Lali Tsetskhladze




Lali Tsetskhladze




Lali Tsetskhladze


Karen Musgrave

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

Carolyn Mazloomi


Tbilisi, Georgia


Karen Musgrave


Karen Musgrave (KM): This is Karen Musgrave. I'm doing a Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories interview with my friend Lali Tsetskhladze. It is [November 7, 2007.] 11:45 in the morning and I'm in Tbilisi, Georgia. And thank you so much for doing this interview with me.

Lali Tsetskhladze (LT): Thank you.

KM: So now tell me about your quilt.

LT: [long pause.]

KM: Okay, tell me about where you began the quilt. Where did you begin?

LT: This is quilt is my first. It is first. First, we were waiting for Karen for three whole months from when I hear that she must come to Tbilisi. I couldn't sew. I'm not a painter but for me all these things are very good. But I wanted to study quilting very much. Karen came and the GTG [Georgian Textile Group.] people decided to do workshops in Akhalkalaki [a region in southern Georgia.]. This is a very difficult region in Georgia with its mixture of people. Most of these people are Armenian but the region is Georgian. [the Armenians generally do not like the Georgians and many of the Georgians live there in fear.] And also, the climate is difficult, very difficult. [the city is high in the mountains and has winter nine months of the year.] This is the period of winter now, so Karen made her workshop in four days in the bad cold. There was no heat, and it was very difficult. We didn't have a car.

KM: So, we walked which was fine.

LT: Yes. There was a mixed group of Georgians and Armenians also at the workshop. I didn't even know these people. We introduced them together and I was afraid. 'How it will be?' But everything went very nice. I think so.

KM: I think so too.

LT: I know not so good English language, but I must translate Karen's words for the workshop. I wanted to study and learn this quilt. I made both of these so-so. Well, what about this quilt? It is appliquéd. I did the quilting by hand. We did also together one big quilt and it's very nice. And Karen wanted to do everything with these people, and they did this quilt. We were not perfect, but she made it work and it is very nice. [the group made Fence Rail blocks and KM sewed them together, machine quilted it, put the binding and sleeve on so it could hang in the quilt studio at the school.] I am Georgian, every Georgian likes dark colors so I decided to do also to use those colors--brown and black but there was material that was so nice. Very bright. Very light. I am not painter but when I saw these materials there was no idea at first but after thinking one day, I had an idea. There is a tree and a sun. [describing the quilt.] You know everywhere. I thought about this yesterday. I use sun everywhere.

KM: Oh, so you like the sun as a symbol?

LT: Yes. In felt also. I make felt. I am working in felt and I use the sun everywhere. So, on this quilt we have big tree. I grew up in such a green region in Georgia. The workshop was in Akhalkalaki, the region of Javakheti. I'm from Guria [western Georgia.]. There everything is green. Very big trees and there is much freedom. There are forests and many animals. But in Javakheti, I've been going there for six years and there is not even brush.

KM: Yes, it was very dull.

LT: This does not do much for me. I need everything. I decided to live everywhere. Now I live in the capital of Georgia in Tbilisi. Here also we don't have much green--trees and everything. I wanted to do a tree and at first a different kind of girl in a swing but [laughs.] but this was my first quilt so I could not do it.

KM: I can still help you do a swing if you want.

LT: I wanted but let it be so.

KM: Okay.

LT: Another one will be better. So, there is flowers also and butterflies. I was not thinking about this but there are such things on it. When I assemble this, it's all about living and nice days. Butterflies are beautiful and it's free. Very free. Also, flowers. I wanted to do red ones and yellow ones. So, it's a quilt that is almost Georgian because it is more bright. The girl will be very happy.

KM: Good.

LT: I decided that this girl's face will show that she is very happy because it has such--

KM: Joy.

LT: Yes. Butterflies, flowers, sun. I wanted here to be a river also but I just could not do it but I will have a river in another quilt. And there will be joy. [shuffling of feet can be heard as Nino's daughter Daro comes into the kitchen. she greets us in Georgian.] This is my first.

KM: Your first quilt. It is wonderful. Are you going to finish your heart?

LT: I finished it.

KM: That's great. Well, that was really your first quilt. Your first quilt was the heart. [in the workshop the first project was a small appliquéd heart.] This is your second. And you've started a third. [noise from Daro preparing food.]

LT: I also did two postcards. And I have another idea. [Daro comes over to look at the quilt and talks in Georgian about how wonderful it is.] It's appliquéd. I did it myself. It's not finished. I haven't quilted it yet.

KM: But you will.

LT: I will I promise. [laughs.]

KM: What plans do you have for other quilts?

LT: I am making a baby quilt.

KM: Do you have someone in mind to give it to?

LT: [sigh.] It will be nice and good. We shall see. I am not finished yet. The colors are very nice in my baby quilt. And the idea is good but how I will do. This is a big one this baby quilt which I must do first. This is a bigger size than my other things. I hope that Georgian will make such bright quilts with such colors. As a quilter I don't think I will ever be a great quilter, but I will try because I had a very good teacher which is Karen.

KM: You are very sweet. [Daro can be heard mixing eggs.]

LT: I want to do everything as it must be.

KM: Excellent. So, you like quilting which is good. Is there anything you would like to add? Do you want to say anything else?

LT: Nothing. I have been waiting for you to come to Georgia with your great ideas and with your energy because your energy for us was great stimulation. The women in the workshop did not know that they could make quilts, but you had such positive energy that they felt that they had done this their whole life. You make us be confident that we can do it. It is great.

KM: Good. Well, you can do it. I do believe that. [LT laughs.]

LT: You believe so I believe.

KM: That's good. That's how it is supposed to work.

LT: Thank you. Thank you that you are in Georgia. Will you come back?

KM: I will come back. I will come back and see how many quilts you have made.

LT: [laughs.] Okay.

KM: I hope that you have made lots and lots and lots.

LT: I'll try. [holds up her sore finger have hand quilting without a thimble.]

KM: Yes, I know your poor finger.

LT: My finger is out of work. [Daro laughs.]

KM: Let your finger rest for a few days.

LT: Yes. Then I will continue working.

KM: That's good.

LT: I am into quilts now. I cannot think about anything else.

KM: The good thing about quilt making is that you can put it down and pick it up and put it down and pick it up. You can rest for a while. I am excited that you are going to make more.

LT: [sigh.] I guess many.

KM: I can't wait to see how many you have done when I return.

LT: I want to, but I will not work alone. The people are waiting for us. I am now in Tbilisi, but I will go back to Akhalkalaki. These people are waiting for us to return.

KM: I think this is good because you have good energy so that will get them excited.

LT: I will try.

KM: Good. I think they did wonderful work, and I was so pleased with the work that they did. How well that they did.

LT: With appliqué.

KM: I know. I'm so excited that there is finally a group that loves appliqué because the quilt group [Georgian Quilt Group which KM founded during her first trip in 2003.] doesn't really appliqué.

LT: Yes.

KM: So, it was good to find a group that loved appliqué because I love appliqué. So, it was good to find a group that also loves to appliqué. I'm excited and I'm excited that someone is going to do appliqué.

LT: I will do it.

KM: And I'm excited to see what other quilts they make. Thank you for taking your time--

LT: Thank you.

KM: Thank you for taking your time to talk to me about your quilt and our interview ended at noon.


“Lali Tsetskhladze,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed May 21, 2024,