Luz Maria Carillo




Luz Maria Carillo




Luz Maria Carillo


Karen Musgrave

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

Martha Sielman


Boonville, California


Kim Greene


Note: Yolanda Ibarra was the translator.

Karen Musgrave (KM): This is Karen Musgrave and I am doing a Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories interview Luz Maria Carrillo. It is March 6, 2007 and I'm in Boonville, California. Thank you for doing an interview with me today.

Luz Maria Carrillo (LC): Thank you.

KM: Please tell me about the quilt that you brought to the interview.

LC: This is the one I picked because this is important. It talks about the border and this is my best one that I like.

KM: Tell me more about the figures and the meaning of the quilt.

LC: It is about a girl. She is fifteen years old, and I am interested in her story. I have two brothers. One brother told me a story because he was with the girl when they crossed the border. She did not drink all five days that they were in the desert because she was caring for her little brothers instead. She saved everything that they gave her, water and food, for her little brothers, so she had enough to get them all the way across the border. Other people that were with her offered water to her. All the other people that were with her assured her that she would cross over because they felt protective of them. It is her right there. [pointing to the quilt.] Here is her little sister and little brother. Everyone waited until she crossed over to make sure she got over the border first before anybody else. My brother says that everybody was really happy after they heard that she had crossed safely with her brother and sister. Crossed the border safely because while they were crossing the border, they saw all the skeletons and the people they saw there they were sad. The only thing they were sure was the death is the only one that wins more.

KM: Is this death? [pointing to the quilt.]

LC: Yes. It is a sad story.

KM: It is a sad story.

LC: But is one of the truths that happens. I don't know the girl or her little brother or sister, but I made this quilt for them and I know that she made it safe over, cross over the border because of my brother and the other people who were with them.

KM: How long have you been quilting? Did you join the group in the beginning?

LC: I have been here two years and I started as soon as I got here.

KM: You started with the group?

LC: Yes.

KM: How did you find the group?

LC: Her sister-in-law and Molly [Johnson Martinez.] went to visit me at my house and they convinced me to come. [laughs.]

KM: How many quilts have you made?

LC: Nineteen.

KM: Lots of quilts. What number is this?

LC: Six.

KM: This is the sixth one. Wow you have been busy.

LC: I dedicate them to Mexico.

KM: To Mexico. How nice. What did you mom think?

LC: She loved it. My brothers film me making them and then I send the film to my mom so she can see me making the quilts.

KM: Lots of quilts on the walls?

LC: My living room is full of them. [laughs.] I do two. One I give for Molly for the shows and one I make for my house.

KM: You make two of everything that you make?

LC: Yes.

KM: Oh, one for mom, one for you, and one for Molly. I get that. Is this the one that is going to be in the book?

LC: Yes.

KM: Is this your favorite quilt?

LC: Everyone is my favorite. This one is special.

KM: Very, very special. Is this typical--does this look like most of your quilts?

LC: This is the only one that I have done like this.

KM: What do the others look like?

LC: I like the Mexican history. All the quilt places over there, history, Indians and all that stuff. African.

KM: You like African stories.

LC: I love them.

KM: Are you studying Africa? Are you learning about Africa?

LC: The Discover, the channel.

KM: The National Geographic Channel?

LC: And Discovery Channel.

KM: I like the Discovery Channel too. You can learn so much.

LC: Japanese culture, I like that too. Africa, Mexico, Japan.

KM: Africa, Mexico and Japan.

LC: [laughs.]

KM: Do you think you will have an African quilt or a Japanese quilt?

LC: I have done three.

KM: Three African quilts. What do they look like? Tell me about them.

LC: I sold one. They talk about African women. I have done two.

KM: How many quilts have you sold? I know you have one of everything at home.

LC: [laughs.] I have done three Japanese things, and have sold two. I did an African dance quilt and I sold that one.

KM: How do you feel about selling your quilts?

LC: I don't want to sell them after I get done with them. [laughs.] Everyone I make has something special.

KM: So it is hard to let them go?

LC: Yes. That is why I make the other one. I made one of this place of butterflies. I made a quilt of it. I haven't done that one for myself. I am going to make it. African dance, it sold all ready. The one on the poster over there. It has sold already. It is a dance in Mexico.

KM: The one on the bottom of the poster?

LC: No.

KM: Another one?

LC: Everyone I make has some history to it.

KM: Do you like writing the stories?

LC: I do.

KM: Do you come up with the story first or the quilt first?

LC: Quilts.

KM: They come together, that's good that works. What do you think about the book?

LC: Very excited. It will be great. People will know us not just by the quilts but ourselves because it has something to do with us. Each one of us leaves a piece of our hearts in each quilt that we make.

KM: Do you have a sewing machine at home?

LC: Yes.

KM: I would think so. Where do you sew?

LC: In her bedroom. I like to keep it in my room.

Yolanda Ibarra (YI): She is not the kitchen table person.

LC: I have four kids and six brothers that live at my house and a husband. That is more than enough. I do have time to sew.

KM: I'm impressed.

LC: I love to sew. It is something I really enjoy doing.

KM: Did you sew before you started making quilts?

LC: In Mexico. I did sewing for my sisters and for my sons and for myself.

KM: What does your family think of your quilts?

LC: Very glad and happy.

KM: Your husband is--

LC: Yes, they enjoy. My brothers want to take a picture and put it in the album. We have an album of my quilts.

KM: That is very nice. It is getting very big. You have been very, very good.

LC: They send the photos to Mexico so my mom can see them. [laughs.] They like to tell my mom, ‘look at it' and how she did it. They are very happy.

KM: How do you feel about the group?

LC: At first we didn't think it was going to go anywhere. We were here just to learn how to quilt, nothing, just like pieces. For a hobby and now it is growing and hopefully it grows more.

KM: Where do you see the group going?

LC: Nobody holds us back. [laughs.] We will go forward.

KM: Have you made the most quilts out of the group?

LC: Probably between Carmella and me.

KM: Really. Is it fun to bring the quilts to share and show?

LC: I like to come and see and I like to see what other people are doing. We learn something different. We learn something different from each quilt. We support each other.

KM: Is there another woman in the group that you really like to work with?

LC: Everyone. Everyone is different, different from everyone.

KM: Seeing other people's work, does it make you think differently?

LC: It gives me ideas. Each person has their own style. I see detail of a quilt that I see in another person and I try to fit it into my quilt. Little by little we get more professional. I can see the difference between the sixth one and the one that I just got done making.

KM: You are improving and growing? What is changing?

LC: In the way I do the borders. I do the bordering, the stitching and everything. I can tell right off it is more perfect. It is getting to be more perfect.

KM: Very nice. Do you like to machine quilt?

LC: Si?. I like the way the material fits.

KM: So it fits better. Has your machine quilting improved?

LC: Si?. You can see it in her other quilts that they have.

KM: Do you do anything by hand?

LC: I did it by hand over here, putting the hair on all of the people that is by hand. It has little bags on here. Water bags.

KM: I know the water bottle. Do you have favorite materials that you like to use?

LC: More realistic.

KM: More realistic materials.

LC: The sky. More to what I want it to be there, to look like.

KM: You have mostly cottons in here. It has the tulle. She has tulle for the bushes. But most of this is, you are not going with the velvets or the corduroy or the--

LC: I like to play around with it.

KM: All different fabrics?

LC: Yeah. This one doesn't have that much.

KM: Do you use the corduroys and the--

LC: Yes, I like to play around with it.

KM: To see what it will do. That is good. Why is quilting important to you?

LC: Stress with work, it really helps sometimes.

KM: Relaxes you?

LC: Yes. To relax and be comfortable. You have something to do, you have to have something to relax yourself. Not enough. Just thinking of one thing and then it is a couple of hours.

KM: Have you been involved in the movie?

LC: Si?.

KM: What did you do?

LC: I talked about the group and how important it is and how we get along.

KM: Do you ever not get along?

LC: Everybody gets along.

KM: I think it is amazing that a group can work and not have any conflict.

LC: When I come to the class I don't always have time to work on my quilt because everybody is always asking for help. [laughs.]

KM: So you are like a teacher. That is good. What future plans do you have for your quilts?

LC: I want to do it until I am old and can't do them anymore. [laughs.]

KM: That's good. What advice would you give somebody starting out making quilts?

LC: Each one has its own ideas and to go ahead and put it down on material. Just put your own ideas and let it, whatever your idea is just put it on there and somebody is going to like it. Most of us say we can't do it, we can't do it, and that is all they say and it is not true you can do it. Then that person will realize they have such talent they didn't even know they had it.

KM: Did you draw this before, or did you? From your mind, put it all together?

LC: Si?. I have it in my head and I have this material and I wonder if this is going to look good here and this is going to look good here. I have it in her head.

KM: Do you consider yourself an artist?

LC: I just like to do everything. I like to read. I like to draw. I like to do this. I like everything like opera thing. I just like to do it. I think I am an artist.

KM: You can say that. Be very proud. Is there anything else you would like to share?

LC: Feel happy that there is someone like you to take your time.

KM: You are more than welcome, seriously you are more than welcome, and I am very excited. This is a wonderful quilt with a wonderful story behind it. I think knowing the story makes the quilt even more powerful.

LC: Like when you see a drawing you just see it, but if you don't know the story of it, you don't know.

KM: You can appreciate it, but you don't have the full story. The whole thing.

YI: Like this one, we know the story. It makes it like, first when I saw it I didn't know the story of it. I could see what it meant and what it was, but I didn't know the story.

KM: You certainly wouldn't know what these three sweet little figures over here are all about. This man here or these people here.

LC: This is my brother. [pointing to one of the figures on the quilt—man behind a rock.]

KM: This is your brother right here.

LC: My brother is really nice. I have a lot of feelings.

KM: That is very nice. Is he happy that he is here?

LC: Si?. He talks to the girl.

KM: He talks to the little girl and she is in San Diego?

LC: Yes, she is in San Diego.

KM: What happened to them, do you know?

LC: Her mom died in Mexico so she had to cross over. She decided to bring the kids over by herself. She found her dad but he was remarried over here and he is not taking care of them. She is working to take care of her sister and little brother.

KM: That is so sad. Very difficult. Thank you for sharing.

LC: Thank you.

KM: I am going to conclude this interview at 3:00 p.m.


“Luz Maria Carillo,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed July 24, 2024,