the Baltimore Museum of Art then it should be something suitable to that area and probably more to the Baltimore type of quilt.
JG: When you go to a quilt show or a collection, what do you look for first? Which area are you looking– which exhibit do you go to first?
DC: Oh, which do I go to first? I look for appliqué. Large quilts. Thing with–I don’t go to the modern section first but I do go there. Where I didn’t used to–[laughs.]–I do go there now and I love to look at them. My first–I would go to–I like to see appliqué and I like to see the combination of the two. Traditional–well done traditional. Traditional covers a large area. There is traditional and then there’s traditional. [laughs.]
JG: Well what should we do with all these beautiful quilts that we are turning out by the hundreds of thousands now? Should they be used, used up, hung?
DC: Well some of them are made to be hung. Some of them are made to be savored and saved. Some of them are made for use. I think–I really don’t know this for sure but I think probably a large percentage of what’s being done right now is being made for using. It’s young mothers who are giving them to their kids, to their family members. They’re for on the bed. They’re for washing. Those are great so they should use them. Everything can’t be saved from the sunlight. This would die. This industry would die if that’s all we did was put it under UV-protective glass. I just don’t think there’s one answer to that. I think the best kept ones need to be handled well and kept. My daughter knows which ones are those and which ones are not.
JG: Do you label your quilts?
JG: Let’s see what your label looks like. Is it in a corner?
DC: This one was hand made by a friend while I still lived in Virginia. She did this with a Pigma pen. And I did that on my computer just for–I mean it’s tacked on just because nowadays they’re saying this isn’t good enough–you have to have an address and phone number on there. Now some of mine have been around far too long and they’re not labeled yet so I have been designing them on my computer and they look just like this but they don’t print out as crisply as this. They’re a little bit faded–but at least they’re labeled.
JG: Very important.
DC: Yeah, so I make one that’s like this and one that’s just attached that has my address on there.
JG: Do you see quilting or quilts reflecting a certain region?
DC: Let me tell you something about labels. A long, long, long time ago, when we started putting fabric on photos I said, ‘Everyone should put a photo of themselves holding their quilt the year they finish it,’ and I haven’t done it once yet. And I was prettier then. [laughs.]
JG: [laughs.] You’re pretty now. Are you Scandinavian?
JG: Do you have the Scandinavian textile influence in your thinking?
DC: I think so. Yeah. I know on my father’s side I believe there was a great-grandmother or a sister of a grandmother that did crazy quilt block pillows or something like that, that she brought from Norway to the United States when she came but that’s it. There was no one in my immediate family the entire time except my grandmother that was doing any stitching. I believe that my Scandinavian attitude towards not parting with the buck and buying an old quilt is what got me into this. [laughs.]
JG: So your grandmother would have been doing Scandinavian-style quilting.
DC: No, no. No, she was doing the thirties’ type of, gosh, little girls on embroidery. I sought out Scandinavian designs and really looked through the books for them but–
JG: Do you have a first memory of a quilt?
DC: You know, the first one is the one my grandmother gave me for my wedding, and that was the first one I ever saw. Just that embroidered one that was yellow but I have memories before that of looking–I started buying for my hope chest. I would buy towels and they had a center and then borders and I thought, ‘Wouldn’t that make a beautiful quilt.’ And I had never seen a quilt like it in my whole life. I bought them and put them away and saved them for when I was going to get married then I kept thinking about that towel and wouldn’t that be the most beautiful quilt. [laughs.]
JG: Do you think you might make one now or yet?
DC: Yes, probably, yeah.
JG: Please explain that type of towel. What is it?
DC: It was two colors of blue, and it had a bouquet of flowers and then a border. You know, a medallion, like this.
JG: Cotton? Linen?
DC: A terry cloth towel.
JG: Oh, terry cloth.
DC: A bath towel. [laughs.]
JG: Now that’s interesting, a terry cloth quilt. Are we not using enough different types of textiles to make quilts?
DC: [laughing.] It was the design in it. All I know is that I can be watching–when I was young and till now if someone is talking my eye will be going to color. When I’m walking down the street I will see the design in a tree and someone else will see the car behind it. I see color and design. Would you like some of this? [offers a drink to JG, who has been coughing.] I have an Altoid. [laughs.]
JG: No, I’m fine.[a few seconds pause.]
JG: You said that you travel up and down the center of Texas giving quilt classes. Where all are you going?
DC: Well, just for that class I go–
JG: What is that class?
DC: Well just that series of classes that’s local teaching that’s north of Dallas– I’m in Waco, so that’s an hour and a half north and an hour and a half to two hours south. That’s so that I can drive to this repeat class, this series of classes but I get on the plane and travel all over to teach. I go everywhere.
JG: How do you get your teaching dates?
DC: Oh passing out my cards when I go. I’m on the Internet, references, sending out letters to shows and guilds. This is what I want to do as a career and I figure I have about ten more years of stamina left to do this. I mean, this takes a lot to travel and teach. I stayed at home–my daughter is twenty-four–I stayed at home pretty much most of the time. I did part-time jobs and teaching quilting which doesn’t pay well. Now I really need the next ten years to be more productive than the last twenty have been. We sent her to college; I want that back in the bank. [laughs.] When I’m home, I do my own thing but when I’m working try to, really–I’m working on a book. I’m working on more patterns and things like that so that I can turn it into something that’ll help put money back in the bank.
JG: So looking at it as a business, do you sell your quilts?
JG: What do you sell?
DC: My knowledge. I want to teach. I printed up patterns and that’s not the way to go. Not for everybody. I have a lot of requests for patterns on some of my quilts that I don’t want to do patterns on. It turns into kind of an uncomfortable thing to do because you start designing for what you think they want instead of what you want to do. You start designing for having it fit on a piece of paper, printing, things like that. And that’s not fun. That’s not my idea of designing a quilt. I try to separate pattern thinking and enjoy a little quilting thinking. I’m still working on that, that’s why I haven’t been making a whole lot of money at this in a while. [laughs.]
JG: Is your husband involved in your quilting?
JG: At all?
JG: His feeling about quilting and you is what?
DC: He admires what I do. He really doesn’t come to quilt shows or know a quilt pattern from a book. He has respect for what I do and he sort of leaves me alone when he needs to, and comes around when he needs to, that sort of thing. He encourages me to come and go to events that I want to or need to go to. All of that. There’s no complaining; lots of respect but he’s not a fellow quilter or even–he’s a quiet person anyway so he’s not like some of these husbands who are your best cheerleaders. He’ll come home and say, ‘So-and-so said they know you,’ then I’ll go, ‘Well, guess what.” [laughs.]
JG: So he’s not dragging your luggage through the lobby for you?
JG: Well we’re getting near the end of our interview and in case there is something we haven’t thought about, would you like to add anything to our discussion?
DC: I can’t think of what it would be. I just –I’m glad that you’re doing what you’re doing and saving stories. That’s a neat idea. If it weren’t for this diversity that’s coming in–this show’s the number one example of what’s coming in the quilting world–if it weren’t for machine and hand, traditional, and embellished, and modern and all of this then it wouldn’t be there for me and so I’m just thrilled. I don’t teach just because I need to have–I could go and design on my computer and get probably a better job. I know I could but I love to share back. I love to give back, yeah. What I received was so great when I received it. The first time I was welcomed into a guild, the first time someone really shared information with me, or fabric. I was just so impressed by that that I want to do that for others but not just for what it gives them–it gives me a lot just to do it. I love doing it. I hope to keep it going, that’s why I–also why I like doing it.
JG: Well you’ve been a wonderful interviewee and if you have one last thing you want to say for posterity. This will be transcribed and available online in the future for our children’s children. Do you have one statement about quilting that you think is for eternity?
DC: Oh, gosh. [laughs.] No pressure, though. Just like what women have been doing forever is tell what you feel inside. Put it on with your fingers into something that you can see and that’s what we’ve been doing–stating our feelings and taking it out and putting it out there for everyone to see even if it’s just a beautiful tree or if it’s the Temperance ‘T’, or whatever it was, just keep on sewing it even if I don’t agree with you. [laughs.]
JG: That is a very marvelous insight for the ending of our interview. We have been talking with Darlene Christopherson on Saturday, November the fourth, year 2000 in Houston, Texas at the Quilts International Festival and this has been Jo Francis Greenlaw. The scribe was Karen Plummer. [tape stops and is turned back on.] The closing time is 5:03 pm.
Darlene Christopherson, Interviewee
Jo Frances Greenlaw, Interviewer
Julie Henderson, Transcriber
The International Quilt Festival QSOS
International Quilt Festival
November 4, 2000
Quilters’ S.O.S. – Save Our Stories (QSOS) creates, through recorded interviews, a broadly accessible body of information concerning quiltmaking, both present-day and in living memory. Our downloadable QSOS Guidebook has everything you need to conduct your own QSOS interviews. Our archive for the original audio recordings and photographs is the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.
QSOS volunteers from across the country conduct and transcribe these interviews. We appreciate their generosity of time and dedication to the project. We are always looking for guilds, organizations and individuals to undertake their own QSOS projects and join us. Find out how you can get involved with QSOS.