Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Deborah Schwartzman, July 22, 2003

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:01 - Origins as a quilter

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Partial Transcript: This is Megan Dwyre.

Segment Synopsis: Schwartzman discusses her start quilting in the late 1970s. She notes that she turned to a style which combined quilting with her other hobby, gardening, incorporating flowers into her quilts. Schwartzman talks generally about how she found her style, as well as the quilt that she brought to the interview, "Feeling Glad All Over."

Keywords: "Feeling Glad All Over" quilt; 1970s; Arizona; Articles; Deborah Schwartzman; Flower quilts; Flowers; Gardening; Gladiolus flower; Hexagon; Hollyhocks; Paper piecing; Parents

Subjects: Art festivals.; Craft and art; Craft festivals.; Quilting--United States--Patterns.; Quilting.; Quilts in art; Quilts--Design.; Quilts--United States--History--20th century--Exhibitions.; Quilts--United States--History--20th century.; Quilts.

00:05:04 - Materials involved in quilts

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Partial Transcript: Did you want to talk about the materials you used in the quilt at all?

Segment Synopsis: Schwartzman describes the materials used to produce her quilts. She discusses the difference between the materials used to craft traditional quilts for beds compared to the materials used to produce wall quilts. She notes that as she has turned more towards producing wall quilts she has turned to collecting silk fabrics.

Keywords: Bed quilts; Cottons; Deborah Schwartzman; Fabrics; Quilting materials; Silks; Traditional quilts; Wall quilts

Subjects: Art festivals.; Craft and art; Craft festivals.; Quilting--United States--Patterns.; Quilting.; Quilts in art; Quilts--Design.; Quilts--United States--History--20th century--Exhibitions.; Quilts--United States--History--20th century.; Quilts.

00:06:06 - Significance of the quilt she brought to the interview

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Partial Transcript: And where, where's the quilt today?

Segment Synopsis: Schwartzman describes the significance of the touchstone quilt she brought with her to the interview. She discusses how it would be hanging in her parents' house in Arizona, and would be returned to her once they pass. She talks about how she made the quilt to represent the changes in her parents' lives in moving to a new place, as well as the changes in her work as a quilter.

Keywords: Arizona; Change in work; Deborah Schwartzman; Inheritance; Parents; Parents' home; Quilts

Subjects: . Quilts--United States--History--20th century.; Art festivals.; Craft and art; Craft festivals.; Quilting--United States--Patterns.; Quilting.; Quilts in art; Quilts--Design.; Quilts--United States--History--20th century--Exhibitions.; Quilts.

00:07:21 - Learning how to quilt

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Partial Transcript: How did you learn how to quilt? You said no one in your family quilts, right?

Segment Synopsis: Schwartzman discusses how she did not learn quilting from anyone in her family, but looked to books in the 1970s which taught her how to quilt, such as Family Circle magazine. She describes her ignorance of the quilting world, not knowing about guilds or quilting magazines until the 1980s.

Keywords: 1980s; Deborah Schwartzman; Family Circle; Family Circle magazine; Family quilting; Late 1970s; Quilting guilds; Quilting magazines

Subjects: . Quilts--United States--History--20th century.; Art festivals.; Craft and art; Craft festivals.; Quilting--United States--Patterns.; Quilting.; Quilts in art; Quilts--Design.; Quilts--United States--History--20th century--Exhibitions.; Quilts.

00:09:59 - Quilting's impact on her family / Quilting as work

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Partial Transcript: Um, how does quilting impact your family?

Segment Synopsis: Schwartzman discusses how quilting impacts her family, who she describes as being very supportive of her efforts. She emphasizes that her family acknowledges it as work and as a job. She notes that she had previously been making quilts for her family, and felt pride in building a family legacy through her work. Schwartzman also discusses how often she spends a week quilting, averaging about eight hours a day. She notes that she almost entirely hand-quilts, as well as works as an art guild director.

Keywords: Art; Body of work; Deborah Schwartzman; Director of Art Guild; Education; Family; Family quilting; Hand-quilting; Jobs; Quilting as work; Quilting history; Support; Work; Workday

Subjects: . Quilts--United States--History--20th century.; Art festivals.; Craft and art; Craft festivals.; Quilting--United States--Patterns.; Quilting.; Quilts in art; Quilts--Design.; Quilts--United States--History--20th century--Exhibitions.; Quilts.

00:12:06 - Working at the Sedgwick Cultural Center

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Partial Transcript: Okay, so--well, since you brought up art quilts at the Sedgwick, I was wondering if you want to talk about that a little bit more?

Segment Synopsis: Schwartzman discusses her work with the Sedgwick Cultural Center. She discusses organizing shows with them, such as the New Threads show. She also describes putting together the quilt show as a way to advocate for art guilds as well as promote quilting, considering the lack of quilts that are in museum collections.

Keywords: Community; Deborah Schwartzman; Education; Fabrics; Museum quilts; New Threads; Quilt shows; Sedgwick Cultural Center; Sedgwick Quilt show

Subjects: . Quilts--United States--History--20th century.; Art festivals.; Craft and art; Craft festivals.; Quilting--United States--Patterns.; Quilting.; Quilts in art; Quilts--Design.; Quilts--United States--History--20th century--Exhibitions.; Quilts.

00:14:49 - Promoting quilters and advertising quilt shows

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Partial Transcript: So, what do you think can be done to--

Segment Synopsis: Schwartzman describes ways to promote quilting as an art form. She talks specifically about organizing the quilt show for the Sedgwick. She notes that the organization had little money and resorted to publicizing the show in magazines and working with the local Department of Hospitality. She talks about creating a CD-ROM catalog.

Keywords: Advertising; Art Matters magazine; CD-ROMs; Catalogues; Deborah Schwartzman; Department of Hospitality; Document shows; Paper catalogues; Promotion; Quilt shows; Sedgwick Cultural Center; Websites; Word of mouth

Subjects: Art festivals.; Craft and art; Craft festivals.; Quilting--United States--Patterns.; Quilting.; Quilts in art; Quilts--Design.; Quilts--United States--History--20th century--Exhibitions.; Quilts--United States--History--20th century.; Quilts.

00:18:14 - Aspects of a great quilt and quilter

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Partial Transcript: Okay, I'm going to, switch a little, but--

Segment Synopsis: Schwartzman considers both what makes a good quilt and a good quilter. She discusses how important design is to a great quilt, as well as its use of color. In determining a great quilter, she notes how it is vital that a quilter be true to themselves and quilt with an original voice. She uses the example of flowers in her own work, as well as saying that evolving and growing as an artist is important too.

Keywords: Color; Deborah Schwartzman; Design; Evolution; Flowers; Great quilters; Great quilts; Own voice; Quilt design; Quilting aesthetics

Subjects: Art festivals.; Craft and art; Craft festivals.; Quilting--United States--Patterns.; Quilting.; Quilts in art; Quilts--Design.; Quilts--United States--History--20th century--Exhibitions.; Quilts--United States--History--20th century.; Quilts.

00:20:26 - Evolution in quilting style

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Partial Transcript: If you look at the first flower quilt you did, compared to the most recent one, do you see changes?

Segment Synopsis: Schwartzman discusses the changes in her own style through her quilting career. She notes that she felt freer at the beginning when she did not have her own standards to live up to. She speaks more directly about the changes in her quilting from straight lines towards more complicated flower designs.

Keywords: Botanical correctness; Clean designs; Curved lines; Deborah Schwartzman; Design changes; Quilting styles; Simple designs; Straight lines; Style changes; Style evolution

Subjects: Art festivals.; Craft and art; Craft festivals.; Quilting--United States--Patterns.; Quilting.; Quilts in art; Quilts--Design.; Quilts--United States--History--20th century--Exhibitions.; Quilts--United States--History--20th century.; Quilts.

00:22:03 - Quilting as therapy / Aspects she finds pleasing

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Partial Transcript: Have you ever used quilting to get through a difficult time?

Segment Synopsis: When asked about whether she has used quilting as a way to heal during hard times in her life, Schwartzman says she cannot recall and that her personality would be one where if she were distressed she would prefer not to quilt. She notes that she has met other quilters who have said it has helped, but she says she is not one of them. She notes that she finds everything about the process of quilting pleasing. She enjoys the variety of tasks involved in creating a quilt, as well as working with various textures. She talks about creating a quilt design on the back of another quilt as an added challenge.

Keywords: Aesthetics; Deborah Schwartzman; Elements; Healing; Quilt backs; Quilt shows; Quilting aesthetics; Quilting as therapy; Texture; Variety

Subjects: Art festivals.; Craft and art; Craft festivals.; Quilting--United States--Patterns.; Quilting.; Quilts in art; Quilts--Design.; Quilts--United States--History--20th century--Exhibitions.; Quilts--United States--History--20th century.; Quilts.

00:24:55 - Quilting in American life / Quilting and women's history

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Partial Transcript: What do you think about the importance of quilts in American life?

Segment Synopsis: Schwartzman discusses the place quilting has in both American life, history, and women's history in particular. She describes how it is important to maintain these quilts, as well as continue making bed quilts. She notes that many people feel uncomfortable with quilts due to preconceived notions. She also discusses how quilts form a vital piece of women's history, citing women's role as the primary quiltmakers, as well as how quilting encompasses both function and art. She opines that quilting should remain a female dominated art form, acknowledging that men can work in any art form, but quilting has been uniquely female-driven.

Keywords: American culture; American life; Bed quilts; Deborah Schwartzman; Historical quiltmakers; Male quilters; Old quilts; Preconceived notions; Quilting history; Quiltmakers; Women quiltmakers; Women's art; Women's history

Subjects: Art festivals.; Craft and art; Craft festivals.; Quilting--United States--Patterns.; Quilting.; Quilts in art; Quilts--Design.; Quilts--United States--History--20th century--Exhibitions.; Quilts--United States--History--20th century.; Quilts.

00:28:29 - Growing acceptance of quilting as an art

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Partial Transcript: Do, do you think eventually it will come to that--to somewhat more acceptance?

Segment Synopsis: Schwartzman discusses the possibility of quilting gaining acceptance as an art form and piece of history in the museum world. She notes that currently there are only two galleries that have quilts within their collections as a prominent display.

Keywords: Acceptance; Bed quilts; Deborah Schwartzman; Museum galleries; Museum quilts; Preservation; Quilt collections; Quilt preservation; Quilting acceptance; Quilting as art

Subjects: Art festivals.; Craft and art; Craft festivals.; Quilting--United States--Patterns.; Quilting.; Quilts in art; Quilts--Design.; Quilts--United States--History--20th century--Exhibitions.; Quilts--United States--History--20th century.; Quilts.

00:29:16 - Quilt preservation

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Partial Transcript: How do you think quilts can be preserved for the future?

Segment Synopsis: Schwartzman discusses her philosophy on preserving quilts. She acknowledges that quilts should be preserved and remain for the future, but also believes that quilts should have function and be used. She notes that even bed quilts should be considered for museum collections.

Keywords: Bed quilts; Deborah Schwartzman; Preservation; Quilt collections; Quilt preservation

Subjects: Art festivals.; Craft and art; Craft festivals.; Quilting--United States--Patterns.; Quilting.; Quilts in art; Quilts--Design.; Quilts--United States--History--20th century--Exhibitions.; Quilts--United States--History--20th century.; Quilts.

00:30:09 - Choosing designs and fabrics

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Partial Transcript: I'm gonna skip back a little bit to quilters. How do you think great quilters learn the art of quilting? Especially how to design a pattern or choose fabrics and colors?

Segment Synopsis: Schwartzman describes the process of coming up with designs, colors, and fabrics. She notes that the two schools of thought come from those with traditional art backgrounds and those who wish to experiment. She talks about how the concept of "clashing" colors has changed in acceptance over time. She notes that taking classes helps in terms of determining colors and designs. She describes coming up with her own surface design.

Keywords: Clashing; Clashing colors; Creating fabrics; Deborah Schwartzman; Designs; Experimental designs; Fabrics; Focus; Formal art training; Quilt designs; Surface designs

Subjects: Art festivals.; Craft and art; Craft festivals.; Quilting--United States--Patterns.; Quilting.; Quilts in art; Quilts--Design.; Quilts--United States--History--20th century--Exhibitions.; Quilts--United States--History--20th century.; Quilts.

00:34:11 - Interest in flower quilts

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Partial Transcript: Um, how did you get started designing flowers like--or, flower quilts? Was it something that--

Segment Synopsis: Schwartzman describes her interest in flower quilts. She discusses how she turned to flower quilts as a way to bring summer into her home during the winter. She notes that she always wanted to work on flower quilts, but never considered putting actual flower petals into her quilts, citing issues with preserving the quilt.

Keywords: Deborah Schwartzman; Flower petals; Flower quilts; Interests; Longevity; Quilt designs; Quilt styles; Quilting; Summer; Winter

Subjects: Art festivals.; Craft and art; Craft festivals.; Quilting--United States--Patterns.; Quilting.; Quilts in art; Quilts--Design.; Quilts--United States--History--20th century--Exhibitions.; Quilts--United States--History--20th century.; Quilts.

00:35:23 - Qualities of a museum-quality quilt

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Partial Transcript: What do you think makes a quilt appropriate for a museum or special collection?

Segment Synopsis: Schwartzman describes what makes a quilt of a high enough quality to deserve to be in a museum. She cites the importance of workmanship as a primary consideration, as well that museums make sure to use the diversity of the quilting world in their displays. She references arguments held over whether quilts could be considered as art, and notes that quilts have a place in history museums due to their significance.

Keywords: Arguments; Art; Artists; Deborah Schwartzman; Diversity; History mseums; Museum quilts; Museum-quality; Museums; Old quilters; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Quilt art; Quilting world; Renwick Gallery; Special collections; Workmanship

Subjects: Art festivals.; Craft and art; Craft festivals.; Quilting--United States--Patterns.; Quilting.; Quilts in art; Quilts--Design.; Quilts--United States--History--20th century--Exhibitions.; Quilts--United States--History--20th century.; Quilts.

00:38:13 - Influence of Paris visit on her quilts

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Partial Transcript: Well, I will tell you, uh, uh, what I wanted to just share if we do take this picture of this other--of me in front of this other quilt was, um, one of the other turning points for me when I started making these flower quilts is, um, I had an opportunity to go to Paris.

Segment Synopsis: Schwartzman discusses the impact of a trip to Paris on her quilting. She says that she was inspired by Picasso, especially with the ease in translating Picasso's art into quilting. She also talks about being inspired by the colors of Van Gogh and Monet. The end result of this trip was the creation of her "Secret Garden" quilt. She ends the interview by noting the community she has formed and her visits to quilting sites around the United States.

Keywords: "Secret Garden" quilt; 1996; Anecdotes; Athens, Ohio; Claude Monet; Color inspiration; Deborah Schwartzman; Houston, Texas; Pablo Picasso; Paducah, Kentucky; Paris, France; Picasso Museum; Quilting inspirations; Travel; Vincent Van Gogh

Subjects: . Quilts--United States--History--20th century.; Art festivals.; Athens (Ohio); Craft and art; Craft festivals.; Houston (Tex.); Paducah (Ky.); Paris (France); Quilting--United States--Patterns.; Quilting.; Quilts in art; Quilts--Design.; Quilts--United States--History--20th century--Exhibitions.; Quilts.

GPS: Musée National Picasso-Paris (Paris, France)
Map Coordinates: 48.859894, 2.362285