Carol Krueger


AQATS19119-030 Carol Kreuger.jpg


Carol Krueger




Carol Krueger


Janneken Smucker

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

Le Rowell


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


Kim Greene


Janneken Smucker (JS): Hello, my name is Yanneken Smucker. It is 3:40. Today's date is April 8, 2006, and I am conducting an interview with Carol Kreuger for the Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories project in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at the Art Quilts at the Sedgwick. Thank you, Carol, for meeting with us today. I would also like to introduce Amy Henderson, who is joining us for the interview.

Carol Kreuger (CK): Thank you for having me.

JS: Delighted to have you here today. We are going to start the interview with your quilt, which we have here in a photograph as a reference. This will be the touch stone for our interview. So could you start out by telling me about this quilt?

CK: Yes, this quilt was one of the three that I actually submitted to the show. I was kind of surprised they took this particular one, because it was a different kind of color scheme for me. The color scheme of this piece is really almost pastels, and typically I use a bit stronger colors in my work. But, I had made this piece last summer. I was sort of in that summer mode and these colors appealed to me. Also, this piece was featured in a TV show that I filmed in Los Angeles in July for the DIY Network for a new show that they are doing that is coming out this spring called, "Uncommon Threads." In that particular TV show I appeared with a couple of other artists, one of the other artists is here at Sedgwick, Lisa Call, she actually dyed some of the fabrics for this piece. And, I did a demonstration of computer digitized machine embroidery. That is the circular motif that you see in my piece. I did a demonstration of that and then used this improvisational cutting technique that gives you sort of wavy stripes to the piece and so on. And, that was the other reason why the piece is not really large. I submitted two other pieces that were quite large, but this had to fit on the table for the TV show, it couldn't have something that was overflowing or overwhelming. But I was a little bit surprised that this is the piece that they choose. This piece features primarily hand dyed cottons. Some I dyed myself, some Lisa dyed. The way the piece is constructed; when I stitch out the circles there, there are actually four that appear on the hoop piece, so if you look at one of the squares it is likely that you can find three other mates to it somewhere in the quilt. The embroidered piece is then cut into four pieces, and in this case, I cut the squares so that the circle appeared in the corner of the piece and that's where I got the title, "Gumball Corner Pocket." Of course, gumball refers somewhat to the pink, the sort of pastel pink in the piece. This piece also features a combination of both machine and hand stitching. For this DIY Network TV show, we did some hand dyed thread and I used that thread in the piece as well. So it was to feature both how the thread would like in hand and machine stitching, and of course the computer digitized machine embroidery, which is the circles. So it has the standard batting, pretty traditional really in many respects. It's what I would call a contemporary version of a traditional block, because the blocks are somewhat similar sized and then turned this way and that way, but it is kind of a contemporary take on a traditional idea.

JS: Could you tell me a little more about the process of using the digital embroidery?

CK: Yes, computer digitized machine embroidery has been around for many, many years. Most people in the public are familiar with it, with its use for putting logos and things on team sports uniforms, baseball caps, that sort of thing. Up until only fairly recently, this, of course to do these team sports things, these are done on big commercial machines and they are extremely expensive, but now this technology has been made available to the studio artists and you can create on a smaller machine that is an affordable machine, and I do my own digitizing, I don't use canned designs or designs that you would buy off the Internet. This process involves drawing the motif, this particular circle or motif came from just a little, like a doodle essentially that I made, I scanned that into the computer and then the digitizing software and it is able to make a stitching program. Then you are able to take this same motif and stitch it out over and over and over, but the difference is of course stitching on different kinds of fabric and the incredible variety of threads available nowadays makes this really exciting. I find it constantly interesting to me. For instance, you can, in this case on this particular quilt I used a very shiny thread on a more matte fabric, but it is possible to use a very matte finish cotton thread, on a very shiny surface like maybe silk and then you get a completely different look. Also, because the light skims the surface of the motif, when you turn the block around the light flows onto the surface in different ways, and it can make the thread look like a completely different color when it is turned in different directions. So in effect, by using the same color of thread you can get three or four different effects depending on how the block is turned. It is easy to see when you look at the quilt. When you find the mate to a particular block it may look quite different, you know, the fabric will look similar but the thread will look quite different, because maybe in one block it is horizontal but in the other block it is vertical. I find myself quite interested in stitching the circles out. I have become kind of addicted to it. When I first started using this circular motif it appeared in the quilts almost like an accent, much like you put buttons on a jacket. I started getting more and more interested in sewing these out, and pretty soon they started to take over the whole piece. I have some other quilts where there are hundreds of these circles all over the quilt. In this particular quilt the circle is used more as a subject matter where I have given it more space around the motif rather than really packing these circles in. I find this circular motif really fascinating, and I am trying it out in endless ways, and I am not bored with it yet so I will probably continue to use this until I wake up one day and I'm no longer interested in it. I think my family thinks I'm nuts, because sometimes they come down and I have been sewing these circles all day long for ten hours, and there are circles all over the studio in all kinds of colors, and I also have boxes of these that I haven't used. Maybe I have auditioned them and they didn't work for this piece, but than in another piece I'm going to use them, so it's just one of these things that they taken over, much like building blocks of some kind, you know, you keep making them and making them, and then you know they take over. I've got lists of titles, all kinds of things, like "Odd Ball" and "Screwball" and "Gumball", things with spots, "Spot Shot," "Circle Jerk," all these crazy kind of titles. So, sometimes the title comes before the piece. In this case, I had kind of had a gumball idea in my mind, and when this piece came along, you know with the pink color, I said this is my "Gumball" piece. And then we felt like in the corner pocket was sort of a spoof a little bit on the corner motif and motif being laid into the corner like that. I think that when you use a motif in a certain way sometimes it suggests movement, and this, in this particular piece, since the circular motif was thrown into one part of the block, it gives you the idea, 'Did it roll into that corner?' that sort of thing. When you have something really centered in the block it is very stable, but when it is off centered, it tends to get more movement to the composition so. That is where I went with that.

JS: I see several forms of movement in the quilt. Partly in due to what you were saying of chopping up the blocks and kind of having a way of--can you talk about how movement effects your composition?

CK: Oh, definitely. I think movement is very important in any composition and it may not even be movement, but it may be stability, its lack of movement can also have something to do with your composition. But of course, the ability to do the quilting, the actual stitching on top of the quilt can immediately get movement, because you're creating lines or you're creating dashes, and that tends to create movement in the piece. I find that very interesting. When I look at quilts that is something that I am often looking for, and of course, like in this piece, I see that movement is being created by value. Like if I look at those browns, the taupe that I have used in the piece next to maybe that lime green, I'm catching some movement jumping off the piece by the use of value and there is all sorts of like tricks. Some are almost like optical illusion type of things. In some areas of the piece I can see more movement because of the pink and green relationship. It's almost a complimentary colors relationship. That can create movement, making the fabric sort of jump off the quilt as well, so there are a number of different ways you can create movement through line, through value, through tone, through hue, and all of that sort of thing, and I am interested in that.

JS: This will lead me to a question about your background. Are you trained as an artist?

CK: Actually I did take art in school, but my profession was as a hairdresser and makeup artist. I spent nineteen years in San Francisco as a hairdresser and I also did makeup professionally for advertising photography. So, I see aspects of that in my work, um, I think some of the kinds of things, I've used faces a lot in my quilts. Not in this particular one. And of course that is definitely a throw back from the hairdresser side of me. When I left the hairdressing industry, I found myself kind of hungering for that tactile quality that was missing in my life. I had sewn from the age of about eleven, and I went to an art quilt exhibit in Boulder, Colorado one very, along the lines of the Sedgwick show here, and when I looked across the room and I saw the combination of the sewing, the fiber, the tactile quality, and then my, since I had somewhat of an art background already, I said that I have to do this. I immediately went home and started creating an art quilt. My husband had moved into a new office in Boulder, Colorado and they really needed some art for the office, so I immediately started making some landscapes to go in the office. My first art quilts were these rather large, pretty large pieces, so people were a little bit stunned that this was my first art quilt, you know, were these large pieces. I had done a little bit of traditional quilting, but not very much. I'd done a lot of garment sewing, and I started sewing when I was about eleven years old. It is funny, because my mother was not a very good seamstress, but she had a sewing machine and she had some basic knowledge of sewing. I was kind of chubby as a kid, and it was quite difficult to find clothes for myself, so my mom in a frustrated moment at one time, I think it was on spring break from school, she went out and bought a little Simplicity pattern, you know a little A line skirt. I sat down, cut it out. The one thing my mother was great at was figuring out directions, she could really figure out directions. So, I cut out this little A line skirt, you know two seams on the side, two little darts, a little zipper and I tried it on and it fit great. Oh, I was hooked. I made this little A-line skirt in probably ten different fabrics. [JS laughs.]

In a way, that was kind of a precursor to quilting, because you are taking something and repeating it over and over. In 1968 it was great fun, because this was the height of the hippie generation, wild paisleys, crazy flower power, you know Peter Max style fabrics. So this was great for a kid, because you go into the fabric store and it was like a kid in a candy store, all of these fantastic prints and wild geometric things. It is funny, because I still really like a lot of those things, and it was a great time to begin sewing, because the fabrics were so fantastic and so fun, you know great trims, wild rick-rack and all of that. I just went kind of nuts sewing garments, simplicity garments, you know little vests, and the little A-line skirts, and that was great. Then I started making polyester pant suits for my mother. All through the seventies my mother's entire wardrobe was stuff that I made and sewed for her. My mother and I took a trip back to Minnesota to visit her mother in about, I believe it was about 1972, so I have been sewing for a few years, and of course back there in Minnesota in the Midwest everybody was into quilting, and I was taken to a cousin's house and they had all these quilting things around and they were in the midst of making quilts, geometric quilts and that, and I thought this is kind of fun, I really didn't know anything about quilting, but they gave me some patterns. They were just hand drawn patterns that they had made, and my grandmother sent me back with a box of just odds and ends of fabrics, and I then went crazy making these quilts. But at that time, this was before the advent of the rotary cutter, so you know, this was all drawing with a ruler and cutting everything out by hand, so it was pretty labor intensive, and boy when the rotary cutter hit, ah, hah, that was one of man's greatest inventions! [both laugh.]

It was like a pizza cutter for sewers. But, I made quite a few of those traditional quilts, though I wasn't really proficient at it and I was still quite crazy about making garments. I made a lot of garments into the eighties. I made, oh, suede things, and it was in the middle of the punk era, so I'm making all this crazy stuff to wear to punk clubs, because you know I was a hairdresser in the eighties, can you say 'big hair.' [JS laughs.] Wild hair and wild makeup. [JS laughs.] Oh, some of the outfits I made were terrifying, you know, it was really scary. [JS laughs.] But, that was all really a lot of fun. But then, oh, when my kids were young I made of course quilts for their beds, and of course they all had to be wacky things, you know black and white checkerboards, and I still kind of had that sensibility from my early sewing in the 1960's. I was still very attracted to these wild geometric, crazy patterns. You know, polka-dots, stripes, any crazy kind of thing. So when I started this art quilting, it really was exciting to be able to kind of put that kind of stuff on the wall, which is really where I wanted it to be in the first place. [laughs.] So that was exciting, and then, um, a little bit later when I moved to Colorado in 1992, had been making these art quilts and finally somebody told me about a group in Colorado. This was the Front Range Contemporary Quilters they are, two hundred plus member group located in the greater Denver area, and uh, someone invited me to one of their meetings, and they had fantastic speakers. Well I was hooked. I joined that group right away and just was, influenced by so many of the great speakers. Pauline Burbridge, the great British quilter, fantastic work. She was the first lecturer that I ever went to see with this Front Range Contemporary Quilters meeting. Pauline Burbridge, who I had never heard of before, and I was really taken with her work, I thought she was so interesting, so professional and just fascinating. Very shortly thereafter, I took a three day workshop with Nancy Crow, who also came to see us, and everything just started to explode. I started to really see what was possible in this medium, and I saw Jane Sassaman, saw so many of the brilliant, leading edge quilters in this genre. So that was great. I also spent two years as the exhibit's chair for this Front Range Contemporary Quilters group and during that time, it was great, I got a lot of experience in seeing what the exhibition aspect of this quilting, modern kind of quilting was. And I started to enter a lot of the national shows, and I got really, really experienced at getting rejection notices. I think I can wallpaper my house with the amount of rejection notices I got from these shows, it's a 'nothing ventured nothing gained' kind of thing. You don't get into them if you don't try. I like to brag to people that I've been turned down from some of the finest venues in the country. [both laugh.]

This is the way it is. It is funny here at Sedgwick talking to the other quilters, I'm really quite privileged and pleased to be included in the show with such fine artists, and you talk to even the top, top quilters, and they have all been down the same route. They have all been turned down from the finest venues in the country. [laughs.] As well as being accepted into some. So that was really terrific to come here to Sedgwick. I've entered this show about two or three times before, but was really pleased to get into the show this year. It was kind of strange that I got the acceptance notice for this exhibit about two days after my mother's death, and so I almost didn't open the letter. I just don't need any more bad news this week, you know. I opened it and it was really uplifting. It was sort of a gift from heaven I felt like to get in this year. Of course to be here at the Art Alliance, it is such a great venue, fantastic, and Philadelphia. This is my first trip to Philadelphia, so that was great too, and we have been around to see some of the other fiber shows, but this is, this is a city rich in both history of quilting, and of course in American history. Some of the things that are going on in the city are fantastic. We were over at the Fabric Workshop and Museum across town. I was fascinated with that. I wish I could have been here at that age, coming here to study what I would have liked to study. But instead I was in beauty school at the time, and you know, going my own route. It is fascinating too, I think for me to talk to the other artists. They come from such different backgrounds. I'm the hairdresser and makeup artist, and some of the rest of them are scientists, they are computer programmers, they are in all sorts of, mixed backgrounds. It is really kind of fascinating to me to, to see that. Let me see, I was trying to think. You know what is kind of interesting is that as a hairdresser; of course you work with dye, hair color and that. I used to sort of joke, this is actually not a joke, it is true, I could correctly identify like thirty eight separate shades of brown. [JS laughs.]

You know work with fabric and that. I find it sort of fascinating that some people can't identify values in fabrics and that, and I found it very easy, because as a hairdresser if you are working with hair color, you have to analyze the subtle undertones of someone's hair, and that sort of thing, so I guess you work with neutrals so much in that, you automatically are able to identify those subtle differences, and then working with makeup is working with color and design and shape and all those things you are constantly working with. It is amazing how one thing can kind of translate over into some other medium.

JS: Do you--you said you dyed some of your fabrics for this quilt, and you also talked about how you had a real fascination with the manufactured printed fabrics in the sixties in particular, do you--do you work primarily at this point with dyed, or do you go back and forth to the printed or--

CK: I do some of both. When I started working with this computer digitized machine embroidery, I started to move away a little bit from using prints, because of course I don't want the motif to be just lost in the shuffle kind of thing, but I do still find myself very attracted to using prints of a variety of kinds. I think that will be something that I will return to, but for the last year, I have primarily worked with solid colored fabrics. Even the hand dyed fabrics that I have used in this, and the ones that Lisa made, I try to make them fairly smooth. I wasn't going for a real like tie-dyed effect. I do notice though very few artists are using solid fabrics. Everybody has really, pretty much dived into the real dyed effect; you know- lots of active kinds of surface design. So I think of my embroidery as the surface design in my work right now with these pieces. So, I have worked with a lot of solids. I like going in garage sales and finding old solids, just thrown in boxes and stuff, because you will find these solids that they don't make anymore. Sometimes weird olive greens and things. Stuff that is from some era bygone. There is group that does some charity work in Colorado, and they collect fabrics to resale, kind of garage sale style, so if they get a big collection of solids and they usually call me, 'Carol I've got a bunch of solids over hear,' so I run over there. I love digging through those. I'm a big fan of thrift stores, junk shops. I love that kind of stuff. I love vintage clothing, vintage jewelry, so there is something about just getting a pile of solid fabrics that is kind of old, kind of musty from somebody's garage, and you wonder who was this person that had these, what did they originally use them for there is something about the history of the fabric itself that I find fascinating. My earlier quilts, I used a lot of vintage prints and things like that in my work. So, I definitely--I think everyone that is a quilter is a bit of a fabric junky. You just can't hardly help yourself. It is one of those things that you find yourself really attracted to it no matter where you go. You're looking at the drapes in the museum instead of the paintings, you're looking at all the fabrics, you are just sort of a junky for that kind of stuff, and you can't help it. So, I think that is something that we carry in common with us- us quilters.

JS: What do you think makes a great quilt?

CK: I think there are a variety of elements. Of course I can give you the standard art school academic answer, which is great design and variety of value, and all those kinds of things, and those are things that do make a great quilt. But, I think what makes a great quilt to me is sometimes is a great story. What was in the quilter's mind and in their heart when they made this quilt, because I know sometimes like for instance, when I have a show were I have a number of pieces in the show, it is interesting to me to see what an outside person thinks is the best of my pieces, and often it is something that they connect with personally. Of course you can say great craftsmanship, that sort of thing, great use of the medium is always fantastic, but to me sometimes its just that quirky, weird thing that is the story of the quilt, the thing that you look to when you say, 'Oh I relate to that,' or 'I had that fabric in a skirt when I was a kid,' or that kind of thing. If it is a quilt that your grandmother made, it's always a great quilt. I can be a horrible quilt, but if your grandmother made it, it's a great quilt. So I think that personal connection to it is important. When I come to a show like this, like Sedgwick, if I am walking through it, and of course typically when I first walk through the show, I try to kind of step back and get into the mind set of the juror. What attracted them to this piece, because of course as someone who is entering shows, you are constantly trying to sort of second guess the juror and find out what was, you know, what did they, what interested them about your piece and so on. So I try to step back and look, and of course you try to get the overall idea of the quilt when you look at it. It's what is working here for me and wasn't working for me. Sometimes you get a big question mark, and go, 'Wow there's a head scratcher. I don't know what they liked about that.' [laughs.] I'm sure people are walking by my quilt and they will be somebody go, 'What was with that screwball thing? Those kind of gumball things in the corner, what was she thinking with that?' So I'm sure there are people who think that about my quilt. [JS laughs.]

I have to say in this particular grouping of the quilts, I think that the jurors did an excellent job. They are obviously very high qualified jurors, and you can see things in the quilts that they loved, it may be a graphic presentation where something just really jumps out at you, you know you see that with some of the quilts here, where the graphic presentation is just superb. You know, you look at it, you see the shapes, you see the dynamic color, you see the beautiful craftsmanship. Then sometimes there are some of the quilts where the beauty is in the subtlety. There are a couple of quilts in the collection here that are almost Zen like. In fact when you see them on the postcard and they are the size of a postage stamp, you are thinking what is up with that, and then of course you see the quilt and you see the Zen like textural quality is what really made them fall in love with it, the piece. Other times you see, of course, sometimes the somewhat traditional quality of the piece, did a repetitive block motif, and it really pays honor to the history of quilting. Sometimes there is a piece in this collection that has a very strong political theme, I love that, I love that kind of a message in quilting when it jumps right out at me and I see the beautiful, strong message in the quilt, I think that makes a great quilt as well. So there are a number of different elements, and I think it is the incredible variety of great elements that the jurors have picked up on this show that really makes this a fantastic medium to be working. I am excited and thrilled to be working in this medium now.

JS: Why do you as a quiltmaker choose to enter the juried shows?

CK: When I was doing watercolor before, I entered some juried shows, and I don't have too much of a problem with the rejection aspect. This is just a given. And, of course the opportunity to have your work shown nationally is really terrific. You want your work to be seen, you don't want it to be just rolled up under your bed, which I do a lot of quilts are rolled up under my bed as well. But, it is fantastic to have the opportunity. For instance, I am in several touring exhibits right now, I'm in "Textile Architecture." It is one of the Houston shows, and that is going all over the country, and to have people, seeing and viewing your piece. Of course it's great if you have friends from out of town that can go and visit your work and things like that. But, of course the fantastic thing about this art quilts in Philadelphia is the opportunity to have an excuse to leave the kids and husband at home and come to Philadelphia and be able to tour around, see the museums, the great art centers and so on around the country, that is an added incentive to get into one of these fantastic exhibits like this. But I hope to continue to be entering these shows and getting into some of these more important exhibits. The opportunity to meet the other artists is superb of course, it is fantastic. So, that makes it great. But it takes a lot of effort to enter these shows. You've got to get your work photographed, you have to have things. Boy can I gab.

JS: At this point we are going to turn the tape over to Side B. At this point we just flipped the tapes over to Side B where I am speaking with Carol Kreuger, April 8, 2006. You were just talking about the opportunity to come to these juried exhibitions. Did you finish that thought?

CK: Well let me think. It is a little tough to get back started again on Side B. I have to get my brain on Side B now. [laughs.]

JS: Sure, we all do. [laughs.]

CK: Well I have been in a number of different kinds of shows. Some of them were invitational shows, which of course you are invited to make a piece. Those are generally a thematic type show. I'm in a couple of those right now. They are traveling. Then these juried shows like this one here in Philadelphia, was not a thematic show. It was an open theme show, which is nice too. But it is great to have the feeling that you've got several pieces out and about. It kind of keeps the work flowing, and it kind of keeps you interested, and occasionally it is a motivation like we've got a deadline coming up here later in September for Quilt National. Well that will keep me motivated through the late spring and summer thinking about what are the three strongest pieces that I have made, what can I present that might interest those jurors, where am I going with this, how is this body of work coming along. Am I getting to where I think I need to be with this? So, sometimes there is simply a deadline, a generator I guess you could say, but it does take some commitment, because it is a continual process. I think with being a contemporary quilter nowadays, it's tough because, you have to have your website going. A lot of these artists are doing blogging, which is a constant updating, and then you are learning computer skills. You have to be a jack of all trades. It turns you into a renaissance woman very quickly, because by the time you have to pull together all these things and you're thinking now I have to learn to be a writer, I need to write an artist statement now. I don't feel that my writing is as strong as I like it to be for my work, again, I'm so busy making the work, I don't always have time to figure out writing about it. So, it's a challenge, but I do think if you are going to become known in this field, you do have to do these national juried shows. I have done a couple of international ones, not too much, but I would like to do more of those. So, that is something, and then getting a chance to see some of the international artists would be even better. That is fantastic too, because I love to travel.

JS: You mentioned your family and husband. How do you think your quiltmaking impacts your family?

CK: [laughs.] Well, if you ask me it might be one answer, if you ask them it might be different. It's takes a lot of microwavable dinners from Costco.

JS: [laughs.]

CK: I have a very small studio, which is a small room in my basement. It is about nine by eleven feet or something. I don't have a big fancy studio. It is all kind of jammed in there pretty tight, and I do have a tendency to be, as I call it, down in the dungeon. Oh Mom's in the dungeon don't bother her. I tend to go down there, hide away, close the door. But both of my children, I have a daughter who is fourteen and a son that is nine, and they are both very artistic, but in different ways. My daughter is a very good writer. So I'm hoping as she gets older she can help me more with some of the writing aspects of what I need to do with my work. My son is very musical, he is a budding musician. My husband is in the computer industry. We own our own business in Boulder, Colorado, and he is extremely artistic too. So they are all very much, I think they are all appreciative of my work. Of course, often when we travel, I will try to drag them to quilt shows, or art shows. They love museums, so I am sure that, my quilting has obviously influenced their tastes, especially the children. They have been extremely supportive. My hat is off to them, because often I am in the middle of doing some crazy thing in the studio, or I've got stuff laying all over the house because I'm working on a big project and you know, they are sometimes neglected a little bit. I venture to say that probably the families of all of these quilters in here are somewhat neglected. They have to learn to be kind of independent, because you know Mom is always tied up in some crazy kind of thing. I get a few rolled eyes, like what is she doing now, you know. So, but it is great to have the support and the love of your family. That is something that is so valuable, I think to any artist, not just quilters, but to have that support. My husband has been just fantastic. So, you know that is great. My husband's mother actually bought me this sewing machine that I use to do the computer digitized machine embroidery, and I have to admit I think my husband's help with some of the computerized aspects of things, has been invaluable. I had to learn this program and he was very encouraging, and of course, bought me a nice laptop computer to use, and all that kind of thing. It is kind of a funny story. My mother-in-law and father-in-law, they paid to have Lasik surgery done for my husband and his brother. So, they, well that was maybe three or four thousand dollars to have this Lasik surgery done, so, she said to me one day, my mother-in-law, 'You know we paid for this expensive Lasik surgery for the boys, so we think we should buy something for you girls, the daughter-in-laws.' And, I kind of jokingly said, 'Well yeah, well you can buy me that expensive computerized sewing machine I just saw down at the sewing machine store.' And she said, 'Okay, let's go down there and get that.' I just about had a heart attack, but I started to think that would be kind of good, that would be great. So we went down and shopped for one of these machines, and I brought it home and man I think she never imaged in her wildest dreams that I would be making thousands of dumb little circles with this thing. She probably thought, boy what was I thinking when I bought her that. But it has just been a fantastic thing. My mother-in-law sewed quite a bit, made a lot of different kinds of things too, so she had an appreciation for sewing, so I think she was mighty happy to spend that money on something other than clothes and shoes, something useful and utilitarian in a sense, and I have really taken off with that machine. I love it and it is great fun, so it has been great to have a fantastic machine like that.

Amy Henderson (AH): I have a question. This is Amy Henderson. I am just curious, how many hours a day do you actual make quilts?

CK: Oh, boy. Well you know, they go in kind of spurts obviously, the sewing out of the circles, I can spend maybe eight or ten hours sewing out these circles, but I love this computer digitized machine idea, because it is on a hoop, you get the thing revved up, you get it started and it is sewing away while I'm over at the computer doing email or run up stairs and make a cup of tea, or maybe make a quick phone call. Then of course I have to change the thread, and it is going and going. So, it is kind of one of those fantastic newfangled things. You can get it started and it kind of goes, and then you have to baby sit it a little bit, but oh, I will spend sometimes ten hours a day making just these circles. I don't work a regular job; I'm home with my kids, so I can spend quite a few hours a week sewing. I would say I spend probably twenty to forty hours a week sewing, especially if I've got a big project going. And then of course sometimes you are working on handwork, so if we are taking a driving vacation or something like that, I will attempt to take some handwork. So I will sit in the car, at hockey practice with my son I might have the hand piece going, so I do put in quite a few hours though. It is not unusual for me to spend quite a few hours a week going at it.

JS: At this point, we are almost getting near the time limit for the interview, so I just want to see if there is any line of conversations that we haven't asked you about. You have been a great conversationalist.

CK: Thank you. [laughs.] Well one thing I was going to kind of point out, if you look at the circular motif that I am using right now, that was from a little like doodle that I made, and of course through the use of the computer, I have a graphics program where I could turn that into a perfect circle with a perfect split half circle inside. The one thing I wanted to say that is a challenge with using anything that is technical like the computer and computerized technology is that there is always a chance, I purposely avoid making that circle dead on, perfect and absolutely, you know, perfect, because I think there is a tendency or a danger in killing the art by making it too sterilized and too perfect. I think even though I'm using the computer and using this digital technology to repeat the motif, I don't want that motif to look dead like it's a bedspread from JC Penney's. I want to make sure that somebody knows that somebody probably drew that little circle, and I want them to wonder 'how did that circle get on to the fabric' and so on. I want to keep the dialogue going and not just have this thing look like some robot made it or something like that. So, I think that is a challenge for artists in a number of different mediums nowadays, how to use technology and still keep it fresh and still keep the idea of the handwork, the handcraft in it. So in that respect, I like to add some hand stitching to my work, or the hand dying, that is another kind of aspect of keeping the feeling of the folk craft in the work, even though you are using this modern technology to do it. So, I think that is something that I will continue to try to keep fresh in my work.

JS: Well thank you so much. I would like to thank once again Carol Kreuger for allowing me to interview her today as part of the Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories in Philadelphia at Art Quilts of the Sedgwick. Our interview concluded at 4:23.

CK: Thank you.

Interview Keyword

The Art Quilts at the Sedgwick QSOS


“Carol Krueger,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed July 18, 2024,