Mirella Mendoza




Mirella Mendoza




Mirella Mendoza


Karen Musgrave

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

The Salser Family Foundation


Boonsville, California


Kim Greene


Note: Yolanda Ibarra was the translator.

Karen Musgrave (KM): This is Karen Musgrave. I'm doing a Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories interview with Mirella Mendoza. It is 1:45. No, it's not. It is 12:02 in the afternoon on March 8, 2007 and I'm in Boonville, California. Thank you for doing this interview with me.

Mirella Mendoza (MM): Gracias.

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

MM: It was just for part of her town, we do this big fiesta and it just reminded her so she decided to go ahead and make one.

KM: Which town?

MM: La Laguneta, Michoacan that is where I am from.

KM: Excellent. So tell me about the festival and the quilt.

MM: It is during the night. With fireworks.

KM: Those are wonderful fireworks. [MM laughs.] Great fabric for fireworks.

MM: They have band. There is dance, toys and food and the kids are playing with the lights, the fireworks. And the adults would just go ahead walking around and talking. Everybody knows everybody there.

KM: How many quilts have you made?

MM: Three.

KM: Three. Where does this quilt, which one?

KM: The third one, so this is the most recent one? So where are the other two?

MM: In my house. [laughs.]

KM: Are they hanging?

MM: Sì.

KM: Where do they hang in your house?

MM: In my girls' room.

KM: What do they look like?

MM: Mi Pueblito, this one, is my first one.

KM: The first one she made. Okay, and what about the second one?

MM: A pilgrim. I have another one almost finished, it is a jungle.

KM: Why did you decide to do a jungle?

MM: Because my girls like animals a lot. [laughs.]

KM: How many children do you have?

MM: Two girls.

KM: Two girls, and what do they think, what does your family think about your quiltmaking?

MM: They think it is great, because they like the way I works with materials, it is a lot of art that I am creating. Sometimes I feel that I don't have very much imagination. [laughs.]

KM: I don't agree. [MM laughs.] This is great imagination. So when did you start making quilts?

MM: Two years ago.

KM: Did you start--were you at the beginning of the group? You were one of the first to join, that's good.

MM: Sì. [inaudible discussion between translator and Mirella.]

KM: You were in the exhibition in Lauren's?

MM: Yeah. People were interested in our quilts. My sister and I didn't want to sell them because we thought they were special.

KM: That is nice.

MM: My first one.

KM: I think that is good.

MM: She hasn't sold.

KM: Do you want to sell quilts?

MM: Sì.

KM: Is this one for sale?

MM: Sì.

KM: This one is for sale?

MM: Sì.

KM: How did you like having your work exhibited?

MM: I am very excited. [laughs.]

KM: Did people talk to you about your quilts?

MM: Ah ha.

KM: So what did you say to them?

MM: I didn't think it was going to go big, I was just doing it just to make one for their house. And then I saw that people were interested in buying them, so it was great.

KM: Do you have a sewing machine at home?

MM: No.

KM: So you have to sew on Wednesdays?

MM: Sì.

KM: Do you come every Wednesday?

MM: I didn't make it to class.

KM: I know because I didn't see her that is why I was asking.

MM: All last year I didn't come.

KM: How come?

MM: Just one thing or another. [laughs.]

KM: Why is quilting important to you?

MM: Memories. Memories that I can put on them. And I was the first one in class to get started, the whole class started.

KM: Do you have any other ideas for quilts?

MM: Sì.

KM: What are they? What do you want to do?

MM: I wants to finish the one I have first. [laughs.]

KM: The jungle, and then what?

MM: I don't know. Oh I wants to make a big quilt for a bed.

KM: This is the second person now that said they wanted to make a bed quilt. What kind of bed quilt do you want to make?

MM: In squares.

KM: What color?

MM: I don't know.

KM: You don't know.

MM: Different colors.

KM: Do you like bright colors?

MM: Both.

KM: What is your favorite color?

MM: Blue and red.

KM: Blue and red, so you could make a blue and red quilt.

MM: Sì. [laughs.]

KM: I sleep under a quilt. It is very nice to sleep under a quilt.

Yolanda Ibarra (YI): Did you make it? I was telling her about your quilt.

KM: That is nice.

YI: The work you put into it.

KM: Actually the quilt I sleep under I made for my husband. I made a wall quilt and he liked it so much that he wanted one that he could sleep under. I changed it though, because. It takes a long time to make a bed quilt. [MM laughs.] It takes a long time to make a bed quilt. Yeah it does. What are your favorite parts of making a quilt? The designing, do you like selecting the fabrics? Do you like the machine quilting?

MM: Trying to put the materials together.

KM: Did you plan this first, did you like draw it, or?

MM: I just imagined it and just kind of.

KM: Put the things where they needed to go. So you just looked through the fabrics that you had in the classroom?

MM: Yeah, I just looked at the materials and said, 'Oh I like this with this and this with that.'

KM: Do you think that your work has gotten better?

MM: I hope, yes. [laughs.]

YI: I just told her that she could tell the difference between the first one she made.

KM: Right and the last one.

MM: Sì. Because of the first one I just kind of said get material and just arrange it how I think. So I was looking at the Virgin Mary and looked at the colors and just kind of arranged the colors. This one is a lot better now.

KM: Is the Virgin Mary a full print, or did you create the Virgin Mary?

MM: I just cut it out. And then I just put flowers. This one I did differently.

KM: You drew these?

MM: I drew these.

KM: That is good. The faces, it looks like stitching, is it stitched? By hand?

MM: Yeah by hand, that is by hand too.

KM: You did all this by hand.

MM: Sì

KM: Nice guitar.

MM: [laughs.]

KM: Sweet children. This is good. The fireworks are wonderful. Were you excited when you found that fabric?

MM: Sì. [laughs.]

KM: You did a really good job. So what kind of, what are these to be?

MM: Those lights, they are sparklers.

KM: Sparklers that is what I thought it was. The little sparklers that. [MM laughs.]

YI: I was always afraid of those when I was little.

KM: Me to. They would burn your hand.

MM: That was a lot of material.

KM: Do you have any part of quiltmaking that you don't like?

MM: No. I like everything.

KM: That is good. Some people don't like borders, or the binding, the binding. That is good. Tell me about the class and how your feelings are and thoughts are about the class.

MM: I like it because we all get together in one room and decide what we are going to so and we ask each other if this looks fine or does this look better or this doesn't. We all agree. While we are sewing we can talk we can chat. [laughs.]

KM: You like the social part of it. Do you think that is really important?

MM: Sì. To get along with everybody.

KM: When you came did you know everybody that was there or did you meet new people?

MM: I got to meet other people.

KM: But you haven't been in a year. Do you know about the book?

MM: Sì.

KM: Is this quilt going to be in the book?

MM: Sì.

KM: How do you feel about the book?

MM: It is interesting. [laughs.]

KM: What do you think will happen with the book?

MM: I doesn't know. I hopes it sells. [laughs.]

KM: Do you think it will change the group?

MM: Maybe.

KM: Better or for worse. [laughs.]

MM: Sì. [laughs.]

KM: Where do you see the group being in like five years? Have you thought of that?

MM: No, I hadn't thought about it. [laughs.]

KM: Do you think you will continue to make quilts?

MM: Sì.

KM: Did you sew before? Did I ask that question, I'm getting a loopy?

MM: No.

KM: This is the first time.

MM: I didn't even know how to use a sewing machine. That has been really good, for the first time. [laughs.]

KM: Looking on the back, nice. What advice would you offer somebody starting out?

MM: That is nice to work with material and that I didn't even realize I could do that, so keep trying you can do it. Interesting.

KM: Yeah, well your interview now will be read by lots of people. [MM laughs.]

KM: This quilt is for sale and you hope it gets to be exhibited?

MM: Sì. I hope to. This one is not for sale.

KM: No. You're not going to sell your work?

MM: No. I'm just happy because they like it because I made it. [laughs.]

KM: You are just happy with the acknowledgement and your work and your talent?

MM: I don't want to sell this one.

YI: I asked her if she was planning on making one to sell and she says she is, yeah she is planning.

KM: What do you think makes a great quilt? When you look at a quilt and what makes you go, 'ahhh'?

MM: The colors and the shape that it is in. When I see a quilt with squares and triangles it catches my eye.

KM: You like geometric, the geometric. Yeah, do you like writing the story behind the quilt?

MM: No. [laughs.]

KM: But it is good to know the story behind the quilt.

YI: If I was looking at her quilt I would see it, but I knew it was some kind of fiesta, but I wouldn't know where it was from, and now that I know that it was from her town, I know more about her and the quilt.

KM: Right. So that is very good. Do they ever dance at these festivals, or do they just listen to the music? Well she doesn't have any dancers, nobody dancing.

MM: I missed that part. [laughs.]

KM: I was just curious, maybe they just walked around and talk.

MM: [laughs.] Can't hear much.

KM: Well that is right. I think I asked that question. Do you consider yourself an artist?

MM: No. [laughs.] Yeah, I probably have hidden in me somewhere.

KM: That is good. Do you think it will come out?

MM: Yes.

KM: That is good. Well, is there anything else you would like to share?

MM: No.

KM: This is good.

MM: Yeah.

KM: Thank you for letting me interview you, and we will conclude this at 12:21.


“Mirella Mendoza,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed July 15, 2024, https://qsos.quiltalliance.org/items/show/1535.