Running Stitch Podcast -Season Two 

Running Stitch, A QSOS Podcast, is hosted by Janneken Smucker, Professor of History at West Chester University. Join us as we explore quilt stories, revealing the inner thoughts, feelings, and motivations of contemporary quiltmakers by drawing from Quilters S.O.S. — Save Our Stories, the long running oral history project created by the nonprofit Quilt Alliance in 1999.

Quilts and quiltmaking serve as a lens to examine some of today’s most pressing issues, including activism, public health, politics, race, and the economy. We’ll dig into the QSOS archive to listen to excerpts from past interviews, and bring back interviewees to ask them about what they are working on and thinking about presently. Listen below, or wherever you get your podcasts!

Season 2:

Season 2, Episode 1: On Creativity

Ricky Tims

Credits:
Host & writer – Janneken Smucker
Producer – Emma Parker
Production assistance – Amy Milne
Music – Chris Eselgroth

Episode summary

Running Stitch is back for Season Two, again digging into the QSOS oral history archive to explore the meaning of quilts in American life. In this episode, host Janneken Smucker talks to quiltmaking legend Ricky Tims about the role of creativity in his life. As a quiltmaker, musician, composer, co-host of The Quilt Show with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims, and founder of Quilt Life magazine, Ricky embodies creativity. We’ll revisit his first interview for the QSOS project, recorded two decades ago in 2000, and continue the conversation with a new interview exploring the intersection of music and quilting, his perspective on the creative spirit, and Ricky’s new novel, Lizzy Albright and the Attic Window, co-written with Kat Bowser.

About our guest

Ricky Tims has successfully blended two diverse passions into one very unique and interesting career. His skills as a pianist, composer and producer have been evident by the thousands who have heard his music. His success as a quilter is equally significant.

He is known in the international world of quilting as a best-selling author, enthusiastic and encouraging teacher, an award-winning quilter, fabric designer, and a talented and spellbinding speaker. His innovative and entertaining presentations, feature live music and humor combined with scholarly insights and wisdom. His quilts have been displayed worldwide and are highly regarded as excellent examples of contemporary quilts with traditional appeal.

Visit Ricky online at www.rickytims.com

Other featured interviews in this episode

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Detail photo of 'The Beat Goes On'

Granny's 1930 Album quilt, inspired by Lizzy Albright and the Attic Window

Ricky's 2000 QSOS photo with 'The Beat Goes On'

My message to you is to believe in the unbelievable, reach for the impossible, and remember that not everything is as it seems…

-Ricky Tims

Season 2, Episode 2: Great Quilts

Merikay Waldvogel

Credits:
Host & writer – Janneken Smucker
Producer – Emma Parker
Production assistance – Amy Milne
Music – Chris Eselgroth

This episode sponsored by the Robert and Ardis James Foundation

Episode summary

Quilters S.O.S. – Save Our Stories oral history interviews often include the question, “What makes a great quilt?” Running Stitch host Janneken Smucker asks today’s guest, quilt historian Merikay Waldvogel, to answer this most challenging question, while they also listen back to other interviewees’ responses. What’s the answer? Good planning? Lots of fabrics? First place ribbons? Immortality? Tune in to hear from one of the world’s foremost quilt authorities, who has seen 10,000s of historic quilts, and finds something to like about each one.

About our guest

Merikay Waldvogel is an internationally known quilt historian author, and lecturer. She is widely considered an expert on mid-20th century quilts. Her expertise and tireless research into quilting and the quilters who made them led to her induction into the Quilters Hall of Fame in 2009.

Learn more about Merikay at https://quiltershalloffame.net/merikay-waldvogel/

Other featured interviews in this episode

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Merikay's WPA sailboat quilt

Merikay's Carolina Lily quilt

Merikay's first book, The Quilts of Tennessee, written with Bets Ramsey

Merikay shows a linsey wool quilt, 1993

People put things into their quilts, and a quilt is a gift from someone to someone else—maybe even hundreds of years down the road.

-Merikay Waldvogel

Season 2, Episode 3: Temperature Check on the Quilt Industry

Linda Pumphrey

Credits:
Host & writer – Janneken Smucker
Producer – Emma Parker
Production assistance – Amy Milne
Music – Chris Eselgroth

Episode summary

For well over a century, quilts have meant business. A thriving quilt industry has existed since the 19th century, publishing patterns, selling fabrics and supplies, promoting quiltmaking, and offering celebrity endorsements. In today’s age of social media and online retail, the business side of quilts has continued to thrive, while navigating all sorts of bumps in the road, including, most recently, a global pandemic.

This week, we talk with Linda Pumphrey, Senior Account Executive for Mountain Mist. For decades, Linda has worked for quilt companies, criss-crossing the country managing her accounts. This year, she has stayed home, Zooming with her customers and colleagues. We’ll talk with Linda about how quilt businesses have adapted, and the role of celebrity in the quilt industry, both today and in the past.

About our guest

Linda’s life-long passion is quilts, old and new. As a quilter, she found herself able to feed her passion with a career spanning over 25 years in the quilting industry. Recently back with the brand that started her career, she is Senior Account Executive for Fibrix, LLC, makers of Mountain Mist batting. She has been an active member on several non-profit boards, including the Quilt Alliance board.

Linda is known for her hand quilting for which she has won international awards. Linda started collecting quilts in the mid 1990’s and focused on quilts were the design contained very small pieces. Her collection has grown to include international pieces from her travels.

Linda's first book

Linda's second book

I’m looking backwards, in a lot of ways, and I’ve just been super fortunate to have the quilt industry as my career. It’s a part of my family. It’s a fun industry, both visually, and the people that are involved in it.

-Linda Pumphrey

Season 2, Episode 4: Quilts and Authenticity with Denyse Schmidt

Denyse Schmidt

Credits:
Host & writer – Janneken Smucker
Producer – Emma Parker
Production assistance – Amy Milne
Music – Chris Eselgroth

Episode summary

What makes a quilt ‘sing’? Join us for this episode of Running Stitch, with our guest Denyse Schmidt, to explore that question and more. We’ll talk about what it means—for an object OR its maker—to be ‘authentic’.

Denyse is a groundbreaking quiltmaker, and the designer of numerous patterns and fabrics, the author of Denyse Schmidt: Modern Quilts, Traditional Inspiration and Denyse Schmidt Quilts. We’ll revisit her 2012 QSOS interview, explore the places and eras that inspire Denyse’s work, and end our conversation discussing her upcoming fabric line, “Five and Ten”.

About our guest

A former graphic designer and graduate of Rhode Island School of Design, Denyse Schmidt has been sewing since she was a young girl, taught by her mother. As a professional seamstress, Denyse worked on everything from tutus and bishop’s mitres to fine clothing. She brings these eclectic influences together in patchwork quilts characterized by simple graphics, rich color, and quality workmanship.

Denyse’s work has been published in hundreds of distinguished magazines and newspapers world wide, including: The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times Magazine, TIME, American Craft, Yankee Magazine, O the Oprah Magazine, Martha Stewart Living, Better Homes & Gardens, House Beautiful, Country Living, Town & Country and People Magazine. She has appeared on several national television shows, including Martha Stewart Living. Her work has been exhibited around the country. She lives in Bridgeport, CT.

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There’s a sense that I get when looking at something that I can label or consider authentic: that it feels like it’s not trying to be something other than what it is

-Denyse Schmidt

Season 2, Episode 5: Researching Quilt History with Barbara Brackman

Barbara Brackman

Credits:
Host & writer – Janneken Smucker
Producer – Emma Parker
Production assistance – Amy Milne
Music – Chris Eselgroth

Episode summary

Have you ever wondered how quilt historians can unravel the story of a quilt with just a few threads? Do you want the inside scoop on how researchers look for “clues in the calico”? Our guest this week is celebrated quilt historian Barbara Brackman. Running Stitch host Janneken Smucker talked with Barbara about quilt history research and how it’s evolved in the 21st century, how quilts can be used as a lens for women’s history, and the new, expanded edition of her Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns.

This episode was recorded live, as part of the Textile Talks free weekly lecture series. You can see the entire interview, including a Q&A with Barbara on our YouTube channel.

About our guest

Barbara Brackman is a quilt historian, quilter, author and lecturer. She is the author of many books about quilt history and quilt patterns, including Clues in the Calico, Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns, Facts & Fabrications: Unraveling the History of Quilts and Slavery, Making History–Quilts & Fabric from 1890-1970, and many others. Barbara also develops quilt patterns, maintains two blogs about quilt history, and is available for online lectures and programs.

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Barbara Brackman at her QSOS interview in 2011

Just a few of Barbara's collected patterns

The newest edition of Barbara's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns

BlockBase software, based on the Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns

Quilt patterns are just a way to get your attention! I am far more interested in women’s history and social history… you can use these things to tell a true story of women’s lives and that’s very, very important to me.

-Barbara Brackman

Season 2, Episode 6: Outlier Quilts with Joe Cunningham

Joe Cunningham

Credits:
Host & writer – Janneken Smucker
Producer – Emma Parker
Production assistance – Amy Milne
Music – Chris Eselgroth

Episode summary

What do one-of-a-kind, unusual, or outlier quilts tell us about the quiltmaking tradition? In this episode, Joe Cunningham joins host Janneken Smucker to revisit their 2007 interview and discuss how American quilt history reveals a tradition of experimentation, problem-solving, and creativity that today’s quilters can draw on. Joe further contemplates the relationship of art and quilts, recalling his own evolution and liberation as a quiltmaker.

About our guest

Joe Cunningham has been a professional quilt artist since 1979. He has written essays on the subject for museum catalogues, books and magazines. His book, Men and the Art of Quiltmaking was the first book on its subject. In 2004 he received a $30,000 Shulte Grant from the Fort Mason Foundation. In 2009 he received a grant to study with the Gees Bend quilters in Alabama. In 2010 he was artist in residence at the De Young Museum in San Francisco, which purchased one of his quilts for its permanent collection. Joe travels throughout the country to give lectures and workshops on quiltmaking. His ten books on quiltmaking  include the first biography of a living quilter, the first book on men who make quilts (Men and the Art of Quiltmaking,) and a definitive book on marking quilts for quilting called Quilting with Style, published by AQS. He has been seen on the Peabody Award-winning PBS series Craft in America, the HGTV series “Simply Quilts with Alex Anderson,” as well as  “The Quilt Show” with Ricky Tims and Alex Anderson, and others. Cunningham has performed his musical quilt show, “Joe the Quilter,” for guilds and theaters nationwide. His latest book is “Man Made Quilts: Civil War to the Present,” a catalogue for the show of the same name at the Shelburne Museum. His quilts are in the permanent collections of the DeYoung museum, The Shelburne Museum, The Newark Museum, The San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles and many private collections. Visit Joe online.

Other featured interviews in this episode

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Spear Points Won’t Help You, 2018, 72 x 72, cotton. Private collection

New York Beauty, by Joe Cunningham, 2014

Kentucky Sun, made by Nancy Miller Grider, c. 1880

Crazy City: Detroit, by Joe Cunningham, 2016

Patchwork Quilt, by Joe Cunningham, 2016

These outlier quilts that we think of — they’re not always country style, some of them are fabulous, sophisticated ones… The important thing to me about it was that they signified that the tradition of quilts contained this… trap door out of the room that people thought of as the tradition. The tradition contained the idea that you could do anything you wanted, any way you want it to do it. It always did, for everybody.

-Joe Cunningham