Keti Kasrashvili




Keti Kasrashvili




Keti Kasrashvili


Karen Musgrave

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

Crystal Coast Quilters' Guild


Tbilisi, Georgia


Shira Walny


In September 2003, Karen Musgrave made her first trip to Georgia (former U.S.S.R.) to lecture and teach. A quilt group was formed, and Karen supported the group through monthly packages. She returned again in 2004. Her third trip included an exhibition of quilts from Gee's Bend. This interview took place in a private hotel in Tbilisi, Georgia. Keti Kasrashvili is 21 years old and was one of Karen's first students. Karen Musgrave had bronchitis while conducting this interview.

Karen Musgrave (KM): This is Karen Musgrave. Today's date is March 2nd, 2005, and I am in Tbilisi, Georgia and I'm doing an interview with my friend Keti Kasrashvili. It is 1:37 in the afternoon. Keti, tell me about the quilt that you brought here today.

Keti Kasrashvili (KK): What can I say about this quilt is that I saw it in a magazine, but I've changed a lot of things, but the idea was from a magazine. [laughs.]

KM: So, what did you change?

KK: I changed the colors and also, I changed the shape that is, you can see here [pointing to the quilt.] the star, it wasn't a star in the magazine. So, I took these parts out of there and I changed everything. I just took the parts.

KM: Is it paper pieced?

KK: Yes, paper pieced.

KM: So, you took the paper pieced pattern and then you made it into a star, and it's got--

KK: You know, you can see the shapes here that wasn't in the magazine. I wanted it to be seen as a star.

KM: Yes, I can see the star. Are these your favorite colors?

KK: Yes. [laughs.]

KM: So, you like purples and pinks and yellows?

KK: I like all colors.

KM: All colors.

KK: This yellow and pink and purple together, very much. I have used these three colors together; I like it very much.

KM: It's nice. That's a hexagon? Eight sides?

KK: Yes.

KM: It's a hexagon shape.

KK: Only six.

KM: Six sides? [KM counts softly.] Oh, okay I can't count today.

KK: I wanted it to be bigger, but I didn't have fabric for this side.

KM: Enough of a backing, that's too bad. It is nice backing.

KK: Yes, thank you. You gave it to me.

KM: I know it's a magic back. [referring to the fabric which has wands, magic hats, etc.]

KK: I like it. It was the color I wanted.

KM: It fits very nicely. And how many quilts have you made?

KK: I made six and I'm working on the butterfly that I can't finish because our machine is broken.

KM: It's fixed now? Last night.

KK: Yes. So now I can use it.

KM: So, what do you like about quilt making?

KK: I relax when I make it. Very much. But I don't like the paper quilting--

KM: Paper piecing.

KK: Yes, paper piecing because it's just the same.

KM: Over and over again.

KK: Yes, so I prefer your quilt [KK is talking about KM's quilt-as-you-go technique which she taught KK in 2003.] and I made for my uncle [Misha Khujadze.], for Giga [Adamia. KK's boyfriend.] and one you saw it. The red one. It's easier to make different shapes with your quilt.

KM: With my technique.

KK: Yes. That's right because I made a butterfly with your technique.

KM: How often do you quilt?

KK: When I have time. [laughs.] It's not very often because I have school and work.

KM: So, what plans do you have for quilting in the future?

KK: I want to--[man heard yelling in the background.] I don't have plans because I haven't finished the butterfly, but I would like to go on working and make something new.

KM: Do you think you'll ever make a quilt to sleep under?

KK: Sleep under?

KM: Yes, to sleep under a quilt. Do you think you will ever want to make a quilt to sleep under?

KK: Oh, yes maybe I will.

KM: I like sleeping under a quilt. There's something very comforting about sleeping under a quilt.

KK: Yes, but I don't want to make a big one because I don't have time and I want to finish things quickly.

KM: Finish, yes, that's very good. It's very good that you like to finish.

KK: I like when I work to have--

KM: Have a product done.

KK: Yes. As soon as possible. [laughs.]

KM: So, did you know there was a tradition of quilt making in Georgia?

KK: No.

KM: So that was a surprise?

KK: Yes. I know that there was a tradition of appliqué, but I didn't know that Georgians made quilts in ancient times.

KM: So, what did you think of the exhibition of the Georgian quilts?

KK: I liked it very much. It's different from American quilts because it's not fitted the same, it's not--How can I say?

KM: It's not three layers attached or--

KK: No, it's not that. It that it is much thicker because they probably wanted them to be warm.

KM: It's very thick.

KK: And the corners--the corners doesn't fit. How can I say?

KM: It's not precise, but they were very beautiful. It was very interesting that they were Log Cabins.

KK: Yes. I thought it was an American quilt.

KM: Yes, well, I'm not sure a Log Cabin is necessarily American, obviously since we've found them in Georgia but it's very interesting to me that since the '20's and probably before--

KK: There are more that we haven't seen. I know the museum had but they didn't give us.

KM: There were many silk quilts and none of those were Log Cabins, those were kind of a very interesting haphazard kind of thing.

KK: And they used very different fabrics, they don't use only cotton. I think.

KM: And I'm assuming that cotton was probably hard to come by.

KK: Yes, maybe, but I think silk is also very expensive and difficult to work with. No?

KM: Yes, but there were three all silk quilts in the exhibition. They were beautiful. It was unfortunately they were all under glass. It made it very difficult to see.

KK: I couldn't photograph them.

KM: I have my digital camera worked out really well. I able to--I had to take the 15 or 20 shots, but I do have pictures. Nino--

KK: Because the flash makes it difficult when you take pictures--

KM: Flashes off the glass, I know, but my digital camera I was able to take pictures. Nino [Kipshidze.] will be able to show you because she's got them.

KK: Maybe I can take?

KM: Yes, you can get them from Nino.

KK: Because I want them very much because I wasn't able to get photos.

KM: And the appliqué was amazing. But nobody in the group likes to appliqué.

KK: No, I like. [laughs.]

KM: You like to appliqué?

KK: Tamriko [Tujishvili.] likes it too.

KM: Oh, does she? Has she been appliquéing, because I haven't seen anything that she has done.

KK: Because when we have this [pointing to the binding.], she likes doing the binding by hand. [laughs.] She sits and sews. She does it all the time for the big quilts that we made. She made this for herself.

KM: Oh wonderful. You don't like sewing on the binding?

KK: Yes, I like. [laughs.]

KM: Okay? You like sewing on the binding?

KK: It is not hard for me.

KM: Oh, that's good. And you put a fancy stitch on here [referring to the decorative stitch that runs along the edge of the binding.] which is very nice, I like the way that looks. It's very, very nice. Do you think the exhibition with the Gee's Bend quilts and the Georgian quilts; do you think it will get more people interested in making quilts?

KK: That may be yes.

KM: That would be nice, do you think that would be nice?

KK: Yes.

KM: I'd like that very much.

KK: There were a lot of people brought this stuff from their homes.

KM: And they were all very different. It was interesting to see.

KK: And did you know a few persons said that they wanted to join us, some of Manana's [Abzionidze.] friends and Tamriko's friends.

KM: Do you think the group will grow again? Because you grow and then you shrink, you grow and then you shrink.

KK: Yes. [laughs.] Because people don't have time to attempt this at meetings, Keti [Aspindzelashvili.] is one but she works still. [laughs.]

KM: Yes, she works a lot.

KK: She takes home her things and then brings back finished because she doesn't want to leave us. [laughs.]

KM: I think that's good. We don't want Keti to leave us either, that would be terribly sad for Keti to leave the group. She does such nice work. She does want to do a black and white piece for the exhibition. [referring to the exhibition that will take place during the 5th International Textile Symposium in September 2005.] So, I told her I would send her fabrics so that she could do black and white piece for the exhibition. And what do you think of the new group work? Going with the blue and white from Georgian tradition.

KK: I like it.

KM: Good. I like that you do group projects.

KK: We didn't know how to make the group work. We had problems with that [laughs.] because everyone says they would take it home and they would work at home and bring it next time. [laughs.]

KM: And they don't bring it next time.

KK: And then they don't come next time, and we couldn't get them all together because we were missing some parts. [laughs.]

KM: Who worked on the Georgian Alphabet quilt?

KK: Everyone.

KM: Everyone worked on it? So, you just took each letter?

KK: We made a square and then cut the letters. We used your technique for the letters and the border. The border was Nata's [Burjanadze.] work, we did all other pieces.

KM: I like the Alphabet quilt a lot. And then you did a carpet piece?

KK: Yes, everyone worked as well. But it was difficult to get them all together because after cutting them, it was difficult to sew them together again. We had a lot of things to do by hand.

KM: Which Georgians don't seem to like. [KK laughs.] This is what I've noticed. They like things fast.

KK: Yes, we do. [laughs.]

KM: You like things fast too?

KK: But I don't have time to do it fast.

KM: As long as you do it, that's what's important, yes? Now what is the name of the Georgian quilt that we have?

KK: They change so many times.

KM: So, what is the newest one?

KK: Because they are painting now the logo.

KM: Right but the logo has a word in it that was in Georgian, and I asked several times what the translation was and--

KK: Because Nanuli [Azikuri.] said some strange word and she said it meant quilt; we haven't heard it.

KM: Because really there's no word for quilt in Georgian.

KK: Yes, but she insisted that it was the word.

KM: Ah, okay.

KK: [laughs.] Then Nata said a different one.

KM: Well, I noticed the word quilt was in English.

KK: Yes, it was written in English.

KM: There was a Georgian word and then quilt was written in English.

KK: I don't know which one they decided at last, but it might change.

KM: So, you just call them blankets, is that what you call them is just blankets? You don't differentiate between a blanket and a quilt?

KK: No.

KM: That's very interesting.

KK: We call it simply quilt.

KM: Simply quilt. Yes, I noticed that from the translation from my lecture [referring to a lecture given about the Gee's Bend exhibition.], she said quilt when she was doing the Georgian.

KK: And she [American Embassy translator.] doesn't have any idea what quilt was because she hadn't mentioned the third thing that goes inside.

KM: Oh, the batting that goes inside.

KK: She missed it.

KM: Oh, well, that's okay. That is okay. People will figure it out. So, which was your favorite Gee's Bend quilt?

KK: I like this blue and red one.

KM: The blue and red one with the--

KK: And one made of pants.

KM: The denim one, yes, the jeans one where the knees are worn out.

KK: At first, I liked this red and green one.

KM: The Grandmother's Flower Garden.

KK: Yes, but then--

KM: But then you changed your mind?

KK: Yes. [laughs.]

KM: You have more than one favorite don't you think?

KK: This one I preferred.

KM: The blue and red one.

KK: But the picture is not good in the catalog.

KM: No, the catalog is not good.

KK: It is different colors here. [pointing out the quilt in the exhibition catalog.]

KM: The quality was not good, which is sad. But it's still good that they had a catalogue for people to have.

KK: But at first, they all thought it was for sale.

KM: Oh, and not free? That's why people didn't take them?

KK: Yes. [laughs.]

KM: And then we ran out.

KK: And then somebody asked if it was for free and when they heard it, everyone took two, three-- [laughs.]

KM: Oh yes, we should have had a sign there saying one, right?

KK: Yes. [laughs.]

KM: What was your favorite Georgian quilt?

KK: I liked Ira's [Koshoridze.], husband's grandmother's quilt.

KM: Oh, so you like the Log Cabins.

KK: Yes. And the one that was appliquéd.

KM: The big appliqué appliquéd one that had the man and the woman and the child on the horse and all the animals which was wonderful, yes. [telephone ringing in the background.] I also liked the deer one with the felt.

KK: Oh yes.

KM: That was leftover felt--diamonds with the leftover pieces from the hats.

KK: Yes.

KM: So, they took the leftover pieces from the hats and cut diamond shapes out of them and sewed them together for the background. I thought that was very interesting and it was also very spontaneous because the shapes were just kind of weird little shapes and not anything that you could really describe. I hope we will be able to find even more quilts, more appliquéd work.

KK: Old ones?

KM: Old ones. Because now people are talking about seeing them all the time and when they were young.

KK: Yes, and my friend who came to the exhibition, he said, 'Oh, this kind of thing's my grandmother does in the village.'

KM: And she has them?

KK: Yes.

KM: So, we need to find her name and go see her.

KK: And you know in villages many people have these things.

KM: Will they want to loan them. That is the thing.

KK: He said that they have it on the walls, the old ones they have hanging on the walls like a decoration, so they don't cover it.

KM: Well, that's very nice that they have decorations. Do you have any quilts hanging on walls at your house?

KK: No.

KM: No? How come?

KK: My mother [Ira Lavrinenko.] took them from home.

KM: Oh, she took it for the exhibition?

KK: This was the only thing that I had at home because it has to--

KM: Have the sleeve put on. Are you going to hang this one in your room?

KK: I don't have my room, but I'll hang it. [laughs.]

KM: What about your boyfriend's quilt?

KK: What?

KM: Does he hang it on his wall?

KK: Yes, he has it in his room.

KM: Has it in his room on the wall?

KK: And his mother shows it to everybody who comes to their house. [laughs.]

KM: Oh, that's really nice. That was a Log Cabin.

KK: Yes. With your technique. And I prefer it. I like that one most of all.

KM: That's very nice of you to give it to him. Are you going to make another one?

KK: Yes. I made another one in blue and yellow and green colors for my uncle. He had a birthday in December, and I decided to give. He likes this kind of thing.

KM: Does he have it hanging on his wall?

KK: Yes.

KM: Very nice.

KK: In his room. [laughs.]

KM: His room? Very nice.

KK: And my grandmother [Lia Pachulia.] said that she wanted it too.

KM: So now you have to make another one for grandmother?

KK: For her birthday maybe.

KM: When is her birthday?

KK: In April.

KM: So, you don't have a lot of time, it's March.

KK: Yes. [laughs.] I'll try.

KM: What color will you make hers?

KK: I don't know, I haven't decided yet.

KM: Do you have a favorite color?

KK: No, she likes everything.

KM: She likes everything? That's very good. It makes it very easy when people like everything. It's very difficult when people don't. I don't like to do things anymore where people are very specific. I want to have the freedom to do it myself, because otherwise it's no fun, it's more like work.

KK: When you--yes. It's good when you decide what to do. What color to take--

KM: It's very true.

KK: I have a problem with yellow.

KM: Why do you have a problem with yellow?

KK: Because I couldn't find yellow fabric. [laughs.]

KM: You know yellow fabric is very hard to find even in United States. The manufacturers don't make a lot of nice yellows. I don't know why. I try to buy nice yellows whenever I find them because yellow is tough to find so when I find a good one, I try to buy. I wish the mail was better so things would come a little faster. Maybe it will get better because you don't have a lot of nice cotton fabric here.

KK: Yeah.

KM: There's not a good one. Is that not getting any better?

KK: What? No.

KM: It's still not getting any better.

KK: Nobody needs these things here. Because not so many people make quilts, and they don't need this.

KK: They don't use cotton for clothing at all?

KM: No, they simply buy it. My friend always buys it in Moscow in Russia when she wants something to sew, she buys it or if somebody's going somewhere she--

KK: Has them bring it back?

KM: Yes. [laughs.]

KK: Because she never finds it here. Here there's only black, blue, and this kind of colors.

KM: What do all the fashion design people do?

KK: I don't know. They bring it I think from Turkey, maybe from other countries. When my mother and Nata needed those fabrics to sew dresses for the opera, they had to order different it from Turkey.

KM: It's kind of like having a rotary cutter but no mat. [you can purchase rotary cutters in Georgia but there are no mats available to purchase.]

KK: Yes.

KM: It's very interesting.

KK: You always have difficult time working when you don't have colors you need to, you don't have fabrics. You always have to think what to make with colors you have. [laughs.] It's difficult.

KM: I wish we could make that different here so it would be easier. But I will just keep shipping things and that way you can keep having them. I just wish your post office was a little faster.

KK: I think that the people thought that because it was heavy and there were some good things and when they didn't find anything, they mailed it back. [laughs.]

KM: Just fabric.

KK: Yes. [laughs.]

KM: Yes, not very interesting.

KK: Yes, because in airports they--

KM: Open and peek?

KK: Yes, and see what you have inside, and some things disappear. When you take your baggage, you can see it was opened.

KM: This box wasn't opened, I don't think. It just took forever to get here but I'm glad it came because it had the perfect fabric in it for our new projects that was good. I was kind of worried. I spent too long for me to remember what was in the box. That's good. So, you're not going to do anymore paper piecing?

KK: Maybe I will do but I prefer not to.

KM: Yes and doing it all at one time.

KK: Yes. Because I didn't want these things [pointing to areas of the quilt where she did not want to quilt.] to be quilted over but I had to because I couldn't-- [long pause.]

KM: It has to stay together. That's very nice.

KK: So, I did not much quilting.

KM: It's enough, it's good. It looks wonderful. It's very colorful and cheerful. Not very Georgian.

KK: Yes.

KM: Although, I don't think the quilts in the exhibition were dull so I don't think there is anything that's typically Georgian but so many people seem to believe. I think it's a wide variety, don't you?

KK: Yes.

KM: That's good. Is there anything else you want to add? No? But you think you will stay a quiltmaker?

KK: Yes.

KM: That is good, that is very, very good. It's a good way to express yourself.

KK: Yes.

KM: Okay, well, I want to thank Keti for taking this time with me, we will end our interview now it is almost 2:15.

[tape ends.]


“Keti Kasrashvili,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed April 24, 2024,