Marie Coleman




Marie Coleman




Marie Coleman


Ronda Coleman

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

Carolyn Mazloomi


Elkhorn City, Kentucky


Ronda Coleman


Ronda Coleman (RC): This is an interview for The Alliance for American Quilts, Quilters' [S.O.S.-] Save Our Stories. This is identification Number KY415004. [note should be KY41522-004.] The interviewee is Marie Coleman. Ronda Coleman is the interviewer and transcriber. We're at the Elkhorn City Public Library at Elkhorn City, Kentucky. Today's date is February 21, 2008, and it's about 11:00. [pause.] Mrs. Marie, I want to thank you for allowing me to interview you today. Tell me about the quilt you brought in for this interview.

Marie Coleman (MC): This is a UK [University of Kentucky.] quilt, which I like. I made one before and I don't remember who I gave it to [laughs.] but I made one and I like that pattern. It's easy to make. I like the colors.

RC: And you said before that this is a pattern you had to enlarge from the original.

MC: Yes, ma'am. I enlarged it and made it bigger so it would look better on the square.

RC: What special meaning does this quilt have for you?

MC: I'm going to give this to my nephew. He lives in the lower end of the state, and I made my sister one and he said, 'Well Aunt Ree don't like me.' [laughs.] So, I'm making him one.

RC: You're going to prove to him that you do like him. [laughs.]

MC: Eventually I'll have everybody in the family one. I make them and give it to them because that's something I like to do. I don't sell quilts. I just make them and give them to the people I love and my family.

RC: And that's a good way to show them that you love them.

MC: Yes.

RC: For them to have something with them. What do you think someone viewing your quilt might think about you?

MC: Well, I hope they think I'm a good person, a patient person, because you have to have patience to work on a quilt and I just love doing things for people.

RC: The quilt we have today is an unfinished quilt and you just answered before my next interview question which was what are your plans for this quilt? Are you going to quilt it yourself or are you going to have someone quilt it for you?

MC: I'm going to have it quilted because this is as far as I can go. I can put them together and everything but as far as quilting, I don't quilt them.

RC: Do you have them machine quilted, or hand quilted usually?

MC: Machine quilted.

RC: Tell me about your interest in quilt making.

MC: My mother was a quiltmaker. She made quilts. She crocheted. She embroidered.

RC: Do you learn all that from her?

MC: No, not really. [laughs.]

RC: When did you start quilt making?

MC: Well, I started--I did some when I was growing up but not very much. When I grew up and got married, I really didn't have time to do all this, so I just started doing this the last 9 or ten years.

RC: Okay.

MC: And for the last three years I've gotten really interested since I moved back to Elkhorn. I stayed gone for about seven years.

RC: Where did you live before?

MC: I lived at Somerset.

RC: How many hours a week do you quilt?

MC: Oh, 12 or 15 hours a week. I pick them up and lay them down and then I'll pick them up. It's about 15 or 16 hours a week.

RC: What is your first quilt memory?

MC: My first quilt, I was 8 or 9 years old, and I made a Dutch girl quilt.

RC: So where is that quilt now.

MC: I have no idea. [laughs.]

RC: So, you were still at home then.

MC: Yes, I was.

RC: And that was a quilt that you used for home?

MC: Yes.

RC: How big was it, was it a--

MC: Just a regular size quilt, you know back then you didn't really make quilts real big. My mother cut it out and I embroidered or appliquéd around it.

RC: Are there other quiltmakers among your family or friends?

MC: Yes, I have a sister. She used to quilt a lot, but she don't anymore because her hands you know. I have a daughter-in-law that quilts all the time. She's real good. She can make anything. She can make curtains, slip covers, clothes, so she's real good.

RC: Does she live around here?

MC: She lives at Flanery Branch over at Mouthcard.

RC: How does quilt making impact your family?

MC: Well, they're very supportive of me since I'm a widow.

RC: How long have you been a widow?

MC: Six years.

RC: And you were quilting before?

MC: Yes, whenever he wasn't busy. I was always helping him. We built our house together. Whenever I was doing something, I always had to lay it down and help him. Now, I have more time to.

RC: Do you ever used quilts then to get through a difficult time?

MC: Yes, I do. It's been real-the people here at the Elkhorn Library and the quilt class, they have been very supportive of me since I started coming. I've made a lot of friends. I've met old friends and I've got other people interested in doing it, my daughter in law and her sister-in-law.

RC: So, they didn't do Chicken Scratch before they started this?

MC: No. I got them into doing it.

RC: Had you ever heard of Chicken Scratch before you got into this?

MC: No, sure didn't.

RC: Do you have any amusing experience or anything that might have occurred during the classes?

MC: [laughs.] Quite a lot.

RC: Any that you want to share? [laughs.]

MC: Oh, I don't know if I should tell this one or not. I made a quilt called Robbing Peter to Pay Paul and I made some remark one day and it didn't come out the way it was supposed to but that was it. [laughs.]

RC: [laughs.] That happens with communication sometimes. What do you find pleasing about quilt making?

MC: It's very satisfying. It gives me something to do which I'm not very good at a lot of things, but quilting is very good.

RC: What aspects of quilt making do you enjoy?

MC: All of it. I mean I love to crochet. I love to embroider and appliqué and just quilting in general.

RC: Have any of the new advances in technology influenced your quilt making at all?

MC: Not really. I just like doing what I'm doing.

RC: What are your favorite techniques and materials?

MC: I'd say gingham is the kind I use. Although I'm in the process of going to make me a nine-patch quilt with different colors of cloth. I've got one started. Don't know when I'll get it finished but eventually, I'll get it done.

RC: So, you do piecing as well as Chicken Scratch. Describe to me the place where you create your quilts.

MC: My living room.

RC: How do you balance your time?

MC: Well, I don't have a lot to do. My youngest son lives with me which he's gone most of the time and my house is not very big. Once I clean the house up, straighten it up I've got a lot of free time.

RC: I know you shared with me before that you alternate between quilting and crocheting.

MC: And embroidery. I go to church on Sunday and come back and make it to the store once in a while and that's about it. I don't get out and go much.

RC: Where do you decide how your quilts will go together. Where do you lay them out so that you know how you are going to put that quilt together?

MC: I lay them on a bed.

RC: Do you pin the quilt before you take it to be quilted or

MC: No, I let Roberta. I get all the material and she takes and quilts it for me which I appreciate very much.

RC: I understand. What do you think makes a great quilt?

MC: I think it's the design that makes a good quilt and the time that you put in it and you can step back and say Oh look what I did

RC: What do you think makes it artistically powerful?

MC: It's the pattern that you, when you put different colors. I like colors. When you put different colors, it sort of brings out the pattern that you work.

RC: What do you think makes a quilt appropriate for a museum or special collection?

MC: That would be hard to do because I never did do one. [laughs.] But I think a good quilt, it doesn't have to be perfect to make a quilt [loud noise from something dropped.] because I don't think there's any quilt that's perfect.

RC: What makes a great quiltmaker?

MC: Well, patience and I do have patience. [laughs.]

RC: How do you feel about machine quilting vs. hand quilting?

MC: Well, I think hand quilting is beautiful, but a lot of people can't do it and I'm one of them, so I go to machine quilting because it's a lot faster and easier.

RC: Why is quilt making important to your life?

MC: Well, it's something that keeps me busy, and I don't dwell on things that's happening. Because it is something that gives you satisfaction and I can look at something after I get it done and knowing I had accomplished it.

RC: In what ways do you think your quilts may reflect the community here or the region in this area?

MC: A lot of the quilts we make I think reflects what we are and where we're going.

RC: What do you think about the importance of quilts in American life?

MC: I think there should be more of them, and more people would do them because it's getting to be a lost cause. Most people don't do much of that anymore. It's just something a lot of people don't take up doing.

RC: How do you think quilts can be used?

MC: Oh, they can be used as different things. You can use them as a throw or put on a quilt rack or on a wall or put in a drawer. [laughs.]

RC: True. How do you think they can be preserved for the future?

MC: I think they can be preserved if people would take care of them and not be rough with them and tear them up and it breaks my heart to see something pretty go to waste.

RC: What has happened to the quilts that you have made?

MC: Well, I've given them all away. I give one to my granddaughter, my great granddaughter. I give one to my sister, and I give one to two of my daughters. They're embroidered or yeah, embroidered and I made several other different kinds like the knit where you cut them and tie around them and make a throw and I'm in the process of making my other granddaughter a quilt.

RC: How do they use the quilts, the ones you've given away?

MC: Oh, they use them.

RC: They use them.

MC: Yes. But my sister, she puts it on the foot of her bed, and she said she would not take nothing for that cause she loves it.

RC: So, what do you think is the biggest challenge confronting a quiltmaker today?

MC: I think it's the material that we can't get a lot and the thread. A lot of places it's raised and if you're on a limited income you can't buy a lot. [phone ringing.] Sometimes it hard to get what you need. Since I don't drive, I don't go a lot of places.

RC: How do you get to the quilt class?

MC: I walk.

RC: How far is it for you?

MC: Across the railroad track, up on the hill.

RC: That's still probably a good quarter mile?

MC: Might be. It doesn't take me but a few minutes to walk from there to here.

RC: How many children did you have?

MC: I had nine.

RC: You had nine children, and you were from a family of how large was your family?

MC: Twenty-one.

RC: Wow. I remember you talking about that.

MC: I have eight grandchildren, four great grandchildren.

RC: That's great. I do appreciate you talking with me today, Mrs. Marie.

MC: Thank you.

RC: Thank you for participating.

MC: You're welcome.


“Marie Coleman,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed July 24, 2024,