Linda Poole




Linda Poole




Linda Poole


Jana Hawley

Interview Date


Interview sponsor


Houston, Texas


Elaine Johnson


Jana Hawley (JH): This is Jana Hawley, and this is the Houston International Quilt Art Festival. Hi, Linda. You're not nervous, are you?

LP: Only a little.

JH: Don't be. Tell us a little about the quilt you brought today?

LP: Okay. This quilt was an exchange between twenty Turkish girls and twenty Americans and we each got to keep our block that we exchanged with our block mate from the other country and the American girls sent twenty floral blocks over to Turkey and they're going to finish our blocks into little small quilts and the twenty blocks we received from Turkey we will finish into small quilts and I just finished curating an American-Turkish Quilt Exhibit.

JH: That's exciting.

LP: Yes, and it all started in Austria last year. I was taking a class with Judith Baker Montano, and I was the only American, English-speaking person in the class so I kind of helped her out with all the different nationalities that were taking her class and I befriended a Turkish girl Gunsu Gungor from Ankara, Turkey and we became fast friends and we kind of e-mailed back long letters like great friends and then we did this exchange.

JH: So, it was that relationship that stemmed the exchange?

LP: Yes, we're both highly energetic girls who like to work with people and do things with other people. So, I said to her, 'We need to get these done for my quilt show.' Which was this September and I said, 'It would be great if you came.' And low and behold I got a letter from her that said, 'Okay, the Minister of Culture of Turkey is sending me.' I said, 'Oh, right.' I got the official letter from him; she came and stayed with me almost two weeks. Hurricane Floyd kept her with me an extra two days because her flight got canceled. She got to be with me during the exhibit and then in the meantime I had about a month to prepare for this because it had to be perfect now, so I got House of Representatives in Pennsylvania to come and I got the Mayor and all the Councilmen and we all of a sudden started advertising for this and we got people from all the way down in Virginia, from Connecticut, Ohio coming in to see this exchange. I couldn't believe it. So that went great, we had great fun there. I come home I get a letter from the Minister of Culture of Turkey saying, 'Thank you for taking care of Ms. Gunsu Gungor, and this is so exciting now it's your turn. We decided to put on an exhibit in Turkey June 2000 in Ankara, Turkey and we would like you to be the American Representative. There will be eleven other nations coming.' There will be neat nations like Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Bulgaria, just different types of girls. So, then I found out I was going to be teaching and there is a language barrier, so I guess I'll have to do a lot of visual stuff.

JH: Well, quilts are visual anyway.

LP: Yes, very, very. And what I am really excited about is that we said goodbye to our blocks almost a year ago, so I'll get to see them again.

JH: Will you be the first to get to see them.

LP: Yes.

JH: And you'll bring them back with you?

LP: No, because it's theirs to keep. But I'm bringing all the American little quilts with me so there will be 40 little quilts there between the American and Turkish women.

JH: And so, you'll share them with the Turkish women and then you will bring the American ones back with you?

LP: Yes

JH: So, they stay in the ownership of the maker?

LP: Well of the, the--.

JH: Oh, the hands of the finisher.

LP: The finisher right, right. And what I want to tell you about this quilt is Gunsu-- G-U-N stands for day, so she made it in the daytime and "S-U" stands for water in Turkish, so her name means day-water, so she did day and water.

JH: For the record would you spell her first and last name please?

LP: Sure. Gunsu is G-U-N-S-U; Gungor is G-U-N-G-O-R.

JH: Thank you and she's from where?

LP: Ankara, Turkey. And the mountains represent--

JH: Could you spell Ankara please?

LP: Sure. A-N-K-A-R-A. The mountains are for where I live, because I would write to her a lot and she lives in the city, and I live in the mountains.

JH: In Pennsylvania?

LP: Yes. I live in the Pocono's--there really is no Pocono Mountains. [laughs.] That's why she did the mountains the Edelweiss on the mountains stands for my German heritage that she put on here. The sunset is for--when she gets sad because we can't see each other. I say, 'After the sun sets just look up at the stars, we see the same ones every night.'

JH: That just gives me goose bumps.

LP: I know. [laughs.] I'm so excited about this. There is Russian needlepunch in here and this represents the technique we both learned from Judith Baker Montano.

JH: What is that technique?

LP: Russian needlepunch.

JH: How do you do it?

LP: It's with a punchneedle from Russia--it looks almost like a syringe, and you work from the back of the quilt, and you get the texture on the front of the quilt. There is the picture in this quilt from when we first started our friendship by mail, we would send each other pictures of our families and this my husband and I. Low and behold I didn't know we were going to be photo-transferred into the garden here. She knows I have a very big garden and I tease her and tell her, 'You put me in the cactus,' because it looks like cactus. [laughter.] And it was so nice when she did get to come and visit me; she got to see my mountains, my flowers, just everything that she tried to put in the quilt. The finishing.

JH: The stream does that represent anything?

LP: The water--Su the last part of her name.

JH: That's right I'm sorry.

LP: Then I put the last border on because I told her that we share the same sun and the same moon, and the same stars and I just thought it was very appropriate to finish it off.

JH: How did you do the technique on this?

LP: Appliqué with templar. Templar is a plastic, cut it in a circle and--

JH: And the moon design is that?

LP: Just cut out of fabric I liked.

JH: So, you found that.

LP: Just about everything I do has a moon or stars, something celestial in it.

JH: And so, she did this inner block and then you added all the borders.

LP: I added that and quilted it. The label on the back is called "Sunrise, Sunsets" and I can read this: 'This quilt began in Ankara, Turkey, with my friend Gunsu Gungor the designer/maker of the center square. The border and quilting were added by me. Our friendship will always be the sunrise and sunsets of my life, a constant joy.' We are very, very good friends. I wished we lived closer, because there is a whole ocean between us.

JH: Can you speak to the other relationships that have happened because of the Turkish/American exchange?

LP: Yes, there was an earthquake that happened in the middle of all of this. We called them block mates--like Gunsu would be my block mate and vice versa to the Turkish girls. Well, we, the twenty girls in America, got so attached to their block mate even though the other nineteen don't really know them. We would write and you feel very personal when you have workmanship from another woman whom you've never met. And then the earthquake happened, and we all cried because we were really upset because they were summering in the area that was worst hit. So, we were very upset. Gunsu's husband called me right away – not called e-mailed me right away that night before I even knew about the earthquake and said that she was safe and fine, but a lot of friends there died. We just are finding out now who is safe and alive and so far, everyone has been alive. But it was a very, very, personal thing that happened to us even if we don't know them. So, when she came to the quilt show all the block girls and the guild just bombarded her with, 'Are they okay? Is Elcin okay? Is Canaan, okay?' Just all these names and you speak of them as if you know them forever.

JH: And you and Jin--

LP: Gunsu

JH: And you and Gunsu are the only ones who know each other?

LP: Yes.

JH: And you instigated the project?

LP: Yes. It's great.

JH: So how will you use this quilt?

LP: This is hanging in my family room.

JH: And what future does it have?

LP: I think that--that's a really good question. What future does it have? We'll probably return it someday to Gunsu's sons. I don't have any children and I can't, so I think that the best place for this to go is back home. That's probably what I'll do someday.

JH: [cries.]

LP: Jana's crying.

Janice Simpson (JS): I have tears too.

JH: Tell me about your interest in quilting and how you got started in the quilting process.

LP: I've always sewn since a young kid. My grandmother had a treadle machine in her bedroom--she lived with us growing up. And my grandmother used to let me go in under her feet and let me pedal. And she would work the top and I would never see what would go on at the top because I was just so happy to get that thing going. And one day she said, 'Okay, you're old enough to go on top.' I would just play around. I started quilting about twelve or thirteen years ago, more serious in the past five years.

JH: How old were you when you were sitting at your grandmother's feet?

LP: Oh, I would say about seven--seven years old. My mother's side comes from a line of seamstresses.

JH: Professional seamstresses?

LP: No, no they came over from Italy and that's how they would make money - was to repair things for the rich people. And my father's side is from artists; my grandfather was friends with Pablo Picasso. My father is a silversmith, did the Super Bowl trophy for Tiffany's. We've just had art in our family forever.

JH: Is fabric your only medium?

LP: No, I watercolor, I oil paint and anything with fiber. My father says I can make anything out of nothing. He can give me sticks and stones and dirt and I can make something.

JH: Can you describe the quilt you sent to your Turkish friend?

LP: Yes. It is floral - I did three Jacobean type flowers, very vibrant oranges, because orange is my favorite color. And I just found out orange is a color that means social, and I guess I am. I'm a yacker. And hot pinks. And in there is a bird holding a letter. And what I wrote to Gunsu was - there was supposed to be a floral block so that took care of that and the bird was because it's carrying all our quilts over the ocean--In flight block by block and there is a letter in its mouth with a heart on it. The letter signifies our friendship through e-mails, faxes, and letters. And the heart is because I sent them all to Turkey with love.

JH: Is it appliqué?

LP: Yes, the whole thing is appliqué I love appliqué.

JH: Is that your favorite technique?

LP: Yes.

JH: Can you describe the quilt you have in the show?

LP: Yes. I have--do you know about them at all--

JH: Well, I've walked around, but I haven't attached them to people. So now that I know you, I'll go walk it again.

LP: Okay, there's a couple in the show. One is called "Lunar Lunacy" and it's in my friend's Bonnie McCaffrey's "Jewel Pierce Patterson" scholarship award exhibit. IQA [International Quilt Association.] gives out a scholarship every year. And I am friends with her, and she needed ten students to make quilts called "Break the Rules" and it is very vibrant stark lime greens, oranges, reds, black, metallics, all that kind of stuff. That's called "Lunar Lunacy" because there's a wedge in there. It is a very chaotic, crazy quilt but there is a little wedge in there of celestial. And I call that like the calm of everything and I told you the lunar is the something celestial I put in everything. Lunacy is, well just look at that quilt and you'll understand.

JH: That's great.

LP: The other one is called "Quilt Expo Austria" and actually two days before I went to the festival in Austria, I took over three pieces of fabric sewn together--little squares and I went and had quilters from all around the world sign it. And I remember every single person who sign it. Right down to teachers like Judith Baker Montano, Virginia Avery and even international teachers and then girls from Israel, Turkey, England, Scotland. I made sure to strike up a conversation with them and so I would remember them, and it wasn't just anybody so that I would remember them. So, I went home and put it together and I said, 'It's not enough.' So, then I took pictures, and I did photo transferring and I now include the pictures of these people in there. Then it's quilted very crazily and then it says in there things like; shopping, food, fun, fabric, welcome to Expo, lederhosen, Holland--just fun words are quilted in there.

JH: What exhibit is that in?

LP: That's in Mixed Media, by Quilters Resource--across from the miniature quilts.

JH: What makes a quilt a great quilt?

LP: They're all great. They are, they are, I mean this is people's souls put in there. I would never judge one better than another, never.

JH: Because of the soulfulness of it?

LP: Absolutely. There's wonderful quilts here but then you'll see the most simplest. But the most simplest has someone's heart and soul. You never know what was happening in their life when they were doing that. And that is always what I try to remember when I look at a quilt. I always think something happy or something sad was happening in that life. Or some joys or maybe she just really needed to do this for some calm peacefulness. Maybe she only has ten minutes a day to do this quilt, and this is her only little escape. They're all great. I really mean that. It doesn't matter what it looks like.

JH: Now you used the word she

LP: Yes, she

JH: And I think most of us understand that it's mostly a woman's world.

LP: Yes.

JH: Do you want to speak to why it's a woman's realm?

LP: Oh, I think it's camaraderie between women. We share; we talk more and share stories. I also have a business in the real world. My husband and I own a business. And I know how hard it is for a woman to go into the corporate world. In relation to quilting what I'm saying is that I think we find that camaraderie between each other. You don't have to worry about fighting over or climbing to the top.

JH: Is your business quilting related?

LP: I'm a patent illustrator. So, I do illustrations for corporate patents, from the medical field right down to toys, everything.

JH: You do logos?

LP: No, no I do all the artwork for the official patent gazette for the patent office in Washington, D.C.

JH: Technical work then.

LP: Yes, yes.

JH: What is your first memory of a quilt?

LP: Oh, it has to be going into the fabric store and seeing one.

JH: How long ago was that? How old were you?

LP: Maybe about twenty, twenty years old.

JH: So, you don't remember them as a child?

LP: No, we didn't have quilts. My father is from Germany, and we have more weaving and tapestries so there really wasn't any quilting.

JH: So, do you think that it is an American phenomenon?

LP: No, I think that it is catching on over in Europe really fast. I think it started here and I think we cornered the market on population of quilters. But I think it is quickly growing oversees. They're crazy for it you should have seen the festival in Austria. They were just bubbling, and it was a frenzy, just a frenzy. Like piranhas, but in a nice way. Just can't take it all in. Gunsu cries when she goes to each quilt. You see we all look and admire. Europeans go and they cry.

JH: That's amazing. What do you find most enjoyable about quilting?

LP: Color. I work in black and white all day and I get to have color in my hands. Color.

Color makes you happy.

JH: Are there certain colors you tend to work with?

LP: Yes, orange. Though there's none in here. I think I'm two personalities--I'll go from wild, crazy vibrant colors and on the other side I do muted greens and earth tones. Do you quilt?

JH: A little bit, I'm a novice though.

LP: That's good.

JH: What other types of quilt related activities do you have?

LP: I am now called, through my guild, "The International Cultural Coordinator." They gave me that title. I have been the president of our quilt guild. I have been the program director, the secretary. Is that kind of what you mean?

JH: Are there other things that happen because you're a quilter?

LP: I guess, I like to get people together; I'm like the cheerleader of the group. I'm the second youngest of the group so they call me the cheerleader, the granddaughter. And I kind of get everyone going and doing projects and like, 'What are we doing for National Quilt Day? Come on let's go, let's get going.'

JH: What is your least favorite thing about quilting?

LP: My least favorite thing about quilting? Well, I like the whole process of quilting. Oh, I know, when I finish one, I almost grieve. It is very sad for me to finish.

JH: That's interesting. That is the second time I've heard that today. Do you have more than one going at once usually or do you do one and finish and then start another? LP: It depends on the mood. Sometimes I'll have a couple and sometimes not.

JH: How has it affected your family?

LP: Well, my mother learned from me. And she is the gadget queen. How has it affected the family? They're very supportive. I come from a family of artists. My husband is an artist so anything we do is great. They are very supportive.

JH: What makes a quilt artistically powerful?

LP: Oh, when you can probably--when you have a statement to make. Is that what you mean? Artistically powerful? Or if you stop, if you're walking by, but then you have to take a couple steps back and go back and look and then you're always drawn to that. That would make it powerful. Or powerful to me also is someone who survived something, and you know the story behind the quilt. "Lunar Lunacy," I don't mind if this is on the record. "Lunar Lunacy" should have been called "Lupron Linda" because I'm thirty-eight and I had a hysterectomy and they took all my hormones away, they took my ovaries, and I was very flipped then. But I was told I should not call it "Lupron Linda" which was a powerful drug that they put me on that was a very bad drug. And people told me I shouldn't call it that because it was too controversial, and they had to pull it from the market the Lupron. So now you know the story behind that one. And I bet you there are tons of those stories out there. The name that you see really has another name. Or why it's a very personal quilt. But you may never know it.

JH: That gives me chills. How do great quilters learn the art of quilting?

LP: How do great quilters learn the art of quilting? I think by seeing, learn?? Some read, some watch, some talk.

JH: What inspires them?

LP: To quilt?

JH: What inspires you?

LP: Creating. I always have to be busy.

JH: Is it your favorite medium?

LP: Yes.

JH: Why?

LP: Good question. There is something very calming about the needle going in and out, just quilting is very peaceful and very relaxing.

JH: So, is your favorite process the actual quilting?

LP: Yes.

JH: Rather than piecing?

LP: Yes, definitely.

JH: And do you always do it by hand?

LP: No, no sometimes I'll--it just depends where I'm at and how I feel. And it has nothing to do with rushing or time. Just whatever I'm feeling.

JH: We're getting ready to turn to a new millennium, what role has the quilt played in the past millennium?

LP: I think it brought women together. In the last millennium, it definitely, there are so many guilds and groups. I want to say camaraderie again--it's my word for everything. It's a common--you can talk to people and not even know them, and you can--Just look at us two we have a common friendship with someone in Turkey.

JH: That's amazing.

LP: Yes, isn't it. Just amazing--[JS: We have to talk.] I know. So, these are the types of roles it has played in this century. It has brought two different kinds of people from totally different areas together with a common purpose, a common interest. I think that is what it's played. I would have never known or ever talked to Janice, I mean I might have said, 'Hi,' but I never--I think that's neat.

JH: So, what role do quilts play for the future?

LP: What did everyone else say? [laughter.] I had to say that.

JH: What do you say?

LP: For the future? I think we're going to go and bring people from across the seas and not just because of the Turkey thing. We have now an Australian Patchwork Magazine. Now we're finally getting to see and read from other places. I think that's what it's going to bring.

JH: What's allowed that to happen, do you think?

LP: Friendships.

JH: How do you think quilts should be used?

LP: However, you want it to.

JH: Do you have quilts that are utilitarian at home now?

LP: No, and I wish I did. I wish I had more time.

JH: How do most of yours end up being used?

LP: Wall. Wall quilts. I need to make one to just snuggle under. I'm going to do that-- actually that is on my list to do. One for my husband. The poor man needs a quilt.

JH: In what ways do your quilts reflect your community or your region?

LP: You mean--.

JH: The Pocono's--do they reflect that in any way?

LP: Oh, yes everything I do is nature oriented. I live very rural. I have bears in my backyard and--

JH: How big is your town?

LP: Not very big. It sits in a little valley on the Delaware River. In five minutes, I can be in New Jersey or New York. In an hour I can be in Connecticut. But we're in a little valley but we have a lot. We can still go to New York City in about an hour and a half but we're still very rural.

JH: You actually live in the country?

LP: Yes, I live on the mountain.

JH: In a town though?

LP: Yes.

JH: Let's see your next one.

LP: This is "My Guardian Angel." Yes, that question you asked there is a lot in this little belt.

JH: Tell us about this quilt.

LP: Okay. This is--I call it "My Guardian Angel." She--I've had some health things happen to me and she--and I needed something. I don't know how to explain it--what am I trying to say? Not religious--something very spiritual to work on, so I made my angel, just to get me through a lot of health things. And in the belt--there are a lot of things that represent my family. There is a bear, for the bear in my backyard. And I live where there is a lot of snow. And the dolphin and the sand dollar is my sister who lives in Florida, so I like to keep us both together.

JH: How did you do that?

LP: Well, there are all my hand dyed fabrics in here. Except here just this piece, isn't. Everything else is hand dyed. This is appliquéd. It's a method I use with freezer paper and a glue stick. The mountains are--I just love the mountains and then the celestial piece.

JH: Describe the celestial portion.

LP: Metallics and sparklies and--I call the angel celestial too. And there's a sunset with the orange, my favorite color, I just think that the--the beads are very celestial. This is--

JH: And they represent?

LP: The stars. Also, this is not 100% my design. It is from a stained-glass artist and I just love her work. But it both her and my work combined.

JH: So, it's her design?

LP: Not all of it--partial.

JH: Did she do the quilting?

LP: No, we don't even know each other. I do need to send her a picture of it because in the back of the book she says to have fun with whatever I do and if you do anything please send pictures and I think she would be surprised that I put it into a quilt.

JH: Just that reconnecting.

LP: And she is a woman artist. I did give her big boobs, huh? [laughter.]

JH: And why did you do that?

LP: I don't know [laughter.] I don't have them. That's just how it happened.

JH: So, did you make this at a time in your life when you needed this.

LP: Yes. I had severe endometriosis that basically ate away all my organs--I know that sounds terrible but I'm telling you because there is somebody else who may go through this. So, it did result in a hysterectomy. But this really kept me going through all the bad tests and pain and all that stuff. So, this is a special quilt to me.

JH: It's beautiful. It's very beautiful.

LP: Thank you. And the stitches are what I learned in Austria from Judith Baker Montano.

JH: Do you want to describe those?

LP: I don't know--they're kind of. I don't know how to describe them.

JH: It looks sort of like a blanket stitch, but it's not.

LP: Right.

JH: It doesn't have a name?

LP: No, it doesn't. She just taught us to do it--to meander and if it looks good just keep going. She has kind of a stitch like this that has like another foot on it or something. I just keep--

JH: Like a feather stitch?

LP: Yes, that's good. That sounds pretty good.

JH: It's not the traditional feather stitch though?

LP: No.

JH: Well, it's very beautiful and I can see how it speaks to you. Is there anything else you'd like to say about quilts? The impact they've had on your life?

LP: I'm having a great time here. This is my first time in Houston. I met a wonderful person today. Actually, we've known about each other, and we've written to each other. Her name is Linda M. Pool. Do you know about this? You'll be interviewing her tomorrow.

JH: Oh, really.

LP: Yes, and she's a wonderful quilter who also has a piece here. And it's funny we share the same middle initial and everything down the same and people get us confused.

JH: Would you spell your last name, please?

LP: P-O-O-L-E and she's without the e and people have nicknamed me "E" and we met for the first time today and she's from Virginia and I'm from P. A. so I call myself the "North Poole" and she's the "South Pool". [laughter.] And it was--see that's another thing we would have never known each other if it wasn't for quilting and quilting made us find out we had the same name and here we are in Houston, Texas having lunch like we've always known each other. We had a great time and took pictures in front of each other's quilts and took pictures of both of us. We had fun walking down the aisles and it was a good time.

JH: That's amazing. Is there anything else you'd like to say?

LP: Well, I'll shut up now. No, I'm kidding, no I don't.

JH: Do you have anything else you'd like to say?

LP: No.

JH: Well, you do beautiful work, and we are glad to have you here today.

LP: Thank you. You guys were great.

JH: This is Jana Hawley and this the end of our interview with Linda Poole--[LP: With an "e."] and we want to thank her. It's October 22, 1999, and it's 4:30. Thank you.



“Linda Poole,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed June 23, 2024,