Cindy Wismann




Cindy Wismann




Cindy Wismann


Joanne Gasperik

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

The Nat'l Quilting Assn


Bonita Springs, Florida


Joanne Gasperik


Joanne Gasperik (JG): This is Joanne Gasperik. Today is April 14, 2008. It's 1:43 in the afternoon. I'm conducting an interview with [Naples Quilt.] Guild member Cindy Wismann for Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories and we are in her home in Bonita Springs. [Florida.]. Thank you very much, Cindy, for taking the time to be interviewed today. Tell me about the quilt. Describe it and tell me its meaning to you.

Cindy Wismann (CW): Okay. Well, it's a heart pattern that was probably my second maybe third quilt that I made. I made a baby quilt for my daughter, and this was for my daughter as well. I just have one child and she is 22 now. But this was her first one when she was two and it was the heart design that I fell in love with. It is pieced and very traditional and four squares and lots of hearts. I think maybe there were like 96 hearts all together on it. There was a lot. I don't recall exactly, but a lot. They are little four-inch squares I believe. It's all just multiple colors, just happy colors for a little girl. Blues and yellows and reds and pinks and what do you call those colors?

JG: Calicos.

CW: Calicos.

JG: They're Calicos.

CW: Thank you. Yes, of course. [laughs.]

JG: Calicos. Before we were blessed with the myriad of colors and designs.

CW: Absolutely. Exactly. This was sort of my first taste in making a big quilt. It's about a queen size and what else can I tell you about it, do you think?

JG: So, it was on her bed?

CW: It was on her bed. She slept under it for a long time until she outgrew that, and I had to make another one. [laughs.]

JG: Oh! Did she really outgrow it?

CW: Yes. Because it became mine after that, [both laugh.] and she's like 'Oh, mom, that's so childish. I need something' bigger and better. So, it became mine and it's now on display in my home.

JG: Okay, so she dragged it around--

CW: Yes, she did. Yes, she did. Yes, it actually has little holes in it that I haven't repaired yet.

JG: So, when did she outgrow it? How old was she?

CW: I probably took it off her bed when she was maybe sixth grade.

JG: Ah, see? She had it for a long time.

CW: She had it for a long time.

JG: So, you've been quilting a long time?

CW: Yes, I have. I guess. Yes and no. I've been quilting for probably the last 10 years I'd say more passionately than what I did before. Before, when I was probably in my thirties, I was so busy with working and then having a child and raising her that time got away. Now I have more time and it's more of a passion than it was then. So yes, how many years would you say? Twenty-five years, I guess for quilting.

JG: What got you turned on to quilting?

CW: Well, you've got to love fabric. [laughs.] Feeling fabric and going into stores and just being around fabric. I just love fabric. My grandmother, my mom, my aunts were all quilters. So, I was around it my entire life. Growing up my mom and her sisters [Cindy's dog is barking at the pool water.] Sorry, that's Bertie. My mom and her sisters would have quilts set up at each of their houses and they would have little quilting bees. When I was younger, I would go and that would be my tent. Then I graduated to being able to thread needles for them and then they eventually taught me how to quilt.

JG: When you were still playing tent, you were four or five?

CW: Oh, every bit of, yes, definitely.

JG: And when did they let you start threading the needle and helping stitch?

CW: Probably like ten, eleven, I was older.

JG: Wonderful.

CW: And then I asked my mom, how old she was when grandma first let her make her first stitches and she said about 15. So, I got to do it a little sooner. I guess I had some interest there. [both laugh.]

JG: Oh, that's a wonderful background that you have. I know that you have heirloom quilts from your grandmother. Tell me a little bit of background about your grandmother, quickly, about her quilting. Where and when.

CW: What I remember is my grandmother had rheumatoid arthritis and she had it so severe that her fingers were bent, but she always persevered and did hand quilting and hand piecing and that's what I remember, seeing her do that. Almost every time I would see her that's what she was doing. That was I guess the beginning of where I saw quilting.

JG: Your first quilt memory.

CW: My first quilt memory, exactly. Question again? I'm sorry.

JG: No that's okay, that's okay. So, she was a quilter all of her life as well.

CW: Well, she was. She had 3 sisters and a brother. Then she had thirteen children of her own, which are my mom and my aunts and uncles. There were five girls out of the thirteen. Basically, out of necessity they were utility quilts that she made. But grandma was, my grandmother was a piecer and she loved to work with one inch and two-inch little pieces and little diamond shapes. That was what she did in her early years. Then my mom and her sisters, embroidery quilts, embroidery squares were their timeframe. So that's what they did.

JG: Time frame for your mom's quilting is when?

CW: Well, I was born in '56. So that was the fifties and sixties, maybe even into the early seventies. Probably more sixties and early seventies I would say.

JG: Before the revival.

CW: Which was?

JG: '72. 1972.

CW: Of? Not being just embroidered, it became very big at that time. Yes. So anyway, that was what they did. It was strictly utility. That was what their quilts were, strictly utility.

JG: Where was this? Where did they live?

CW: In St Louis Missouri, in the city. Then they moved out to the county. All of my aunts moved out to the county. That's where they would do the quilting. Another interesting thing that I found out from my mom today was my grandmother belonged to the Marine Moms [dog barks.] she was part of the Marine Moms and for World War Two they made these little banners and gave to the families of soldiers. I had of course an uncle that was in the service. So, my grandmother did this. And lo and behold, I didn't know that story, my mom told me today. For our guild that was one of the projects that I did for the Iraqi war, was develop a star. The guild made them, and we passed out, oh gosh, to over 2 or 3 hundred. I think it was over 300, if I remember now. Little flags that we gave to soldier's families for the Iraqi war.

JG: I still think you should copyright that design because it came out of your head, didn't it?

CW: It did. It did.

JG: You should copyright that. But that's very, very unique that the genes really were passed on to you. The urge to make the stars for the service men.

CW: Yeah. I find that totally amazing, that I did something that my grandmother did, unbeknownst to me, that she had done this. That thrills me.

JG: That's remarkable.

CW: And out of the family of thirteen, my grandmother and grandfather had thirteen children, I'm pretty much the only one that does the piecing and the intricate and traditional work that my grandmother did. I find that kind of amazing. [laughs.]

JG: It is unique, it is unique. It is interesting that even though it didn't skip a generation, that your mom was also a quilter, but in my case at least, and I didn't want to elaborate, but I'm the only quilter really out of 10 grandchildren.

CW: Oh, wow.

JG: So, yes it happens. Where did you learn to quilt? Basically, from your mom?

CW: Basically, from my mom. I don't even think my mother bought me a sewing machine. I bought one much later. One that was not good that never worked properly. Then I finally graduated from that. But I guess--

JG: You learned hand-piecing?

CW: yes, I did, I took a hand-piecing class form a lady in Missouri and started there. I still have the little squares that I made on that. I think that I just ventured out and looked for it. And of course, moving to Naples, Florida has been a real adventure as far as quilting, because I've learned so much just from the ladies, the diverse group of ladies because everybody came from all over the place, and they have interesting things to teach you. Anyway, I think since I've been here in the last eight years, I've learned so much more. The beginning stages, just being around is the osmosis of quilting was there [Missouri.]. And it's not like I took major art classes or anything like that. I just love it, that's all.

JG: It was in you, just like those stars were in you, inside of you.

CW: Yeah.

JG: So, do you belong to just one guild? Do you belong to some bees?

CW: I belong to the Naples Quilt Guild, and they have a bee in the Naples Quilt Guild that I go to once a month. Other than that, no, no, that's it. I have to find time for quilting.

JG: Right. What spurred you on to join a guild? What was your thinking? Did you expect to learn more about quilting when you joined?

CW: I think it was social. I was moving to Florida from St Louis and knew no one. I had belonged to a guild in St Louis briefly, maybe two months, liked what I saw and then when I moved down here, before I moved down here, I looked for guilds that were close by where I was going to be moving to and decided to join at that point. So, I jumped in with both feet at that time.

JG: Right, yes, you did. I know you've held many offices at the guild. Many offices.

CW: I've done my share.

JG: You felt that was also part of belonging to the guild.

CW: Absolutely. Absolutely. When you're in a group, that's one way to get to know everybody and just know things and gain information.

JG: Besides guiding the members on the Star Quilt, have you taught quilting?

CW: I never have. I guess I just never looked at myself as being a teacher, although that would be something I would be interested in. Other than being around my friends and we talk about it and share ideas, no, I haven't taught formally.

JG: We do share a lot, though. So unofficially we are teachers when we share.

CW: That's true.

JG: How does quilting impact your family?

CW: Well, that's an interesting question. I can't believe I have an answer for that. [both laugh.] Of course, my husband was always jealous because I didn't have a quilt for him. Now he has one and it's hanging on my wall in my house. He loves flamingos, so I made him a flamingo quilt. [laughs.] And that was spurred on by my mother-in-law who lives in Tampa. She wanted to go to the Florida State Fair, and she asked me to put a quilt there. So, I put my husband's quilt in, which is "Flamingos" and actually got an Honorable Mention, which was so exciting. Does that answer the question?

JG: Yeah, I guess so. [both laugh.] So, your husband is very proud of your quilting, no doubt.

CW: Oh, yes, oh, yes. The rest of the family, how it impacts my family, my daughter is becoming a teacher. She was doing an internship. One of the classrooms that she did an internship in had a quilt in it that the children had made. So now she wants me to be part of her classroom situation and help the kids in her classroom make a quilt, to either display in the classroom or to use as an auction at the fund-raiser, or whatever she chooses to do with it. So I think it had definitely made an impact on my family in those ways.

JG: How often will you be commuting up--

CW: I don't know. [both laugh.] Because I don't think she's moving back here. I think she's going to stay in Tampa. Yes, I'll be on the road a lot.

JG: Once a week is enough, but maybe every two weeks.

CW: Yes, exactly, exactly. [JG exclaims.] So, it will be interesting to see how that comes out.

JG: Have you ever used quilting to get through a difficult time?

CW: More than you know. Oh, my gosh, Joanne. I can't believe these questions. Oh, goodness.

JG: If it's too difficult, we'll pass.

CW: Well, I think it's something worth sharing.

JG: Please do.

CW: So, if I need a Kleenex. Hold on.

JG: I paused the tape briefly and now we're back answering questions. Have you ever used quilting to get through a difficult time?

CW: There was a major upset in our family life [sighs. very emotional.]

JG: Take your time. Take your time. It was very traumatic a few years ago. Two years?

CW: Yes, right around two years ago, my daughter was raped. She got help from the University of South Florida at the Advocacy Center which was absolutely wonderful. So, they had a project called the Clothesline Project and I felt very compelled to make a quilt for them, which I did. It was a quilt that had little t-shirts on it and the people got to write messages on the t-shirts and it was the stories of the people that had been raped or had been victims of incest or women that had various issues like that. Well anyway needless to say I made this quilt, and it is now hanging at USF [University of South Florida.] in the Advocacy Center, which I'm very proud to say. They were thrilled to get it and they felt that it would bring a lot of healing to a lot of women that went through what my daughter went through. So, yes, it was a very emotional time, and I can't believe that I haven't really thought a whole lot about it until now when you posed the question. I didn't know that I would get this emotional again. But, yes, it's always there.

JG: It's a major event. Other people also made quilts? The Clothesline, when you say it was--

CW: No. That was just my way of expressing my feelings and the joy that I had for the women that were working with my daughter to help her through this difficult time and to bring her back to a whole person again. It was amazing. It took me a year to make it. I gave it to them. They were just overwhelmed by it. The ladies, the wonderful psychologist and one was the lady that runs the Advocacy Center at USF, the University of South Florida. I'm glad that it's helping other women, if that's what it was for. But it really helped me while I made it. It helped me through a year of torture. I don't know what else to call it. I mean it was just a work in progress. I'm very proud of it and I'm very proud of my daughter for where she is today.

JG: Very good, very good. What do you think makes a great quilt? What lures you? When you walk into a quilt show or see a quilt, what kinds of quilts do you run up to?

CW: For me it's flowers. Mine are reality. Mine are not abstract. Whether its art or whether its traditional, it's flowers, something that brings you joy and happiness and makes you smile. That's what I'm drawn to in a quilt. Colors, design. I don't know, something that puts a smile on your face.

JG: Are those the quilts that you make as well?

CW: I tend to think so. Because the quilt that I gave to the Advocacy Center was full of flowers. It was a garden. The garden was the background, and the clothesline went from one oak tree to another. I like realistic. I like to be able to see what I'm making.

JG: Do you think that your quilts reflect your community in that sense? In the colors.

CW: I suppose. I live in a wonderful community, living on a golf course and having beauty all around you. So, it's hard not to--

JG: That's influenced you.

CW: It definitely has influenced me.

JG: What do you find pleasing about quilting?

CW: It's very relaxing. It takes your mind off of anything that might be bothering you. It's just very therapeutic. I always laugh when I say that, because I say it's better than going to the doctor. [laughs.] It's just very relaxing and it's something I totally enjoy. It's the one thing that I have passion for and that I love. Other than my family of course.

JG: Of course, of course. So, you do it for hours at a time and days at a time or what's your schedule?

CW: I can. I can. Well, I still work, that's the unfortunate thing, but when I do get a chance, I could probably work at it for 8 hours a day and I go on quilt retreats on occasion, once a year, sometimes twice a year, and spend a week at it. At night I sit on the couch and do handwork.

JG: Do you still hand piece?

CW: Yes, I do. I have a grandmother's Flower Garden that I'm doing, which is in the non-traditional colors, very bright colors. So, yes I am doing that for about two years now and that's just an ongoing project. When it gets done, it gets done.

JG: Yeah, yeah. You enjoy all aspects of quilting?

CW: Yes, I do. I love the quilting part of it. I love the piecing part. Yes, I do the designing. I love it all. I can't say that I know everything. I certainly don't, but I'm always willing to learn something new.

JG: Do you actually actively do all the aspects of quilting? Do you hand piece and machine piece and--

CW: From start to finish, start to finish.

JG: The whole works.

CW: I do.

JG: Every part of it, you love.

CW: I do, yeah. Everything. There isn't anything I have not tried that I didn't like. Yup, I like it all.

JG: Do you have a lot of UFOs [unfinished objects.]?

CW: Hehehe, more than I probably need to share [laughs.] Yes.

JG: Well, I have mentioned this earlier [in a previous interview.]; if you have UFOs, by all means donate them to the [Naples Quilters Guild.] auction, if you're not going to finish them.

CW: Okay, alright. I probably should go through my stash of UFOs. [both laugh.] There shouldn't be a stash of UFOs, but I have them.

JG: Are there aspects of quilting you do not enjoy.

CW: No there really isn't. Just not having the time for it, that's all. [laughs.]

JG: That can put a real damper in the enthusiasm and joy. Boy. Do you document your quilts?

CW: Actually, I have started a journal. I have probably taken pictures of most quilts. I am starting to document; I have this little book that's like a journal that you can put the picture in and then have the story or the date and things like that, information about the quilt. I have just started doing that. I have not been very good about that.

JG: How about your labeling?

CW: That particular quilt with the little hearts on it that is in the picture--no, there is no label on that, I don't think. I know, 'Bad, bad, bad.' But most of the other ones I've put labels on. I've given many away. So, all of them have labels, because I want people to know where that came from.

JG: That's another question, you make quilts as gifts?

CW: Yeah, I do. Yeah, baby quilts, wedding quilts. Not so much wedding quilts anymore, because they take too long, because usually they're a queen size and actually I probably only have done one of those. I'll be real honest about that one, but baby quilts I've done several. Oh, my daughter, when she was in high school, I made a quilt that was a signature quilt. She was on a soccer team and all the girls on the soccer team signed the quilt and it was made up of soccer balls, and they gave it to the coach that year. So that was kind of fun. So, yeah, and my mom and dad, I made a signature quilt for them that all the family members signed. Yeah, I give away a lot of my quilts. [laughs.]

JG: Do you hope, when you give these quilts away, that they will be preserved or used, or does it really depend on the quilt that you've given?

CW: It definitely depends on the quilt. Now the signature quilt with my mom and dad, they have hanging on a wall. I asked them not to put it in a place where sun would hit it. So, it will be preserved, for as long as it can be preserved, I guess. And the baby quilts, of course, are functional. Although the one that I made has the baby's name. It was the first adopted baby in the family, so I wanted to make sure she got a quilt. I just put all the information about her. I quilted that into the quilt. So, I'm hoping that they really treasure that one.

JG: It's quilted, not embroidered into the--

CW: Quilted into it.

JG: That's important.

CW: Yeah.

JG: And if someone is not aware, how to care for a quilt, do you give them instructions as well?

CW: Of course. Definitely. Not that I know the right things to do all the time, but like I said try not to put them in the sun and how to wash them or how to take care of them. Yeah, as much as I can. Once you give a gift away, it's up to them to do with what they want.

JG: That's true. I heard you earlier mention 'design'. Do you design your own quilts, or do you prefer to use patterns?

CW: I use a lot of patterns. I don't consider myself an art quilter, although I would like to go in that direction. I like to design. I sketch things out a lot, but I guess I don't know enough to put it into a quilt yet, how to take the fabric and make it look like I want it to look. I'm not all the way there yet as far as designing.

JG: Well, I suppose it depends on what kind of quilts you're making. If it's a pieced quilt, you could calculate your designs, how big you want blocks to be.

CW: Right.

JG: As opposed to leaf or flowers where you may just bring a flower in and sketch that.

CW: I do like a three dimensional when I'm doing flowers. I know Joan Shay is one of my favorites as far as a quilt designer. She does a three dimensional where there's fabric on both sides and the flowers stand up. I love that method. I do use that a fair amount.

JG: Appli-bond.

CW: Appli-bond. Thank you.

JG: And then dimensional, actually historically, Baltimore Album ladies did a lot of dimensional. So, you are evenly between piecing and appliqué?

CW: Probably. I love both of them. I love the appliqué because you can sit on the couch, but I do machine appliqué as well. So, again, I can't say there isn't anything that I don't like. I wouldn't say, like 50/50. I probably still do more piecing than I do appliqué. But I'm getting into where I'm doing the piecing and putting appliqué on top of the pieced quilt. I love that look. That's something else that I like.

JG: That is because a pieced background is very effective.

CW: Yes.

JG: You have discovered that.

CW: Yes, I had discovered that. [both laugh.]

JG: Do you try to get a quilt in the show every year?

CW: Well, again, I still work and then I was on a bunch of committees with the guild. So, I didn't have a whole lot of time to make and finish a quilt. So that's why my UFO box is really big. [laughs.] Maybe this year, being off and not having a lot of responsibilities, Joanne, [laughs. CW is hinting that JG was just past guild president.] maybe we can do some quilts, huh?

JG: That could be a goal. [both are laughing.]

CW: That's a goal, that's right.

JG: That could be a goal. [both are laughing.] How do you choose a design? Or you choose fabrics and colors?

CW: You can ask my husband; I have a ton of magazines and books. When something catches my eye, for instance, for Christmas for my family, this is my mom and dad--back to my grandmother. My grandfather made my grandmother a quilt frame. They were the boards, he stained them and put ticking on them and nailed them down with the little tacks, well these boards were 100 years old. I inherited them and I used them for a while and found out that the machine quilting via the long arm was really taking over my life, so the quilt frame became obsolete to me. But I didn't want them to be obsolete, so my husband and I cut them. I found a little cute wall hanging. I have 3 brothers and my mom and dad, so for Christmas this year in 2007 I made a quilted wall hanging for them and we gave them the quilt frame. Each got a piece of the quilt frame. They are very used. [gets up and brings a piece of quilt frame to the table.] They have lots of marks on them where the little, what do call that, where you tighten it down? It's a clamp.

JG: A clamp. C-clamps.

CW: The c-clamps went on it. There are initials and the names on the quilt frame, so everybody got one with the initials or name on it. So that's what their wall hangings are hanging from.

JG: What a thoughtful gift. What a thoughtful gift.

CW: Anyway, so I got one for myself and I haven't made my little wall hanging yet, to hang that. So that's what they got. Like I said these are over 100 years old. I just didn't want to see them thrown away.

JG: You were saying 'long arm.' Do you do long arm quilting yourself?

CW: I have one. I have done a few quilts already on that. I think I've done three and they all have been given away. [wind chimes are playing.] I don't have any to show on that one, but I do the long arm. I like it. I do free motion. I don't follow a pattern. I just do whatever the square calls for, or the quilt calls for.

JG: So actually, you're in a position to not judge, but to evaluate, to weigh out how you like hand quilting, sit down quilting and long arm quilting.

CW: I think they all have their purpose in the quilting world. I like the long arm, the newest to me in the quilting stage, because it's fast. I think it's why I like it. I do like the look of it 90 percent of the time. I still have a lot of booboos with it where the threads get caught up. I haven't totally figured that out. The hand quilting, I like. I just think it's very personal. I think it's extremely personal, especially if something is hand pieced and then hand quilted, which is my Grandmother's Flower Garden. It is hand pieced, and I will hand quilt that. That will be a treasure. My daughter's getting all of my quilts in the end anyway, whether she likes it or not. [both laugh.] She will inherit them all. So, the hand quilting, it's just too time-consuming I think for me. I need to get things done quickly and that's why I've resorted to the machine quilting and the long arm.

JG: So you prefer the long arm to the sit-down machine?

CW: Only because it's faster, not necessarily because it's better, only because it's faster. And then machine quilting, I had a machine at my kitchen table. I like that look too. So, they all serve a different purpose. I think if I am doing a smaller wall hanging, I like to sit at the sewing machine at the kitchen table. But a long arm is great for queens or kings or the bigger quilts. And then, I don't know, I don't have my frame any more for the Grandmother's Flower Garden. I'm going to have to come up with an idea on how to quilt that by hand, since I cut up my grandmother's quilt frame.

JG: Well, a hoop.

CW: Hoop, yeah.

JG: Baste the daylights out of it and do it in a hoop. And you will keep that for yourself, or is that slated for a gift?

CW: No, that one will definitely stay with me. That one will stay with me. And actually, the fabric in that, in the Grandmother's Flower Garden was, I overbought fabric. Oh, darn, I hate when that happens. [both laugh.] overbought fabric for a lady that belonged to our golf community here that passed away from cancer. For her 60th birthday my girlfriend and I made this quilt for her. We were both going in together buying the fabric and ended up with an excess of it. So that's what my 'Grandmother's Flower Garden' is being made out of. It's the leftover fabric from her. So I'll always remember Kathy.

JG: Oh, that's a great memory. Those are great memories.

CW: Yeah.

JG: What do you think of the importance of quilts in American life? Historically or now.

CW: Historically I guess I really haven't done--I love the history behind it, like the Underground Railroad and all the quilts that were made in that time frame. I like that part of it and I like the designs that were initially designed and made, because I like to draw from the names and the history off of a design. Today's design I think is very, its open for anything. I just think that any kind of quilt goes. And beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So, I think if this is what you like, that's what you create. I think that's what today is in the quilting world. There is just so much variety in it. That's wonderful that there can be that much variety in the quilting world. Going into a quilt show is just like going into an art museum. There is just so much diversity in what people do. But to me traditional patterns, I like. I just think they hold a lot of history and value. Maybe that's just my time frame that I came from, with my grandmother and what she did and how it came to me.

JG: Do you think that quilting has really developed a different meaning for women now as opposed to historically?

CW: Well, yes, because I think the older ones were functional. They had to have them to sleep under. They had to have them to keep warm at night. Now they're on display. They're just beautiful works of art. So, I think that they are a utility and on beds. And I guess when I think of the quilts today as being art but you're right, these are traditional. It's what I like, it's what I do. So, I guess that is art to me, whether I'm following somebody else's pattern or design, what difference does it make. Does that answer the question?

JG: Sure. Do you think that women expressed different things with their quilts?

CW: Oh. [both laugh at the dog's antics around the pool.] Yes, at all times. Throughout history women have expressed their feelings through quilts. Gosh I can't even think of a pattern right now, that is an older pattern, you know an historical pattern that would be, they all had meaning. I do believe they all had meaning. When you're making a quilt, it means something. You're doing it for a reason at the time. So, they all have meaning. They all have a story, I guess. Every quilt that you make, the time and the effort and the emotion that goes into every quilt that I think every quilter makes.

JG: The signature quilts that you make, that's not a new notion.

CW: No, absolutely not.

JG: Baby quilts that were made, that's not a new notion either.

CW: Right, right.

JG: Is there something you thought I would ask you that I haven't, that you would like to convey to people hearing this conversation? Is there a message that you would like to give quilters?

CW: Just keep creating. They're just beautiful. It's the industry of quilting or the making of quilts has just grown so much and I'm so thrilled about that, that you don't have to feel like because you're a quilter. I mean I feel like I'm fairly young and it was pegged as an older person's hobby, and now it's an industry. It's just a huge industry. I'm thrilled about that. I hope that it always continues and that it keeps going forward.

JG: What's next on your agenda?

CW: I have a baby quilt waiting to be quilted.

JG: Machine quilted?

CW: It will be machine quilted.

JG: Long arm?

CW: Probably at the sewing machine at the kitchen table.

JG: Okay.

CW: Yeah. The baby's already born of course, so I'm a little behind on that one, and another one for my husband. He's been asking me for another quilt. I mean he gets his feelings hurt, the poor little thing. When he doesn't have a quilt of his own.

JG: Does he have his design picked out?

CW: Well actually I picked it for him. We go to Lake Tahoe every year. He's very much into snow skiing and the wilderness and the bears in the woods. So, it's all going to be like a woodsy, bear theme. That's what I'm working on now.

JG: Okay.

CW: Something to warm him.

JG: Do you have a big stash?

CW: Relatively speaking, you know. In comparison to whom? [both laugh.]

JG: In comparison to the ten thousand bolt quilt shop. [both laugh.]

CW: I have my fair share. I'll just say that. More than my husband will know.

JG: Do you have a neat quilt studio or do the fabrics fly?

CW: Well, that depends. Now that you're here and you came over, it's probably a little bit neater than normal. [JG laughs.] When my girlfriend comes over--

JG: It's an audio tape, not a visual. [both laugh.]

CW: Good, good, thank goodness. I have fabrics tucked everywhere. And when I'm in there quilting, of course, threads are on the floor, everything is everywhere. You know, par for the course. But when someone's coming over, I like to make it look pretty, so that they think that I'm nice and organized. [both laugh.]

JG: When you go to Tahoe, you took quilting projects with you?

CW: Oh, yes. Last year I took a machine and this year I took a machine. I didn't get real far on Bruce's quilt. It's sort of a working vacation and it snowed a lot, so we got to ski a lot, so I didn't get a a whole lot of quilting done this year. And next year I've decided I'm just going to take all hand quilting. I'm going to take my 'Grandmother's Flower Garden' and try to get that done.

JG: Famous last words.

CW: Famous last words.

JG: So, you have to travel with a stash, because you never know what inspiration will hit you.

CW: That's true, although I have a wonderful husband that said, and I found two lovely quilt shops right down the street from where I stay, and he said, 'Oh, don't bring all the fabric this year. You can just buy whatever you want.' So, I did. [laughs.]

JG: Don't they have a sign in the quilt shop that says that 'your husband called--

CW: He's waiting for you to come home. [laughs.] Yes, I don't know the exact words, but, yeah, 'She didn't bring her credit card with her. Shall I bring it over? Ha-ha.'

JG: Oh, my gosh. You did say that working interferes with your quilting life.

CW: Oh, of course it does. Of course, it does. I'm not retired yet. I can't wait for that day, but I shouldn't push it along. So I'm just enjoying it, whenever I get the chance.

JG: Do you quilt late at night?

CW: There are days. Yes. It depends on what the project is. And how quickly it needs to be done.

JG: Do you sleep under a quilt?

CW: I do. And this was one that was won by my mom at a Quilt Bingo in Missouri. They have these quilt socials, and the church makes all these quilts, and they play like twenty games of Bingo and every game there's a quilt to be given away, for the winner of that Bingo game. [JG exclaims.] I know. And although it's not the colors that I would have chosen, it's a very nice quilt, and yes, I do sleep under it. So, it's my utility quilt.

JG: Well, this is your second quilt, you said. [Joanne points to the touchstone quilt.]

CW: Yes.

JG: Do you still have your first quilt?

CW: Yes, I do. Actually, it was Courtney's baby quilt. I'd have to go dig it up, but I do have it. It was like a nine-patch or a 4-patch. I can't remember now, because that was the very beginning stages of sewing and was of course baby-sized, and it was yellow, and it was calico. Actually, it might have been that yellow I have in that. No, it was brighter than that. And it was a fabric that you would probably not use today, because I didn't know what I was buying, I just went and bought probably polyester, I don't know, something that just wasn't--

JG: Crazy quilters used all kinds of fabric.

CW: Well, that's true, that's true.

JG: We can be purists, or we can stretch a point.

CW: I know, I have gotten to the point where I am the 100% cotton purist, and I need to expand my thought process here, so.

JG: But some of your thinking goes along the lines of being an art quilter, you said.

CW: It does, it does I'd like to be there one day.

JG: How will you get there?

CW: There is an art guild that was formed not too long ago in Fort Myers. [Florida.] I don't know if you know.

JG: AQU [Art Quilters Unlimited.]

CW: AQU, yes. I want to join that. Take some classes possibly.

JG: You have joined?

CW: Not yet. I think the next meeting is in May and I'm hoping to go to that. Just check it out and see if it's something that I want to do.

JG: A lot of [Naples Quilters.] Guild members from Naples belong to that.

CW: I know. So, we'll see. People that I admire and definitely look up to their work belong to that guild. Yeah, I don't know, we'll see. I'm not sure what the future holds on that. One never knows.

JG: Right. That's true, that's true. What do you think makes a great quilter?

CW: I think someone that's passionate for it. Because you can see their passion in the quilt. And I don't really know a whole lot of big-name people, but one that you mentioned, Ann Fahl, I just adore her work. I will have to meet her one day, since you are a friend of hers. I guess when you can express what you're feeling at the time and it comes out in the quilt, then I think that's the passion of the quilt.

JG: It doesn't have to be a big name, it's the passion.

CW: It's the passion. And it doesn't always have to be the perfection of the work either. One thing my mother always told me, 'Well, it's a quilt. It's not supposed to be perfect.' And if you don't have an exact square, it's okay. So.

JG: Tell me other things your mother said about that, along that line.

CW: Oh, gosh. Alright, now you put me on the spot. Well, can I tell you a story about my aunts and playing tent under the quilt?

JG: Sure. Yes.

CW: My aunts would get together and I guess I can remember some of the things that they would say, but they would tell jokes. This would be like their total quilt show. There were the five girls, and they were all best friends and they really never had friends outside of the five girls, other than their brothers. So, they got together quite often. Every aunt was different. One would bring her six-pack of beer and they'd make her quit quilting after a certain time of day, which was hysterical to me. [laughs.] Then I had an aunt that was the joke-teller, the continuous joke-teller, and then my mom who was pretty serious about it, I guess, more so than any of the--but it would just be laughter and giggling by these girls, constantly. So that was just fun to grow up with that, I guess what I learned from them is just having a good time at it and enjoying your friends. They were like best friends to each other, so just being with your friends and doing something that you commonly enjoy.

JG: What fabulous role models.

CW: They were. They absolutely were.

JG: What fabulous role models to have. That's magnificent. That's wonderful. [CW laughs.]

CW: But they could get together and never tire of one another's company. And they had a blast, they absolutely--at the simplest, silliest, goofiest little thing that they would just have fun with.

JG: That is magnificent.

CW: I wanted to get that in there. [laughs.]

JG: That is just as important as anything else that we've covered. We are coming to the end of the tape, though. Is there something else that you want to share?

CW: Oh, gosh Joanne, you've covered so much. Gosh, I don't know.

JG: Any words of wisdom to tell any quilter [both talk at the same time.]

CW: Get your daughter to join quilting and enjoy quilting and teach them. My daughter right now is beginning to appreciate what the quilts have done for me and how they've formed my life, I guess. And so, get your daughters quilting. Get them making a square. We did quilts for girls, when my daughter--I was the Girl Scout leader, so of course we did quilts for the Girl Scouts, and we had a foster mom that we did a quilt for. She fostered children for a long time. So she was making that as a signature quilt. Every baby that came into her life, she was putting their names on it. So I think it's just important to keep the tradition going and teach your daughters and have their ideas. Oh, my gosh. My daughter has amazing ideas. And I want her to design a quilt for me. So, keep it going, just keep it going.

JG: Wonderful words, wonderful words. Well, we really are in the last [laughs.] few feet of the tape.

CW: Okay.

JG: Thank you so very much for sharing all of this wonderful quilt stuff.

CW: Well, thank you. I think it's great.

JG: And the interview is ending at 2:32 [p.m.].

CW: Thank you, Joanne.

JG: Thank you.

[interview ends.]


“Cindy Wismann,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed May 24, 2024,