Zylpha Siudara

Photos

NY14543_01_a.jpg
NY14543_01_b.jpg

Title

Zylpha Siudara

Identifier

NY14543-001

Interviewee

Zylpha Siudara

Interviewer

Elizabeth Davis

Interview Date

02/06/2003

Interview sponsor

Jennifer Solon

Location

Rochester, New York

Transcriber

Elizabeth Davis

Transcription

Elizabeth Davis (ED): This is Beth Davis; it is June 2, 2003. I am interviewing Zlypha Siudara and we are in her home. First question. Tell me about the quilt that you brought in today. Who made it and the origin?

Zylpha Siudara (ZS): The quilt that you see in front of you now is from a Christmas card and has been adapted to fit into a quilt. I no have no idea who did it or where it came from, but it was such a delightful design that I had to make it into a quilt.

ED: Well it's beautiful. So how long ago did you make it?

ZS: Two years ago.

ED: Describe it.

ZS: Well I have used all kinds of fabrics, different kinds of greens and a background that has angels in it. The background is a cream color. The leaves are cut from fabrics that resembled leaves--

ED: Holly leaves

ZS: I call it "The Holly Tree." I've cut the different patterns out in 6 different sections, first the lower part and then it goes gradually up to the top where it has a large star that exactly fit my cake plate.

ED: [laughs.] Okay so you used all kinds of fabrics in it, you used velvet and satin, you said--

ZS: And lamé. I have used dress fabrics, and I have used quilting fabrics, where I have done lot of embroidery. I have used green variegated metallic thread to outline the leaves. After September 11, I decided I had to put a child under the Christmas tree, because that is what Christmas is all about, a story of a child.

ED: So there was no child originally?

ZS: There was no child originally. The tree is sitting into a pot of delightful fabrics, there is beading, and there is embroidery. Just hold it up, so I can see what the other fabrics are like again [pause] I have some fabrics that I bought by the yard, decorative fabrics. It is mostly a gold basket, and then I took a dress fabric, that was lamé in variegated colors, so the top part is a deep gold the upper part is a more orangey color and it is put on a Christmassy type golden fabric and I've embroidered with gold thread.

ED: Is there a special meaning for this quilt for you?

ZS: Yes there is a special meaning for this quilt. I finished it on my father's birthday. It was hanging on our wall before then, unfinished, but it was still much better than having a Christmas tree where I had to pick up needles off of the floor! But by having it on the wall, I took one dozen silver angels and fastened them on hooks and then fastened them into the little stitches that held the leaves, so I had a decorated Christmas tree.

ED: Oh how beautiful

ZS: I one thing that I would not have used is the fabric that had gold threads through it; it was a nasty thing to turn.

ED: [laughs.] Well, you did do well with what you had to work with. Why did you pick this quilt to talk about?

ZS: I think that I picked this quilt because I just like the whole basic idea of it. And I also liked the theme of it, where it says 'Peace on Earth,' and more than anything else, we need something that gives us peace on earth. And this child, of course, I am used to drawing figures and painting faces, this way I could combine old and new fabrics together. The little boys' pants are from my daughter's baby dress, the checked shirt that he has on, came from fabric that came from my grandmother. The child portrayed is from a 1928 print.

ED: So you really put a lot of thought into this.

ZS: The hardest part of it was doing the background, which is a series of diamonds.

ED: You did a nice job.

ZS: It turned out well.

ED: And what about the fairies, now what made you think of putting them in there?

ZS: After all, Christmas is a time of fairies, you know that every child loves Santa Claus, well I decided you have to have elves there, after all, Santa Claus had his elves; I was going to have three, with one in the elf in the tree and I would have the children tell me

'How many individuals do you see on this quilt?' Well one little girl came up with the correct number. She found the little elf that was sitting there, kicking one of the balls and lying on the leaf. She saw the angels on the top who were blowing their trumpets, and she turned it over and saw the elf on the back. And then she saw the child lying under the tree. I would say that the child under the tree is about a two-year-old youngster and he's sleeping. He is just waiting for Santa Claus to come.

ED: Yes he is. Now what are you going to do with this quilt then?

ZS: Eventually, I hope to hand this down to some member of the family who might be interested in it. And fact I know other people who might be interested in it!

ED: I can think of a lot of people- you want to adopt me?

ZS: [laughs.] But this has been a fun project. I have enjoyed every minute of it. The hardest thing is--

ED: Except the red fabric--

ZS: Except for the red fabric. But asked, 'How would you make a pattern from it?' I said that it comes in sections. There are two lower sections that are almost similar. It goes up graduated until you come to the very top section, which is a large star.

ED: Which that in itself is an achievement.

ZS: That is the size of the cup saucer and then the circle that goes around it is the size of a cake plate. And then I have the rays radiating out from it, and I have a lot of metallic threads to highlight it. And I like the different types of sections, different types of fabric that I used in the balls in the tree because each one gleams differently in the light.

ED: Yes it does and it is very tactile, which is what you like to do. Well, now we are going to talk just about your interest in quilting, Okay?

ZS: Would you like to know about my quilting it from the back?

ED: Yes, yes, you want to mention that too, mention your quilting idea.

ZS: [laughs.] I often have fabric on the border that is elaborate, but that carries out the colors of the quilt, and this one that I am speaking of now has holly because the name of the quilt is "The Holley Tree," and it has the berries on it and a dark background. No way could I draw lines down there to quilt and do it evenly so where the quilt ends I quilt a line, turn the quilt over, mark the back for the border and quilt from the back. I have no problems; I have no mess to clean up afterwards on the front of the quilt.

I've done this on so many different things wherever I have a portion that needs quilting and I have to have my stitches show, especially if your going to have your stitches judged, you want your stitches to look fairly decent, I have quilted it from the back because no one is going to see it when it is on the other side.

ED: That's right! And you do such a beautiful quilting stitch, that you are confident that when you quilt from the back that front is going to be just a beautiful.

ZS: And I know that people are going to look and say, 'Oh look at that quilting!' and they don't know that I have used the easiest method possible of doing it.

ED: What age did you start quilting?

ZS: The first quilt I did, I was ten years old. Before, that I was under the quilt frame threading needles, so that my Grandmother and my Mother could have the needles pushed up. If the needles were hard to push up, I could do it from under the quilt. Well then, when I was ten years old, I was allowed to sit at the quilting frame and work on the quilts with them. I still have the quilt, and you saw the quilt, where I made my first stitches. They are not beautiful and too big, but I worked on that quilt with Grandma and my Mother and when the conversation got interesting, they would speak in German and I would give up quilting.

ED: You couldn't speak German?

ZS: I understood the alphabet and a few things in German but not a general adult conversation sometimes little ears weren't to listen--I didn't go back into quilting per se until 1984 when I made bed quilts from prescribed patterns, the kind that you cut out and piece and since I had a very good sewing machine, I did quite a few of my piecing on the sewing machine.

ED: You did a lot of just patchwork.

ZS: I did patchwork. Then after a series of spinal fractures, I couldn't handle the big quilts anymore, and so I went picture quilts and since I have had four years of art training and drawing people, I did work for a photographer coloring photos before we had colored film.

[ringing phone; pause.]

ED: Sorry for the interruption there, Okay. So from whom did you learn to quilt?

ZS: I think that I told you that I--

ED: Your were quilting from material--

ZS: I began to make picture quilts because of my experience drawing faces and working with figures from my nursing experience, seeing a body without skin, I knew exactly where the muscles and the bones were, so I had no problems then drawing figures.

ED: Good thing you put skin on your--

ZS: But if I hadn't seen where the muscles were, I wouldn't know how to shape the body. I think that my anatomy classes were best thing I had to teach me how to do figures and to do faces. But I also like to watch the newscasters at night and see the shadows on their faces, so when I want to color a face, I can do it. I use a dry brush stencil paint on the peach color fabric to color the faces, I use the swabs or else I use my third finger for all the shading on the faces, because with dry brush stencil paint, if you rub the nap, your face begins to look like it has measles. You take your finger and you pat the paint on with your finger. [ZS demonstrates patting motion.] And you do it on a piece of cloth first. Many a time I had to start over, because I didn't pat right!

ED: You also use the Pigma pens too, right?

ZS: I use then Pigma pens also--

ED: For the eyes then--

ZS: For the eyes and for the mouth. They come in bright colors and they come in subtle colors. With the eye, you use two shades of blue if you are having blue eyes. If you are using brown, I use the flesh colored pen to make the brown eyes, rather than a brown, to make a brown eyes because it turns out a better shade on the peach colored material. These are things you have to take into consideration when you are painting on to fabric.

ED: And then you do the embroidery on top?

ZS: On eyes, I have found out that it is better if I can do the embroidery on the eyes after I have drawn it in. It is just like a children's coloring book, you are just filling in on top of the colors. And Beth, for the eyes, I like a silk thread, as it has much more luster, so when the light hits it, you see an eye that actually twinkles! Also, on the flesh colored material, you don't have the whites of the eyes unless you use the white thread.

ED: Plus silk is a finer thread.

ZS: It is. And I like the luster.

ED: From whom did you learn to quilt? You said that you were quilting as a youngster, but then--

ZS: I've done sewing all my life. I have my trusty sewing machine that does most of the basic things, but I like the handwork as well. So I like--

ED: So when you started doing the storybook quilts, did someone teach you, or did you develop this all by yourself?

ZS: I've collected children's readers for years. And I've always liked the stories. Of course, you see before there were books, people were telling stories. And the stories were moral stories, like the story "Little Red Riding Hood" and the story of the "Three Bears." You would not go to someone's house and when there is no one there and break their chair and sleep in their bed and eat their food. You see, children understand this without actually knowing they are learning their morals. One thing I intend to do now, because I love gold lamé. I want to make the "Goose that laid the Golden Egg," so that I could have a trunk full of beautiful lamé eggs and a very fancy leaded window in back, and I could use my lovely metallic fabrics--

ED: And the stained glass fabrics you have--

ZS: Yes, and then I'll have the man there standing there, gloating, as that goose lays the golden eggs. On each of my quilts, the Nursery Rhyme quilts I make--I put the nursery rhyme on the quilt, so that the children can read it. Because these--

ED: On the back as a label?

ZS: Not only on the label, but every one of my nursery rhymes has a goose on it. And on the goose itself, I put the story. I letter it on with the Pigma pen and heat set it.

ED: So that the children can read the story, while they are admiring your quilt.

ZS: That's right and they love it! And my quilts are on loan to libraries for children's story time.

ED: Oh really? Around Rochester?

ZS: They have gone as far as Ohio.

ED: Wow!

ZS: I loan them for a certain number of weeks or months. And I also tell them not to have them under direct fluorescent lights, because after a prolonged period, your quilts are going to fade if they are under fluorescent lights.

ED: You let children handle quilts?

ZS: The reason they can handle them, is because I have fabric protector on all my quilts and I can pass my quilts out to people if I go out speaking. Children can come and touch them. And I have them with tactile features, for instance on the "Little Red Riding Hood" I have the bear with the furry tail. I tell the children to rub the furry tail, because it will bring them good luck. In fact, I have a dozen furry tails in the basement, if one furry

tail--

ED: Has to be replaced?

ZS: Be replaced.

ED: The fabrics, you use a lot of the velvet for the capes…

ZS: Yes. In the story of "Sleeping Beauty" there is a white felt dog, fabric protected, which is soft & fleecy.

ED: And he has been rubbed a lot.

ZS: He has been rubbed a lot. I have used all kinds of metallic ornaments, plus extra ones. In fact, I had lost two buttons for the prince's cape. I found them later in a shoe. I begged and borrowed until I got two more antique buttons.

ED: What about the mouse, you were going to tell me about the mouse that you lost on one of your--

ZS: Oh yes, I had a story about my bedroom when I was a little girl, I made my white iron bed, I took lamé, gold braid to make the decorations on top of the bed. I had a little mouse under the bed skirt. One time my little mouse disappeared. Someone lifted the bed skirt and had removed the mouse. So I took some cat fabric and put a cat there. When you lift up the skirt, there they see the cat. I also put underwear on all my little girls, because the first thing anyone does when they see anything on a quilt that is loose, they have to lift it up.

ED: You do a lot of 3-D on your quilts, so there are loose skirts--

ZS: So all my children wear underwear. [laughs.]

ED: So how many hours a week do you quilt then?

ZS: Depends on how good the television program is. [laughs.] I sit in a rocking chair and I have two oval hoops for certain ones, I have a small hoop and I have a 14-inch hoop. I sit in the rocking chair, because after my spinal fractures I cannot sit at the big quilting frame anymore. This way I can quilt for hours and if the program is very good I will quilt until midnight. I'm using all my senses this way, not only sight, but hearing as well.

ED: This is a good thing. Are there other quilters among your family or friends? Tell me about them.

ZS: My Great-Grandmother was a weaver. She came from Switzerland. She grew her own flax, planted her own seeds. She grew raised her own sheep and sheared them herself. I have the things that she used to card her own wool. There were five spinning wheels in her home. Each one of her five daughters had to be taught how to weave, how to spin and how to make quilts. That is why she had the different spinning wheels; they all had to learn to spin. And when they were married they took the wheel with them. We had the estate sale a few years ago, and there were four spinning wheels. The large one was for the wool, the smaller ones for the linens.

ED: For the flax?

ZS: Imagine, she had to break up that flax herself, steep it, process it and spin it into thread. And my Grandmother learned how to do that also. Even after my Grandmother lost her sight, she could still knit, even when she was partially blind, because this was before they did much cataract surgery. She knit a pair of booties for my son. I didn't have sense enough to save them; I did not think that they were beautiful. I should have saved them because a blind woman made them.

ED: Plus it was your grandmother who made them.

ZS: Yes, it was. But I do have samples of coverlets that were made. And we have donated the, what do you call it?

ED: The coverlets?

ZS: No, not the quilting frame, we donated the loom to a college now for the Fine Arts department. And all our rugs were also done on the loom. We saved rags-nothing was wasted.

ED: And your mother quilted then also?

ZS: Oh my Mother quilted, yes. After my Grandmother's eyesight went bad. My Grandmother made the quilts in the summer time, then my Mother would put them together with sashing and then we would quilt in the wintertime. All the furniture was pushed back, so that the quilting frames could be in front of the bay window. But I was so glad when we would get those quilts done, so we could have the furniture back again. I think that is one of the reasons that I tried to help them-so we could have the room back again. It was kind of a fun thing to do. But one of the things I remember though, my Mother had a sewing room. She did not have a rug on the floor; she had what was called 'linoleum' on the floor, because you could see scraps of things there, and you could find your needles. You couldn't have if we had had a rug. But we had a sewing room and in there she had her 1916 Singer sewing machine. She did not want an engagement ring before she was married, she wanted a sewing machine, and so that was her engagement gift. I still have it. I also have a sewing machine from the 1886 a small one that the girls used to play with, that was my Great-Grandmother then. That was when the sewing machines first came out; she had this small sewing machine. All decorated with beautiful flowers. I shall show you that sewing machine.

ED: Have you ever used quilting to get through a difficult time in your life?

ZS: I think all of us have. I think it is a very special time when you can sit there and quilt and think, because all of us have had bad times in our life too, as well as the good times. But most of all I love the creativity of putting the colors together. It's the very fact of taking these stitches and then seeing something turn out on the cloth. To me it is the beauty of turning out something with my stitches. And of course, appliqué now has become my big thing. Since I collect children's storybooks and children's readers, I have a great store of the beautiful pictures and stories to copy. But of course, they are not in color. There is my hardest part, actually finding the right colors. I've have had to take things out several times because the colors weren't right. I'll look at something now, hang it on the wall, look at it under daylight and under artificial light and you would be surprised how the colors change under artificial light. I was making flagstones for "The Three Bears", the kitchen had flagstones. Under artificial light, the stones weren't right, I had to remove them and put in different colors.

ED: So it is hard when you go to the store and buy the fabrics?

ZS: --to exactly know, but I have boxes of stuff in the attic, I have several boxes of picture material put off by itself. These things are good, I can use for my picture quilts. I have bird fabric, if I want to make a duck or something like that, I would cut up an eagle to make a duck's wing.

ED: Like the humming bird, you used a goose; the wing fabric for the humming bird.

ZS: I had to get my lamé in there too. Just a tiny bit, but that is why I have so many fabrics in small amounts. I am among the few people who go to a quilt store and ask for an eighth of yard of material. When I ask for an eighth, they know right away who is buying it! [laughs.] Because I like to have these different colors to use for my picture quilts.

ED: So what is your favorite part about the quilting? Buying the fabric or having it finished? What is your favorite part?

ZS: Well, I like the designing of it. And then after I get it started and putting it together, I work as fast as I can. I just cannot stop quilting when I start something. I want to see what it will look like when it is finished.

ED: So what parts of quilting don't you like? Or isn't there anything?

ZS: Oh Yes. I don't like to redraw my lines. I just wish that there was some other method that would do it, so that is why so many of my borders and other backgrounds I have a design in it, that I can follow the design without having to mark the quilt.

ED: So it is the quilting itself?

ZS: I enjoy the quilting. I love it--

ED: It is the marking the quilts--

ZS: Marking? I could do away with that completely. I tried many things. Tried different arrangements to see what colors I like. I like the choice of colors; I like to look at books that have that colors in it and then arrange them the way I like them. But right now I still can do a fairly good quilting stitch.

ED: You do a very nice quilting stitch. What do you think makes a great quilt? You've won awards.

ZS: Color. The most important thing to me, I think in a quilt is color. And that is where I need to have more experience with it. Because I hate to put a thing together and then find after I got it done that it is not right. I think that all us quilters need courses in color.

ED: But you took art training. You had some training in color I assume.

ZS: Yes, I did, I had training in color. But you would be surprised at how many mistakes even a person who's had training in color can make when they put things together. It doesn't always work out. Everyone always thinks the finished product looks so beautiful. How did you do that? It is a lot of work

ED: What do you think makes a quilt powerful artistically? This is a very artistic quilt.

ZS: Well, basically you have to have a shape, the thing that it is going to fit into, and the format of it.

ED: Because you do draw them out completely--

ZS: Yes, I draw them out completely. But it has to be balanced, it has to be color, it has to have texture to it. In every quilt I like to use material for tactile purposes. Feel it! That's the reason I use a fabric protector on my quilts. My quilts can be felt. I think that there is a lot in feeling. A child likes to touch a fabric that is soft and shiny. Or a baby likes to touch something that is soft and fuzzy. And when I make a baby quilt, I always put a flannel backing on it. Not only do I put on a flannel backing, but on the edges, I put satin ribbon, because it feels like the mother's skin. The baby touches that, and the first thing that they'll do is fingers rub it against the satin. It feels like mama's skin. Then they'll cuddle up to the soft flannel backing on it. Children like things that are soft-not beauty, but things you can feel.

ED: Which is want you really enjoy doing--

ZS: I'm with children all the time. I'm grandma to so many kids.

ED: What makes a great quilter?

ZS: I don't think that I would be called a great quilter

ED: I think that you are. Who do you admire as quilters?

ZS: Well for one thing, I like Jinny Beyer's sense of color. I think that hers are spectacular. She has a proper sense of color. That is something I think that you have to learn, and perhaps the only way you can do it is trial and error or classes or someone who can tell you. I was not born with this basic sense of color. Most people aren't, I'm not. I like to draw. I know the human body, I can draw anything that way, but when it comes to color I think that I need help.

ED: But it is nice that you can learn from other quilters that you admire. You can look to Jinny Beyer in the magazines, or when she comes out with a new line of fabrics you can always look to her for--

ZS: And also the little samples that they send us. I love the little samples. [laughs.] A friend of mine made one of these 'Year 2000' block quilts. What I didn't use, she could- all those little samples-she turned out a spectacular quilt. I do like the colors that are printed up in quilts now, because some of them are just so exciting. Color is an exciting and calming thing.

ED: I think that is why all the quilters are interested in it--

ZS: Another thing, I think that I showed you some of my quilts, for the quilts where I do a lot of quilting, I tried to have a fancy background, and so you can't see any imperfection in it. Or else, there was one quilt I was going to do with purple, and I knew that it was going to be hard to quilt through lot of seams. I drew a design and quilted the design from the back, so I would not have to go through a multitude of seams. There is more than one way to get your quilting done--

ED: That is your "Lilac Quilt"--

ZS: My "Lilac Quilt." Without having to go through the hard part breaking your needles and pricking your fingers.

ED: Good ways of getting around the part you do not enjoy! So you mostly are hand quilting--

ZS: I did try the machine quilting. I didn't enjoy the machine quilting, but I can control my hand quilting. Perhaps if I had more practice, I could do the machine quilting. But until I do--

ED: Your appliqué is all done by hand--

ZS: I do everything by hand, except I sew my binding, on one side by machine. That is my one concession to the machine.

ED: I told you that I have a long arm-quilting machine, what do you think of long arm quilting, when you go to quilt show?

ZS: There are times when I wish I had a long arm-quilting machine, because I know how many hours it takes really to do my hand quilting. But I do mine mostly for relaxation now I'm not doing the quilting for speed or for selling. I'm just using it for my own enjoyment.

ED: You don't dislike the long arm machine quilted quilts, it's just for you, and it's not--

ZS: Especially if I was younger, I would invested in a long arm quilting machine, but at my age now, where I don't have many more years to do it, I'll stick with my hand quilting. And if I need something done, there are those who had the long arm machines and I would be delighted to use them. Use their services rather. [laughs.]

ED: Why is quilting important to your life?

ZS: Right now quilting is my life. We have a disabled grandson, and in his room at the group home, every two months, I change the wall hanging in his room. They all like it, they all like 'Grandma' coming up there and passing out candy to them if they are allowed to have candy. They admire the things. You'd be surprised, even those with disabilities love something beautiful. But quilting is important to my life because it is the one thing that I can do now. I can't go hiking like I did. I do have a garden. I do go out in my garden, yes, and see the beauty in it. But quilting to me is art. Quilting designs are art, and I enjoy the beautiful designs that people have made. I like quilting and quilters.

ED: It's a way for you to express--

ZS: It is my expression; it's my love of art. It's beauty. And I have seen some of the men who are doing such a spectacular work with quilts, too.

ED: Yes they are. What way do your quilts reflect your community or your region? How do think you express 'Rochester'?

ZS: [laughs.] What was so funny, when I was a child growing up, we didn't always have quilts, we had comforters because we had unheated upstairs. And any old thing: aprons, men's shirts, men's pants, you name it went in them. They were put into these thick batts, warm as anything. Those went over our beds.

ED: Those must have been heavy--

[pause for interruption here for a minute.]

ZS: Afterwards, we had the heavy quilts to keep us warm. Also I had a sister; she was as good as a quilt, nice and warm. She was marvelous for cold feet. [laughs.] But we always had either hand loomed sheets with wool, because my Great-Grandmother made her own sheets. In fact after the sheets were too badly worn, then they would make baby clothes out of them. They made little petticoats and dresses out of them because they were part linen and part wool. They were lovely things. I still have the quilting frames that belong to the family. Because my Grandfather was a miller and good at engineering, he made her some very fine quilting frames that you could just screw together. They were marvelous to handle. Quilts have always been a part of our family. And since my Grandmother's nephew had a general store, we had access to some of the most beautiful fabrics there were. So I've always had beautiful fabrics.

ED: This was in Webster?

ZS: In Webster, yes.

ED: There weren't a lot of general stores then? Because the fabrics you showed me were gorgeous!

ZS: But you'd be surprised at how beautiful the fabrics were in these general stores.

Women were quilters in those days. Every woman had a quilting frame. The church groups got together and did quilting. The homes had quilting. Everyone did that. We would go and they would come there and work on the quilting bee.

ED: That was during the time period I thought quilting had died out in the U.S.

ED: But my Mother was born in 1883. But they had these lovely fabrics. In fact, her first grade dress was black with purple pansies. Why did they have black? Because you had to wash everything by hand. If you had dark colors, your cloths didn't get as soiled. It didn't look soiled.

ED: So even a little girl, they would dress in black

ZS: They would dress in black, or that dark brown, they put on dark colors--

ED: There were a lot of dark colors in that antique quilt.

ZS: Remember the washing machines were not existent then. You had to wash your clothes by hand. In two tubs out in the backyard in the summer. And the white things were laid out on the grass too, because the grass would bleach your clothes. I've been known to do that now with some things that got stains on them now, put them out in the yard. And it works.

ED: That's pretty good to know. Do you think that quilts had special meaning for history in America?

ZS: Well there were the mourning quilts. When a person died, they would take their things and make them into quilts. And often they would use appliqué and put like a cross or a bible or something that meant afterlife to them. And they would use their things. In fact I have an old, old log cabin quilt and the family's clothes were put into them. Once the person died, their clothes were made into this log cabin quilt. So that way they could remember the people. That had meaning to them, because they were family members. And remember there were a lot of children that died young and they would use their things and put them into the quilt. 'This was Aunt so-and-so's dress,' and 'this was somebody else's thing.' There were children who died, but they remembered them by putting them in a permanent memorial to the family members. And this is why I think that quilts should be handed down to family members.

ED: Yes, if you have family.

ZS: Yes, if you have family.

ED: And that a good thing. So you definitely think that we should preserve the quilts for our future.

ZS: Having worked in our museum here in Rochester and I see all the quilts that they have there and the many commemorative quilts and signed autograph quilts. And you know that some of them were for the pastors in the churches. When you are read the names, you are reading the roster of the old towns.

ED: Some day somebody will see your quilts with your stories written on the back of them as much as you have done--Somebody will read that, you will be well remembered I think--

ZS: Well in the story of "Sleeping Beauty," I put the story on the back of the quilt. And when I got to the very last sentence, I made a mistake in spelling. So now, when I have little child read the story, and I say to them, 'Find the mistake in that's in the spelling' and they have to go through the whole thing until the very last sentence, almost the last word, and they have found the mistake. That has given them the experience in reading and getting them in front of the public and checking to see can they can find the misspelled word.

ED: Plus you can say that you are going into that old mythology that no quilter can make a perfect quilt. So you put the mistake in on purpose, right?

ZS: No accidentally! On one quilt that I made, I also put a little quilter's credits envelope on the back. I sewed same material as the background. In a little envelope there that I put on the quilt, I gave the credits of whose material this was and story of the quilt and why it was made. And I think that it would be kind of nice to give credit to who helped with it.

ED: Tell a little about what you put on that credit. [laughs.] That's a little bit funny.

ZS: The dresses that the princess wore, was the prom dress that this quilter's daughter had. Her mother was going to throw it out. And I said, 'Oh No! I am working on the story of "Sleeping Beauty" and we need a beautiful dress for the princess to wear, so I gave the credit to the person for the prom dress that was no longer needed.' I also had my husband stand up to make the king. And I drew his rotund figure. [laughs.] He had to hold his hand up for a long time so I could get this finger just right to point. When it came time to do the witch, I had to get the wrinkles right in the mirror, so I could get the witches profile. My mirror did the profile--The lint from my dryer made the yarn that she is spinning, so I gave my dryer credit for the lint that she is spinning. Then the storybook horse, I must give credit to the book "Fairy Tales" because otherwise I would have been no good at drawing a horse. So I have borrowed my ideas from here, there and everywhere. I've gone to Wal-Mart and taken their children's photographs that they have in their ads and I have copied them. If I need to have a pose, I will take a newspaper article or a child's photograph that I see to get the lines right. I'm great for using other people's ideas.

ED: I guess so! This concludes the Beth Davis interview of Zylpha Siudara on June 2, 2003 in Rochester, New York.

Collection



Citation

“Zylpha Siudara,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed July 24, 2024, https://qsos.quiltalliance.org/items/show/1888.