Carol Ann Sinnreich




Carol Ann Sinnreich




Carol Ann Sinnreich


Karen Musgrave

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

Del Thomas


Lawton, Oklahoma


Kim Greene


Karen Musgrave (KM): This is Karen Musgrave and I'm conducting a Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories interview with Carol Ann Sinnreich. Carol Ann is in Lawton, Oklahoma, and I'm in Naperville, Illinois, so we are conducting this interview over the telephone. Today's date is October 7, 2009. It is now 3:12 in the afternoon. Carol, thank you so much for taking time out of your day to do this interview with me. Please tell me about your quilt "Prairie Thunder.”

Carol Ann Sinnreich (CAS): I'm delighted to have this opportunity to share my enthusiasm for quiltmaking. "Prairie Thunder” is considered in my mind a major quilt for my direction that I started going in. My roots are traditional, then I started slowly inching toward pictorial. "Prairie Thunder” represents my interest in the West, the American West. I do a lot of research, a lot of reading of histories, but mostly I go out to the Wildlife Refuge that is 20 minutes from my back door, where there are 500 bison running freely, going anywhere they jolly well please. It's a magnificent animal and it inspired me to do a quilt with buffalo. Now with buffalo, normally when you see a herd of buffalo stampeding in the movies, they are going from right to left or left to right across the movie screen. I was thinking, 'What is it like when the bison are stampeding right toward the viewer?' That was the starting point of "Prairie Thunder” I was trying to capture the chaos, the noise, the thunder that buffalo make when they are running, and stomping on the ground and charging over logs and around rocks and whatever is in their path. That was the premise for "Prairie Thunder.” The quilt is about 67 inches wide and 54 inches long. I purposely did not put borders on that quilt because I wanted the viewer to understand he was not looking at just 20 buffalo, that there were thousands, and thousands of buffalo out there, far to the right, far to the viewer's left, and way out in the distance. That is the whole statement, the whole premise of "Prairie Thunder.” You have to remember, of course, that most of the bison herds [laughs.] disappeared just about in the late 1890's. There originally were millions and millions of these animals crisscrossing the United States. My little 67 [inches.] by 54 [inches.] example was just a tribute to the herds that are long gone. That's all I can really say about the quilt unless you want to ask me a question.

KM: Do you usually do borders?

CAS: Sometimes I do and sometimes I don't. It all depends on the whim, I suppose. It depends: when I'm designing a quilt, I lay it all out on paper, and sometimes the pictorial demands a border like a picture frame you would hang in your house. Other times I'm saying, 'No, my vista is so large I'm trying to convey to the viewer that they really are peeking through a small little window in an enormous landscape covering acres, thousands of acres.' That is how that kind of determines what my choice is going to be regarding borders.

KM: How do you use this quilt?

CAS: How do I use this quilt? Right now, [laughs.] this is interesting. I sold this quilt to a lady up in [DeKalb.], Illinois, and it has since, unfortunately she has since passed away. Her husband unfortunately has Alzheimer's and he is in a home caring for him in Illinois. The quilt went into the home [with him.]. So right now; in my mind, I have "Prairie Thunder” on the wall of this retirement center, probably terrifying some elderly people [laughs.] who really don't need to be terrified by thundering buffalo charging at them. That's all I know about it. It is in [DeKalb.], Illinois. I can't remember the name of the retirement home [Oakcrest Retirement Home.]

KM: That's okay. Tell me a little bit more about your creative process.

CAS: My creative process, wow. First of all, I guess I have to say something about myself. I'm a product of Walt Disney. As a child I was very much influenced by the creative imaginations that was inspired by Walt Disney and Disney World and so consequently I have a very vivid imagination. I draw upon my imagination frequently when coming up with ideas. I also do a great deal of reading of history and old diaries and journals because my area of interest is the old American West. Love the history of it. I love the dynamics of that era. Thirdly, I would say I'm inspired by my surroundings. I live in Oklahoma and daily go out with my dog and my husband and we go out to the Wildlife Refuge, we go to Fort Sill, which is located nearby and go into all the woods and remote trails, and so I pick up a lot of ideas on these little daily excursions. Consequently, I am doing more and more things with wild animals that I see on a daily basis. That is about it. It all kind of meshes together. These ideas pop out of my head and I start drawing and sketching and doodling around trying to figure out, how do I see this quilt? I've found over the years that if I really don't see it in my mind, I don't hear it in my mind, and I mean that almost literally, it doesn't happen on paper. I've got to work it out in my brain to see where all the action is for my quilt designs.

KM: Do you work on more than one thing at a time or.

CAS: Yeah, I have to. I leapfrog from a number of projects because you can't…Especially if I'm working on a large mega-quilt as I call it, I can't just spend weeks and weeks and weeks concentrating only on that quilt. I have to divert my attention to other things to kind of refresh the brain, refresh the way I'm thinking about it and refresh the way I'm looking at the work as it is progressing, so I do divert from different things.

KM: Is "Prairie Thunder” a typical size for you?

CAS: Lets see, actually "Prairie Thunder” is about as large as I want to go these days and that is about 70 [inches.] by 60 [inches.] if you had to put it in a little frame. That's about the biggest I want to go and it's simply a matter that I use my domestic sewing machine for a lot of my finishing work. I'm not a long-arm person. I don't desire to go to the long-arm because (A) I don't have the room and (B) I don't want to spend the time [laughs.] to learn the skills that are required to be really good at long-arm quilting. I use my domestic sewing machine and I have everything spread out on a huge worktable that I work upon and that's how I get it done and that's my limit really, is 67, no 70, what did I say 60 [inches.] by 70 [inches.]?

KM: Now how many hours a week do you spend?

CAS: I knew you were going to ask me that and I was kind of counting up just a short time ago. I will say it varies. When I'm really intensely working on something then I'll spend six, eight hours a day in my studio, which is a small bedroom in my house. Other times I try to at least spend one hour in my studio doing something every day, whether it is working on a project, whether it's sketching, whether it's just putting stuff away after each project so I'm prepared and ready to launch the next big effort. Otherwise things get too chaotic and I can't think under a lot of chaos.

KM: So you are messy when you create?

CAS: I think most people are because you're pulling gobs of fabric out to line up your choices that I want to work with and when you start cutting and snipping you have little piles of things all over the place and you're leaping. I'm leaping around the different piles, pulling things out that I need to use within a certain design. Yeah, it does get kind of crazy but I do at the end of the day, I do neaten things up. I put my scissors back where they belong. I put rotary cutters--any of my tools back where they belong so that the next time that I'm in my studio and have some time, I don't waste time looking for things. They are where they are supposed to be, I can pick up my pencils, I can pick up my scissors and go to work.

KM: Since you've mentioned your studio, would you describe it for me please.

CAS: Sure. I live in a 65 year old house and one of the bedrooms is approximately 12 [feet.] by 16 [feet.], an unusually large bedroom that I use for my studio. [laughs.] It has been a challenge. Because of the age of the house, there is something on every wall and what I mean is, there is a door, there is a window, sometimes there are two windows and sometimes there are a door and a window. It has been a real challenge designing the layout of my studio and I've finally got it so it works and functions for me. I have a huge workstation that is on wheels so I can roll it around. It has collapsible sides so when I'm not working on a large project I can slide it up against the wall and it's out of the way and I have space. It is one of these workstations where I have one sewing machine dropped down inside that I can pop up when I'm ready to sew on something and then I have another sewing machine set in a separate table and then my shelves of fabric are lining one wall. It's actually very functional. I've often wondered how I would react to a larger studio. That has been a dream. I decided I really don't want one because the larger the studio, the more stuff you throw into it, it just takes up more and more creative space for working on my quilts so I'm happy with the size of my studio. It works for me.

KM: Do you have a lot of things on the walls?

CAS: No because I have, one, two, three, I have eight shelves of fabric, I have two bookshelves in addition to that and then I have a large design wall on one side. So basically there is one little corner that has some quilts on it and a pegboard with all my tools that hang on it, a little small section and the backs of three doors. I have three doors in that studio. I have hung some quilts on them. They rotate at a whim. Whenever I need to look at something different, I will put something else up on the backs of my doors.

KM: Tell me about your interest in quiltmaking.

CAS: I'm sorry, say again.

KM: Tell me about your interest in quiltmaking.

CAS: How I started? [KM agrees.] Like many quilters, I can blame my mother. [laughs.] However the interesting thing is my mother did it as a young woman and she never did it [again.] until she was much older, near her seventies she started picking it up again. I came home, I had been married for some years, I came home and found my dear sweet mother quilting. I had no idea she even knew how and that started it. That was back in the middle, early 1970's. She started quilting and I decided I could make quilts and started learning. I'm pretty much self-taught. In those days I was a nomadic Army wife and so quiltmaking was more of a hobby and was a natural extension of my years of sewing clothes and other stuff. Finally, when my husband retired from the military in 1990 and we returned to Oklahoma, I decided to get serious, and at that point I took advantage of the quilting classes provided by topnotch talent to learn what the new techniques are, to really update my skills. I was really, as I said, self-taught and I had a lot to learn. I continued taking all kinds of classes. It is part of what I call 'my continuing education'. I enjoy learning what other people are doing, how they do it. It's not that I necessarily want to do exactly what another artist does, but what I want to know is how she or he does something that I can use or apply to my work and it's a great experience. Besides you get to meet all kinds of great quilters when you take these classes.

KM: Do you belong to any art or quilt groups?

CAS: Actually, I belong to a few. I am a founding mother, you might say, one of the founding mothers, of the local quilt group [Wichita Mountains Quilt Guild, Inc..] of about 60 people. I belong to Studio Art Quilts Associates. I belong to the National Quilt Association, AQS [American Quilters Society.], and of course, the International Quilt Association. Then, I participate in a lot of the local arts. My community has an arts group, they are has painters and sculptors and photographers and jewelry makers, all kinds of wonderful people. I support and participate in their activities.

KM: Why is belonging to these organizations important to you?

CAS: Which one of these is the most important?

KM: No, why do you belong to any of them or how did you choose?

CAS: First of all I wanted a local quilt guild [which became the Wichita Mountains Quilt Guild, Inc.]. I knew there were closet quilters out here in my community and neighboring communities and I wanted to get them together to start learning from each other, and they've done that. We are going into our 20th year now, it is hard to believe but it is true. As far as the national organizations are concerned, I get to associate with people who speak the same language I do and who look at fabric and paint and thread and all the wonderful supplies we like to work with, they look at it in the same context that I do. It is always comforting to talk with people and associate with people who understand [laughs.] where I'm coming from as far as my creativity is concerned. That's why I do it. Now I do try to participate in their activities. I don't belong…I don't believe in being a member of an organization unless I'm willing to contribute to its activities in some fashion or another, and that explains that.

KM: Whose works are you drawn to and why?

CAS: Whose works am I drawn too?

KM: [KM agrees.] And why?

CAS: Oh, golly that's a good question. Wow, let me take a second to think on that one. I tend to go towards--I love the art quilts to a certain degree. I'm not an abstract thinker, so I sometimes have a hard time getting [my] mind around too wild and too abstract artwork, but I do like the pictorial work. Well, that is what I do, so I tend to really appreciate Charlotte Warr Andersen for example, the work by David Taylor, Ruth McDowell, Hollis Chatelaine, and there are a zillion more who are using a variety of materials to create their pictorials, their illustrations of the story they're trying to tell. I'm a storyteller myself in that regard, so that is why I tend to be drawn toward those people. Particularly, I'm more drawn to those who use commercially available materials because that's what I use. I don't dye fabric. I don't have the facilities in my home to permit that, so I rely on the wonderful fabric manufacturers of the world to supply me with my materials. And so that's why I picked those people, with the exception of course of Hollis, who uses wonderful paint and wonderful thread to create her artwork. There are many others. It is hard to name them all right now.

KM: What are your favorite techniques and materials since you mentioned?

CAS: My favorite technique. I am an appliqué person and I do not like raw-edge appliqué. I find it too messy. I like the clean edge of the turned-under, needle-turned appliqué. Now either I can do it by hand, but now more and more I'm doing machine appliqué to accomplish my work simply because I'm not going to live long enough to do everything by hand. It has been about four years since I've done a totally hand-stitched pictorial. I'm doing more and more using my machine. I like the clean edge of appliqué, the turned-under edges, the more complicated, the more I think it's phenomenal [laughs.] what people can accomplish with different fabrics. I like to call it 'painting with fabric'. I like to think that when you look at my work and many others', not just mine. When you look at my work from a distance you want to say, 'Oh my God, is that a painting'? And then when you realize, 'No, it's fabric.' It kind of surprises a lot of people and that tickles me. [laughs.] I don't know, maybe it's a vanity of mine, but it does tickle me that they realize, 'Oh my goodness, it's fabric, not paint.'

KM: What do you want people to take away when they look at one of your quilts?

CAS: Because I try to focus on the American West, past as well as present, I would like people to, first of all, enjoy what they're seeing. And read into it whatever story they want to put together in their own mind based on the theme and the things I have started them with through my pictorial. I would like people to revisit our history, or at least think about it every once in a while. It's amazing that here in the United States our country was settled, totally settled within 50 years. That's an extraordinary amount of time to settle a country as large as ours. I'm really quite…have great admiration for that pioneer spirit of people that just threw themselves across the Mississippi and headed toward the Pacific not knowing what they were going to find. They did remarkable things. They were remarkable people and so I love creating those pictures about those people and those circumstances. I'm working more and more towards the goal of doing portraits of iconic figures, that movement towards the far west. Then of course the animals. Animals have always been a fascination for me. I like doing horses. I did "No Time to Waste” which is a quilt about the Pony Express. My current quilt in Houston this year is a forest fire. It's called "Firestorm” and out of the forest the deer are running to escape the fire and they are leaping into a lake. Animals do that in the real world, so I try to pick up on stuff and animals and natural things and just offer another view of the world to people looking at my quilts.

KM: What does your family think of your quiltmaking?

CAS: [laughs.] My husband [Richard Sinnreich] is most supportive of it. Fortunately his mother was an artist also so my husband is quite use to piles of stuff hanging around thanks to my wonderful mother-in-law who is no longer with us. My husband is most supportive. He takes great delight out of it and he is also, sometimes he is the best selector of fabrics when I go on a major [laughs.] shopping spree in a quilt shop. He would be the first one to stack bolts of fabric on the cabinet shelf wondering if I'm sure I've bought enough, which delights the other ladies in the stores. My other family member is a dog [laughs.] and he is my best critic because every once in a while he eats what he doesn't like [KM laughs.] that he has picked up off the floor and that is fine, just fine. [laughs.] We have no children. My sister is also an artist. She's a watercolorist, so she thinks what I do is fantastic. I come from a whole family of artists doing a variety of different things, so I have a very supportive family in that sense. They all understand, most of them understand what I'm doing or not doing [laughs.] because I'm doing quilting. That's great, I have great support.

KM: Where do you see your quiltmaking taking you?

CAS: Where do I see it taking me? Oh my, my, my. That is such an impossible question to answer because what I'm doing is just getting these images out of my head with fabric on the wall somewhere. Some I've sold and some I keep. As my husband and I joke, I'll be famous after I'm dead because I'm planning on most of my quilts will go to a museum or some place like that. Where is it going to take me? I don't expect to make oodles and oodles of money off my art work. I think that very few people do, so I don't have the illusion that I'm going to be fabulously wealthy as a consequence of my art. I think it's just taking me into this wonderful world, this wonderful magical world of quiltmaking and designing and the energy level when you get with a group of quilters who are exploring different things, just takes me right along. It's like an ebb tide, it takes me right along with them and that's very exciting. As long as I'm happy and I keep producing, that's my goal, just keep making quilts, using my talents and contributing anywhere I can to organizations, charities and so on, by using my quilts as a mechanism to do that.

KM: What advice would you offer someone starting out?

CAS: What advice? [KM agrees.] First of all, to take your time to learn the basic skills. It does take time and your first attempts are not going to make you happy because you're looking for perfection and I tell beginners forget perfection, look towards getting it done. You learn something new from each effort. The next quilt is always going to be better than your last quilt. And also take classes. Take lots of classes. That's the way you learn how to do techniques and that's how you learn how other people look at fabric and do things with their fabric. Even if you are all taking the very same class, you get different perspectives. And practice, practice, practice. Keep on learning. It just takes time, and all of a sudden you'll realize, bingo I know how to make a quilt now and do so to satisfy my goal as a quilter. That's it, practice, practice, practice, take lots of classes, the more the better. Don't always take the same kind of classes of methods that you already know, take something different so that you learn something new. Never stop learning.

KM: What do you think is the biggest challenge confronting quiltmakers today?

CAS: That's a tough question. I find that hard to answer because the quilt world and quiltmaking both in traditional as well as in the art quilt arena is ever changing. It's changing radically all the time. It's the introduction of new supplies, of people figuring out different ways to use these supplies and applying them through their quiltmaking. It's really a very live and energetic world and I don't see an end to it, which I'm very happy about. I don't want to see an end to it. I can remember early on in the '70s had it not been for the bicentennial of our country, quilting would have languished in the museums and in the backwaters of our country. Now there are millions and millions of Americans and people from other countries who are making quilts and they are doing phenomenal things. I'm always astounded. I wonder what are they going to do next. You can't do anything more and then you go back next year and they've done something more. I just don't see the direction of quilting, it just keeps moving. It's like a slow moving glacier that keeps on moving. It keeps on building and there is a crescendo I don't think we've yet seen. A crescendo is building and we haven't heard the crashing of the cymbals yet. That's something that will surprise us all down the road. I don't know where it's going to take us. [laughs.] There will be a surprise for all of us. A delightful surprise.

KM: Is there any aspect of quiltmaking that you don't enjoy?

CAS: Any aspect of quiltmaking I don't like. Cleaning up I suppose. [laughs.] That's a joke. No, I really can't think of anything I really don't like except maybe…I find, I no longer do patchwork or piecework quilts because it doesn't keep my brain active. I stopped making patchwork quilts years ago because I was making a quilt for a niece's wedding and I literally fell asleep over the quilt, and I said, 'This is telling me, go practice your appliqué and see where it's going to take you.' That's what's happened. So I think probably doing the same thing over and over again doesn't make me happy. That's why I don't do piecework quilts anymore. Doing the same pattern over and over again I find not very exciting, just not exciting. I love working with the fabric. It's not that. I don't like sometimes having to hand-stitch the bindings on because that's the grand finale and now you've go [laughs.] to start thinking about what am I going to do next. What's the next big quilt I'm going to do? I really have nothing, I can't really think of anything that I don't like about quilting.

KM: How do you find writing Artist Statements?

CAS: That is always a challenge. Someone told me at one time, 'when you're writing Artist Statements, you need to tell people about why you did what you did', and I kind of don't think I need to do that, the quilt should speak for itself. So it's always a challenge, and thankfully in most of the quilt shows that I enter they only want 50 words or less [laughs.] to describe your quilt so I tend to make a comment, one sentence about what I've done here, what is the subject of my quilt. And then, I may put in a sentence or two about the challenges, was it the fabric selection, was it creating the dynamic energy I was looking for, those sort of things. They are a challenge. Artist Statements are a challenge. I'll be doing a solo show at an art gallery next July, and I'm starting to think about the statements for that. It's not so much the individual quilt statements, it's the overall statement I find challenging because I don't really like talking about me particularly. I do like talking about quilts and the quilt world and why it's so phenomenal and dynamic. It's a hard challenge writing a statement without being too emotional or being too, what's the word, sophomoric, I think is the word. It's hard. It's hard to write a statement and I will mull over it weeks and weeks before I hit the send button towards the gallery director with my information. No one likes to do them. [laughs.] I think it's a universal conclusion, no one really likes to do them, and they really want their work to speak for itself.

KM: Why is it important to you to enter quilts in quilt shows?

CAS: Because that's my motivation. I know I'm basically lazy. [laughs.] I would putter around and do silly stuff but with the prospect of an upcoming show and a deadline looming on the horizon, that just motivates me to get in that studio and do my design work. Do my cutting and do my stitching and do everything that needs to be done in order to prepare an entry. It's a challenge. It's what motivates me. It's like the 2 by 4 that you use to knock the donkey to get him to move, and that's it.

KM: How have you dealt with rejection?

CAS: Rejection? [KM agrees.] I've been very lucky. Believe it or not I've only been rejected once and I still don't understand why I was rejected. I have a quilt ["Oklahoma Prairie.”]. I call it my "three time loser" because it was rejected by AQS [American Quilter's Society.] not once but twice, foolish people. I suspect it was bad photography. And then the third time, it was rejected was by SAQA. Studio Art Quilts Associates was having an exhibition in New York City and I decided, 'Well, I'm a member of this group, I'm going to submit slides for the show,' knowing they wouldn't accept it and I was right. [laughs.] I wasn't surprised. About six weeks later, Quilter's Newsletter magazine called and asked me if they could use that very same quilt to do a five-part series in their magazine a few years ago. Rejection doesn't bother me. It really doesn't. One window closes and another one opens. I don't dwell on rejection because I don't take it personally I guess. It's just the way it is.

KM: Have you ever used quiltmaking to get through difficult times?

CAS: Not really because I've been doing it for so long. No, I don't cry my tears out over a quilt. I'm not a crier I guess. No, I know I'm not really a crier unless someone has really made me very angry and quiltmaking doesn't make me very angry. No, I can't think of using quilts as a way of soothing emotional upset or a problem. I just haven't done that. I have used quiltmaking to keep me company sometimes. I guess I could say that to answer your question. There was one assignment my husband had in Europe where he was home literally one day a month. He was working that many hours. I made quilts. Quilts, and my neighbors, my wonderful British neighbors, kept me going for 14 months. I guess that would be the closest I can give for a legitimate answer to that question, they keep me company and I like quiltmaking, but I don't use it as emotional release for problems.

KM: How do you want to be remembered?

CAS: I want to be remembered as a positive personality who just happened to love messing around with fabric creating quilts. A good friend. Helpful when needed and hopefully my sense of humor has lightened someone else's point of view for the day if they were having a bad day. I guess that is how--that is a hard question to answer because I don't really think about myself that way. I know who I am and I really don't worry about how other people view me. As strange as that sounds I want them to like me and I'm hoping that they do and I think they do. Just as a steady-as-a-rock person, you can count on me when you need me, and strong-willed but wears a velvet glove.

KM: Good job. What do you think makes a quilt artistically powerful?

CAS: Good question. I like questions like that. When I look at quilts, and I'm saying, at a show where there are hundreds of quilts there, I'm always stopped, like everybody, by the visual impact. The statement the quilt is trying to make. The "wow factor" is what I call it. When I look at it and get over the initial smack of 'Wow, is that terrific,' I then go looking for what makes it terrific and I fall back on basic design. The good old Elements of Design, Design Principles, does the quilt make your eye wander all over it, does it keep you focused on itself? Does the quilt have staying power? It's one thing once you get that smack between the eyes when you first look at it, but is it a quilt that you want to come back to and look at again and again? Does it have the oomph that makes the viewer want to return to see it again and again? Finally, for me, I really am a nut, if you will, about mastery of techniques and skills. I think it's most important. I want to see clean, crisp workmanship. To me, that is the make or break factor in deciding the quality of the quilt: the workmanship. Does the person know what they were doing? Does the quilt demonstrate they really understand the technique and the skills it takes to put it together? I don't want to see frayed edges and I don't want to see hanging strings. It just has to be good solid workmanship following the overall "wow factor.” That's it. Did I answer that?

KM: Yeah you did, you did a good job. Do you think of yourself more as an artist or a quiltmaker or do you make the distinction?

CAS: I definitely think I'm an artist who happens to work with fabric. Three layers quilted together. There is always that debate over artist, quilter, what's the difference? I'm really basically an artist. I've been an artist since I was six years old. I've messed around with doing stuff with paints and crayons and now it's just fabric and thread and I still use paint on occasion. Yes, I'm definitely an artist. I look at…when I'm looking at things I'm definitely a visual person. I don't always listen very well [laughs.] but I do remember everything I see. It really can be a burden sometimes. When I'm looking at things I'm looking at it through an artist's eye. I'm looking for the space. I'm looking for the shapes. I'm looking for the composition. It drives my husband nuts sometimes, but I have my camera with me [laughs.] so I take these pictures and I've captured it and I can make use of it if I need to. Yes, I'm definitely an artist.

KM: In what ways do you think quilts have special meaning for women's history?

CAS: Good question. It's a great question. I think in the traditional, historical venue I think quilts have had, aside from the need for utilitarian quilts providing blankets for families and so on, I think quilts over the generations have provided solace to many very lonely people. I think of those pioneer ladies on those wagons leaving everything behind them going west. I think the quilt kept…the quiltmaking connected them, kept them connected with their families and friends they left behind. I think as people who were out in the middle of nowhere, totally isolated, the quilt kept their sanity. They had something to focus on besides their rugged obscure lifestyle they were living. In that way, quilts were very important and it was also an element of beauty in their very dusty, dirty [laughs.] lives they were leading back then. Over the years, I think quilts have allowed women a voice. I can think of the various statements, political statements that have been made with quilts by women over the years. It wasn't until, what 1924, before women could vote so the only way they could state anything about how they felt was through their quiltmaking. I think they did that very effectively. When you go back, I think of the Baltimore style of quilting. Oh, some of the blocks those ladies created told the story of their time. The Clipper ships coming into Baltimore delivering all of these calicos and all of these supplies and wonderful things these ladies needed. Quiltmaking from the get-go, from the very start, has been an opportunity for women to express their artistic, their creative senses and they did so very well. You look at some of these very old quilts and the engineering and the artistry is absolutely phenomenal and that was long, long before we had computers. Of course, today, everybody relies a great deal on their computers to help them design their quilts, often produce various--oh, some people print out their fabrics from their computers and printers. It's an on-going thing again. It's an avenue of expression for women and now many fine men are making quilts. As far as history, I just think it's been a linkage. Quilts, we are connected to all of them. I'm connected to this day with all the women that have gone before me making these quilts and using, figuring out different ways to use fabric to create a little speck of beauty in their lives. So, yeah, very important for history. Will it continue, absolutely. There are quilt artists today, women artists today who are making quilts to raise money. Raffle quilts is a classic example. Raise money for their favorite organization. Oh golly, I think the idea of the AIDS quilt back in the seventies was another opportunity for people to do tributes. I don't remember how many people were represented in the AIDS quilt. My gosh, it covered the Smithsonian Mall [Washington, D.C.] the last time it was all put together and laid out. That is an example of how quilts have been used to occupy people's idle hands. To create beauty, to make a statement about something they were annoyed by, a political statement, or to honor someone, a memorial quilt. The raffle quilt. I'm now repeating what I said before, just using different words. I think it's an ongoing opportunity for women to express themselves.

KM: Is there anything you would like to share that we haven't touched upon before we conclude?

CAS: I think quilting is an on-going activity. It's going to get larger and larger with more and more people participating. For me, it's such pleasure to have an opportunity to associate with such great people who are very outgoing and generous with their ideas, with their supplies, with their time and their participation in so many things. I just think it is a wonderful world to be a part of and I'm so happy that I have this opportunity to be a small element in this very large world of quilting. It's great, just great. That is what I can think of to share with you at this time.

KM: I want to thank you so much for.

CAS: I hope this is kind of what you've been looking for. I certainly appreciate the opportunity.

KM: I appreciate you taking time out of your day to do this interview with me.

CAS: I'm going right back in my studio when we are done. [laughs.]

KM: Good for you.

CAS: Thank you Karen this has been fun.

KM: Thank you. We are going to conclude our interview at 3:56.



“Carol Ann Sinnreich,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed June 23, 2024,