Linda Pool




Linda Pool




Linda Pool


Marsha Turner

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

Sandra Anne Frazier


Houston, TX


Heather Gibson


Marsha Turner (MT): Today is October 23, 1999, and my name is Marsha Turner, and I'm sitting here with Linda Pool, and we are about to begin our interview for the Quilts Save Our Stories Project. Linda, I'd like to know how you felt when you were asked to come today.

Linda Pool (LP): Well, I actually felt pleased that somebody wanted to talk about one of my quilts, and I have a little funny story about that. There's another girl named Linda Poole who got the email about this first, and we weren't able to decide if the email was meant for her or for me until we called down here. And then I think it was meant for her, but they said they wanted anybody who could do the interview and it didn't matter who they were so since I had a quilt in the show anyway--it's in the special exhibit called "Tradition in Transition." So we both were put on here and so the other Linda Poole did an interview yesterday and then I'm doing one today.

MT: How wonderful--so it was meant to be, probably. Tell me about the quilt you brought in today.

LP: Well, I brought a quilt that's dimensional appliqué. I had seen, actually, a lady called Carol Goddou, who has a quilt in the show this year--some of the dimensional things she had done. And, I had an antique set of postcards by Harrison Fisher done in the early 1900's. He used to illustrate for Cosmopolitan and Puck magazines, in the early 1900s. And I had this set of postcards in my bathroom, and every time I passed them I got inspired to do a quilt to represent those postcards. And, when I looked at it I thought, well, in order to do something that has flat appliqué and to get all the details of the folds within the clothing and everything I needed to do something in dimension instead of flat appliqué, because flat means all the wrinkles in the clothing would have had to be appliquéd as a different fabric, a different shade than the top fabric, so I stepped out and tried quilting in dimension, and scrunching up the fabric to make it look realistic.

MT: For the first time?

LP: For the first time, and this is the first block I actually ever did, and it's called the proposal. This is a set of postcards that's, I said, the greatest moments in a girl's life; it's the proposal, the trousseau, the wedding, the honeymoon, the first evening in their own home, and their new love.

MT: The new love meaning the new baby?

LP: Right. And the baby here in this case is my son Kevin. It's a photo transfer.

MT: How wonderful.

LP: So, even though this is kind of an old idea quilt, in other words the old-fashioned ideas of a girl's favorite moments of her life, I've used a lot of modern techniques in it.

MT: Absolutely. Let's look at the first square, the proposal, and tell me a little about the fabrics you chose, and did you make an exact replica of the postcard or did you bring some of your own fabrics and ideas into it?

LP: Well, I did the exact replica of the picture, but because it was just a painting or a watercolor, originally, I had to choose the fabrics to represent the different parts of the picture. So, in this case, I got experimental. I had kid glove leather that I used for their hats, and they were old gloves--I don't like to cut into something old that is in good condition so they happened to have stains on them, and it was to my advantage because the stains act as the shadowing within the hats. So it was perfect to use that kind of thing. This is from an old wallet, this leather for the book.

MT: Linda's pointing to a red book that looks like it's in a box with gold perhaps, right?

LP: Yes. It's from a wallet. And, then, at the time I started this project I had gone to a Linens and Things store and found this junk jewelry that were pins. And they had hands. And they had like fur and lace and things on it, but maybe it looked kind of cheap. But I took that stuff all off and then sewed that plastic hand into her hand because it's appropriate--he's asking for her hand in marriage. And, then, I collect miniatures. I had a miniature bracelet. And it was the right size to fit her finger as a ring.

MT: How beautiful. And so we have several different textures on the same flat surface with the leather and the plastic and the metal ring.

LP: Right, and also I chose fabrics besides cottons- I used this one that's a plaid, very loosely woven, that I frayed the edges of to look like a blanket for her lap. And I used polyester for her coat. And like I said, the kid glove leather. And a tassel from her hat. Also, when I was choosing fabrics for his tie which is a stripe--I had a true black and white fabric for just a straight stripe and it wasn't right because he's sitting at an angle, so I had to find something creative and I went to the fabric store and I found a jungle print that had a leaf in it with a little bit of a stripe design, and that made the perfect stripe for a tie at the angle that he's sitting.

MT: So, for this particular quilt would you say that the design led the search for the fabric, versus the fabric leading the search for the design?

LP: Right.

MT: Tell me about, one of the other squares, which is the most favorite to you and why?

LP: I think I like the wedding, probably, the best because I like to collect lace. I collect Victorian lace and I had a chunk of lace from a flea market that I'd picked up that made the wedding dress just perfect for this block as well as the trousseau block where she's holding her wedding dress up to show her friends. And I had just enough to create both of those little dresses. And it was probably from an old wedding dress--you know the late 1800's or the early 1900's. And so that's what was so special about it. If you notice here the girl is wearing real mink on her outfit, and also there's another plastic pin as her face because she was in the foreground it was the right size for her head, so I included that there. There is real bird's wing feathers, and lace and little pieces of jewelry, like the cameo in the one hat; little pieces of lingerie that I made separately out of laces and sewed down.

MT: And all of these touches that are authentic make these women seem like they're jumping right off the quilt. I mean, they seem alive.

LP: And they have mohair for their hair. And it's kind of my own experimented creation. I use Fray Check [product made by Dritz that prevents fabric from fraying.] in this mohair to protect it and keep it on the surface of the quilt as if it were a piece of fabric. And it doesn't get frayed and doesn't pull away. Fray Check makes it permanent. It's been here for years and this gets a lot of handling and yet it stays the way it is and still looks soft like hair.

MT: When did you start this quilt?

LP: This was made in 1988 and 1989. I believe that's the dates that are on the bottom of the piece. And, on the quilt, I give credit to Harrison Fisher for his paintings, and it says "By Harrison Fisher 1911 through 1919." These pictures were done different years. And "Linda M. Pool, 1988 and 1989." There's a funny thing about this one when it hangs in a show I've actually had people say, 'Which part of the quilt has Harrison Fisher made?'


MT: They don't understand the dedication at the bottom. Is Harrison Fisher still alive today?

LP: Oh no, probably he died in, I'm not sure, but 20's or 30's maybe, at the latest.

MT: What a tribute, though, to his work. This is beautiful. So you worked on it for a whole two years? Tell me about the process. Did you work everyday?

LP: Well, I got so excited about doing this quilt that I worked on the first three blocks of it at the same time, and I did them within a month's time. I think I worked about a week, whatever time I could do in a week, on each of these three blocks on the top. And then I showed it to Ginny Beyer, who I was working for in Hilton Head for 10 years, I was one of her teachers and breakout leaders in Hilton Head at her quilting seminar. And I showed it to her at that point and she said, 'Oh, put that away, Linda and make an entry for the Great American Quilt Festival in New York called "Memories of Childhood."' And, I said 'Oh, but I've thought about that and I have no idea.' And she said, 'You know, I think you can come up with something.' She encouraged me that way. I put this project away for that amount of time, and I made an entry that I won for the state of Virginia in the Great American Quilt Festival. And I also got a special award for it; for the most imaginative use of detail. And it also got printed on the back of the book that they printed that year.

MT: And what was the title of that book, or that compilation--

LP: It was the "Childhood Memories" book--I think that's what they called it. MT: And what was the title of your quilt?

LP: It was called "Patches of Memories in the Maze of Childhood." It was a maze with little scenes behind the pathways of different parts of a child's life.

MT: And once you began the process and idea for that one did you become as excited about working on it as you were when you put this one down?

LP: Yes, as soon as I got the ideas I was very excited. My father was building an addition to our house at this time; three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a family room, hallways and everything that went with it. And I made that quilt in five months during the time he was building onto our house. But what was fun about it is I felt like I needed to stay out of his hair and stop bothering him about when it's going to be finished. So I would work on my project, and I figured out if I did one of my little scenes every week I'd be able to get the quilt done.

MT: And you stuck to that schedule?

LP: And I did, I got it done and sent it to the show and I was thrilled when I won. And then after that quilt won, then I went back and finished this quilt; the other three blocks.

MT: And then entered it--what was the first show you entered this one into?

LP: I probably sent this first to either American Quilter's Society or National Quilting Association, N.Q.A. I'm not sure which. It had a problem being judged with other quilts because it's so different. With the dimension in it, I would get comments from the judge that it was hard to judge against some other quilts. It has less quilting in it than I would've put today if I had done it today. All the pictures are quilted nicely, well I guess it's all nice, but the background stripping and borders around the quilt--if I were doing it today, versus ten or twelve years ago, I would have done more quilting.

MT: And what would be the reason for that? Why would you choose--

LP: [laughing.] I believe it would've gotten more ribbons if I had.

MT: Because the additional quilting does what for the whole look of the quilt?

LP: Well, it really adds texture. It's got a nice quilting design--it just doesn't fill in the background. I could've done stippling behind all that design that I put in there, quilted it down flatter, and I think our quilts today are being made with more detail and more detail and if you don't have a lot of detail in them, and always, they aren't going to be winners, for one thing. But I don't make my quilts to be winners. I make them for me. And this is all I wanted to do at the time and that's fine. But when it was judged against another quilt that might've had more quilting on it I think that it kind of fell a little short.

MT: Where does this quilt hang?

LP: This hangs over my bed in my bedroom.

MT: Oh, how special.

LP: We have high ceilings and I like Victorian touches in my house so it hangs on the wall all the time. Because its hard for a quilt with this much dimension to be folded up for very long. And when I fold it up I put a piece of--it's almost like batting, but it's bonded on both sides so that it doesn't catch on any of the dimensional things in the quilt. I put that in between the folds so that nothing gets smashed flat.

MT: And then store it in a closet or on a shelf?

LP: Well, yes, but normally it doesn't get stored- it only gets carried in a suitcase to show to people. And then I put it back on the wall, usually, when I get home.

MT: And when you travel do you put it through luggage?

LP: I always carry my quilts on the plane. I don't think I have yet to check a quilt onto the airplane where they put it underneath. Sometimes they will carry the suitcase as I get on the plane and put it on the back because I'm on a smaller airline. And that's okay; I pick it up the moment I step off the plane, also.

MT: It doesn't go through baggage.

LP: I never send a quilt through baggage.

MT: That's wonderful. Tell me about the last square where we have the beautiful image of your baby boy. What is his name and how old is he now and how old was he when you did the quilt?

LP: Well, let's see, he is now fourteen, and I did it in '88 and '89, he must have been about three when I did the quilt. He was born in '85. And I had intended to put a miniature baby doll in this quilt on this pillow. It had a layette set that was crocheted and everything from a miniature collection. And when I started to use it, it was just a little bit wrong proportion, so I went searching elsewhere and I happened to find this picture of my son that I had made into a heat transfer. And it was just the right size for the picture. So I ironed it on to fabric; to a cotton fabric, actually--and then appliquéd it onto this satin pillow.

MT: And did you add the painting touches to his gown or was that all part of the transfer?

LP: No, that's all part of the transfer, right. What I'm really impressed with how it turned out was the baby bassinet in the corner, though. It's at an angle and it was kind of hard to think about getting this to look realistic the way it is with all the detail and it has ruffle around the edge out of lace. It also has little pockets in the end. One has a baby bottle, one has a little teddy bear out of ultra-suede, and one has a rattle. And it also has a quilt hanging off the side of the bassinet that I did out of silk fabric with a- it's blue but it's like a white on white design, just the quilt design shows on it, but I did it with blue. But in order to do something that you need only a part of I didn't do the whole square quilt. I only did what I needed for this project, so that I wouldn't waste all that stitching by cutting it away.

MT: And so did you choose the stitching that would show as you laid it down there?

LP: Yes.

MT: So that's why it looks like it's a perfect design on a beautiful baby blue. And the mom is very dressed up for a new mother with a baby.

LP: Yes, she has a silk gown on with crinkles. I like to choose fabric with an eye for what will add detail. And for a man's suit for this I would chose a shiny black fabric or a moiré fabric because you can see wrinkles within the fabric even if it's flat. And for her dress, it is a silk and because it's fine it can crinkle up nicely and give a lot more dimension easily, and flow.

MT: And the light reflects so beautifully from all these folds and ruffles in the fabric. When you made this quilt did you have anyone in mind that you would eventually give it to, when it tires of hanging above your bed?

LP: Well, I have four children, and each of my children has kind of spoken for a quilt along the way. It turns out that my daughter, Stephanie, is going to be the one to get the childhood memories quilt because I put a piece of her real hair in it as a braid on a little girl on a swing. And a piece of her security blanket that she carried around as a little girl. So this one, my older son who's older than her, this one came next so we promised this one to him someday. So that's for him.

MT: That's for him. And the other two--have you already made the quilts?

LP: I have the next one that I did. I also won the next year that they did the Great American Quilt Festival with a quilt called "America's Youth on the Threshold of Discovery." And that one just reminded me of my young son at that time so that one is Kevin's, who's now fourteen.

MT: Who is the baby in this quilt, Okay?

LP: Who is the baby in this quilt? And then, Genelle is still left, and I think probably I'm thinking of Genelle for maybe Linda's Lace which is in the show now or something like that. But, I had done another quilt in the meantime that none of the kids has spoken for, and I don't think they would. They all want it in their wedding. It's called "The Bride" and it was a counted cross-stitch pattern that I made into a quilt. And I can't publish anything with its image on it because it was a copyrighted design. But I can show it at shows. But that one, I think the kids know that because so many people like it that it will need to go to a museum someday. It won viewer's choice in five major shows in a row. And because it did that, I think it needs to be in the public eye. Quilter's Newsletter [Magazine.] said that, by the way, and they said it's the only quilt that they ever know that had that accomplishment. So I was thrilled.

MT: And it cannot be photographed ever?

LP: Well, it can be photographed for publicity. But not in a calendar or a book that will be earning somebody money.

MT: Okay. So there is not a picture of it in a book that we can go look at, only if it's a flyer for a show or something?

LP: Right. I do have a picture here I can show you.

MT: Well, I would love to see that. It sounds wonderful.

LP: Thank you.

MT: This is all hand quilted?

LP: Yes, this is all hand quilted.

MT: Is all of your work hand quilted and hand appliquéd?

LP: All of my work that I consider a quilt I want to pass on or an heirloom is hand-quilted by me. I have had several of my quilts quilted by somebody else Gayle Robb, who is a really, really good quilter, an excellent quilter. But then it's not a single quilt anymore, its not just mine, it's then a group quilt. So, I don't want to do that anymore than I really have to. But what that means is I don't actually finish all the tops that I make because there is not time. And I'm always making one quilt that I think is going to be like an heirloom to pass down. So some of the ones I do faster, like my college quilts for my children, I have machine quilted those knowing they're going to be used and washed.

MT: [laughing.] And abused.

LP: And abused.

MT: And they take them with them then when they go. Speaking of your four children, so you have two girls and two boys, right? Have any of them shown an interest in learning to do the art that you do? Or, what have you done to inspire them to go in that direction or not?

LP: Yes, I have two very creative daughters. And one of them hasn't tried quilting yet and she doesn't want to, but she'll get inspired, I believe, sometime to try a quilt. And I'll wait 'till she's ready. She's sixteen right now. So she's not ready. But my other daughter, when she was fifteen, had an art project at school that she had to do and she chose to do a quilt. And because I was working in dimension a lot, she wanted to try dimensional appliqué. But she had never done flat appliqué. So I said, 'Okay, you have to start with flat appliqué like everybody does.' She went to a storybook and found a picture she liked of a princess, and she drew it herself--she didn't copy anything, she drew it all herself. And we chose fabrics according to things that would look dimensional. And her piece looks totally dimensional even though it's flat appliqué.

MT: And she did it by hand, also?

LP: And she had to do everything by hand. And then she did my mohair technique for the hair, and I helped her a little bit with that. So she has a little bit of dimension in it, but the dress itself is flat. And then the next year she had to do another art project and she chose to do one like my bride quilt in squares. So she found the picture she wanted to reproduce, drew it onto graph paper, and then made that into squares and had to do that by hand. Oh, I think she actually could use the machine on that a little bit. The next year she chose to do another quilt when she was seventeen, and she did a nine-patch that she set on point so she had triangles in it also--really bright, wild colors like fuchsia, and teal, and hot pink and purple. And chose her own fabrics out of my fabric collection and we'd go buy some more, too. And, each block she laid out according to how she thought it would go together. She even had prints in it, like, the cow black-and-white prints and she even stuck some orange in it, and it is stunning. Absolutely gorgeous- she has a really good color sense. And she had to do that totally by hand. And when she was finished with it, this is the third year in a row; the art project got chosen to go on to the regional level of the competition. And every year she got beat with an afghan, somebody with an afghan. So she was a little disappointed. And I said, 'You know, Stephanie, if you're only making a quilt to win a prize, don't ever do it again. Make a quilt for you, for your satisfaction in finishing the project and using your own creative abilities to make the quilt.' And she let it sit for awhile, and then all of a sudden she got another idea and we went shopping for animal prints; wild animal prints. And she designed her own quilt block, and put the face of a wild animal in the middle of each of her blocks, and then chose all the other prints she could find and then coordinated them together in blocks and used all the grays and all the golden colors together in the same quilt. And it is really stunning. And she is now stripping it together. She's in the third year of college, and what little time she has she picks it up and puts a few rows together.

MT: And is she majoring in an art field or textiles?

LP: No, she's majoring in the business end of Christian Contemporary Music. And she's in Nashville and she works for a recording label. She also paints pictures. So she's got art in her system.

MT: And she followed her mom's advice, she's doing this for herself. What is your background in art, or who taught you how to quilt? And how did you become so skilled with the techniques and the colors?

LP: I actually taught myself to quilt. I didn't take any classes for many years. When I first started, I sent for a pattern from Better Homes & Gardens Magazine. And I didn't know the difference between appliqué and piecing, but it turned out to be appliqué. So when you start with appliqué, I think you tend to like it better than if you're learning it later and you've already learned the technique of piecing. My grandmother quilted all her life, though. And when I was looking for a different outlet in the sewing field, I thought of my grandmother and that she quilted so long and if she could do something that long, it must be interesting enough to take up and try. So then when I tried it I fell in love with it like quilters do.

MT: Was she around when you went into quilting?

LP: She was.

MT: So she's had the joy of seeing some of your--

LP: I do totally different work than she. She did just utilitarian quilts with squares and rectangles and triangles and things. So I think she didn't know how to relate it to quilting quite as much, but she knew I was a quilter and as she was getting older, you know, she knew that I was making a name for myself in quilting. And then she got Alzheimer's, and less and less understanding. But I remember just a few years ago I went to her and I said, 'You know, Grandma, you and I have something really in common. Our love of quilting.' And when I said, 'You really loved to quilt, didn't you?' She thought about it for a second and she said, 'Yeah, I guess I did.' Because she did something with quilting as long as she possibly could in her life. She died at ninety-four years old last year, but up until a couple years before she was still marking patches and my grandfather would cut them out. And before that, she marked and cut. And before that, she marked and cut and sewed. She had to give up one area of it at a time until she couldn't do anything anymore.

MT: It was so much a part of her life that she--And where are her quilts?

LP: Do you know the funny thing is she made them to give away to the Mennonite Mission Society and to poor people. And when her household goods were sold at an auction several years before, when they went into a nursing home, there were only two quilts to sell at the auction because everything else was given away.

MT: So you have none in your family?

LP: Well, now what we do have--My aunts decided to do something wonderful for the family. They started putting tops away that she made instead of giving them away to the Mennonite Mission Society to finish. They started putting them in the attic. And the last time I saw what she had available, my aunts had saved sixty tops.

MT: Oh my god.

LP: But they were all triangles and rectangles and squares and they were very scrappy. And they brought them out, laid them out all over the floor in this place where the family was getting together for Christmas. And the grandchildren, which is me and thirty-one other grandchildren got to choose a quilt for themselves. And then after we chose, from the oldest down, great-grandchildren got to choose. So we do have five of her tops, which are not quilted yet, but they could be.

MT: You and your four children.

LP: Me and my four children.

MT: What a wonderful story.

LP: So I am so glad my aunts did that instead of just giving all those that she was making in the final years of her life away, they saved them.

MT: So she was very prolific in the number--

LP: Very, very. She must have made thousands and thousands in her lifetime.

MT: And when did she find time to do that, raising children?

LP: Oh, man, you know every time I saw my grandmother and was at her house she was never quilting because she never had time. She was always cooking for the family. She had eight children that had lived, two that had died, and thirty-two grandchildren, and then great-grandchildren as they got married. So there was always a lot of cooking to do when the family was around. So now and then she'd show me what she was doing in quilting, but never, I don't think I ever saw her actually sitting and doing the quilting.

MT: So she just snuck the hours in somehow.

LP: Well, now I also lived in Virginia and she lived in Pennsylvania so when we were visiting she was always busy with other things.

MT: Entertaining and working.

LP: But she gardened, too, so she did a lot of things around the house, but managed to find lots of time for sewing.

MT: How do you find time in your day?

LP: Oh, I found much more time when my children were young than when they're older because now there seems to be so many other things to do. But sometimes I just take time, I say, 'Okay, I need to sew today.' And so I'll just sit down and sew all day. But there are very few days like that. It may go for weeks before I get a day like that where I can sit down. And besides that I may catch an hour or two here and there when I'm either on the road, or having to wait for somebody. Once in a while I'll take a sewing project and work by hand while I'm waiting in a car. And usually it's just that I say, 'Okay, I have to sew today.'

MT: Does that feeling of being torn in two directions come into your life very often, wanting to have more time?

LP: Yes, but I also do it to myself, which is really bad. I have to create something because I have that need inside me. And sometimes the quilt takes too long to see the final project. So I also craft, and I make things that I sell or give away. And I think, 'Oh, I'm wasting my own time,' but it's like I have to do that, too. So my quilts end up taking longer than they would need to. I could get one of my really nice quilts done in six months. Instead, it takes three years. But that's okay.

MT: But you feed your habit with little things along the way.

LP: Right.

MT: I love it. What about your son? We're seeing every year now more and more men become involved in quilting. Have either of them shown any interest at all?

LP: Well, my older son who's now twenty-two, he just got married this summer, he appreciated my art so much that he used to be my best sponsor, my supporter. But when it came time for him to get married- he became engaged on a family trip when we went to Oregon--I offered to make her wedding dress. And he said, 'Yeah, yeah, let her make your wedding dress,' because he knew that I'd be able to do a good job. And so she talked to her mother first, and they went shopping for a wedding dress, and after a while she knew she wanted something fancier if it could be made than she could afford to pay for. So she showed me a picture in a magazine and asked me if I could make her wedding dress. And it was spectacular. I made it. That was my quilt for the year. It was wonderful.

MT: And that will be in the family forever, hopefully, with many pictures of it. Do they have your quilts hanging in their home?

LP: Well, the quilts that I've made for my son so far, his college quilt, is actually traveling with me because I teach and I lecture and he's letting me use it until he wants it someday. He still has this year of college, so when he's done he'll probably ask for his quilts. But, for now I still have them.

MT: It's on loan to you. How wonderful. What do you think is the reason behind the fact that we are seeing more men in the quilt industry now?

LP: For one thing, you can really relax when you're quilting. And I think men need a way to relax at home and something to do where they can just sit and still feel productive. But, see, there's a lot of men who are artistically inclined that have no outlet for it. And I just talked to a man at one of my lectures last week that I was thrilled to hear was a policeman. And he took up quilting a few years ago when he just was bored one evening and said to his wife, 'Can I help you with your project?'

MT: And she was a quilter already?

LP: She was a quilter already. She said, 'Okay,' and she leaves the room and goes somewhere else and he works on the project and finishes it. He just keeps going, and he said, 'I want to keep doing this.' So, they both kind of did their thing together in it. And then she passed away this April, and he wants to keep quilting. And now he wants to learn more. Because he can't hand-quilt because his fingers have been broken and messed up so many times when he was a policeman. He's now retired from that, but he's a private investigator still. And he said, 'I need a way to unwind when I go home.' So, he wants to learn to machine quilt well so he wants a teacher to teach him that. So I said, 'I hope somebody comes along to this area that will teach him right away while he's still really excited about it.' Because he really studied my quilts close up, my miniatures especially.

MT: How wonderful.

LP: And I love that he was so interested.

MT: What was the lecture that you were giving that he attended?

LP: I actually did a trunk show. I show as many of my quilts as I can, and I do quilt so many different techniques--I don't do just dimension or just my appliqué, but I do a lot of machine done pieced work, too. And I've had people say to me, 'I can't believe one person made all these quilts,' because I try not to do the same thing over and over and over again so I have a very diverse collection of quilts. So he was at my trunk show.

MT: And saw that great span of, variety of your things. How does your--you've talked about how your children support your career-- how about your husband or your extended family? I mean, do they view what you do as a real, viable career, valuable?

LP: I believe my husband didn't respect it quite so much until one year we happened to be in Minnesota, which- I'm from Virginia, but we were in Minnesota--and we were in a grocery store, and I walked over to the newsstand and picked up a magazine on quilting. And it happened to be a magazine that I was in five times. I mean, my picture was in it, several of my quilts were in it. And I went over to him and showed him. All of a sudden it opened his eyes--'This is not just something she does in Vienna, Virginia. This is something that's all over the place.' And it so impressed him I think it made a difference. And when that happened, also I think then his parents started seeing that it was viable and I was doing something with my life. And they realized I was being printed and I was winning prizes, and they started respecting it. Before that they kept saying, 'You spend too much time doing your own thing. Go be a mother more.' You know that kind of thing. [laughing.]

MT: Exactly.

LP: But I needed this quilting in order to be the best mother I could be. I needed to do something for me while I was being a mother. And my children have turned out really nice, so I think I did a good job being a mother, too.

MT: You were a happy mom. I mean, you were making who you were come alive.

LP: You're right, you're right. And I have to tell you about my mother. She has a bed and breakfast in her house in Harrisonburg, Virginia, in the Shenandoah Valley. And she uses me and my publications of my quilts and all that as her starters to talk to people that come to her for bed and breakfast. It's like, where do you start talking to somebody? But she always brings it out and brags. And if I happen to be there I get so embarrassed.

MT: But it really shows how the whole quilt world is an intro to bringing humanity together.

LP: Right.

MT: Because probably your mom's figured out that everyone can relate to a quilt--

LP: She has.

MT: At some point in their lives.

LP: And she keeps running into people who know me, or know about me, and she's thrilled when that happens.

MT: Oh I bet. I'm sure it makes her feel wonderfully proud. What do you think makes a great quilt, or an artistically powerful quilt?

LP: Attention to detail in a quilt, whether it is a modern piece, even with few pieces in it. Real life in the color, real planning, not just something thrown together but then I can't say that because I've seen some really stunning scrap quilts where you can throw anything in and they look wonderful but attention to detail; really putting the quilting stitches in it for the texture. What you do needs to be intended, in other words. You need to plan it so if you have a little bit of quilting here it means something to have a little bit of quilting there. If you have a lot here, it means something to have a lot here; and not just a little bit of quilting because you don't have time to finish it, or you don't want to put the extra work into it. But there can be very, very simple quilts with very few pieces that are very stunning if they're done right, with the texture of the quilting added.

MT: As you travel around and you see these different kinds of quilts that are put together haphazardly by students as they're learning or those that are show-winners, but then you find out they were put together in the course of a weekend of inspiration--Is there one particular direction that you see quilting going that you think is more powerful than another, or more positive than another direction? Because looking at the show this year, it seems like there is a little bit of everything.

LP: Right. Oh, quilting--where's it going? I believe that quilting is going into more detail, whether it is quilting, or--I'll say in quilting, it's more detail but they're finding ways to do it faster. Now the quilts are being machine-quilted as well as hand quilted and the machine quilted ones have much more quilting on than the hand quilted ones. I still feel personally that they ought to be judged separately. I think hand quilting ought to be in a category of its own and machine quilting in a category of its own. But right now they're still judging them against each other.

MT: And talk about the categories--in larger categories of, say, Art Quilt, right-- but you can have both machine and hand?

LP: Right, and I'm also thinking in just appliqué quilts. Because they're now doing appliqué quilts that are wonderful with the machine. But the ones that are done by hand take maybe, oh, four to five times the amount of time than the one by machine or maybe a lot more than that. The quilting itself can be done in maybe a twentieth of the time if you're using a sewing machine than if you're doing it by hand. But the appliqué still takes a little bit of time by machine. I still think they need to be judged separately because it's a different technique totally.

MT: And is that a mission that you have to try to be involved in the judging aspect of it, or get your influence there?

LP: It hasn't been yet but it may be in the future. I have judged some quilt shows, and I'm not just thinking of my own quilts. I'm thinking it's only fair for other quilters, also. To be given the--The people who want to do it the traditional way, which is by hand, when they didn't have the machines available, take so much time and effort that I believe they ought to be given more import into what they're doing.

MT: And who would be better than you, who have gone in so many directions, to really be able to make an objective statement about that.

LP: Well, thank you. I can try.

MT: I mean, you've done both sides of it so you really know which is wonderful. What do you think about the importance of quilts in American life today versus, say, in the early 1900's?

LP: Well, the quilts in life now are definitely used for a different purpose. I know that we still put them on our beds and sleep under them, but mostly what I'm into is putting quilts on the wall or on racks where I can enjoy the beauty of the art of the quilt more than the necessity of having to have it for warmth. I don't have any real quilts on beds in my house, even though I have made a lot of quilts. Because knowing if I put it on the bed, it's going to be sat on, laid on, made dirty, having to be washed, and because of the time it takes to put into a quilt I would rather enjoy the beauty of it. So I put them on the walls. And I have quilt racks in almost every room in my house, or shelves that I have folded them on to enjoy the beauty of them, but not where they're getting worn and dirty.

MT: In the utilitarian use.

LP: My son took his college quilt, or I took his college quilt to college for him and he kept it there until the first time he came home after I gave it to him he brought it home with him. And I didn't even know that, but when he went back to college after the weekend he left it at home. And he called me the next day, and he said, 'Mom, if you walk in my room and find my college quilt on my bed, it's because I had to leave it at home.' He said, 'If I want to see it at college, it has to be on my bed. And every time somebody walks in my room they sit on my bed,' and he said, 'I don't want to wear it out. So I want you to keep it at home for me.' And that's why I use it to show people, because it's at home.

MT: And he has that same value of enjoying it. Well I can't thank you enough for sharing your stories and the information, especially the information about your family and why you made the quilts. I hope you found this as enjoyable as I did, and putting this down for the rest of time is very important to all of us. So I'd like to close. It is now 9:20, thank you very much Linda Pool, this is Marsha Turner and Linda Pool at the Houston Quilt Festival. Thank you.



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