Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Pauline Salzman, November 3, 2000

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:06 - Quilt wall hanging inspired by her son's first catch

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Partial Transcript: Thank you for coming. This is Jo Frances Greenlaw, uh, interviewing Pauline Salzman today. This is November the 3rd, 2000, um, at the Quilt Festival in Houston. We are interviewing for the Quilters Save Our Stories Project.

Segment Synopsis: Salzman talks about a wall hanging piece that she made. It had won best of show in a contest and then traveled around. She got feedback on it, and she realized that the critiques were valid. She decided to rip up some of the stitching to make it better. She talks about how the piece was inspired by her son catching his first fish. She also talks about tagging and dating her quilts and selling them.

Keywords: Best of Show; Body parts; Challenge fabric; Competition; Critique; Fishing; Freehand quilting; Labeling; Learning; Quilt wall hanging; Quilts; Re-quilted; Records; Ripping out seams; Selling; Signature; Snails trails; Sold; Storytelling; Wall hangings

Subjects: Machine quilting; Portraits on quilts; Quilting; Quiltmakers

00:06:01 - Learning to quilt / Storytelling through quilting

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Partial Transcript: Well, where did all this come about? Where, where were you?

Segment Synopsis: Salzman talks about how she got started in quilting from a free class. After that, she made bed and sofa quilts. She participated in the Hoffman Challenge with her quilt titled "The Smithsonian Phantom." While it won a Judge's Choice Award, it was controversial so she had to fight for it to be shown at the convention. Salzman talks about how she quilts and her possessiveness over her quilts in progress. She likens her storytelling in quilts to Harriet Powers, a famous African American slave and quilter.

Keywords: "The Smithsonian Phantom"; Bed quilts; Censorship; Classes; Competition; Controversial; Free hand quilting; Harriet Powers; Hoffman Challenge; Judge's Choice Award; Log cabin quilts; Possessive; Quilt making; Quilt shows; Quilts; Sewing machine dealership; Smithsonian; Sofa quilts; Storytelling; Wearable art

Subjects: African American quilts; Machine quilting; Quilting; Quilting shops; Quiltmakers

00:10:38 - A life revolving around quilting

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Partial Transcript: Do you always applique? Is that your choice?

Segment Synopsis: Salzman describes how her quilting technique has changed. She talks about how she does pieces for commission and for competitions. She describes her life, which focuses a lot on quilting, including her sewing guild, teaching, shows, volunteering, etc. She also has a home studio.

Keywords: Applique; Blind stitch applique; Challenge; Commission; Dinner; Directional sewing; Dogs; Exhibits; Free hand quilting; Goals; Home studios; Lectures; Life; Michael James; Piecing; Quilting; Quilting guilds; Quilts; Sewing guilds; Sewing skills; Shows; Tailors; Teaching; Technical; Tennis; Trunk shows; Volunteering; Wearable artists

Subjects: Appliqué; Art commissions; Art--Commissioning; Machine quilting; Quilting; Quiltmakers

00:16:27 - Sewing methods and preferred materials

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Partial Transcript: Well, do you also buy other people's quilts?

Segment Synopsis: Salzman doesn't usually buy other people's quilts because she doesn't want her dogs to ruin them. Salzman will take classes in other sewing methods to learn new techniques to apply to her quilting. She talks about how she wants to improve a quilt, and she details some of her preferred materials when quilting.

Keywords: Batting; Buying; Challenge fabrics; Collectors; Colors; Contour; Cotton; Directional sewing; Doll making classes; Fabric content; Fabrics; Fractured landscape classes; Improvement; Re-quilted; Ripping seams; Sews as the ant crawls; Techniques; Wool

Subjects: Quilting; Quilting--Patterns; Quiltmakers; Sewing; Sewing machines

00:21:23 - Gender inequalities and quilting

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Partial Transcript: What first influenced you in quilting? Did you grow up with quilts?

Segment Synopsis: Salzman didn't grow up with quilting. She then goes on to talk about gender and quilting. For her, the only problem that she has with men quilting is when they are praised above their skill level just because they're a man in traditionally female trade. She also talks about how men, particularly husbands, do not seem to value quilting when their wife does it, but that if a husband wants to go to a fishing convention, he often expects his wife to be interested in coming. She notes the gendered double standard, and explains how her own husband respects her work more because she's so independent. A quilt portrait that she made of him hangs in his office.

Keywords: Aunts; Divorce; Dressmakers; Feminine; Fishing shows; Gender; Husbands; Independent; Influences; Marriage; Men; Offices; Patterns; Perception; Portraits; Process; Quality; Quilt groups; Quilt shows; Quilting groups; Skills; Television; Tool makers; Value; Woman's activity; Women

Subjects: Gender; Machine quilting; Portraits on quilts; Quilting; Quilting--Vocational guidance; Quiltmakers; Sewing; Sewing machines

00:25:49 - Recognition of work / Holocaust quilt

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Partial Transcript: Do you have any desires to have your pieces hang at a large commercial building or in a museum?

Segment Synopsis: Salzman has a quilt titled "In Memory of..." that hangs in the St. Petersburg, Florida Holocaust Museum. She also has a quilt that hangs in the courthouse. Both pieces give her a pride in her work.

Keywords: "In Memory of…"; "Let Freedom Ring"; Commercial building; Courthouse; Depressing; Desire; Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida; Museums; Patterns; Pride; Recognition; Sad; Women

Subjects: Holocaust memorials; Machine quilting; Nazi Holocaust; Quilting; Quiltmakers; Sewing

00:28:28 - The purpose of quilts

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Partial Transcript: One of these, one of these questions is kind of funny to bring up with you, but--on the many ways that quilts can be used in our, in our contemporary times. Is there any way we haven't thought of using quilts?

Segment Synopsis: Salzman talks about what she values in a quilt's purpose. She wants them to be relatable and to tell a story. She doesn't consider herself an artist, but she considers herself a technician. She says that you don't need to be an artist to quilt, but you do need to be a good technician.

Keywords: Artists; Artwork; Bed quilts; Cathartic; Children; Classes; Contemporary; Patterns; Portraits; Relations; Storytelling; Technicians; Use of quilts

Subjects: Machine quilting; Portraits on quilts; Quilting; Quiltmakers; Sewing; Sewing machines

00:30:24 - The construction of a good quilt

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Partial Transcript: Well, what makes a good quilt in your opinion? Or a great quilt?

Segment Synopsis: Salzman describes how she evaluates quilts. For her, the color and contrast must be there, but first, the technical aspects are what she notices like binding, stitching, and puckering.

Keywords: Basics; Binding; Color; Construction; Contrast; Critiques; Design elements; Details; Dixie Haywood; Good quilts; Great quilts; Last thoughts; Pick apart; Puckering; Quilt shows; Sewing skills; Stitching; Technical work

Subjects: Machine quilting; Quilting; Quiltmakers; Sewing; Sewing machines