Natalia Burjanzadze




Natalia Burjanzadze




Natalia Burjanzadze


Karen Musgrave

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

Iris Karp


Tbilisi, Georgia


Karen Musgrave


Karen Musgrave (KM): This is Karen Musgrave, and I am doing a Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories interview with my good friend Nata Burjanadze and we are in Tbilisi, Georgia. It is October 30, 2007, and it is 3:30 in the afternoon. Nata thank you for allowing me to interview you. [NB laughs.] I want you to relax and have a good time. Tell me about the quilt that you brought for your interview.

Nata Burjanadze (NB): First I apologize for my English because I pronounce so badly, and I make to understand myself so difficult. About the quilt--it is the beginning of my life of with the help of Karen Musgrave. She was my first teacher, and we have one beautiful month together and after she left Tbilisi after that continued to do quilt. Today I maybe--[speaking Georgian to Ira Lavrinenko.] I am a quilter. About the jeans. It was the Alabama State Gee's Bend exhibition, and I loved one work very much. [KM brought an exhibit of twelve quilts from Gee's Bend to Georgia in 2005.] It was a quilt made of jeans. It was for me a good idea to do something from jeans. So, I did one of jeans for myself. "Jean's Generation" is in our theater, it is very good, spectacular performance. Ho. ['yes' in Georgian.] [IL hums agreement.] And if I-- [NB's cell phone begins to ring.]

KM: Answer it. It's okay. [tape is turned off while NB answers her phone.] So, you got your inspiration from Gee's Bend quilt.

NB: Yes, inspiration from Gee's Bend exhibition because I loved one thing from this exhibition very much; the using of the old clothes. This one is made from my daughter's jeans-- [pointing to the quilt and questioning KM.]

KM: Jacket.

NB: Yes, it's my daughter's. [NB's cell phone rings again.] And mine also.

KM: Is it done all by hand?

NB: Yes. It's by hand. All of the panel is by hand.

KM: And you hand quilted it. Was it difficult?

NB: It was very hard because it was strong material. The pieces are from bags, my bags also. And I sewed little pieces that I had [pointing to the quilt.]

KM: You cut away the denim pieces so you could see color underneath.

NB: Yes. I did that special to be more interesting because it was a mix of jeans and fabric. [NB's cell phone rings again.]

KM: [pointing to different areas of the quilt.] You have belts and a scarf.

NB: And this. What is this?

KM: Pockets.

NB: Pockets. [NB's cell phone can be heard playing music in the background.]

KM: And zippers.

NB: It is Wrangler's. It's Levi's. [NB: Hello. answers her phone and points to the quilt.]

KM: The labels.

NB: Very well-known jeans in America. [NB's cell phone rings.] [IL laughs.]

KM: In Georgia and we must have telephones everywhere. It is quite large. How did you plan out this quilt? It you have it clear in your mind or did you play around with it?

NB: At first, I tried to paint it but for me it did not work. [NB's phone rings again and music can be heard in the background from it.] Because in quilt, I think it is very hard, difficult by picture, by painting first. Also, for me it is very easy to paint. I love crazy quilts. [horn from a car in the background.]

KM: I like it. So how many quilts have you made? [IL speaking in Georgian.]

NB: I think twenty. I sewed [IL and NB speak to each other in Georgian.] very good but my main motif--my favorite works is the collection of Nino Ananiashvili [famous Georgian ballerina.]. I love my work and I don't sell them. For me it is very hard to sell them [car horn.] but [NB speaking in Georgian to IL.] if I have an order for me, it is easier because I love doing quilting very much.

KM: What do you do with this quilt?

NB: What am I doing with this quilt?

KM: Yes. Does it hang in your home? What are your plans for it?

NB: I don't know.

KM: Okay. It's alright.

NB: I don't know. Maybe I give it as a present to my children, my street children. It's a place where I am teaching quilt.

KM: So, you're thinking about hanging it in the new building.

NB: Maybe I will give it as a present to hang there for the children because I love them very much.

KM: Tell me about your working with the children.

NB: One year ago, I decided to do something for the children. I am not so rich, and I don't have money to give the children, so I decided to teach, and I started in the house of Child and Environment. [a nonprofit organization.] And now I have 10 pupils and they are very clever with their hands, and they are doing everything. They love quilts very much. Now I am very happy because I am not alone but--

Ira Lavrinenko (IL): We had an exhibition last year and it was very successful.

NB: It was very successful exhibition. There were 11 works of quilt, and it was successful. And it was shown on TV, and they were writing about it. And the people were very happy. And after this we took part in a competition by our TV show, business show, "One Idea, One Chance." And we won. And now we have a new program, and we are working and realize very important ideas.

KM: Okay. Let's talk about this other quilt up here. [pointing to a quilt hanging on the wall.]

NB: This I did with my best friend and partner Ira Lavrinenko. We try to work together very successful. And why? Because she had a partner but Tata Bakradze. [TB now works full time at the Youth Palace, so collaborating is more difficult.] They have made many works together but it different work from what Ira and I do. Our [speaks in Georgian to IL.] work is different. And I love this work very much.

IL: For me, it was different because it was in black and white.

NB: Black and white. Yes.

IL: We exhibited another work a version of the old alphabet.

NB: Now these clothes that you see. It was from America and my husband gave it to me as a present, but it was very old. I wore it for 10 years because I loved it very much. And it was very bad that it was no [pause.]--

KM: And now it is in a quilt.

NB: Yes. [coughs.] And here it's the dress. It is very good. One and two. [pointing to the two places it is used in the quilt.]

KM: I bet it was a beautiful dress.

NB: It was very beautiful dress.

IL: [inaudible.]

NB: And I think that we are an interesting couple.

KM: So, you like working together.

NB: Yes. We love quilting together.

KM: So, what is the story of the quilt? What does it mean? What does the design mean?

NB: I think that it is also a theater decoration because it is for a performance also.

IL: We called it a curtain. And that was Nino Kipshidze's name for our alphabet quilt. Everybody asked us, 'Why is this a curtain?'

NB: It was an interesting work, I think.

IL: We sold the alphabet in France. Now it is living in France.

KM: Very nice. So, you are international quiltmakers.

NB: [laughs.] Yes. [IL laughs.]

KM: You are very important. [IL and NB laugh.]

NB: I love this time that Karen that you are here because we have very happy times. And I thank you very much for your person.

KM: You are very welcome.

NB: And I think also you think the same that the quilt maybe will change the world.

KM: I hope so. I hope so. So, what does your husband think of your quilt making?

NB: He wants that I do my own exhibition. He all the time talks about me abandoning the children and everything and 'do your own exhibition.'

KM: He wants you to work.

NB: 'I help. I give you money. I give you everything. And stay at home and do for yourself.' But I haven't ambition my own exhibition now. Maybe later I have it. And more happy when I try to teach or try to work with Ira and my friend because it is very good time for me. And to do it alone, it is for me [speaking in Georgian with IL.]

IL: Not so interesting.

NB: Not so interesting. But later I will decide to do my own exhibition.

KM: You are very talented so you should think about it.

NB: Thank you very much.

KM: You should.

NB: Maybe but now because I am 47 years old. For women it is very hard time because we want to realize our person and try to be with friends. [speaks to IL in Georgian.]

IL: With friends.

NB. Maybe. Maybe I do for Kaha [her husband.] my own exhibition.

IL: Kaha is her husband.

NB: Yes, my husband.

KM: Very good. Tell me about your special studio. You have a studio. What does your studio look like?

NB: About my studio?

KM: Tell me about your studio.

NB: I have a nice room. A nice machine. Many quilts and many pieces for my work. Sitting alone for me is very hard. When I am working in my studio with my Ira because I love working with Ira because she is a very good painter. I have everything for my work. I think I have no time because my family takes from me attention. [speaks in Georgian to IL.] We think that we will have studio in Ira's flat. Outside my house so it will be easier to work. [IL inaudible but speaking in the background.] Because all the time they call me. All the time on the telephone. All the time something is happening, and they know that I am at home. Now I have no time.

IL: And now she has a granddaughter.

NB: [traffic sounds.] Now it is abnormal. When we were raising our children, we did it without help. Now they are grown up and I thought I would have free time but it's not true. [NB phone rings and she sits on her phone.] [KM laughs.]

KM: I'm sorry but it's funny. What is your favorite technique? What do you like the best? Hand quilting?

NB: I love quilting by hand.

KM: I know you do.

NB: All the time I am sitting and quilting by hand. I don't love machine, but it is easier, and I do know that sometimes it is best, but I love quilting by hand.

KM: That's wonderful.

NB: Yes.

KM: It is very good.

NB: I think it helps with nerves. I think it helps with thinking. I don't know but I love it very much.

KM: I think that it is very meditative. Very relaxing.

NB: Very relaxing. Yes.

KM: And you can take it anywhere.

NB: I don't teach quilting as good as you--as you did me. You make very good quilts and I'm working, working, working and practice, practice.

KM: And that is what you have to do. I have to work and work and practice, practice. And you do wonderful work.

NB: Thank you very much Karen. I want to think about new techniques. I think about it all the time. Now we've decided to take photos and mix quilts. I think this is very interesting works with Ira.

KM: So, you like the technology that changes photos onto fabric.

NB: Yes, new technology that changes things. I think about it all the time. What to do? Something new and beautiful also. I want to do something new. [speaks in Georgian to IL.] [NB's cell phone rings.] Maybe a remarkable coincidence that I want, and it happens. [IL laughs.]

KM: Very good. Good, good, good. Is there anything else you want to add? Anything else you want to share?

NB: [NB's cell phone rings.] No. I love you Karen very much. I kiss you. And I don't want to abandon Georgia and live in American.

KM: You want me to stay here?

NB: Here.

KM: I think my husband would not like that. [NB laughs.] He would be very unhappy. Okay. Thank you very much for taking the time to talk with me. We're going to conclude our interview and it is 3:52.


“Natalia Burjanzadze,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed May 19, 2024,