Lura Schwarz Smith




Lura Schwarz Smith




Lura Schwarz Smith


Janice Simpson

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

Lura Schwarz Smith


Houston, Texas

Interview indexer

Anne Lafferty


Elaine Johnson


Janice Simpson (JS): My name is Janice Simpson. Today's date is October 22nd, 1999. I'm conducting an interview with Lura Schwarz Smith for the oral history project in Houston, Texas. We're at the International Quilt Show. Lura, how did you come to bring a quilt here today for the interviewing?

Lura Smith (LS): I was asked to bring along a quilt that was important to me and this is the piece I'm working on right now. I have another recent one out in the show, and I sell them sometimes. I wanted to bring along a fairly current one and this is as current as it gets.

JS: Yes. How did you start to make this quilt? I see it's really a modern type quilt, would you call it?

LS: Yes. I think of what I do as art quilts.

JS: Art quilts.

LS: I have an art background. I sort of slid into quilting from the art world. But this is really a kind of meditation quilt. It's an image of a female form. It's not at all a self portrait. It is an image of the female inner nature. It was a special piece for me to work on. I like to work from inner, or dream images, and that's what this one is about.

JS: Did you draw these faces in here? Paint them?

LS: Right. The technique that I'm using here is the one that I'm really enjoying, and I've been using it for a few years. I first learned the technique from Jean Ray Laury. I have several projects pictured in her Imagery on Fabric books. I live fairly near her and was able to go to her studio with some other local quilters on the project. She has so many great ideas and has been a real inspiration to me. I've adapted this technique to my own use, but certainly I learned it from her. Basically, you press fabric onto freezer paper, cut it very accurately and run it through a photocopy machine. I make my own drawings. You can, of course, photocopy anything, but I like to use my own drawings, and this is a technique that allows me to get those drawings onto fabric. Then I go ahead and hand paint them with Versatex fabric paint. It's very fun because it is kind of a printmaking process.

JS: Do you draw this whole thing out before you start or how do you go about doing that?

LS: Well, not usually. It would be nice if I were more of a planner, but I'm really not. I like to work things out in fabric as the project develops. I have a big felt wall, even though maybe I need a bigger one, as the last three pieces have outgrown it. I really like the approach of working very directly with the fabric. So, I find that I usually make some sketches as I go but I'm not following a pattern I have concepts and I try to work along toward that.

JS: You say you started with an art background? What is your background with art?

LS: I have a Bachelor of Arts in Art from San Francisco State University, with an emphasis in painting and drawing. I do illustrations as well. I occasionally do some graphic arts, logo work, whatever comes along.

JS: I understand, and some magazines.

LS: Yes, some magazine and book illustrations, periodically. But fabric has become my real medium.

JS: How did you get into fabrics and quilting?

LS: Well, my mother and I started making some really terrible quilts when I was a teenager. Her mother, Lura, had died when my mother was only five, and Lura had been a quilter. We had just a few of her quilt blocks, and we didn't know anything about quilting. So, we tried to make a quilt around each block, you know, and they were pretty ad. We didn't know anything. And the fabrics! The fabrics were so limited we could get polyester or poly-cottons at best, and the prints! We tied most of those early quilts with yarn. Didn't even quilt them. And we made all the mistakes you can imagine, but we had such fun. We didn't know enough to realize how bad these were--we had a wonderful time trying everything. We never bought a quilting book I don't know why. I guess we never saw one. Quilting didn't seem to be around so much in the Sixties when we started. So, we were doing really terrible bed quilts like that for a few years, having a great time. Once I was in college I began to think about fabric as an art medium. My first art quilt was made over 20 years ago, and it was my final project for senior painting class in college. That was my first wall quilt. I was really different than anything I'm doing now, and I thought of it as painting with fabric. It had an image - a female nude figure which was lightly stuffed, kind of bas-relief soft sculptural. I used felt weight Pellon for a batting, and it was very minimally quilted in the ditch with huge stitched. I sold that in a Sausalito gallery, and then went on to sell that type of wall quilt in galleries in Santa Barbara and Santa Monica for some years after that. I wasn't using any quilterly techniques, like basic piecing, in those quilts. I hadn't really merged what little I knew about traditional quilting with my art quilts at that time. Then, about 10 years ago, we moved up into the area where we live now, in the Sierras near Yosemite Park. I found there was a quilt guild, joined up, and then I realized, 'Oh, my gosh, all this technique!' There was this huge quilt world I knew nothing about. I'd just been off working on my own with textiles, developing some interesting techniques along the way, but unaware of the quilt world becoming so enormous. I've since been merging my art background and my own techniques with all the great techniques I find from quilters.

JS: What did you think when you were chosen of the best 100 quilts? What was that like for you?

LS: That was amazing. I had not heard about the search ahead of time. The first thing I knew was when I got a big packet in the mail from Karey Bresnahan of IQA [International Quilt Association.] that said, 'Your quilt has been chosen.' And I thought, 'What is this?' It was an amazing thing and the more I read the more astonishing it was to me. I think of so many fabulous quilts that aren't on the list that could be, so many fabulous quilters that could be included. I think it old have been really hard to be a juror. So, I am really honored. I really am. I think it's an amazing honor.

JS: How about your family, what do they think about it?

LS: They're really supportive. They think it's great. And for that particular piece in the exhibit, the Degas quilt, they really encouraged me to get it made in the first place. I almost didn't make it at all--it was so close to the deadline by the time I could start, I almost didn't go for it.

JS: You did if specifically, for

LS: It did it specifically for a competition which Quilter's Newsletter Magazine was running for Quilt Expo V, which was in Lyon, France in 1996. The competition was called "Artistic Expressions," and the concept was to work in the style of an artist that inspires you. I loved that idea; it really tickled my fancy. So, this quilt was my homage to Edgar Degas.

JS: Do you do a lot of competitions?

LS: Yes, I guess. I don't seem to be turning out as much as work as I'd like. The last few years I've just had a lot of family things going on. I'd like to produce a lot more work. And I've been doing more teaching and lecturing. It all takes time away from the work.

JS: So, does your family, well your mother, but does anyone else quilt?

LS: No, not really. My mother did a little with me, as I say, and when I was young, we began to learn together because my mother had been a quilter and we wanted to finish her blocks. Her mother died when she was so young and there was a house fire, and there were so few family things left. We were just left with these few quilt blocks and one unfinished top. The quilts had all gone. So, my grandmother Lura had been a quilter, and in a way, I felt I was able to pick up the broken link by being a quilter too. She had come from Missouri originally, and obviously knew what she was doing from the few hand-pieced things we have that she made.

JS: Is there anything you'd like to share with us about your quilt here or your experience with traveling with quilts?

LS: Well, that's a big question. It's hard to describe something you're not looking at. This quilt is a special one for me in content and also in that I've done some new things that I hadn't done before. For the hand quilting, I used a combination of the big stitch with Perle cotton threads and the little stitch with quilting threads, all in different colors. I also did a lot of fracturing of the faces and forms, and that was lots of fun to experiment with. I find that with every new piece, every new quilt that I finish, I've learned so much. I really love the process. It's very, very fulfilling. This one I started a year ago, and I'm just now finishing it. I had very many interruptions, but it feels so great just to be getting to the end of something and then I can begin to think about the next project.

JS: Where do you get your ideas from?

LS: I don't lack ideas. I just lack space and time. I have a very small workspace. I really do have a lot of images in my head that I'd love to work from. This quilt is part of what is call the "Gaia Series." This is called "Letting Go: Gaia Series." I would like to do another in this series, addressing the wholeness, the connectedness of the systems of the planet. I'm interested in working with the inner side of things.

JS: When you do a series like that--do you sell these or do you want to keep them in your possession?

LS: That's always the dilemma. If I were the kind of person that could turn out a quilt a month or something, which I don't, it wouldn't be such an issue. But these usually take me a long time. Yes, I like to sell work because I consider myself an artist. This is my art form. It feels very complete to sell my work. However, especially now that I've started doing some lecturing and teaching, I find that your need a trunk show. You have to have some things to show quilters, and to go into shows and exhibits. Years ago, I sold things without keeping a good record or even photos of all of them. I have no record and no knowledge of who has many of those early pieces now. Now I just have to juggle things so that I have enough work to show, and yet continue to sell periodically. I also do commission work occasionally.

JS: How about your quilt that's in the 100 Best? Will you keep that?

LS: I think I'll keep that one. [laughs.] I've kept it until now, though I did have some offers for it here and there, but I'm glad I have it. It does seem to be one that people respond to very well. When I take it to a quilt guild, even though I'm showing it in my slide talk, people really love to see the actual quilts in person. Fabric is such a tactile medium; it's great to be able to see stuff in person. So, I think it's important to keep some things to show, as long as I'm giving programs and workshops.

JS: Did you take regular quilt classes too or have you gone right into your art quilting?

LS: I've taken a few. I could always use more technique. It's stuff in your toolbox and it's always good to add to that. I feel that certainly I am still learning, learning, learning all the time. Every piece I do is a great learning experience. Lately I'm having a lot of fun with this free form curved machine piecing. I fractured these spaces and built the texture freely. I had a lot of fun with that. I like to just cut fabrics and slap them together without templates and patterns. I developed that technique on my own. It's very fast and direct. But especially in the beginning, taking classes was very important. I started with my guild taking local classes and learning so much. I like to work as quickly and directly as I can, so I love a lot of those techniques.

JS: What don't you like about quilting?

LS: What don't I? I don't think there's anything I don't like about quilting. I like the many, many different styles and techniques available for different peoples' tastes and interests. There's such a range of ability and workmanship. The most beginning person can create something beautiful with their first quilt project. It's a wonderful art form. It's art for the people. I love that about quilting. I love that it's basically a women's art form. I think that's really fun; you know.

JS: A lot of men are sneaking in.

LS: Oh, yes, they are, and some of them do phenomenal work but it's still predominantly a women's art field. Amish quilts, which are the most utilitarian and traditional thing you can imagine are exquisite art, especially if you got to see them hung so beautifully in the museums. I think it's wonderful that both traditional and art quilts are so accepted, and both machine and hand work. And it's a funny thing. I've taught art to kids and adults at various times. But I find that quilters can be so very strangely humble about their abilities. They'll say, 'But I can't do things like you.' And I think, 'Oh, no.' Everyone has their own voice, and everyone has their own art to do. And I do think quilting is very wonderful in that they can take a pattern and work with that, but they choose their own fabrics and layout and make it their own. Everyone can produce art with quilting. I like that very much. But I can't think of what I don't like about quilting.

JS: How many quilt shows have you been to? Is this the first time you've ever been here?

LS: This is my second time coming to Houston. I live out in California and so I can't get out here every year. But I do love it when I can.

JS: But there are shows out there that you attend?

LS: Oh, yes. In fact, I've got a quilt in the Pacific International Festival, coming up next week in California. I've had something in that show for the last six years now. That's a nice big show, getting better every year, but not as big as this. But it's very inspiring to get to a big quilt show. I was lucky enough to make it to the International Quilt Expo at Lyon, France, in 1996, and saw many international exhibits. My Degas quilt has been to Japan, Europe and quite a few places in the States. It's great when our quilts can travel, and bee seen across a wide landscape. It's always very special to see quilts from another culture, as each culture brings something unique to quilting, in their feeling for working with textiles. I know some very gifted quilters who don't want to commit to entering things in quilt shows, and I think that's kind of a shame. Why do we enter quilt shows? It's not just to try to get that ribbon--of course, that's wonderful when it happens, but I think it's important to remember that we put quilts in shows for each other. That's how we communicate, how we inspire each other. If people don't enter their work and put it out on the line at these shows, we're not as enriched. I think shows are a really important part of the process. I encourage people to show and share their work whenever possible. Even that first Show and Tell at your guild is a step in the right direction.

JS: Do you have many unfinished projects?

LS: A couple. I'm like everybody else. I've got a couple of bed quilt tops that I made a few years ago that I just haven't gotten around to machine quilting. I'm starting to play a lot with machine quilting, and I like it for certain projects. But as far as the wall art pieces that I do, probably because I have such a small workspace, really just spatial constraints, I tend to do one at a time. And I like the focus this creates. I would like to keep them a little smaller, so they don't keep growing off my felt wall, though.

JS: Do you always work in these kind of colors?

LS: Oh, no, different colors. Although, I must admit I feel that when in doubt wear purple. I do love purples and teals, so this one to me is a very likable color range as it has those colors. But in fact, with the Degas piece I learned a good lesson about using color in quilts. When I started thinking of the quilt I was paging through his paintings and pastels and saw these awful O's - you know ochre, orange and olive - colors I didn't have in fabrics. I first thought 'ugh' when I though of them in fabrics. And then I thought, how ridiculous! In your paint palette, would you not buy a tube of every color to use? Go and get yourself some oranges, ochres, and olives and use them! And I used them in there and made myself love them, too. I found some other holes in my color palette of fabrics and filled those in as well. It's tremendously important to get a full range of color to draw from. It's a good challenge to get a really ugly fabric and make it beautiful by what you do with it. I think it's important to push yourself a little.

JS: What do you consider really ugly fabric?

LS: To me, some of those ochre yellows and orangey browns can be pretty bad. I never used to buy them. But if you look at my Degas piece, I've got them in there and I've made myself love them. They sizzle right next to oranges and purples. I think it's great fun to take color, that ugly color to me, and make it work. If I've never worked with it before and this I do take it and make it workable or even beautiful, then I've stretched myself a little.

JS: Could you describe the quilt that you have here in the exhibit?

LS: The Degas?

JS: Yes, could you tell us a little bit about it?

LS: Yes, it's my tip of the hat to Edgar Degas, the French Impressionist painter. When I looked at the competition I thought of him right away. I'm inspired by lots of artists, but I knew that I had this technique of photocopying my drawings onto fabric. He loved to draw and so do I. His early stuff, exquisitely drafted, is with a much more subdued color palette. You know, he was losing his eyesight toward the end of his life, and his later work is really interesting. It is much wilder color. Rough pastels, real loose stuff not so dependent on drawing, but the colors get more exciting. I think he had to use much more vivid coloration as his eyesight failed. So I looked at his ballet dancer series and some of his rough little pastels. The quilt I made "Seams a Lot Like Degas" is of three ballet dancers. I did my own drawings and copied the faces, arms, hands, and shoulders onto muslin, then painted them with Versatex fabric paint and hand appliqu├ęd them. The background is the great old standby block I'd always called "Hole in the Barn Door", "Churn Dash" or "Monkey Wrench." But when I looked for a French themed block in my Barbara Brackman "Base" book, I found that this block was also known as "French Fours" so I thought it was fun to use it. I free-form cut and pieced the costumes of the dancers and I distorted several of the "French Fours" blocks to piece into the skirts. There are also a couple of fracture lines running across the foreground to break things up a bit more.

JS: It sounds beautiful from your description though I wasn't sure which one it was.

LS: You're getting a lot of people to interview, though. That'll be great to get the stories on these. There are some great stories behind some of them.

JS: Tell us some more about it.

LS: About the piece?

JS: Yes, that would be great.

LS: I can't figure out how I ever got it done, actually. It was a crazy deadline. I had seen the competition in Quilter's Newsletter [Magazine.] earlier and it really caught my attention, but I was busy working on an illustration deadline. Once I finished that and came up for air, I looked at the deadline and found that the slide for the competition was due in a month. I had not made a start, maybe just a couple of sketches. Christmas was to fall within that month, and we have two kids, so you can't just ignore Christmas even if you want to. I figured I had just completely missed out. So, I was bemoaning all this to my husband and he said, 'You know what you want to do. Go do it. We'll do Christmas, we'll do everything. Just go do it.' So I did. I had all kinds of other problems, my workspace was leaking and we had to mend that, and it seemed like I could never get it done in time, but somehow did get it finished enough to submit the slide. It won Best of Show at the Lyon Quilt Expo, among other honors, and now this wonderful exhibit. During that wild month I sometimes thought the quilt had a curse on it, but now I think it was born under a lucky star as it's done so well.

JS: But your husband is very supportive then.

LS: Yes, he's great. He really likes that I do my art work, and always says, 'Go buy more fabric.' He takes my are seriously, which is wonderful.

JS: How old are your children?

LS: They're getting older now. They're young teenagers now.

JS: Boys?

LS: A boy and a girl.

JS: Does your daughter have an interest in the art or your boy?

LS: She has other creative interests--she's going to be a writer. My son, too, is very creative. They're both very able at drawing, and I know they could do art very well, but having the potential is different from having the commitment and drive to put the time into it, to make that ability grow. I don't know if they'll choose to do that in art, but I expect I'll see it in some creative area for both of them. My daughter loves quilts and my son is fond of them too. She was my model in the quilt "All Up in the Air" and she loves that quilt. She didn't want me to sell that one when I had the offer, so I gave it to her and made a bed quilt to match. She's a great quilt appreciator, but honestly I don't know that she'll ever quilt, herself. We did a few little projects when she was young, but she didn't have much interest in the process. But she loves to give me creative critiques on all my stuff. She's really helpful about that. They're really a great family. Very supportive.

JS: That's good. That's great. Is there anything else you'd like to share about your quilting life or your family?

LS: Well, I don't know. That's another big question.

JS: You can take your time and think about what you'd like to tell us.

LS: I do think that it's very important for us all to appreciate the creative process. I think it's part of our nature, the need to create in some manner. And we have this enormous, vital quilt world today. Quilting is actually big business now with these huge international shows, and the big fabric suppliers, the quilt book industry and so forth. But it's just as important right down on the personal level for the beginning quilter who is maybe making her very first quilt for her baby. Just from the smallest entry level on up to the big pros and the big names around, it's all part of the whole thing. There is such an availability of great teachers, books, supplies, and guilds. When I think of the fabrics that I could go buy in the sixties and seventies! What we have now is wonderful--such opportunity. It's rich. So, enjoy, because I remember the times when we did not have the rich environment that we have now. We're so lucky. It's really an exciting time to be a part of the quilt world.

JS: And what did you think about coming here for the interview? Were you apprehensive to come and be interviewed about your quilts?

LS: Not apprehensive. I think it's a great project so we can hear and access other peoples' stories. Because one of the great things about quilting is that every quilt has its story, and every quilter has made their own journey. There are so many stories to be told. This way, more people can share in more stories. Everybody brings something unique to quilting, just as in any art form. It's our communication. I hope that when people stand in front of a piece of mine and look at it that they might get something from it. It might not be what I thought I was putting into it. But they may find something meaningful there for them. I like that part very much. But these stories are our chance to tell a little more about what we think we are putting into our work. A PBS station is doing taped video interviews too, so it will be interesting to see where that goes. I did that this morning.

JS: I didn't know that.

LS: Yes, it was fun. I get it all out of the way in the same day, and then I can enjoy more of the show. Just walking through the "Hundred" exhibit was overwhelming. There are a few quilts that I've seen published I wanted to see in person that aren't here. But the ones that are here are just wonderful. I think the catalog of the exhibit is great. I haven't gotten a chance yet to read it all, but I've certainly read a bit. It really enriches the exhibit. There might be a quilt that I would not focus on ordinarily, maybe very understated or traditional, maybe much different than the way I work, but when I read the story about it I understand why this is such an important quilt, and what the maker was about. I understand what its significance is. I really appreciate that because I certainly don't have a big knowledge of the history of some of the early traditional quilts. I do lve traditional quilt and they are beautiful, but we all have our own tastes. It's very fun to stretch outside your own tastes and appreciate something else. I really enjoyed that.

JS: Do you teach too?

LS: Yes, I do.

JS: Do you teach this type of quilting?

LS: I do. What I have found is that many, many people have at least one special photo that they would love to make an art quilt from. In my class, "Designing Art Quilts," we do that. People bring in their own photos, and I help them simplify or recompose or combine photos and make a quilt pattern from this. We also do a lot of shading and drawing exercises so that their project will be successful if they use images. It's not hard to do this. The techniques aren't difficult. I do enjoy sharing that. It's really fun to watch the light bulb go on over the head as people realize that by tracing and using overhead projectors and various simple techniques they can immediately begin to produce pictorial quilts, and to make that process very accessible. Many people don't have much confidence about their art abilities and don't try to draw or do imagery, which I think is kind of a waste. If you want to use images in your quilts, you certainly can. I love to get people drawing or doing whatever little stretch they can with their own abilities.

JS: Is there anything else you'd like to add--that would go down in history for you?

LS: Well, that's intimidating.

JS: It is a good question.

LS: Any great words of wisdom? No, I don't seem to have any of those.

JS: What's the memory of your firs quilt? We're going to the questions here now. We don't have to.

LS: Oh, the memory of my first quilt. That I made?

JS: First quilt. It could be that you made, or--

LS: I didn't grow up with quilts around. As I say, my grandmother Lura had died so young. I would love to have known my grandmother and learned to quilt from her. But, first quilts? I don't really know the very first one. My mother and I made some truly awful quilts for the church early on, for the opportunity quilts, you know, the raffle quilts. So, I guess I can reveal something about that. My bright idea at one point was this: we'll blow up one of these blocks to a really large size and then we can make it really fast. We took a "Duck's Foot in the Mud" block and we expanded it so it was one giant bed-sized block, with a simple border. Now isn't that embarrassing. And it was in only two colors, horrible little calico I think, one lime green one and one maroon. We were getting real artsy-fartsy there. I do so wish I had a photo of that one to laugh at now. And we tied it with yarn, it wasn't even quilted, and we made some money for the church somehow on it, and some poor body won that thing. That's the kind of first quilts that I did. I always figured I could win any Worst Firsts contest there is, if I had any of them still. It is so funny for me to think back on that time. Evidently there was no one else in the church who was a real quilter--too bad, as we could certainly have learned a thing or two because Mom and I were considered the experts and were in charge of these raffle quilt projects. We made frames by wrapping 1 inch x 2 inch sticks with fabric, and used four clamps and four chair backs, and those were our tying frames. Ami Simms has a book out, "How Not to Make a Prizewinning Quilt." When I read it I almost had a heart attack from laughing so hard. 'I did that, I did that, too!' I made every terrible mistake you can make, and then some. I loved her book. So many people now seem to be able to learn to quilt the smart way-- take a class, join a guild, read the excellent quilt books everywhere, and they can produce lovely first quilts, with everything done right. But I wouldn't trade all those ridiculous mistakes for anything. We really had a wonderful time, and I learned one tremendously important lesson: have no fear! Try anything, try everything. Sometimes still I find new techniques just because I don't know enough to know it can't be done that way. I do have a couple of dinosaurs, old art quilts from the gallery years, that I take to my quilt talks and let everyone giggle at them. So at least I can feel I've made some progress with technique.

JS: With this here's another good question to follow that one. What do you think makes a great quilt?

LS: A great quilt. I think it's one of those that just reaches out and grabs you. I know I feel it right in my belly when color just sings to me. And it's funny to me, I find that when I come to the shows, it often isn't the pictorial ones that stop me in my tracks. I work with the pictorial stuff, I love to draw and I'm enamored with this technique right now. But, I do find that often when I come to shows it's the element of color, rich, delicious color, in a wonderful combination and composition, that really grabs me, whatever the style. A quilt that knocks you off your feet for one reason or another is a great quilt. And yes, technique counts, but it's the impact first, and then you can be impressed with the technique. I think a great quilt is one that just speaks to you. That's very personal and it's going to be something different for everybody, which is wonderful.

JS: What makes a great quilter?

LS: That's a tough one. We all know the big name quilters, the stars that have done such exciting and important work - inspired us, educated us, made us stretch in our own work, and helped to move quilting into the place it is today. They are great quilters and I deeply admire them and their work. New and exciting people are showing work at the big shows all the time. Their contribution is enormously valuable to all of us. But I also find myself so taken with these sweet little old ladies who say to me, 'But oh, my dear, I can't do art like you.' And they've made these beautiful quilts year after year. They might not ever have thought to enter their quilts into big shows. So much beauty, meaning, and love can go into these quilts, maybe only to be seen and appreciated by their families or quilt guilds, but what a gift they have given with those quilts in the lives around them. That seems to me the very heart of American quilting. I've just leaped into the big shows and had great fortune in them with my quilts, but I sometimes think that those women quietly working away, enriching the lives of their families with such beauty, are the great quilters too. Basically, I think a great quilter is one who is always moving forward, exploring the creative process with all the honesty and truth they can bring to it, and who shares that art with others, in shows, publications, in whatever way they can. This enriches all of us.

JS: Do you think that there are a lot of art quilts in the show?

LS: Yes. I've seen less than a third of the show. I just got here today. But I know from peeking down alleys that there are going to be a lot of things that will grab me. What is an art quilt? It isn't just imagery. A great many art quilts are abstract, and I love them. Art is what speaks to you with meaning. I think art belongs in every person's heart. It's extremely personal. It's one if those things I love about quilting. It makes the creating of art accessible to us all.

JS: Have you done other quilts than we have talked about today?

LS: Yes, over the years, I've made many, in different techniques. I'm getting a web site together, if anyone is interested in seeing more of my work. That's at done a lot of different ones. This quilt here is "Letting Go" and has a little point coming down off the bottom of the quilt. And this part isn't yet bound. I still need to quilt that part. I wanted this triangle, which is the reflection of the pyramid, to float down off the piece like that. I've done some other differently shaped and bound quilts. But to continually try new things is how we learn - not just technique but working out concepts. It's always such a growing process.

JS: Are the faces anyone you know of?

LS: No, I wanted it to feel like a specific person, but it's no one I know. I just drew her to be a kind of female archetype. I wanted her to embody certain female qualities. Also, I love drawing hands, so I often have hands in my pieces.

JS: Do you find hands hard to do? They tell us that hands are the hardest thing to do.

LS: That's what they tell us, but I've found that for me, I love to do hands. When I was in art classes in college, doing hands and feet from live models, I found them incredibly expressive. I also love doing backs. In life drawing class, with nude models, backs are very subtle and interesting. But hands are an excellent challenge. When I teach art to kids, I tell them, you always have a great model handy - prop your paper here and draw your other hand, you've always got a model right there. I just find hands so expressive and beautiful. I love doing them. So, the last few pieces I've done have had hands, like this one.

JS: I guess we can just about wind up--if you have anything else you'd like to say?

LS: I don't think so. But thank you for including me in your program.

JS: I am glad that you were here for the interview. And thank you very much. This is Janice Simpson at the International Quilt Show S.O.S. - Saving Our Quilt Stories [Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories.

[tape ends.]



“Lura Schwarz Smith,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed June 23, 2024,