Louisa L. Smith




Louisa L. Smith




Louisa Smith


Karen Musgrave

Interview Date



Loveland, Colorado


Kim Greene


Karen Musgrave (KM): This is Karen Musgrave and I'm conducting a Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories interview with Louisa Smith. Louisa is in Loveland, Colorado and I'm in Naperville, Illinois, so we are conducting this interview over the telephone. Today's date is March 26, 2009. It is now 4:05 in the afternoon. Louisa, thank you so much for taking time out of your day to do this interview with me. Please tell me about your quilt "Yes We Can."

Louisa Smith (LS): Actually I decided to do it, because I was so inspired by the whole situation. Having the first black presidential candidate, so I was really into it big time and the more magazines came through the door, you saw he was on the front page of every one! So that was really my inspiration, kind of capturing one of those front pages, I think I did People Magazine after looking at so many. That is really why I got so excited when people [Sue Walen.] on the Internet were looking for pieces ["President Obama: A Celebration in Art Quilts" exhibit that was on display from February 9- March 5, 2009 at the King Street Gallery in The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation Arts Center at Montgomery College in Silver Spring, Maryland.] and I had actually already started it and I said, 'Yes, count me in.' That is the reason behind this and what I did was I actually copied the magazine but not literally. I sort of drew his face with a pencil, freehand and did just the outlines of it, sort of like an Andy Warhol style [laughs.] And then a friend of mine, who is very active in the Democratic Party sent me a slew of his campaign buttons, that were going around the country, that people were wearing so I actually added those to it, hoping that years from now somebody will get a big kick of what we did at this particular time, this historic time, and also I'm an immigrant so I think this is really cool. [laughs.]

KM: Yes, we should mention that. You were born in Indonesia [LS hums.], educated in the Netherlands and came to the United States in 1960.

LS: Right, correct. So actually I became a citizen as soon as I could [1968.] and things like this really interest me. A funny part of this is that I have relatives in the Netherlands, who kept emailing me all around this time saying, 'Do you think he [Barack Obama.] is going to make it? Do you think he is going to make?' I think all of Europe was behind him, which was kind of neat for me to find out. Yes, it is very, very interesting I think, how Europe looks at us from afar, but yet they are so interested in the whole procedure.

KM: What are your plans for this quilt?

LS: Actually I just did it just to do it. I really have no plans and if somebody that collects that kind of paraphernalia or is a collector of presidential election stuff I probably will be happy to part with it.

KM: Is this typical of your style?

LS: No not at all, it's not at all what I do, but it was such a fun project, a release, I felt that I could totally be creative. I was making it for me, so I wasn't really making it for this group, before I said that I would do this and be part of this group, I was actually well on my way making it just for pure pleasure!

KM: Tell me about the techniques that you used in the piece.

LS: I used a little bit of fusing and I hand painted the background or hand dyed it if you will and then I added the lettering because I think the "Yes We Can" slogan is such a big part of his campaign that I wanted to make sure that I had that on there. Then I actually left the headline of the magazine in tact just the way it was. I did some hand seed stitching on it as well, just to give it interest and a little bit more texture, because it was kind of flat. That is basically what I used.

KM: How is this different from what you usually do?

LS: I'm more known for color and curves. I really work with lots and lots and lots of commercial fabrics, quite simply I hardly ever use the fabrics that I do make myself. I usually use commercial fabrics, because I love the textures and lots of them and I always have curves in my work. It is more grided and more contemporary in a way, but you can always see the connection to the tradition I think and that is what I love to do, so it is totally different. I don't think anybody looking at this piece would know that it is mine. [laughs.]

KM: I don't remember in my lifetime so much art being inspired by a president elect and then a president, why do you think that is?

LS: I think it's because the country needed it. I think the world needed it. I think that things have just been getting progressively worse and I think that he is like the "big hope" I think. Listening to my relatives overseas and that even they thought this was the best thing for us. So it was that fact that he is a dynamic person, I think he just draws you in. I mean here I am, I'm a Republican and totally taken over by this Democratic man and I'm totally behind him one hundred percent, who knew? [KM laughs.]

KM: Tell me about your interest in quiltmaking.

LS: I started actually when I came from the Netherlands in 1960, I think that right around 1975 when we had that bicentennial and all the magazines were sort of rehashing all kinds of things from the past, there were a lot of quilts in magazines and I had no idea what quilts were; coming from Europe and to tell you the truth, I just looked at a picture one day, I think it might have been in 1975, and I thought I'm going to make one of those. Of course I had no idea how to do it and I probably will not show off that first one to anyone [laughs.] but I got hooked immediately. It was such another way of doing art. I've always done collaging in Europe and I've never, never made a quilt before and I was hooked. I was hooked immediately.

KM: How many hours a week do you spend quilting?

LS: Now because my business is quilting now. I mean now, I do it 24/7. I really do. I do it all the time accept for sleeping maybe. I'm at it all the time. I'm not doing that because I have to; it is because it is just my passion. I just get an idea and get up in the middle of the night and go to work.

KM: What does your family think of your quiltmaking?

LS: Well obviously my husband is quite thrilled because he is now retired and he is working for us [laughs.] for me I should say, because we have an online business, we sell my templates that go along with the three books I've written and he takes care of all the business parts and I just create! How can I have anything better than that? He is the man behind the scene and I get all the glory. It is just wonderful [laughs.] and my daughter [Lisa Harris.] now is actually into quiltmaking. She has been a graphic artist, went to school back east at the Rhode Island School of Design and didn't really do too much quiltmaking, it was sort of mom's thing, but in the last three years we have been working together on our last book. It is a collaboration of both of us and actually the layout of the book was all done by my daughter, so now we are working on three more. I'm a little ambitious maybe but [laughs.], we have three ideas and we can't figure out which one to go and do first, so we are actually simultaneously working on three, which is crazy but very exciting.

KM: How is it working with your daughter?

LS: It is great. I once did a talk show, or a TV show actually and the host had said to me, 'So who is the boss?' And I just burst out laughing and I said, 'Well, it isn't me.' [laughs.] I think that because she has an art background, that I listen to her a lot more than I thought I would, but that is what she does. I mean she is an art director and works for PetSmart right now in Phoenix, Arizona. We are doing this long distance and it is quite interesting actually. In fact, that mother-daughter thing that we have and I think the reason it started is because years ago she had breast cancer and I was devastated and we left Massachusetts and just came to Colorado to be with her and then she had it again actually five years later. When we decided that we would write this book together, that was just our mother-daughter thing that we needed to do and it was great, it was therapeutic if anything. From that came such a wonderful thing, who knew.

KM: Is her quiltmaking similar to yours or different?

LS: Her quiltmaking is very similar to mine. I'm surprised because I thought she would be more contemporary than I was, but she really loves the connection with the tradition and she loves seeing somewhat of a quilt there rather than being so contemporary that it was hard to detect what it really is. I think that we work well together in that way. We do create the same type of things. We might have a different approach but the end result is very similar I think.

KM: Tell me about your creative process.

LS: I usually start with color. I mean the color is what makes my quilt so I might be looking at a magazine picture from which the color just talks to me and it maybe an ocean scene and yet I will create a quilt that has nothing whatsoever to do with the ocean but I will steal the color quite often from someplace, somewhere. I do a lot of photography now, so if I see a colorful scene I will take my camera out and just snap it. It could just be the marketplace, it could be dresses hanging in a store, if I like the color combinations of something then I'm hooked. That is really an odd way of coming to a quilt, but that's what I do. My creative process starts with color and then design, so color is number one and design is actually second.

KM: Describe your studio.

LS: I don't really have a huge studio like most of my friends that do what I do, that lecture and teach all over the U.S. I have a top floor that is maybe 32 feet long and maybe 13 feet wide and the ceilings are slanted [laughs.] and we have no windows except for one little octagon window, but it works for me. I don't think it's the space. It just means that once I'm there I'm away from everything and I'm a happy camper. I do not have a lot of space like other people have.

KM: What do you have in it?

LS: I have two sewing machines, a huge cutting area, and a lot of wall space. I do work on the wall all the time. I think if I were to describe it, it is an organized chaos, how's that. [both laugh.] I know where everything is and everything is pretty organized for me, but if someone came in while I'm working on two or three quilts they would think that it would be pretty hard to function in the area because I have a tendency to throw things on the floor that I don't need at that particular time [laughs.] so yes it is a very organized chaos.

KM: How do you store your fabric?

LS: Because I live in Colorado and the sun is so strong, it is actually good for me upstairs because I have no windows, I can leave things out. I have open bins and I have them pretty much by color I guess and most often by project, because if I have something in mind I keep throwing it in one particular container and it will have a title on it even before the quilt is made.

KM: You work on more than one thing at a time?

LS: Yes, many. I work on 10, 12 pieces at the same time and which ever strikes me at that particular moment I will be working on. If I get stumped then I will go to the next one. I think sometimes when you work with one, you have an idea for the second one and that you should act on that idea immediately, so you will not loose it.

[interview is briefly suspended while LS changes phones due to a low battery.]

KM: You were talking about multiple projects.

LS: Yes, that is how I love to work. As I said, once you start one, you have an idea, 'what if?' I always ask. 'what if,' and 'what if' brings me to the next one [laughs.] and while I'm working on number two I will say, 'Well, what if?' and then I will start number three. I work in series all the time, so if I have a great idea I will not just do one quilt, I will do five or six. Everything I've ever done I've done has been in series. I think it only gets better, as you get familiar with the subject matter it gets better. Your technique gets better, your ideas get better, so that is why. When I'm tired of it I will go on to the next thing [laughs.].

KM: Tell me about teaching and lecturing.

LS: Because I've written three books, that's basically what I get asked to do is to teach from those books. It is probably the part of the job that I never realized I would love so much. I absolutely adore teaching. It is like living through 20 students and seeing 20 incredible pieces of art come out of your class. I love it. I always said when that part becomes stale and I don't love it anymore I won't teach anymore, but I just love it. I think I was born to teach. I never knew who knew?

KM: How long have you been teaching?

LS: Since the early eighties.

KM: What made you decide to write a book and start teaching?

LS: I decided to write a book because I did a piece of the Hoffman Challenge one year. It was very much in the beginning, it was 1995 I believe, and the piece traveled to England and I got so much mail of people wanting to know how to make that piece that I started teaching it locally and then I thought, 'Gosh maybe I have something here.' Then I wrote a book proposal ["Strips 'n Curves: A New Spine on Strip Piecing," C&T; Publishing, 20001.] and sent it into C&T; I believe it was. It came back immediately and they said, 'Yes we definitely want this. In my mind, I was going to say, 'Well I'm going to get about six or seven nays and then maybe I will get one publisher that will say yes.' It was such a shock and it turned out to be such a fun thing. I really like the writing now so if I stop teaching for a while I will probably be writing.

KM: Your business name is Quilt Escapes. How did you come up with that?

LS: Because when I first started way back in 1994, I was taking students to weekends away, like I would take them to Vermont and teach them for a weekend in some wonderful place, or I would take a group of students and bring them to the Houston quilt show, so I started taking people and escaping if you will and the name just stuck even though I don't do that anymore. I had a quilt store for 11 years and that was part of that as well, taking the people to different places all over the country and being sort of the glorified travel guide I guess. [laughs.]

KM: How did you like having a quilt store?

LS: I thought it was totally different from what I expected it to be. I thought a quilt store would give me a chance to be very creative and make things and have just the most incredible store where I could display all this, and little did I know you are totally making other people's things to sell them and making their creations and you get totally, totally noncreative as a store owner I feel. I have great respect for them now and I say support them because they work very long, long hard hours and don't really make a lot of money, if any. That is how I feel, even though we had a very successful store, very successful. I know 11 years is a long time. I think you just don't have time to create, that creativity part would be what you had in mind when you open a quilt store and that just totally gets stifled if you will. I say to everybody when I'm on a trip or when I'm at a store, I always say, 'Oh thank you, thank you for being here because I know personally how hard the work is and how little you make.' You know it is 24/7 really. I'm not sorry that's gone. I'm really not. I'm sure it is still around somewhere in Massachusetts. I think it has probably been sold five or six times since. I sold it in 1994 I believe, so it is a long time ago. Don't miss it, not at all.

KM: Do you belong to any art or quilt groups?

LS: Yes actually, I belong to Front Range Contemporary Quilters here in Denver, which is an incredible group of very, very creative quiltmakers, very famous ones as a matter of fact. I just joined a group locally here in Fort Collins that is kind of patterning themselves after this Front Range group, but they are just really beginning and I'm supporting them because I hope they will make a go of it. I don't really go that often because I'm out of town a lot. Of course, I belong to the International Quilt Association and SAQA [Studio Art Quilt Associates.] and stuff like that.

KM: Why is belonging to these groups important to you?

LS: I think it is because you are supporting them. They are doing good work, they are promoting quiltmaking, they are doing the things that I think need to be done and that is why I support them, even if I don't support them as far as going to meetings is concerned, I certainly support them financially if I can.

KM: What advice would you offer someone starting out?

LS: I think you need two things, you need a passion because it takes up a lot of time and I think it takes a little bit of time getting good if you will, getting so that you are recognized, so that your work is pleasing and people can actually look at a piece and say this is blah, blah blah. Like if I were at a quilt show I can see a piece and say, 'That belongs to one of say Caryl Bryer Fallert's students,' and equally I can say, 'Oh that is one of my students.' Do you see what I mean? [KM hums agreement.] If you have established style of something like that or a voice as I tell my students, that takes time so you need to have a little bit of passion and you have to hang in there. Secondly, I think you need to have a lot of support at home because it does take up time and you take time away from your family I think. I think those two things and that's it. Take classes, learn as much as you can as often as you can to make your style better, to make your technique better. You learn from everyone, even if you take a class and say, 'Well I know what this is all about.' You always come back with some knowledge that you didn't know before and that is useful. I don't think I've ever taken a class and not said, 'That was great.'

KM: What do you think is the biggest challenge confronting quiltmakers today?

LS: If they are doing it and quit their "day job" to do it full time, I think that is the challenge, to make a living at it. Literally make a living at it. I always tell everybody that my husband supported me well for the first ten years and it wasn't until just recently that I'm actually making a living at it. So you have to kind of hang in there, it is like anything else, it is like an actor wanting to be an actor, he has to hang in there and he is not going to get paid big time immediately. If he proves himself then he can ask for it later on. It is the same thing with anything I think. Hang in there.

KM: Do you think of yourself more as an artist or a quiltmaker or do you even make the distinction?

LS: I always say I'm a quiltmaker, but if I'm on the plane and someone that doesn't know about quiltmaking asks me what I do, I always tell them I'm a fiber artist and they seem to get it. I tend to use both titles, but for myself I'm a quiltmaker because I still have that three layers sort of connection to a quilt no matter how creative I get I think.

KM: What are your favorite techniques and materials?

LS: My techniques, I love embellishing. I don't know why that is becoming more and more important in my work, but I do. I love it. I call it my third layer. My first layer is sort of my base. I start with color and then do the design and finally I do some embellishing. So I guess it is stuff like the new wonderful fabrics we have out there that I may never have used before. I use a lot of silks now and I use to stay away from anything that wasn't cotton years ago and now I'll use anything if it is the right color and the right texture I will buy it. I use a lot of beading too, a lot of beading, but I'm not the only one because lately beading is getting bigger and bigger. I think there are so many people who add beads to their work now and I just love that third layer, that other texture, that other layer that I've always been looking for I guess. [laughs.]

KM: What aspects of quiltmaking do you not enjoy?

LS: Gee I don't know, I even like the real traditional stuff still. If I had somebody in the family that is getting married, I can just go right back to some old technique and make a bed quilt and get just as much satisfaction out of it. I don't think there is anything I don't like. Maybe, I don't know, I don't know, I'm trying to think if there is anything I don't like about quiltmaking. I love hand appliqué and I know that is so traditional but I still get a real satisfaction out of doing that. All those aspects I still use, even though I'm fusing a lot more, I still love the hand work, the beading, the appliqué and all of that. I don't think there is anything I don't like.

KM: That is good.

LS: Yeah, it is not good because you need more time. [laughs.] I need like 26 hours in my day or something like that.

KM: Whose works are you drawn to and why?

LS: Whose works? I love Jane Sassaman. I think it is the color and texture in her designs. I love it, I admire her greatly she is a good friend. [laughs.] Caryl Bryer Fallert, I like her. I've talked to her at length about things that we both like that are similar and yet we are so different. I think, and yet she is drawn to using only fabrics that she creates and I really stay a lot with the commercial fabrics, I just love them, and hence the reason I like Jane Sassaman so much is because her fabrics are just fabulous and it is something that we need, great fabric designers. I wouldn't mind doing that someday, who knows. [laughs.]

KM: Anyone else?

LS: Let me see. I like Jane Dunawold, I like her work a lot. My gosh there are just so many, none comes to my mind right now. There are a lot that I admire, a lot.

KM: Are there any fabric designers that you really like?

LS: There is a gal, I wish I could think of her name right here on the top of my head here, she is very contemporary, oh my God I'm just drawing a blank here, but I think she is from the east coast.

KM: Are you talking about Lonni Rossi?

LS: Yes, that is exactly who I'm thinking of. I adore her work. I love her fabrics, and I will buy them whether I ever use them or not. I think her designs are just striking. As far as a fabric company is concerned, I like Alexander Henry because they are bold enough to try something weird and not be worried about whether it sells or not. I think I like that. Lonni Rossi is my favorite. I must admit that Kaffe Fassett, if I pronounce his name correctly, has a certain style of getting the color just the way I like it. If I look at his fabrics I would say, 'Yes, he has the color just the way I want it.' I do appreciate his color choices. They are a little off the wall compared to the normal fabric lines that are out there and yet he is greatly successful I think. I think that is it, Lonni, Kaffe, and Jane, Alexander Henry. I can't think of anybody else. Michael James tried some as of late and he was designing some of the striped fabrics and I think I'm the only one that has used them, but I like that too. They don't seem to be selling all that well.

KM: What makes a quilt artistically powerful for you?

LS: I actually have written that in one of my books. I think if you see quilts hanging in a show or a gallery and the minute you walk in you want to walk over to that one particular quilt and if you get drawn in, that to me is successful. I don't care if the workmanship stinks [laughs.], if you get drawn in then it is artistically there. My example for that is quite often I would say if you ever look at antique quilts or a show of antique quilts you get sometimes drawn in and you walk over to that antique quilt because you think it is graphically gorgeous and the color is perfect and you go up close and the workmanship is just horrendous. That is it really to me, that's it. That first impact, it is like, 'Yes, I want to see that thing up close.' That to me makes a successful quilt. If I'm judging quite often I like that, I like to be drawn in right away without even knowing what it is all about from far away.

KM: Tell me some more about judging.

LS: It is not that hard. I get asked quite a bit. It's not my favorite thing to do and I'm always afraid that I am judging because of what I personally like so I try really hard to look at all aspects of it. But to tell you the truth is what I just told you, if I get drawn in to that one particular quilt then that stays on my mind until I get to it and see it. To me that is the same about any art, it is the same with a painting. You can go to a museum and you look at the same painter and all of a sudden one in the far corner draws you in and I think that's the success of a good quilt. I will give extra points to it, and maybe not so much pay attention to the workmanship as I probably should as a judge, but I don't, it doesn't matter to me. To me the composition and the color and the end result are more important. Does that make sense? [KM hums agreement.]

KM: How do you feel about writing Artist Statements?

LS: I hate it. [laughs.] I don't know too many of my contemporaries who like it. I stink at it, if that is a nice word to say because I really don't like it. I have actually asked other people to write them for me by looking at my quilts. I find that hard, really hard, because I always want to say what my heart said about the piece and quite often it doesn't make sense to other people what I was trying to say. I usually say I just want my quilts to sing with color. Basically that is the bottom line for me. If you like it, if you walk by and you like it and want to come back and look at it again, I'm a happy camper. I think I've done a good job.

KM: Being born in the Indonesia and educated in the Netherlands, do you think that influences your quiltmaking?

LS: I think color wise it does. I think if you've ever been to the tropics, you know that our colors are just more vivid and even though I was educated in the Netherlands and the Netherlands is kind of the same kind of weather like England, kind of rainy and not so sunny, but I still think my heart goes out to my childhood and the bright colors and the incredible flowers and stuff like that. I think that way I think I'm influenced. I still look at old photographs from my family from Indonesia and quite often I will pull one out and I will just say, 'This is just gorgeous. This has got to be a quilt,' and go from there. I think it influences me, and I think also in Europe you started in second grade doing knitting and sewing, so in my background, I think that I have good basic techniques that are useful in quiltmaking way before I even knew I was going to be a quiltmaker. Does that make sense? [KM hums agreement.] We really do start very early in school and you do that throughout your school years. I learned knitting, crocheting, the hardanger and all that needlework, crewel, embroidery, you get it all in school really and I know you don't do that here too much, or do you?

KM: No. We had Home Ec.

LS: Not as intense maybe. My mother, when she was in the tropics, we had servants so all she did was embroidery. So she influenced me a lot, a lot. I still live with her. She is 92. [laughs.] She still looks at my work and either says, 'Nay or yay.' [laughs.] Sometimes I pay real attention to her because she has a great artist's eye.

KM: What does she think of your quiltmaking?

LS: She thinks it is incredible. She just loves every aspect of it and as soon as I have one on the wall she's got to go see it. She gets a big kick out of it.

KM: How do you want to be remembered?

LS: As a good teacher I think. That's most important to me, it really is. That is the part I like the most. I hope that I've inspired like hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people to become really passionate quiltmakers, that is what I hope and that is what I like people to remember, 'Oh yeah I remember her, she was a great teacher,' and that would make me very happy.

KM: Do you have any good stories about teaching?

LS: Actually I do. I think the best part for me about teaching is the fact that I always say to them, 'If you pay attention and do it well and do it with your heart you get a blue ribbon.' I can not tell you how many people using my techniques and my books have received Best of Show or something. I have files of it at home that I keep when they send me a picture. That to me is like the best of teaching stories. Isn't that great? I'm talking I receive them almost on a weekly basis.

KM: Very cool.

LS: Yes, it is so cool. How lucky can I be? How lucky can I be to do what I'm passionate about it and get paid for it in the first place, but then to have that, that is just a bonus. That is absolutely a bonus. I always said if I don't have that passion anymore I will stop teaching, if it becomes a job to me, which it isn't. I shouldn't tell people that. [laughs.] It is so much fun. It really is. I just love it. I love the creativity and the bigger the class the more creativity, the more I eat it up. I think I should be paying them, but we won't let that word get out.

KM: No, we won't. Where have been your favorite places to teach?

LS: I love teaching in Asilomar because I have my students for five whole days, which to me is priceless. You can just really work. If you go somewhere as a teacher and you have a guild that hires you for a day or maybe a day or two, you don't get them from A to Z, you can get them half way and sort of let them loose on their own. In Asilomar [Pacific Grove, California.], I have them for five days and I just came back from Kerrville, Texas, which is Quilting Adventures and the same thing, you have your students for five whole days, which is ideal. It is ideal. You can hold their hand and then really take them from the very beginning stage of picking their colors and all the way to the end, which I love. I wouldn't mind 10 days. [laughs.] Those are my two favorite places to teach and I know there is many of them around, I just pick and choose because I have a 92 year old mother at home and I can't be away as much as I would like to be. I pick and choose and those are two of my favorites. I'm trying to think of what you might want to know.

KM: I'm trying to think of what I might want to know too. Has the economy impacted on your teaching?

LS: Yes, business a little bit. It is down. I sell templates that go with my books and we have found it to have slowed down a little bit. I do think it does. I think people are a little bit more concerned about buying fabric too. I think the quilt store owners must, must notice it. I mean lets face it, it is a hobby for most people and what is the first thing that you try not to spend too much money on is usually a hobby because you certainly don't want to skimp on your family things that are more important. Yeah a little bit. I hope it goes away and I hope it's just people being scared but I have definitely noticed it in our business. But I'm telling you I'm teaching just as much as ever. In fact, I'm refusing more jobs than I would like to because of the fact that my mom is aging fast and I somewhat need to be here. I just have a wonderful husband that takes care of her when I'm gone but I can't totally rely on him for a lifetime. [laughs.] I try to pick and choose and I try to be away for say a week out of the month or ten days out of the month and then to stay home for the rest of the time if I can help it. Have you noticed a change?

KM: Not too much, a little bit but not too much, yah not too much.

LS: I've always wanted to ask that question but never have. As far as the future for me, I am so excited about writing and I just love the process. Once somebody said to me about writing, 'Don't think of it as writing, just think of it as talking and write down exactly what you would tell somebody.' That just did it for me. [laughs.]

KM: But it doesn't work for Artist Statements.

LS: No it doesn't [KM laughs.] because I'm always thinking of what that person will think of it looking at it. As far as writing is concerned, I hope, when they read my books, I hope they are, as if I'm standing there next to you talking to you, that is what I'm hoping. That is what the future is holding for me now, because I'm obviously not accepting teaching jobs for a while, I'm really slowing down in 2010 because of my home life and my mom. I totally think I'm going to devote it to writing. Writing and creating. What could be more fun? I'm lucky that I have something like that to keep me occupied and I'm very excited and I wish I had one idea and could just stick with it, but at the moment there are three [laughs.], that is the way it is going to be. That is the way I work so what the heck, right? Whatever works.

KM: Right, whatever works for you.

LS: Exactly. Exactly and that works for me. Another thing I like about teaching that I probably should have said to you when you asked me earlier, is that I love interacting with people. I mean is there anything more fun than that. Especially people that have the same passion, right? [KM hums agreement.] There is nothing more fun than that. I really have never had any bad experiences that I can remember. Most people are just so excited to be there so it's like you have the job and you get paid for it but they just love to be there, I mean what could be more fun as a teacher. It is not like I'm teaching math to kids that don't want to be there. [laughs.] This is just fabulous, fabulous and my daughter who is an artist as well always says to me, 'It just amazes me the way you teach, but the more I see it the more I like it. It's nice to hear somebody that close to you say to you, 'Yeah, that's good. Keep it up.' We are very critical about each other's work and so I take that as a huge compliment. I think she wishes she didn't have to have a "day job" and could just be doing it full time and that is what we were talking about earlier. It takes a while before you get to that point where you can actually do that. It doesn't come overnight, it takes a lot of work and maybe writing and teaching and getting the name out there, but she wishes she could do what I do in a heartbeat I can guarantee you that. We teach maybe once or twice a year together and it is great fun. Of course, for her it is taking up her vacation which is well you know when you are working there aren't too many vacations, so I enjoy that. I'm sure when I'm long gone she will probably still be doing it and that makes me happy too.

KM: Is there anything that you would like to share that we haven't touched upon?

LS: Let me see. No not really, accept you know what it is, I think if people realized how lucky we are now versus way back in the seventies when I started quiltmaking, I mean has this industry ever grown or what. It is so much easier to be a quiltmaker now. We have better fabrics. We have better products. We have better tools, better machines. I think this is a great time for anybody. I've noticed if this is important to you or not, but I've noticed that in my classes I used to get "the little old ladies," as my daughter used to say, that do quiltmaking. Not so any more. I've had an astronaut. I've had an endocrinologist. I've had attorneys. I think it is a release for anybody in any lifestyle and I think that is one of the new things now that really excites me. That people consider it a really great hobby and a release of day to day life and I think it is. When my daughter had chemotherapy, I would be for hours up in that study [inaudible.] creating and even I brought quilting with me when I sat next to her half the time during chemotherapy. I mean to me it's a relief. I'm sure that somebody who paints says the same thing, or somebody who does flower arranging, but it is a great escape, it really is. In fact, it used to be a joke when the kids were home and if I was cranky, the kids would say, 'Oh go quilt,' [both laugh.] which I thought was a great quote from them. It was like they knew I would be a nicer person coming back down. I think that is the bottom line isn't it.

KM: I think this is a great way to conclude our interview. Thank you so much for taking time out of your day.

LS: Thank you, thank you. I'm so sorry that it took all this time.

KM: That is quite alright.

LS: Things do happen as my son used to say, 'Things happen Mom.' [laughs.]

KM: That is true.

LS: I hope to meet you sometime Karen.

KM: I hope so too. We are going to conclude our interview at 4:51


“Louisa L. Smith,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed June 16, 2024, https://qsos.quiltalliance.org/items/show/1499.