Irina Kasrashvili-Lavrinenko




Irina Kasrashvili-Lavrinenko




Irina Kasrashvili-Lavrinenko


Karen Musgrave

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

Iris Karp


Tbilisi, Georgia


Karen Musgrave


Karen Musgrave (KM): This is Karen Musgrave. I'm doing a Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories interview with Irina Lavrinenko. We are in Tblisi, Georgia. It is October 30th, 2007, and it is 4:01 in the afternoon. So, Ira thank you so much for [IL laughs.] doing this interview with me. Please tell me about the quilt that you brought today for the interview.

Ira Kasrashvili-Lavrinenko (IL): Today I have brought my quilt which I call "The Woman." I wanted to make this quilt only by two colors- white and black. I don't know why. Maybe it was--

KM: Having done the other one?

IL: Yes.

KM: The first one--

IL: Yes, the exhibition [in 2005 the Georgian Textile Group had an exhibition titled "Black and White.]. And then I wanted to make something different. So, I tried to make different quilting by hand so--

KM: So, some of it is by hand and some of it is by machine.

IL: By machine. So most important that I wanted to make this piece that I painted by--[points to face on the quilt.]

KM: Acrylic. So, you painted her face with acrylic.

IL: And this one [pointing to another face on the quilt.] I made first.

KM: Ah so this--

IL: And then I changed her face to that one here [pointing to the face of the woman.].

KM: Ah, so the face in the corner is the one you did first.

IL: Yes. I did first but I wanted to make this face there.

KM: She looks kind of sad. Is she sad?

IL: Yes.

KM: Why is she sad?

IL: I don't know why. [laughs.] Because I think she needs a man.

KM: She is without a man, so she is sad.

IL: Yes. So, I--

KM: So, did you sketch this out?

IL: No.

KM: You didn't plan it at all?

IL: It is without planning. It comes to me suddenly and very simple. So, it was like a painting, so I did not think a lot around this work. I made face in one day. And another time I make only technique part. I think about whether to use the sewing machine or by hand with the quilting because it was very--how to say, I don't know.

KM: She is appliquéd? So, you made the background and then you put the woman on top.

IL: Yes. I make this layer and make this on top. And behind, the background is also shibori.

KM: Your back. So, you hand dyed the back.

IL: Yes, shibori. I think it is nice.

KM: Yes, very nice. And you can see your nice quilting on the back of this quilt very well. You did a good job. A very good job.

IL: I didn't want to sell this work because I like it very much so I think that it very good for me if it will be in your house.

KM: I think that is wonderful. It makes me get teary eyed every time I think about it. [KM wipes tears from her face.] It's a wonderful gift.

IL: Also, I make here these pieces here. [pointing to the collar.]

KM: So, you have old pieces of lace to make the collar.

IL: I have the same in this. [pointing to a quilt hanging across the room.] It was an old pillow with four of these fragments and I make here too.

KM: So, you told me you have plans to make a man.

IL: Yes, I want now to make a man. Something like Spanish man. I think with a--[making the motion like carrying a sword.]

KM: A sword?

IL: Yes, a sword and a big hat with--[making a motion over her head.]

KM: Feathers.

IL: Hum-hum.

KM: Very nice. Very, very nice. So how long have you been quilting it?

IL: I was quilting just one week. It's not very wide. It's difficult for me to make wide pieces because the sewing machine is small but this one was not difficult.

KM: I'm so happy that you--that your binding is different fabrics. I love that. So why is quilting important to you? Why is making quilts important to you?

IL: I think because I can realize by ideas better than when I paint. I don't know why but I think so. In this time, in this period of my life, I want to make quilts. It makes me happy and it's a pleasure for me to make this work. And it relaxes me as Nata told. I don't know why. Now I want to make only this [quilts.].

KM: Only quilts.

IL: Only quilts.

KM: That's wonderful. And started in 2003 when I gave my first workshop.

IL: Yes. For 10 or 20 years, I worked with my friend Tata [Bakradze.] and we make appliqué, and we made a lot of motifs from old carpets. Caucasus carpets—Azerbaijan Armenian, and Georgian carpets. And it was good.

KM: They were very quilt like.

IL: Yes, yes. Then when you came to Georgia and show us what wonderful textile art that quilts is. From that time, I make only quilts. So, I make also the carpets but now I make it like quilts. Before there was no--

KM: Quilting in them.

IL: No quilting and now I try to make still lives also. I like this technique. I like the texture which it gives and many other things. It is my favorite technique.

KM: You said that you worked with Tata and now you're working with Nata.

IL: Sometimes I work with Tata and sometimes I work with Nata.

KM: You like working with another person. Why do you like working with other people?

IL: Why? Because with Nata [car horns and street noises are heard in the background.] she has many sides which I have not. She is very accurate. [IL makes a face.] [KM laughs.]

KM: But this is very accurate. [pointing to "The Woman."]

IL: Yes. I tried.

KM: And you were very good at it.

IL: It was difficult.

KM: But look how good--

IL: Hum, hum. So, I see now that it is better to make things accurate than not.

KM: So, you're going to be more accurate?

IL: It was a good lesson for me.

KM: That is very good.

IL: Nata and I when we are working together, it's very creative because she also likes to find some new. She doesn't like to make the same thing and we together are finding how to make new. And when I work with Tata, Tata has good feelings. She feels colors.

KM: She's good with color.

IL: Yes. So, it is very good for me. I don't want to say that I don't know color.

KM: So, you take the best from them--

IL: Yes.

KM: And give the best of you. That's how I see it.

IL: So, I think that we have good works with Nata and Tata. And we are happy when we work.

KM: Do you work on quilts every day?

IL: I try but I have not more time because I have children, dinner and the problems but I try. I know to work every day and I understand that we must have studio.

KM: You had a nice studio. I'm sorry it went away. [for more than a year the quilt group had its own studio where they met, worked, exhibited and sold their works but the space was taken away from them.]

IL: I think that if we think better about management and other things. Maybe we can meet here. This place is very good to exhibit and work also. And it would be good.

KM: It's a very nice flat. It's very nice place to work and nice walls for exhibiting.

IL: We made this you see [pointing to the hanging system that she installed.] for hanging the works.

Nata Burjanzdze (NB): It's very painful for Ira. [cell phone rings.] This place and it was a good idea. We tried to make it work.

IL: I tried to have the members of our group maybe we pay for this flat.

NB: This program was very good.

IL: A small amount and then we can work here and make exhibitions.

NB: It's impossible.

IL: It's impossible? Because it's--how to say it?

NB: You take all this time--

IL: This time was very difficult for members of our group because of granddaughters [three members of the group recently became grandmothers.] and you see that they have not time now, but I hope that will change.

KM: I hope so too.

IL: It is very important that we have this place, and, in the future, we can use it.

NB: We have to pay rent. Ira is not a rich woman, and she needs money to pay for this place and to live.

IL: Yes, of course. It's very important that we have this and it's my home and we can use it when we have the time.

KM: What part of quilt making to you like the best?

IL: From my work?

KM: Do you like machine work?

IL: I like machine. I prefer machine.

KM: Piecing? Quilting?

IL: Piecing. Quilting. I like when things are quick. I had not this--

KM: Patience.

IL: Patience, yes. So, like [makes whistle sound and moves hands indicating quickness.]. [NB laughs.]

KM: And you've been doing lots of little mini quilts which are fabulous.

IL: Yes, I like.

KM: What other ideas do you have for quilts in your head?

IL: In my head, all the time. I think about writing them down because then I forget.

KM: Exactly. Isn't that terrible? It happens with age. We forget.

IL: When I sit and decide to work, I begin [speaking in Georgian.]--

KM: You can't decide.

IL: Yes, I can't decide which one and I need more time for which one should I make. It's a problem for me because I want to make many things and I understand that I have no time, so I want to make one which is most important for me.

KM: What do your daughters think of your quilt making? [IL has two daughters. Keti Kashrashvili is interview GEO-001.]

IL: Keti was very critical for my [NB cell phone rings.] not being so accurate.

KM: Now is she impressed?

IL: Yes. She likes it very much so I'm [speaking in Georgian.] --I feel good that I can be accurate.

KM: And now she cannot be critical anymore. [IL laughs.] Now she has to be good.

IL: I am so sorry that Keti has no time to work. [Keti has a job with the government in the Ministry of Tourism and she works long hours and travels a great deal.]

KM: Me too.

IL: I like her works. I hope that this energy gets its chance.

KM: Well, she does have a good job.

IL: Yes.

KM: That is important.

IL: And my other daughter Helen makes small things. It's very funny, very colorful. She makes one for you for your glasses. I forgot it.

KM: And she likes beading. Is she still doing beading?

IL: Yes, she's doing beading and she likes to make small things-miniature. I don't know why.

KM: Interesting.

IL: [laughs.] So, it's interesting.

KM: Where do you sew? Do you sew in the corner of your apartment?

IL: Yes.

KM: And you have a new sewing machine. And how is that sewing machine?

IL: This machine I don't know all that it can do.

KM: You're still working on it. We should say that you and Keti and Nino [Chargasishvili; interview GEO-006.] made the quilt that won the contest for "Put a Roof Over Our Head" and won a Bernina. I remember the first time I came here. I was fascinated with your crank sewing machines, and everyone kept saying, 'I want a Bernina." [both laugh.]

IL: Yes, this Bernina was very good for us from this American group. [Pride of the Prairie quilt group in Plainfield, Illinois gave a grant to the group for Bernetts.]

KM: We got five little Bernettes.

IL: It was very important for our group. Here in Georgia everything is a problem, you know. Nowhere we can buy good sewing machines so this was very good. We are very--how do you say?

KM: Grateful.

IL: Yes, we were very grateful.

KM: Grateful for the sewing. Yes, I was too because you all are doing such great work.

IL: Now it is very many. You remember we were 20. Now there are only five who work.

KM: Oh, that's kind of sad. I think it will go up again. I think there will be some new people.

IL: I think so. Yes. But we don't want to take too many. We want to take good people.

KM: There can always be other groups. It doesn't mean--I agree. I think that is good.

NB: [speaking to IL in Georgian.]

IL: Ho. [answering NB in Georgian.] But with the children it's very interesting.

KM: And you like working with the children?

IL: Yes, I like it because they have very interesting ideas and you've seen their work. And this boy is [speaking in Georgian.]--

KM: Yes, he is wonderful.

IL: His works are good. And I think we can do something for them and maybe I hope we can make something.

KM: I think it is very good work. I think it is good to give back. [IL laughs.] I think that is what you are doing, and I think it is wonderful.

NB: Maybe we can create a group.

KM: Is there anything else you would like to share?

IL: I think yes. [laughs.]

KM: Thank you for sharing.

IL: Thank you. I want again to say, 'thank you.'

KM: It is my pleasure.

IL: You are our best friend and without you I am sure that we still--I and Tata especially would make the same appliqué without quilt and this is very important in our life and our work. Also, I want to say that only this group makes this technique. I don't know why.

KM: That's okay.

IL: Georgian people do not like to make hard work.

KM: They want fast.

IL: Yes. And I want to say also ask 'What does it mean quilt?' They don't know.

KM: But it is part of your tradition.

IL: Yes, I know but they don't know. But we like it very much.

KM: How do you think that you can change that? More exhibitions?

IL: Yes. I think also what Manana [Abzianidze.] is doing now. She goes to the villages and teaches. It's very important. They can make good blankets and other things to sell and make money from this business. I think this is a good technique for Georgia and I think it will be good for this technique to be revived.

KM: We're doing our best to revive it.

IL: I know that you help with this very much for Manana and Nino [Kipshidze.] and the whole textile group [Georgian Textile Group.] And I'm happy that we now have workshops with you.

KM: Good. Excellent. We're going to conclude our interview. It is 4:22 in the afternoon. Thank you.


“Irina Kasrashvili-Lavrinenko,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed June 23, 2024,