Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Martha Plager, August 29, 2001

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:00 - Introduction to "Over the Garden"

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Partial Transcript: This is Karen Musgrave. It is August 29th, 2001.

Segment Synopsis: Plager describes her quilt "Over the Garden," retelling the story of how she planted a vegetable called zucchetta that grew a surplus of vines and ended up as this quilt's muse. Plager describes the quilt's composition, including the quilt's leaves and flowers, and states that this piece has both machine and hand quilting. Plager also says that the quilt's primary use is on her kitchen wall, overlooking the zucchetta plant in her garden.

Keywords: Art quilts.; Embroidery.; Food in art.; Food in quits; Hand embroidery; Hand quilting; Hand stitching; Machine quilting.; Over the Garden; Quilted goods; Quilters; Quilting.; Quiltmakers; Quilts.; Stitching; Vegetables in art.; Vegetables in quilts; Zucchetta

00:05:44 - Beginning quilting career

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Partial Transcript: So, at what age did you start quilting?

Segment Synopsis: Plager recounts the beginning of her quilting career, describing a quilting class at a local library that encouraged original hand quilting. Plager says that doing creative, original work appealed to her and she began quilting bed and art quilts.

Keywords: Art quilts.; Bed quilts; Embroidery.; Hand embroidery; Hand quilting; Hand stitching; Machine quilting.; Quilted goods; Quilters; Quilting--Patterns.; Quilting.; Quiltmakers; Quilts.; Stitching

00:08:22 - Prism

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Partial Transcript: So, tell me about Prism.

Segment Synopsis: Plager describes her participation in a group of local fiber artists and quilters called "Prism," a group that creates original and visually-pleasing art quilts. Plager describes the group's meetings, stating that each member respects the others' style and still offers their opinions on each others' work. Plager expresses her enjoyment in being around other like-minded yet artistically different individuals who encourage each others' work, and describes the meaning behind Prism's name.

Keywords: Art quilts.; Artists.; Female artists; Fiber artists; Fiber arts; Machine quilting.; Prism; Prism -- quilting; Quilted goods; Quilters; Quilting groups; Quilting guilds; Quilting.; Quiltmakers; Quilts.; Women in art

00:15:29 - Hours spent quilting / Family and quilting

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Partial Transcript: Um, about how many hours a week do you quilt?

Segment Synopsis: Plagar says she spends around two to four hours a day quilting in her house. Plager describes the impact of her quilting on her family, and that because she didn't start her quilting until her children moved out, they are appreciative and proud that their mother has taken up the hobby. Plager describes a quilt about Monopoly that she created, saying that one her grandsons have asked her for it.

Keywords: Art quilts.; Family; Games in art.; Games in quilts; Monopoly (Game); Quilted goods; Quilters; Quilting.; Quiltmakers; Quilts.

00:20:50 - Quilts with special meaning and context

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Partial Transcript: So, how many quilts have you made?

Segment Synopsis: Plager states that she's not sure how many quilts she's made, but has two summer and winter quilts she sleeps under. She describes her summer quilt, saying that the embroidered pieces were made by her husband's grandmother. Plager also describes her winter quilt, an original block quilt she made that resembled music notes.

Keywords: Art quilts.; Block quilts; Embroidery; Machine quilting.; Patchwork quilts.; Quilted goods; Quilters; Quilting.; Quiltmakers; Quilts in interior decoration; Quilts--Design.; Quilts.

00:24:30 - Women and quilts

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Partial Transcript: And I think the wall quilts are almost more appreciated.

Segment Synopsis: Plager states that wall quilts by women are usually more appreciated as they're not used for picnics and can be more visually admired. Plager also shares her belief that women, including quilters, usually leave "pieces" of themselves behind while men do not. She talks about her grandmother's thimble, referring to as a piece from the past that she uses to create the future. Plager states that quilts reflect one's ability to create beauty around them.

Keywords: Art quilts.; Female artists; Female quilters; Femininity.; Machine quilting.; Quilted goods; Quilters; Quilting.; Quiltmakers; Quilts in interior decoration; Quilts--Design.; Quilts.; Wall quilts; Women artists.; Women quilters; Women's quilting history

00:29:24 - Quilt preservation

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Partial Transcript: So, how do you think quilts can be preserved for the future?'

Segment Synopsis: Plager discusses quilt preservation, saying that projects like this interview document quilt history. Plager comments on antique quilts that end up in flea markets, and expresses her sadness that works by artists go unknown, stating that quilts, like revered paintings, should receive appreciation. Plager discusses her enjoyment in creating art quilts, stating that she feels like "has" to quilt.

Keywords: Art appreciation.; Art quilts.; History; Machine quilting.; Preservation; Quilt appreciation; Quilt documentation; Quilt history; Quilt preservation; Quilted goods; Quilters; Quilting.; Quiltmakers; Quilts in interior decoration; Quilts.

00:32:02 - Qualifying great quilts and quilters

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

Segment Synopsis: Plager qualifies great quilts, saying that they have good composition and craftsmanship and are visually pleasing. Plager also states that great quilters could just be those who love quilting, but that qualifying great quilters is difficult. Plager recalls attending a quilt show for the American Quilter's Society, recounting the winning quilt was both beautiful and still machine quilted, which was controversial at the time. She compares the changing of modern music to the changing of the quilt world.

Keywords: Art appreciation; Art quilts.; Machine quilting.; Modern quiltworks; Quilt appreciation; Quilted goods; Quilters; Quilting.; Quiltmakers; Quilts in interior decoration; Quilts.; Traditional quiltworks