Lela Kirtadze




Lela Kirtadze




Lela Kirtadze


Karen Musgrave

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

Crystal Coast Quilters' Guild


Tbilisi, Georgia


Karen Musgrave


Note: Ira Lavrinenko acted as the interpreter for this interview.

Karen Musgrave (KM): This is Karen Musgrave and I'm doing a Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories interview with my friend Lela Kirtadze. It is 9:50 in the evening on November 2, 2007, and we are in Tbilisi, Georgia. Lela thank you for letting me interview you. Now tell me about your quilt.

Lela Kirtadze (LK): [clink of dishes.] [LK speaks in Georgian.]

Ira Lavrinenko (IL): One sentence then translates because you--

LK: Yes.

Nata Burjanadze (NB): Because crush down--

KM: And put under the pillow. [this is a favorite saying of NB.]

IL: And put under the pillow, right. [tells LK to begin in Georgian.]

LK: I like mountains very much and this provided me with the inspiration. And she did Svaneti which is a very beautiful mountain region in Georgia. Because my husband from Svaneti and we have a house there--an old house where my husband's parents lived.

KM: What part of Georgia? North? South? East? West?

LK: South.

KM: South Georgia.

LK: In the house there are very old things, very nice collection of old things—carpets, dishes--

NB: Now this house is a museum.

IR: Hoy. [yes, in Georgian.]

LK: There is a small museum in this house and there are different things—dishes, old cups, bowls and other useful things.

KM: What is this building here on the quilt?

LK: This is very typical of the houses in Svaneti because when they had war with other people they lived in the top part for safety.

KM: So, these are high towers?

LK: We don't have one of these towers personally just an old house, but many people have these kinds of homes. They are typical for the region. Behind these towers are the mountains with snow and ice on them. It's a very beautiful place. There are many artists who are going there to live. Now this place is a center of tourism. They, our department of tourism, has tours to Svaneti by helicopter.

KM: Oh, they take you there by helicopter.

LK: Yes. It's very interesting. And this part of quilt [pointing to quilt. NB's cell phone rings.] shows us the mountains with flowers and other greenery and it is such a rich place.

KM: You made this quilt in 2003?

LK: Yes.

KM: Did you draw it first?

LK: Yes. When I made this quilt, I tried to quilt and make the effect of stone. This is what I wanted to make here. [pointing to the towers.]

KM: You did a good job.

LK: I like this place very much because it is very clean, a very healthy place and I like to go there. People there are very kind and friendly and open to communicate.

KM: Very nice. What does your husband think of this quilt?

LK: He likes it and my sons like it even more than he does. And so, I gave it to my children.

KM: So, your sons have this quilt. Very nice. So how are they going to divide it up when they leave? [everyone laughs.] How has your quilts changed since 2003?

LK: I try to do more difficult techniques and cleaner design. [NB's cell phone rings.] I like to make Georgian ornaments and use them in quilts. Most of all I like to make things that are Georgian.

KM: However, your black and white piece is not very traditional. [talking about another quilt of LK's.]

LK: Yes. I tried to make a mix of old and new when I made the black and white piece.

KM: I thought it was wonderful--a wonderful quilt with a very unusual setting. It was very nice. I think it is good to mix the old and the new. So, what other quilts do you have in mind to make?

LK: Now I want to make quilts using my son's drawings. Somehow, I want to incorporate his drawings into a quilt. I like the way that he draws.

KM: It is a lot of fun to do that.

LK: His pictures look like ancient paintings that are on the walls because they are only line drawings.

KM: Very interesting. That could be fun.

LK: I really want to make this. [laughs.]

KM: Having it look Georgian is important to you? Having quilts look Georgian.

LK: Yes. It is very important but other ways are also very interesting. It's my own Georgian, my own traditional. It needs to have a Georgian soul.

KM: That's a great way to express it. If people looked at your quilts, they would say, 'Oh, yes, that quilt was made by Lela.'

LK: Yes. I try to care for the traditional and national character of Georgia.

IL: Lela is very easy. She makes things best of all. She is very accurate. She is a good partner.

KM: You've done many group works.

IL: Yes. She is a very important member of our group.

KM: Very good. I would agree. [IL laughs.] What is your favorite part of making quilts? Do you like piecing? Do you like designing? Do you like machine quilting?

LK: I like reverse appliqué.

KM: Reverse appliqué. [sounding surprised.] I have not seen any work using reverse appliqué. You are a very good machine quilter. You took to that instantly. I was amazed.

LK: I am so happy that you think so.

KM: I know so. Anything else you would like to share? [discussion with NB who did not understand the question.]

LK: I am very happy that I met you and that you are our teacher. She is happy that we have such a good group of quilters here and I think that quilts are very important for me.

KM: Good. I'm glad to hear that and I'm glad that there is a group here.

LK: Yes. [laughs.] I am lazy. I am not quilting much these days.

IL: She says that she is lazy but she's not lazy. She has no time.

KM: Well, she has two sons.

LK: Every day I am going to school then have lessons with them.

KM: I have two sons. I remember what that was like. [LK laughs.]

IL: I don't think that she is lazy she just has no time now.

NB: She has no time.

KM: It will change.

LK: We will try to be good pupils and for you a pleasure.

KM: Thank you very much. We are going to conclude our interview.


“Lela Kirtadze,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed February 24, 2024, https://qsos.quiltalliance.org/items/show/1671.