Interview with June Underwood, April 5, 2003

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:02 - "Crow's Line" quilt exhibit

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Partial Transcript: This is Amy Tetlow Smith and we are at the Sedgwick Cul, Cultural Arts Center in Philadelphia.

Segment Synopsis: June Underwood is introduced. She talks about the quilt she brought to the show, "Crow's Line," which is part of her series involving crows and dragons. She talks about the techniques she used to create the quilt, and the types of cloth and thread.

Keywords: "Crow's Line"; 1997; Bleaching; Cloth; Colors; Communal; Crows; Discharge; Dragons; Exhibits; Fabric dyeing; Fabrics; Fiber - Cotton; Fiber - Rayon; Fun; Images; Learning; Learning quiltmaking; Quilt purpose - Exhibition; Quilt shows/exhibitions; Techniques; Thread

Subjects: Artists; Arts and crafts.; Decorative arts; Quilting.; Quilts--Design.; Quilts.; Textile artists; Textiles

00:04:05 - Dyeing with bleach

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Partial Transcript: Can you tell us about how the discharge works? What, what that means?

Segment Synopsis: Underwood talks about the technique of dyeing with bleach or other chemicals, often called a discharge effect.

Keywords: Bleaching; Chemicals; Cloth; Color; Discharge; Fabric dyeing; Fabrics; Fiber - Cotton; Foam dyeing; Shibori; Techniques

Subjects: Artists; Arts and crafts.; Decorative arts; Quilting.; Quilts--Design.; Quilts.; Textile artists; Textiles

00:06:31 - More on "Crow's Line" and other crow and dragon-themed quilts

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Partial Transcript: Does this--you said crows are--have, have, have been a favorite of yours for a while.

Segment Synopsis: Underwood talks more about her "Crow's Line" quilt and the other quilts in the series involving crows and dragons. She talks about some of the poetry that inspired the quilts, more on the process of creating the quilts, and her desire to convey a narrative through her quilt series.

Keywords: "Arabesque"; "Crow's Line"; "Dancing Dragons"; "Over the Gulfs of Dream"; "Sophie, Emerging"; Bed top quilts; Canvas; Crows; Cutting; Dragons; Drawing; Emily Dickenson; Exhibits; Foam dyeing; Image; Influences; Inspiration; Interests; Linear; Literature; Narratives; Personality; Pieces; Poems; Poetry; Quilt purpose - Bedcovering; Quilt purpose - Exhibition; Quilt shows/exhibitions; Techniques; Themes; Theodore Roethke; Visual art; Year of the Dragon

Subjects: Artists; Arts and crafts.; Decorative arts; Quilting.; Quilts--Design.; Quilts.; Textile artists; Textiles

00:13:40 - Her beginning in quilting

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Partial Transcript: So if, if your background is in literature, when did you start quilting?

Segment Synopsis: Underwood talks about how she began quilting during a period of illness in her life. She talks about how she created a traditional quilt first but then quickly transitioned into creating art quilts. She talks about her mother's dislike of sewing, and her own attitude toward domestic tasks. She talks about the early classes she took to learn quilting and sewing techniques. She talks about her family's farm background and her early memories of quilts, which were mostly negative.

Keywords: Art quilts; Classes; Country; Demands; Design; Design process; Domesticity; Farm girls; Farms; Feminist Movement; First quilt memory; Grandmothers; Hand-made clothing; Illnesses; Mothers; Pennsylvania; Quilt magazines; Quiltmaking classes; Sewing; Sewing machines; Skills; Stitches; Stitching; Traditional quilts

Subjects: Artists; Arts and crafts.; Decorative arts; Family farms; Quilting.; Quilts--Design.; Quilts.; Textile artists; Textiles

00:19:05 - Favorite aspects of quilting

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Partial Transcript: Change gears a little bit here.

Segment Synopsis: Underwood talks about her favorite aspect of quilting: the design process. She talks about her feelings on hand quilting versus machine quilting. She mentions her least favorite part of quilting: finishing.

[Audio cuts out temporarily from 20:56 - 21:11.]

Keywords: "In the zone"; Commissions; Design; Design process; Enjoyable; Finishing; Hand quilting; Hand stitching; Hand woven fabric; Machine quilting; Machine stitching; Reverse applique; Reverse appliqué

Subjects: Artists; Arts and crafts.; Decorative arts; Quilting.; Quilts--Design.; Quilts.; Textile artists; Textiles

00:21:28 - Where she quilts

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Partial Transcript: So you said you do your, your dyeing and your, your smelly stuff out in the garage?

Segment Synopsis: Underwood talks about the various places where she dyes her fabric and where her quilting studio is located in her home.

Keywords: Basements; Bleaching; Chemicals; Cloth; Color; Design walls; Discharge; Fabric dyeing; Fabrics; Garages; Houses; Racks; Studios; Wet studios

Subjects: Artists; Arts and crafts.; Decorative arts; Quilting.; Quilts--Design.; Quilts.; Textile artists; Textiles

00:22:58 - Uses for quilts

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Partial Transcript: You say you, you do make some quilts on commission as bed quilts?

Segment Synopsis: Underwood talks about selling and gifting her quilts.

Keywords: Bed quilts; Bed top quilts; Commissions; Daughters; Friends; Gifts; Quilt purpose - Bedcovering; Quilt purpose - Gift or presentation; Quilt purpose - Personal income; Quilts as gifts; Selling; Selling quilts; Uses

Subjects: Artists; Arts and crafts.; Decorative arts; Quilting.; Quilts--Design.; Quilts.; Textile artists; Textiles

00:24:14 - What makes a great quilt

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Partial Transcript: Well, what do you think makes a, a really great quilt?

Segment Synopsis: Underwood talks about what makes a great quilt, differentiating between usefulness and art.

Keywords: Art; Bed quilts; Bed top quilts; Design; Great quilts; Pleasures; Quilt purpose - Artistic expression; Quilt purpose - Bedcovering; Quilt purpose - Home decoration; Traditional quilts; Uses

Subjects: Artists; Arts and crafts.; Decorative arts; Quilting.; Quilts--Design.; Quilts.; Textile artists; Textiles

00:26:56 - Importance of quilting in her life

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Partial Transcript: So, quilting has become very important in your life.

Segment Synopsis: Underwood talks about the importance of quilting in her life. She talks about her attitude about her quilts once they are finished.

Keywords: Central; Commissions; Family; Houses; Husbands; Important; Letting go; Quilt purpose - Personal income; Quiltmaking process; Selling; Selling quilts; Uses

Subjects: Artists; Arts and crafts.; Decorative arts; Quilting.; Quilts--Design.; Quilts.; Textile artists; Textiles

00:28:42 - Regional, community, and other influences on her art

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Partial Transcript: Do you, do you think that, that your quilts, in either their design or, or the particular techniques that you use, um, do they reflect the region you live in or the community that you live in?

Segment Synopsis: Underwood discusses the regional influences on her quilting and art. She talks about how she has been influenced by both the quilting community and the art community in Portland. She talks about her influences from the traditional art world. She talks more about her desire to convey a narrative through her quilt series.

Keywords: "Crow's Line"; Academic background; American Northwest; Art quilt community; Art quiltmaking; Art quilts; Bauhaus Movement; Bernie Herman; Communities; Community influences; Exhibits; History; Humanities; Husbands; Influences; Interviews; Linear; Lines; Moving; Narratives; Oral history projects; Organizations; Plains; Poems; Poetry; Portland (Ore.); Portland, Oregon; Prairies; Quilt community; Quilt purpose - Exhibition; Quilt shows/exhibitions; Regional influences; Regions; Scenery; Traditional art

Subjects: Artists; Arts and crafts.; Decorative arts; Quilting.; Quilts--Design.; Quilts.; Textile artists; Textiles

00:38:08 - Role of quilting in women's history

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Partial Transcript: I had another question for you here.

Segment Synopsis: Underwood talks about her experience teaching literature in Kansas and her focus on women's history in Kansas, including the role of quilting.

Keywords: American Frontier; American West; Art deco; Civilization; Female; Gender in quiltmaking; Gender roles; Kansas; Kansas City Star (quilt pattern); Literature; Professors; Women's history; Women's lives; Women's progress

Subjects: Artists; Arts and crafts.; Decorative arts; Quilting.; Quilts--Design.; Quilts.; Textile artists; Textiles

00:41:36 - Quilting and art in her family

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Partial Transcript: So when you were back in Kansas and, and teacher--teaching...

Segment Synopsis: Underwood talks abut her lack of artistic talent and sewing ability during her childhood. She talks about her daughter and granddaughter's artistic talents.

Keywords: 8th grade; Critics; Critiques; Daughters; Eighth grade; Family; Grades; Granddaughters; Home economics; Mothers

Subjects: Artists; Arts and crafts.; Decorative arts; Families.; Quilting.; Quilts--Design.; Quilts.; Textile artists; Textiles

00:43:49 - Preservation of quilts and quilting for the future

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Partial Transcript: How do you think that, that, that quilts and quilt-making can be preserved as an art for the future?

Segment Synopsis: Underwood talks about how to preserve quilts and the art of quilt-making for the future. She talks about the future for her quilt "Crow's Line," which she has sold. The interview is concluded.

Keywords: "Crow's Line"; Acceptance; Art quiltmaking; Art quilts; Art world; Attitudes; Collecting quilts; Collections; Collectors; Future; Provenance; Quilt preservation; Quilt shows/exhibitions; Selling; Sold; Traditional quilts; Valuable; Value

Subjects: Artists; Arts and crafts.; Decorative arts; Quilting.; Quilts--Design.; Quilts.; Textile artists; Textiles