Katrina Mejia




Katrina Mejia




Karina Mejia


Karen Musgrave

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

The Salser Family Foundation


Boonville, California


Kim Greene


Note: Yolanda Ibarra was the interpreter. Also the quilt had sold so a photographed was used for the interview.

Karen S. Musgrave (KSM): This is Karen Musgrave. I'm conducting a Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories interview with Karina Mejia.

Karina Mejia (KM): Mejia.

KSM: Excuse me. It is March 8, 2007 and we are in Boonville, California. Thank you for doing this interview with me.

KM: Thank you.

KSM: Tell me about this quilt. Tell me the story behind it.

KM: This is a quilt that I decided to make it because my son loves fish. It was a quilt for him, but I, pretty much I decided to sell it. It is interesting because my son told me what can I add dolphins, sharks, seahorses, octopus, eels. That quilt, I made it when my son tell me what to put in.

KSM: Is this him in here?

KM: Si?. It is him.

KSM: Does he like being in the quilt?

KM: Yeah, he was so excited when I told him I went to put him in the quilt swimming with a dolphin. He was so excited about it.

KSM: How old is he?

KM: Right now he is seven.

KSM: How old was he when he helped you with this?

KM: Five. [laughs.]

KSM: This quilt is two years old.

KM: Yes.

KSM: Is it the first quilt you made?

KM: Yes.

KSM: You sold it?

KM: Yeah and I feel so proud of myself when I sold it.

KSM: Good. Very good. How many quilts have you made?

KM: This is the first one I made and finished. Now I start another, but I can't finish it because I'm a new mom and I don't have time.

KSM: It is a problem being a new mom. Did you sew before you did this, before you made this? Did you ever sew before?

KM: No.

KSM: This was the first time you were sewing?

KM: Yeah. I was sewing when I was working, but not this kind of thing.

KSM: Doing clothing?

KM: Yeah. But usually I work, but when I have a few minutes I have to give this a chance, but I didn't have to do it. I think I can do it and I did.

KSM: You did and it is very nice. It sold right away, where did it sell, which show?

KM: I don't remember, but I think it was in, I don't remember.

KSM: Did you get to go?

KM: No.

KSM: You didn't get to go and see the exhibition?

KM: No.

KSM: That is sad.

KM: I couldn't go because I was pregnant and I couldn't go. That is okay.

KSM: What does your next quilt look like?

KM: It is an angel.

KSM: Angel?

KM: A guardian angel.

KSM: Very nice.

KM: I came to my son. He told me, 'What don't you do an angel to take care of me and my brother, or sister.'

KSM: So it is an angel. Are you going to keep it or are you going to sell it?

KM: I don't know. The first time when I do this quilt I want to keep it for him, but he told me, 'Mommy if you want to sell it you can sell it.'

KSM: What a nice person.

KM: He tell me you can buy machine and do more quilts and that is what I did.

KSM: What kind of machine do you have?

KM: The usual ones we use here.

KSM: You took the money you made from the quilt and you bought yourself a machine. That is good. I like to hear that when you do things for themselves. Do you hope to make more quilts?

KM: Yes. He gave me an idea, he is so creative. When he sees me doing quilts he gives me ideas.

KSM: What does your husband think of this?

KM: The first time he thought I was crazy. He said, 'You can't do that.' I don't think that he knew. When he saw the quilt finished, he thought it was not very beautiful. He did not have the appreciation of the quilt. He didn't have the eye for the colors, somethings he didn't like in the quilt. I thought, 'oh my God, I sold the quilt.' It is beautiful because I made it with love, for my son, he is so excited. I don't care if my husband likes it or not. Say whatever you want to say. I like the quilt. It is for my baby and not for you. When I sell it, the people paid attention to my quilt. I felt so proud, because he say the quilters like it. My husband not very much, but the other people.

KSM: Did he change his mind after you sold it?

KM: Yeah. [laughs.] 'Make more quilts.'

KSM: I knew that would happen.

KM: He told me you can do more quilts. And he tried to help me.

KSM: After that?

KM: Yeah, after that he tried to help me. You can use these materials, you can use that, I can help you draw something to make a new quilt.

KSM: Did he help you draw the angel?

KM: Yeah, he draw it.

KSM: He drew the angel, very good.

KM: When I need money to buy some a little material or when I need something, he told me I could have money to buy whatever you need for the quilts.

KSM: Do you like making quilts?

KM: Yes, yes I like it. It is a distraction for me, but now I don't have too much time, because I have many distractions with my baby, but.

KSM: That will change, they grow up. Where at home, where is your sewing machine at home?

KM: Sometimes I try to sew on the quilt and sometimes I fix clothes for my husband.

KSM: Where is it located?

KM: In the kitchen.

KSM: A lot of us sew in the kitchen because there is a big table.

KM: I do it in the kitchen.

KSM: What is your favorite part of making a quilt? Is it the designing of it, is it picking out the fabrics, putting it together?

KM: Putting them together.

KSM: You like putting it together?

KSM: Yeah, it was fun because I was putting the seahorses up there and I put them down there, and my son and the dolphin will be in the middle. But the thing in the quilt I really love it is when my son told me I'm going to get some jewels down in the sea to make you, for you to give it on Mother's Day, and he helped me sew that little bead. He helped me to sew it.

KM: There are beads on all of the eyes? We are looking at a photograph so that makes it a little bit tougher because the quilt has been sold. There are beads on all of the eyes. Is there any other kind of embellishments in here?

KSM: The pearl. [KM is pointing to the pearl in the quilt and KSM is stating this.]

KM: He has a pearl in his hand.

KSM: The jewels he found.

KM: The ocean for you on Mother's Day. He tried to help me with all of the eyes and--

KSM: The stinger?

KM: 'I don't want to do it anymore Mom.' It was fun, very fun. Tthe part of the quilt I have spent time with him because sometimes I feel so occupied, cleaning the house, and when we sit together to make the quilt, we spend time together. It is good for me, I don't have time for him, that is what I'm thinking, but when he help to make the quilt we have time. We enjoy it.

KSM: You joined the group pretty much at the beginning?

KM: Yes.

KSM: What do you think of the group?

KM: The group, I feel so comfortable. The first time I feel like not so comfortable, but after two weeks I was comfortable, I feel so comfortable because the people push us to make, you can do it, you can do it. You can use these, you can. We feel the friends, they are talking to us, we feel the word we feel, are encouraging us to do it. Not feel like afraid to make it. Everybody was talking about it, you can do this, I can do that. It is so beautiful.

KSM: How did you find out about this? How did you find the group?

KM: I came to class in the morning, an English class. We start to make, knitting and crocheting, but I made a scarf and I told you. I didn't finish it. I hid it in my home because I didn't like it.

KSM: I think it is really good that if you don't like something you can just say I tried.

KM: The quilt, I feel more and I want to do more and I want to do another thing. I want to do the angel, something about Mexico and my culture and I want to do it.

Yolanda Ibarra: The time goes by faster. Before you know it three hours are gone already.

KSM: What are you going to do about Mexico?

KM: I want to make a lake, but in the lake there is an in the middle. I want to make it.

KSM: What other ideas do you have, any other ideas?

KM: Yes, I have another with my house when I was in Mexico. I want to make it because it is a different house that like we in live here. We live here in an apartment. In Mexico we were free, we can run for everywhere and we can eat the foods, because all my house have, we have plants with food, so we can plant tomatoes and carrots. We free and we feel so excited to cut the food.

KSM: How long have you been here?

KM: Like eight years.

KSM: A long time.

KM: I was so young when I lived here. I was sixteen.

KSM: Have you been back to Mexico?

KM: Yes I went three years ago, but now I don't think so. We went to my grandmother.

KSM: That is good to meet grandmothers. Family is important. Why is quilting important to you?

KM: Because we have more opportunity to improve ourselves. We can think better, there is nothing in the home, boredom. I have time to spend with my husband now; with my husband and my oldest child. I think it is important, because we sit down and talk about the quilt. We didn't fight, we just talking.

KSM: Talking together.

KM: Talking and talking. It is important.

KSM: How big was this quilt?

KM: Like this and like this.

KSM: How big is your angel?

KM: Bigger. Like three times bigger.

KSM: Really big. What made you decide to do the angel really big?

KM: Because I want to put it in the hallway by my son. I want to put it in. I tried to make it bigger so he feels protected because sometimes he cries because he feels alone. My son feels the eyes of the angel are looking at him. I want to make the angel big so he feels like the angel is there. I told him always when you are in the school or at home, wherever you are, then you can see it. I try to make the angel bigger.

KSM: Very good. What else is on the composition besides just the angel?

KM: There is a lake or a river. A child is playing with a dog. The dog goes to the lake and he is drowning and boy tried to help the dog. The angel is looking the boy, helping and protecting him. The girl is carrying some sheep. It is beautiful. I can't finish it.

KSM: That is okay. What are her wings made out of?

KM: With real feathers. I want real feathers.

KSM: How are you attaching them?

KM: With glue, because it is hard to sew the feathers.

KSM: It has lots of feathers?

KM: Yes.

KSM: It would think so. It is a big angel.

KM: Lots of feathers.

KSM: What color is the dress?

KM: It is transparent. Her top is white with a veil of gold and her skirt down there is like a transparent because it is like flowing. It is invisible.

KSM: So you put a lot of thought into this.

KM: [laughs.]

KSM: Which is good? It is very, very good. What advice would you give somebody starting out?

KM: That they can find classes, they can feel comfortable. We can help them and they can do it. They don't have to stay at home anymore just staring at the TV, they can do it, something new and if they need help we can help them. It is nice spending time at home making and spend time here in the class. They should know they can do quilts like me. I think I can't do it, but I did.

KSM: Is this going to be in the book?

KM: Yes.

KSM: How do you feel about the book?

KM: I feel like. I told Molly I feel like I am a star.

KSM: Good you are.

KM: I feel like that because when we start to go to the conference to make exhibition I said how am I going to tell the person who asks me about the quilt? What am I going to tell them? But now, you have an exhibition in this part and you have an exhibition and people want to come. I feel like I'm walking on a red carpet like the famous people.

KSM: Good. What do you think makes a great quilt? What makes you say, 'oh yes this is a great'?

KM: About?

KSM: Not your quilt, any quilt.

KM: I think we have to continue doing the quilt. Because I sold the first quilt and I think they are beautiful and now we improve to sew.

KSM: You are improving your technique.

KM: Yeah, technique, and I think which quilt is finish, I think it is beautiful and beautiful and I think that happen with my quilt.

KSM: You will get better and better and better.

KM: That is good to know, and I think it is good to tell people it is beautiful because they have more opportunities or they feel good about it and they have stronger to make better and better. All of the quilts, okay I make one that is enough. I want to make more and more. The history.

KSM: You like the story behind it?

KM: Yeah.

KSM: You think the story is important?

KM: Yeah.

KSM: Do you have a hard time writing the story for your quilt?

KM: No. Because my son told me, he told everything in the quilt. This happen in.

KSM: He helped you a lot?

KM: Yeah, he helped me a lot.

KSM: Have you been part of the film?

KM: No.

KSM: Do you know about the film, Lee making the film?

KM: No.

KSM: Lee [Serrie.] is making a film about the group.

KM: Oh yeah, yeah. I did an interview.

KSM: How was that?

KM: It was fun. Molly told me that I just needed to read my story but she needed help with more stories, so I read Teresa Alvarez and Alma Carrillo. We just came in and read stories and we talk about my quilt. But they give me more story because people don't want to do it. I feel so comfortable and I try to help them. It was fun. I have to leave to go to my house early because my son, I think he was crying because I could feel my chest filling with milk. A little bit my son cry, but when I get home I breast fed him and he feel fine. I feel good with Molly and I feel good with my baby. My mom is here and she can care for him.

KSM: What does she think of your quilt? What does your mom think of the quilt?

KM: She think I am very good person and she think. She didn't think I could do it, and when I show the quilt, she think, 'oh you can do this.' She is like a professional sewer. She made clothes and when she saw this, she told me I can't do this, how can you do it. I told her you can do it if you want. I think the same thing with me and I can do it.

KSM: Did she make a quilt?

KM: No she don't want to try it. She is afraid.

KSM: You have to get her over that. Yes.

KM: Yeah, I want to try with her, but she don't want to come. She came from Washington to see me for two weeks and she don't want to come to school. I say, 'Okay we will stay at home.' She didn't want to try. She think this is a beautiful quilt. I show her the angel and she love it.

KSM: I wish I could see the angel.

Yolanda Ibarra (YI): You should have brought it.

KM: Yeah.

KSM: I would have loved to see the angel. What other plans, any further plans that you have? Will you be able to travel to an exhibition? Would you like to go?

KM: Yes. This time they have one exhibition in LA and I feel like, why didn't Molly tell me do you want to go.

KSM: Oh you would have gone?

KM: Yeah, I would have gone, but I think Molly think I have a baby and she has to stay with him. Maybe can go to another exhibition. I think this opportunity for the people who have quilt because I already sell this and I don't have a quilt to show the people and I. I feel like, 'Molly why didn't you tell me.'

KSM: Finish your angel. Then she won't be able to tell you that you can't go. Right, then you will have it. Is there anything else you would like to share?

KM: Yes, invite the people to come to try and make a quilt. The first time is difficult, but then it is easier.

KSM: You get more confidence.

KM: Yeah.

KSM: Thank you so much for taking the time to share with me.

KM: Thank you.

KSM: We are going to conclude our interview at 3:10.


“Katrina Mejia,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed May 27, 2024, https://qsos.quiltalliance.org/items/show/1538.