Dena Dale Crain

Photos

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Title

Dena Dale Crain

Identifier

Kenya-001

Interviewee

Dena Dale Crain

Interviewer

Karen Musgrave

Interview Date

5/12/06

Interview sponsor

National Quilting Association

Location

Nakuru, Kenya

Transcriber

Karen Musgrave

Transcription

Note: Because Dena Crain lives in Kenya, the interview was conducted through a series of e-mails beginning on April 3 and ending on May 12, 2006. There were times when Dena was not available so sometimes there were gaps in the interview. She also has a slow dial-up at home so was not able to access the Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories project on the website until well into the interview.

Karen Musgrave (KM): To begin the interview, I need you to send me a photo of a quilt that you have made and one that has meaning for you. We call this the touchstone, and it is used as the basis of the interview. If you have a detail of the quilt, that would be great too. These will be included with the interview.

Dena Crain (DC): The trouble is that quite a number of my quilts have special meaning for me. "Aftermath" commemorated the bombing of the American Embassy in Nairobi in 1998. I started working on it about 3 days before the bombing actually occurred. "Crystal Propeller" was conceived while I was learning to fly. "The Future is Now," which I consider to be one of my best works, grapples with the environment. All of my Crystal Quilts represent a new way of thinking about traditional quilting and design. My African Rock Art quilts were donated to The Trust for African Rock Art. "Mystery" was about menopause, and "Vale of Tears" was about lost pianos. It's hard to choose. But I suppose the one that has been the most significant piece in my life as a quilter must be "Terminal - Smoking May Be Hazardous."

These last three pieces are what I call "Spirit Quilts." "Spirit Quilts" are pieces I make by a rather special method. I have no design in mind. I layer two pieces of white cotton fabric with a batt and then I begin quilting with black thread. As I stitch, an image appears - a bit like automatic writing. As the image develops, I begin to see where it is going, and to make more conscious choices about the design, so the entire process is highly interactive between spirit and intellect. When the quilting is finished and the entire image has appeared, I paint the quilt with either dyes or fabric paints.

KM: This is great! Tell me why "Terminal – Smoking May Be Hazardous" is your most significant piece in your life as a quilter.

DC: "Terminal - Smoking May Be Hazardous" is significant to me because it was created during what was probably one of the most difficult and painful periods of my life, and certainly of my mother's. I was with her in her hospital room for the last week of her life, watching and waiting for her to die. I had flown back to the US at my stepfather's request because he knew that my mother's struggle with lung cancer was nearing its end and wanted me to have an opportunity to be with her during her final days and hours. I needed something to do with my hands while my mind and my heart whiled away those few days. Quilting "Terminal" was therapeutic busy-work during the long periods while my mother slept and when my heart was truly breaking. I cannot see how any quilt created under such circumstances could be anything other than highly significant in one's life.

Death by lung cancer is not very nice. The cancer can take years to develop. The patient grasps at any offer of assistance, with a hopeful prayer that somehow this horrible thing will go away. S/he will undergo any pain or humiliation in an attempt to find relief from the terminal diagnosis. In the last stages, the person stops eating and physically shrinks to nearly nothing in size. In a sadly ironic way, the end comes by asphyxiation - the sufferer suffocates.

Watching my mother pass through this transformation and transition from this world to the next was the most devastating slow-motion experience I have ever had. If a work of art could come out of my pain, then I have to believe that is a good thing. I donated the quilt to the hospital where my mother died, and they have hung it in the Oncology wing where she passed away in the presence of her family. I hope it will serve as a message of life for others. My mother lives on, you see - in my heart. She is with me every time I make a new quilt, every time I am afforded some small measure of success, every time I need her advice and support - she is always there - in spirit.

KM: What you shared was very powerful and made me cry. Thank you. I know this was not easy. This is one of the reasons that I feel strongly in the need to document and share the stories behind quilts. How did you come to being a quiltmaker?

DC: I took up quilting during the second year of my life at Lake Baringo as an occupation for myself and a way to provide some much-needed employment for women in the village. I saw it as a task that required minimal equipment and only rudimentary training in basic hand sewing skills. At that time, of course, I knew almost nothing about quilting! I taught myself how to quilt from books and magazines, joined AQS [American Quilt Society.], set up a workshop and hired half a dozen people. We made quilts for the tourist market in Nairobi and sold them through commission craft shops. I also worked the principal annual craft fair in Nairobi a few times. We did well until a major change in the exchange rate left us overstocked with nothing moving. I was forced to let go of my staff and wait it out. Severely depressed about this sudden turn of events, I spent my time fiddling around with design on a computer. After about a year, I pulled myself together, realized that this adversity could be turned to my advantage. That was when I began making art quilts. I have never looked back!

KM: I'm sad for the women who lost their jobs but certainly happy that you took up making art quilts. Let's discuss your teaching. Tell me how you came to teaching with Quilt University.

DC: I met Helen Marshall when we both taught for the South African National

Quilt Festival in Cape Town sponsored by the Good Hope Quilter's Guild in 2002. Helen, who lives in New Zealand and teaches for Quilt University, suggested that I might do well to teach online because I live in a relatively remote area of Kenya. I had heard of Quilt University, but it had never occurred to me to teach there. I have thanked Helen many times for her good advice!

KM: If you would also give some background on Quilt University for the people that read this interview and don't know what QU is that would also be helpful.

DC: Owned and operated by Carol Miller, assisted by her wonderfully supportive husband Roger, Quilt University (www.quiltuniversity.com) is comprised of a faculty of more than 35 teachers offering more than 120 classes. Subjects cover all levels of expertise, from the basics through to advanced design, and include classes on foundation and patchwork piecing, appliqué, computer-aided design, quilted wearables and accessories, surface design, and many other topics. A complete list of the classes can be found at www.quiltuniversity.com/catalog.htm. The majority of classes have 3-6 lessons, running from 5-8 weeks, with a new lesson opening every Saturday, a Discussion Forum (message board) to keep students and teachers in communication with each other throughout the class duration, and a Gallery for posting photos of student works in progress.

KM: I'm also interested in hearing about how teaching via the internet works.

DC: Students select classes and register for them, paying by credit card. Before the class opens, they are sent a password which they use to access the online lessons and auxiliary web pages. They print out the lessons and go straight to work, communicating with the teacher throughout the class duration. Online education is a great way to learn what you want to learn, at your own pace, and in a convenient and affordable way. Quilters form a huge network, and often students find that they know each other outside of their online classes, so gives the learning experience another dimension. I have even had students who know each other sign up for a class and then work together through the material - a great way to get support is from your peers.

KM: What do you teach?

DC: I teach quilt design and construction. At present, I have 4 classes at Quilt University that run at least twice a year. Structured Fabrics teaches students how to build unusual materials and how to design a quilt with them. Designer Pinwheels is a class on four-fold rotation of a tessellated right triangle and more. Reflections introduces basic symmetry as a design tool for making art quilts an easy way. And Math for Quilters is THE class for everyone who quilts as it provides useful math reviews and tables to take the work out of designing and planning your own quilt designs. A fifth class is in progress, and I have ideas for several more.

I am also available to teach in classroom settings, and details about that can be found at www.saqa.com, the web site for Studio Art Quilt Associates, of which I am a Professional Artist Member and the Zone Representative for Africa. I am building a web site of my own at the moment, so it may be worthwhile to search for that in coming months.

KM: How do you deal of the challenges of not being in the same room with your students?

DC: Teaching online is absolutely great! I can work in my pajamas first thing in the morning in Baringo, or sipping wine as I lounge on a Lamu bed and watch the full moon rise over the Indian Ocean in Watamu in the early evening - it is not impossible for both to happen in the same day! Equipped with a Mac with Bluetooth and a mobile phone, my work goes with me when I travel.

More to the point of your question, however, is the lack of personal contact with each one of my students. Many students register for online classes but never acknowledge their presence to the teacher, preferring merely to download lessons for later use. In a classroom setting, EVERYONE participates, and the teacher can draw out anyone who is reserved about their work. That would be lovely online, as well, but it is not always possible. Those who do not participate in an online class, I fear, do not get much out of the classes, but that is their choice and I support their right to make it.

All I can do is to be as accommodating as possible. I respond to every posting and offer helpful suggestions without criticizing anyone's efforts. Everyone does the best they can, and so do I. I am honored to be among the faculty of Quilt University, and I was especially thrilled to be nominated for The Professional Quilter magazine's 2006 Quilt Teacher of the Year award by my online students.

KM: I am always curious about quilt making in other countries. I was fortunate enough to take an exhibition of Gee's Bend quilts to Georgia, Armenia and Kazakhstan last year. It was amazing to see the similarities and differences in their quilt heritage. Please tell me about quilt making in Kenya.

DC: Most quilting in Kenya involves members of the Kenya Quilt Guild. Established in 1993 and based in Nairobi, the Guild boasts nearly 120 members, with smaller branches now forming in Mombasa and Eldoret. Most of the members are traditional or innovative quilters, with a few venturing into art quilting. Very few members sell any of their works, and only one (me) is a professional art quilter. The Guild engages in various charitable projects, including one for Habitat for Humanity.

When I first came to Kenya in 1990, it was possible to find some quilted goods in the tourist markets. These were mostly bedcovers made from small squares of African fabrics, pieced and quilted with foam rubber sheeting used as batting; polyester batting was too expensive and cotton batting was unavailable. Later, we began to see Chinese and Indian hand-made quilts on the streets being sold at ridiculously low prices, as little as 2,000 Kenya shillings, or less than US$ 40, for a double bed quilt! The Chinese quilts were actually not bad quality, but many of the Indian ones were made of voile cotton with 1/2" long stitches.

Imported quilts still dominate the market for quilted bedcovers. With prices consistent with quality and materials, some of these are quite attractive. Kenyan workers cannot possibly compete with the relatively low retail prices of imports, so quilting as a moneymaking industry is not appealing to the local people. This is a factor that may help account for the small percentage of Kenya Quilt Guild members who are African Kenya citizens, as opposed to those of Asian or Western cultural heritage who can afford to quilt as a hobby.

Materials are perceived to be a problem because of the high demand for American printed calicoes. Fabric merchants in Kenya tend to stock polyesters and poly/cotton blends, not at all nice for quilting. Traditional West African fabrics are imported, but vastly expensive. Some interesting African prints come from Tanzania into Mombasa, but one must go there to find them. I was delighted to discover a merchant with a fresh shipment of Indian silks at reasonable prices. Those are now all sold out, and I wonder where I will obtain more.

We quilters have some better luck if we shop the mitumba market, the open-air marketplaces where itinerant vendors hawk second-hand and seconds clothing from Western countries. I can buy beautiful silk blouses for as little as 20 Kenya shillings, about US $.30! We can find all kinds of garments to chop into patches for quilting, if we are willing to brave the hazards, both real and imagined, of shopping these markets.

Batting is always a problem. Much polyester batting is imported for use in furniture making, but it is all at least 1" thick. One can separate this batting into two layers, but one side of each piece will have no glazing and the fibers promptly run through the back of the quilt and cause pilling. Prices for batting are still quite high, although local merchants are now beginning to respond to the call from Kenya quilters for more appropriate and more reasonably priced batting.

Equipment and tools are scarce and high-priced. Everything from sewing machines to rotary cutting equipment must be imported, so many quilters purchase overseas, and hand carry these items back into the country. Sewing machine repair is a nightmare, and dust and humidity can wreck a delicate machine in short order. Electricity blackouts and power surges do not help. One learns to have handwork ready for those unexpected times when there is no power to run a machine. I have been advised several times not to purchase a computerized machine because if anything goes wrong with it, there will be no one here to repair it. I had to send a tiny digital camera to South Africa for repairs, and by the time I got it back I had paid for the camera a second time - imagine sending a sewing machine out of the country for repairs!

To its credit, Kenya offers wonderful opportunities for embellishments. With its large Asian population and strong trade connections with India, Kenya stockists carry wonderful beads, sequins, variegated threads, metallic cords and trims, laces and more, at very low prices! Also, we can tap into the African markets for more natural embellishments - beads, seeds, bits of bone, ostrich shells, leathers. These require some consideration on the part of the purchasers, however: we seek to protect our wildlife and forests, so prudent buying habits are essential - no ivory allowed! We are appalled to see porcupine quills gaining in popularity, and there are other products that have similar risk factors for over-exploitation.

In spite of all these glitches and hiccups, quilting in Kenya is definitely gaining popularity. With every exhibition, the Kenya Quilt Guild attracts new members and fields inquiries about quilting. My next exhibition, to be held in October 2007 at the Rahimtulla Museum of Modern Art, will introduce quilting as an art form for the first time. It represents quite a challenge and a responsibility for me, but I know that each exposure the community at large has to quilting is an opportunity to share the joys of the medium with others and I welcome such chances.

So, quilting in its infancy in Kenya is alive and well, kicking and squalling, and taking its first steps. It is an exciting time, and I am proud to be a part of this great creative process.

KM: Now I'd like to talk about the aesthetics, craftsmanship and design aspects of quilts in general. What makes a quilt artistically powerful?

DC: Quilts share with other art media the manipulation of color, value, and texture in the creation of an infinite number of images. We respond to the imagery of quilting in much the same way we respond to the imagery of painting and photography; that is, something about the image touches, and resonates with, a human soul. We experience something of our own divinity and our connection with the universe when we observe any work of art, quilting included. What could be more powerful?!?

KM: Whose works are you drawn to and why?

DC: I think there is intellectual work that comes from thought, from mind, and is full of clever uses of elements. Then there is spiritual work that comes from the spirit, from the soul. My favorite quilter is Ludmila Uspenskaya, and I have always admired the work of Sue Benner. The imagery of both these artists grapples with the use of color to define space, and the spaces defined are not found in the visible 'real' world, but they spring from another dimension, the artists' interior worlds. Both artists share their souls in their works, and I respond strongly to that as my own work moves increasingly toward the same purpose.

KM: You stated that your own work is moving increasingly toward this purpose--sharing your soul in your work. How has the way you work changed? Where do you see your quilt making in the future?

DC: Early years of quilting are spent mastering sewing and construction techniques and becoming familiar with some of the tricks of design. By 'tricks' I mean any design method that, if followed properly, will generate an acceptable if not spectacular original design image. Much innovative quilting falls into this category. Quilting this way, one gradually learns how to handle color and value, discovers the importance of a strong focal point, experiments with surface design and explores alternative construction methods. Approaching some mastery within this phase, one begins to consider imagery on its own, questioning the purpose and meaning of art, reviewing one's past performance, and seeking and evaluating those aspects of one's work that are truly unique to individual expression. In short, one becomes an artist. Other phases of creative growth surely must follow, but as I have yet to attain them, I cannot describe them.

I moved comfortably through these early stages, producing some very poor, some mediocre, and some very nice quilts as I learned my craft. When writing classes for Quilt University, I gave that work highest priority and stopped making quilts for a while. This 'time out' gave me intellectual space to consider what I had accomplished, evaluate what worked well and what did not, and contemplate the value and significance of my quilting as art. I am still doing so, but I understand more now and can more easily perceive a direction for future work. I am on a threshold, and eager to move forward.

Future quilt making for me will include works in a similar vein to those I have developed in the past, but I am now in a stronger position to allow myself greater freedom in their creation. Stronger technical skills coupled with a new, unleashed creative drive should ensure production of higher quality work than I have accomplished previously.

One fact stands out, though. My best work from the past was created during times when I involved myself in the effort of creation to the point of losing myself within it. When the work was finished, I could hardly describe the processes I had used to produce it; so intense was my concentration that memories of the act of creating barely formed. I can see now that I have always possessed that creative ability. Now, however, I can give myself permission to release it, to give myself over to it at will. This gives me more self-confidence than I have ever had before, more power, more strength. It's like climbing a high hill, looking back, and being filled with a sense of accomplishment; then turning to face the mountain.

KM: How much do you think living in Kenya has affected the way you work and your work?

DC: I was a graduate student and undergraduate student advisor before I came to Kenya. Had I not done so, met my life partner Jonathan Leakey, quit my teaching job at a Kenyan university, and moved to Kampi ya Samaki, I might very well never have taken up quilting. Prior to that time, I needed to earn a living! So, living in Kenya, and even more particularly living in relative isolation, was a primary motivation in my work.

Working with local fabrics has had a definite effect on the styles and quality of my work. There were no solid color 100% cotton fabrics and few prints of that quality available, so I took up immersion dyeing and other surface design techniques on white sheeting. Later, I began to work with 100% white silks. Making one's own fabrics has a terrific impact on the work produced.

Perhaps the most noticeable way in which my environment affects my work has been in the realm of color. Contrary to popular belief, the colors that surround me in Kenya are not recognized African colors (those reflect the dyes, not the environment), but rather soft, gentle earth and sky colors that blend well. Many of my pieces echo these colors; a factor I believe makes them easy to have in one's home.

The other way that living in Kenya has affected my work is that I am far removed from mainstream American quilting. Lacking access to quilting classes and close relationships with other quilters has meant that I move in my own directions. I have been forced to teach myself many skills from instructions found in a limited supply of books and magazines. I have also had to develop new piecing and construction techniques, working to accomplish my goals with what materials and tools are available in Kenya. In a way, I am sorry not to be able to take all the quilting classes I would like to, but perhaps it is a good thing that I work independently, away from current trends and fashions in quilting.

KM: How does your quilt making impact on your family?

If it were not for quilting, I might otherwise succumb to boredom and be forced to leave Jonathan, find a new place to live, and go back to earning a living. Jonny is lovely about my work. He provides me with a studio space and all the time I need to work, helps me carry quilts back and forth to Nairobi, attends all my shows, and encourages me to sell my work. Occasionally I get a 'hmmph' out of him as he passes through my studio - that means he likes what he sees!

What has been very nice is the way my four stepchildren, as well as my friends and the greater community, have come to respect my work as it has developed and grown. They began to take it seriously after about the first ten years or so. Exhibiting, selling and achieving public recognition for my efforts has helped tremendously in this regard. If I was still quilting as a hobby, I doubt my efforts would have earned their respect.

Mine is a family of high achievers with high recognition, and Kenya is full of enterprising women. It is important for me to have something of my own to do that is significant in the eyes of others, and that I can do effectively even though I live in a remote area.

To my way of thinking, quilt making ensures the continuance of my chosen lifestyle, although it now also threatens it. The desire to teach and to earn money from my teaching is strong, yet opportunities in Kenya are scarce. To teach others, I must travel abroad and that means being apart from my loved ones and my beautiful home. Teaching online at Quilt University has proven to be the perfect solution.

KM: How has your quilt making influenced quiltmakers in Kenya?

DC: I would like to think that my work has exposed quiltmakers in Kenya to some of the possibilities for art that quilt making offers. For those quiltmakers here who do not have an opportunity to travel abroad and visit large exhibitions of quilts, mine may be the only works they see that are art quilts - those of finite design. I worry that they believe they are not capable of producing such work, yet every year I am increasingly encouraged by the quality and styles of work that appear in the Guild's annual exhibitions. I think quiltmakers in Kenya are walking the same path as quiltmakers from anywhere else. I count myself extremely lucky to be a little further along the path than some others.

In the past, I have written articles for the Guild newsletter and performed demonstrations of various techniques at Guild meetings. Those activities, plus any teaching I have done in Nairobi, may have influenced quiltmakers here more than my quilts have done.

This is not, in my opinion, a fair question: perhaps you should ask them! Would you like some referrals?

KM: While I would love to "talk" with quiltmakers in Kenya, referrals aren't necessary. I would love to include some Kenyan quiltmakers in the project. How many members does the Guild have?

DC: Almost 120.

KM: How often do they have exhibitions?

DC: Once a year. Everyone is encouraged to participate, so the shows are not yet juried. They are held in an open selling space in Nairobi's poshest shopping center.

KM: What is the attendance like?

DC: As might well be expected, most visitors to the shows are quilters and their families. From that beginning, friends may drop in. We also receive some walk-in traffic. The shows generally receive some press coverage, but usually not aired in time for people to attend the exhibition. Many people in Kenya do not know what quilts are and have no appreciation of their beauty; they will not make the effort to go see a quilt show. Far better the colors catch peoples' eyes and draw them into a show from the street, but lack of suitable venues is a major problem. There are not many affordable exhibition spaces that offer store-front display, as the cost of commercial space is quite high.

KM: Do you think there will ever be a time when an exhibition from Kenya will travel to the U.S.?

DC: Not in the foreseeable future, I shouldn't think. For one thing, people here do not have the money to send a complete show on tour, and I shouldn't think there are any funding organizations here that would help - especially not when all of Africa needs assistance for what would be considered more important concerns. Also, I'm not sure that quilters here would see how they would derive any benefits from showing their work in the US. It might be more viable to send a small collection to South Africa or to England, lower in cost and easier to manage.

The other issue would be the quality and quilting styles of quiltmakers in Kenya. For the most part, quiltmakers here are still learning basic quilt making skills and making mostly traditional American patchwork designs out of books and magazines - nothing much there to excite a sophisticated American audience.

In the 2006 show, however, a few pieces demonstrated high technical skills and a movement toward more original artistic expression. Given sufficient time to grow and the materials to produce more ethnically focused imagery (African and Indian designs), Kenya quiltmakers can in future become a powerful group of highly skilled and self-confident creators of original works of more specific and unique character. That, I think, will be a better time for mounting a traveling exhibition.

KM: You are the SAQA [Studio Art Quilts Associates.] representative for all of Africa. How long have you been a member of SAQA?

DC: About 3 years. I attended the SAQA Conference in May of 2005, and also the prior one in 2003. I believe I joined the organization about a year before that.

KM: Why did you decide to join that particular organization?

DC: I didn't really know very much about any such organizations, and I cannot remember how I learned about SAQA, but it seemed like a good place for me at the time. I never regretted being a regular member, and I am very pleased and proud to be a Professional Artist Member. Membership in SAQA has been nothing but good for me, and I hope good for SAQA as well. It has been a real treat to see my work published in their annual Portfolio, available on the web site. A softbound book and matching CD, the Portfolio highlights and promotes the works of all the SAQA Professional Artist Members.

Last year I took membership in the Surface Design Association and subscribed to Fiber Arts [magazine.] as well as Sew News. All of these offer sources of inspiration and news, tips and techniques, and give their members a bit of support, something I think is important for all working quiltmakers and artists.

KM: What does this your job as representative involve?

DC: At present, my highest priority is to identify and recruit other members from Africa. Difficulties of distance and poor communications do not help. In July of 2006, I will attend the South African National Quilt Festival (www.quiltfestival2006.com) in Port Elizabeth in my first official duties for SAQA. Having attended a prior Festival in

Johannesburg and taught at the one in Cape Town in 2002, I know quite a few of the quilters there, and hope to encourage some of them to join SAQA. I am also involved in recruiting members from Kenya - a more direct and personal activity as I already know many of the quiltmakers here.

SAQA provides me with materials I can share with others in Kenya to help educate the general public. I can use my copy of the Portfolio and run a slide show of SAQA member works on my laptop to educate other quiltmakers in Kenya and other African countries.

I also push pretty hard at getting SAQA to do a better job of reaching out to the international community. To their credit, they listen to my ideas and suggestions, and make a genuine effort to establish a greater presence in other countries.

I have a personal vision for an East African Quilt Guild – any quiltmakers from Tanzania or Uganda are particularly invited to contact me, and another one for International Studio Art Quilt Associates. I have not actually mentioned that to anyone in SAQA yet, as I am still quite a junior member, but I like to think big!

KM: How many members of SAQA are there in Africa?

DC: None apart from myself! We had two others a year or so ago, but my efforts to communicate with them came to nothing, and I do not believe they renewed their memberships. This is what makes my role so exciting and challenging: I have the entire continent to work, and anything I do is bound to help open it up!

KM: Tell me what you are working on now.

DC: At the moment, I have two quilting projects in the offing, both to take place in Nairobi. One is an up-market craft fair called Bizarre Bazaar in November 2006. The other is a solo exhibition at the Rahimtulla Museum of Modern Art in October 2007.

Having been focused on my online teaching for the past two years, my best works mostly have been sold, and my supply of new works is quite low indeed. My highest priority now is to build up a new collection.

I am working on three components. The first, intended for the craft fair, is a set of small works in shadowbox frames, suitable for hanging on a wall or perhaps standing on a table or desk. Among these, I am pursuing several fabric themes. One, which I suspect will be very popular, will be made from African print fabrics. Another will be made from silks, with some glittery embellishments. A third will be made from my hand-dyed and printed cottons. Compositionally, each piece will be an original work of art, no two alike, and made available at prices anyone can afford.

The second component is a set of Structured Fabrics quilts. This is a design method I teach at Quilt University, and the possibilities are limitless. I want to see what can come from further explorations with an eye to my upcoming exhibition.

The third component is the most significant and exciting, as I improve my methods for producing Spirit Quilts. Quilting by machine, rather than by hand, is new for me for these works, but it certainly expedites the process without sacrificing quality or content. And I have switched from painting with dyes to fabric paints. I need to learn more about how to paint with them, but I definitely prefer their ease of use, and quick preparation and clean-up. Being able to produce Spirit Quilts faster, I believe, will make it easier for me to make more of them. I think this is the most personal of all my work, and I suspect that in future I may become best known for these pieces, so I am very excited about growing into this work.

Beyond this, I continue to work with Crystal Quilts, seeking new and more liberating methods of construction, and I am also developing a new design technique that relies on gradated fabrics - one I hope will become a new class for Quilt University as well as providing me with some lovely new pieces for exhibition and sale. I am truly like ALL quilters: so much to do, and so little time!

KM: And is there anything else that you would like to add to this interview?

DC: I'm very flattered that you wanted to do this interview and particularly that other
people encouraged you to interview me, and I'm grateful to be among those included on the Q.S.O.S. website. Many thanks for your efforts.

KM: Thank you. This interview concluded on May 12, 2006. I want to thank Dena Crain for taking the time to do this interview.

Collection



Citation

“Dena Dale Crain,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed May 27, 2024, https://qsos.quiltalliance.org/items/show/1754.