Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Pepper Cory, November 2, 2001

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:04 - "Starry Night" quilt conception and construction

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Partial Transcript: This is Friday morning, November 2nd, 2001 at the Houston Quilt Show--International Quilt Show.

Segment Synopsis: Cory describes how the quilt in front of them, "Starry Night," came to be. There was a calendar that showcased quilts, and through their photography, they hid the quilt's details. Cory wrote to them and complained. They responded back and asked if she could do better. She then created this quilt with a variety of stars and techniques.

Keywords: "Northern Lights"; "Starry Night"; Bride's brillant; Calendars; Center quilt; Foundation pieces; Gale Hill; Gem cuts; Hand-quilted; Letters; Mexican stars; Patterns; Photographs; Piecing; Quilt design; Quilting class; Quilts; Sarah's star; Sewing; Star of the West; Star of the magi; Stars; Templates; Workmanship

Subjects: Appliqué--Patterns; Quilting; Quilting shops; Quilting--Patterns; Quiltmakers; Sewing

00:08:12 - Getting started in quilting / Making a living in quilting

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Partial Transcript: Well what, what brought you into quilting?

Segment Synopsis: Cory describes how she began quilting as a hobby in college as recommended by her doctor. She speculates what she might have done if she wasn't making a living in the quilt-making world. She also talks about the difficulty of making a living in quilt-making. While she hasn't sold a quilt in years due to differing ideas of what the cost of a quilt and effort to create it should be, she lists other quilting-related jobs that she does like designing stencils, fabrics, and templates. She writes books and magazine articles. Her quilts usually go to family members because many people do not have a good idea of the true value of a quilt.

Keywords: Alcoholism and drug abuse therapists; Art; Charm quilt templates; Commissions; Company samples; Fabric designs; Family; Garage sale quilts; Hand-sewing; Health problems; Hobbies; Hobby; Jewelry stores; Magazine articles; Professional quilters; Quilt books; Quilting; Retail; Sewing; Stencils; Ulcers; Worth vs price

Subjects: Quilting; Quilting shops; Quilting--Patterns; Quilting--Periodicals; Quilting--United States--Patterns; Quilting--Vocational guidance; Quiltmakers; Sewing

00:13:03 - First quilts / Studio space

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Partial Transcript: What did you first quilts look like?

Segment Synopsis: Cory describes her first quilts as "wild." She made her own templates while she was teaching herself. She also picked "wild" colors. Cory talks about the time she commits to quilting in her three room studio. She stores her antique quilt collection there, and she designs and sews her quilts in that space.

Keywords: Antique quilts; Collections; Colors; DIY templates; Fabric rooms; First quilts; Hippies; Preservation; Quilters guilds; Quilting; Self-teaching; Sewing machines; Studios; Time; Wild Child

Subjects: Machine quilting; Quilting; Quilting--Vocational guidance; Quiltmakers; Sewing; Sewing machines

00:16:25 - Appeal of antique quilts / Department store quilts

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Partial Transcript: When you see quilts that--you collect antique quilts?

Segment Synopsis: Cory talks about the quilts that she purchases. She chooses ones that she knows she cannot reproduce. She also talks about what she thinks of mass market quilts that are sold by department stores. She says she doesn't have a problem with those quilts because they have a purpose and she's a capitalist. She does note that when they copy quilt artists illegally, they are in the wrong. She mentions a lawsuit where the quilter won, and all of the extra stock that copied her work had to be donated to Habitat for Humanity.

Keywords: Antique quilts; Capitalism; Cheap quilts; Copyright suits; Department stores; Donations; Free enterprise; Habitat for Humanity; Made in China; Museum quality quilts; Purpose; Quality; Quilt artists; Recreation; Scrap quilts

Subjects: Copyright; Machine quilting; Quilting; Quilting shops; Quilting--Vocational guidance; Sewing; Sewing machines

00:20:30 - Regional influences / International Quilt Festival attendance

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Partial Transcript: Do you find that you have regional influences?

Segment Synopsis: Cory discusses the states where a majority of her quilts are from and the regional influences on her creations. She says she has attended the International Quilt Festival every year except for two. On her first festival, she stayed in her brother's dorm room. She also describes her design and quilting process.

Keywords: Antique quilts; Designing; Graph paper; History; Impact; International Quilt Festival; Kentucky; Marking; North Carolina; Pennsylvania; Quilt festivals; Quilt stores; Quilting; Quilting process; Regional influences; Rice University; Sewing; Sewing magazines; Southern; Stitching; Texas; The South

Subjects: Quilting; Quilting shops; Quilting--Periodicals; Quiltmakers; Sewing

00:24:36 - Family history of quilt-making / Continued growth of sewing skills

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Partial Transcript: Not to tie you down to reveal your age, but if you started when you were about 19, could you tell us about how many years you have been quilting?

Segment Synopsis: Cory talks about the pressure from her mother to "get a real job," but that she found out that her great-grandmother has quilted. One of her grandmothers was half Cherokee Native American and was a great quilter. She says that her grandmother felt the pressure to be very proper because she was half Native American. She goes on to talk about the growth in her own skills, the need for relaxation, and the creation of her first quilting books.

Keywords: Age; Ancestors; Assimilation; Cherokee; Cherokee rose quilt; College degrees; Crafts; Family; Great-grandmothers; Growth; Native American; Performativity; Proper; Quilting books; Quilting patterns; Quilting stores; Rest; Skills; Stitches; Techniques; Vacation; Victorian

Subjects: Amish quilts; Indians of North America--Quilts; Quilting; Quilting shops; Quilting--Fiction; Quilting--Patterns; Quilting--Periodicals; Quiltmakers; Sewing

00:28:29 - Fabric selection and her sewing process

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Partial Transcript: This is another one of those gemstone patterns.

Segment Synopsis: Cory describes how she selects fabrics and designs quilts. She talks about her sewing process.

Keywords: Appeal; Credit; Fabric selection; Gem-inspired; Hand-quilting; Lap quilting; Machine quilts; Quilting patterns; Running stitch; Scrap quilts; Sewing process

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

00:33:04 - Poor quality quilts and quilts that take her breath away

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Partial Transcript: Do you quilt any wearable art?

Segment Synopsis: Cory notes that she has a few pieces of quilted, wearable art, but that they all come from other people. Cory talks about what she does and doesn't like to see at the festival.

Keywords: Amish quilts; Colors; Craft of quilt-making; Hasty work; Jackets; Offensive; Poor quality; Private collections; Quilting; Replicas; Spirit; Tedious; Vests; Wearable art

Subjects: Amish quilts; Machine quilting; Machine quilting--Patterns; Quilting; Quilting--Periodicals; Quilting--United States--Patterns; Quiltmakers; Sewing

00:36:16 - Quilting festivals as a cultural and business gathering for women

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Partial Transcript: Is there anything we have failed to ask you?

Segment Synopsis: Cory ends the interview talking about the quilting events and the opportunities they opened for her. She notes that the quilting festival is a cultural gathering for women, as well as a business.

Keywords: Business; Contacts; Cultural gathering; Gathering; International; Magazine columns; Market; Quilt markets; Quilting events; Teaching; Women; “The Quilting Professional”

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