Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Emilie Belak, October 22, 1999

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:00 - Introduction

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Partial Transcript: This is Christy Johnston.

Segment Synopsis: The interviewer introduces herself, the interviewee, and the project for which the interview is being recorded.

Keywords: Christy Johnston; Quilt Alliance; Save Our Stories

Subjects: Quilters; Quilting.; Quiltmakers.; Quilts.

00:00:19 - "In Love with Irises" quilt

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Partial Transcript: So, tell us about this quilt.

Segment Synopsis: Belak discusses the quilt she has named "In Love with Irises" that she brought to the setting of the interview. She ventures into how she starts each of her quilts and then goes on to discuss the series of quilts she has made that are based on flowers that grow in her garden in Grand Forks, British Columbia (those quilts are titled "In Praise of Poppies" and "In Celebration of Roses") as well as the different competitions they have won.

Keywords: "In Celebration of Roses"; "In Love with Irises"; "In Praise of Poppies"; Beauty; Blossoms; Blue ribbon winners; Flowers; Gardens; International Quilt Association; Photographs; Three dimensional

Subjects: Flowers.; Grand Forks (B.C.); Quilters; Quilting.; Quiltmakers.; Quilts--Design.; Quilts--United States--Exhibitions.; Quilts.

00:03:06 - Her first experiences with quilting

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Partial Transcript: How did you get involved in quilting?

Segment Synopsis: Belak discusses how she got involved with quilting after immigrating to Canada from Czechoslovakia, as well as the first quilt she ever entered into an international quilting competition and her subsequent white ribbon victory in that competition. She also talks about adventuring into designing her own patterns and experimenting with traditional designs. She reveals that she is a geometry teacher in her Canadian town of Grand Forks, British Columbia and that she has made intricate geometric quilts that she brings to class to show her students.

Keywords: "Canada Geese"; "Celestial Visions"; "In Praise of Poppies"; Christmas; Clothes; Communists; Crocheting; Embroidering; Folk art; Geometry; Hand quilting; Knitting; Log Cabin; Medallion; Night courses; Painting; Pentagon; Precision; Pythagoras; Sewing; Sewing machine; Traditional design

Subjects: Canada.; Craft and art; Czechoslovakia.; Grand Forks (B.C.); Houston (Tex.); Quilters; Quilting.; Quiltmakers.; Quilts--Design.; Quilts--United States--Exhibitions.; Quilts.; Teachers.

00:09:29 - How quilting fits into her life

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Partial Transcript: Yeah, I'm very impressed with the colors in, in this iris quilt.

Segment Synopsis: Belak discusses in depth the work she has done on her flower quilts ("In Celebration of Roses", "In Praise of Poppies", "In Love with Irises"), including the process by which she worked on them and the trial and error she went through with dyes and paint. She also talks about her family's support of her quilting, how quilting fits into her busy life, and quilting as a hobby.

Keywords: "In Celebration of Roses"; "In Love with Irises"; "In Praise of Poppies"; Background fabric; Blossoms; Colors; Cooking; Cotton; Drawing; Embellishment; Exhibitions; Fabric dyes; Fabric paint; Gardening; Geometry; Irises; Mathematics; Metallics; Nylon; Photographs; Physical education; Polyester; Poppies; Reflection; Roses; Satin; Sewing machines; Sewing room; Silks; Stitch; Threads; Tracing paper

Subjects: Appliqué--Patterns.; Fabrics; Family.; Flowers.; Grand Forks (B.C.); Hobbies and crafts; Quilters; Quilting.; Quiltmakers.; Quilts--Design.; Quilts.; Teachers.

00:26:09 - Quilting groups / A sense of community

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Partial Transcript: Do you socialize much with your quilting?

Segment Synopsis: Belak discusses the social aspect of quiltmaking and the organizations of which she is a part of. She talks about the sense of community quilting provides for women and how, in her experience, men make everything a competition.

Keywords: American Quilter's Society; Atmosphere; Community; Competition; Fiber Art Network; Friends; Great Pacific Northwest Quilt Group; International Quilt Association; Interview; Publicity; Social life; Socialize; Women

Subjects: Grand Forks (B.C.); Hobbies and crafts; Quilters; Quilting.; Quiltmaker's club; Quiltmakers.; Quilts.

00:31:56 - Her distaste for politics

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Partial Transcript: Do any of your other family members, uh, quilt?

Segment Synopsis: Belak discusses the reason she does not use her quilts to make political statements regarding her home country of Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic). She talks about having to lie about her political beliefs to complete her schooling before she moved to Canada. Her quilts, she says, are meant to make people feel happy and she enjoys her life in the moment rather than feeling sad about the past.

Keywords: Communism; Communist Youth; Czech Republic; Experiences; Freedom; Gardening; Mathematics; Mending; Parents; Political statements; Sisters; Three dimensional

Subjects: Czech Republic; Czechoslovakia.; Education; Family.; Hobbies and crafts; Politics.; Quilters; Quilting.; Quiltmakers.; Quilts.