Eleanor Fuhrer




Eleanor Fuhrer




Eleanor Fuhrer


Theresa Boock

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

Carolyn Mazloomi


McMinnville, Oregon


Diana Rothe


Theresa Boock (TB): My name is Theresa Boock, and today's date is April 2nd, 2007 at 11:30 a.m. I am conducting an interview with Eleanor Fuhrer at Beverly Ann Treneman's home in McMinnville, Oregon, for the Quilters' [S.O.S.-] Save Our Stories project. We are doing this through the American Heritage Committee of the Oregon State Society Daughters of the American Revolution. Eleanor is a quilter and is a member of Yamhill Chapter. Tell me about the quilt you brought in today.

Eleanor Fuhrer (EF): This was my second project in quilting. It took a long time to get it going and a long time to finish it. I was pleased with it.

TB: You made it, then. Here in Oregon?

EF: Yes.

TB: Okay. How would you describe it?

EF: It's the Double Wedding Ring pattern with solid rings. They are not pieced. It's done with red rings, a rose pattern with flowers in the centerpieces. Shades of green and red.

TB: It's lovely.

EF: Thank you.

TB: Is it made of cotton?

EF: It is cotton. All cotton. Moda fabric that I bought locally.

TB: Oh, Moda. What kind of batting does it have? 20/80, maybe?

EF: I think so. It is a blend, cotton.

TB: Is it hand quilted?

EF: It is hand quilted.

TB: Did you hand quilt it?

EF: No, I didn't. It was done locally by a Mennonite lady, Dorothy Wolfer.

TB: And you did piece it?

EF: I hand pieced it.

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

EF: I guess because it was my first project for myself; for my husband and I. It was something I've wanted to do for a long time.

TB: Have you made lots of other quilts for other people?

EF: I have made several little baby quilts, and I made a throw for my granddaughter and a wall hanging for my son. And I just keep learning.

TB: Why did you choose this quilt to bring to the interview?

EF: It's my favorite so far, and it's the one all hand quilted that I have for now.

TB: How do you use this quilt?

EF: It's on my bed. Just is right on the bed.

TB: Do you sleep under it?

EF: I sleep next to it. I don't like a lot of covers on me, so it gets folded back and I just sleep under a sheet.

TB: What are your plans for this quilt?

EF: For now it's ours. I have 2 sons. I don't know if one would want one someday; or perhaps my granddaughter. I don't know. They haven't expressed an interest. Maybe I haven't given them the opportunity. I don't know.

TB: Tell me about your interest in quilting?

EF: It was something I said I was going to learn after I retired; and that was true. My mother was a very talented handcraft person, and I have 2 quilts that she made for my brother and I. They weren't pieced quilts, but they were fabric that she quilted around the fabric figures. I treasure them from her. I just wanted to learn a handcraft.

TB: At what age did you start quilting?

EF: About 63. After I retired.

TB: What did you do? What did you retire from?

EF: I was a secretary for Oregon Youth Authority when I retired. Parole and probation.

TB: From whom did you learn to quilt?

EF: I took one class here locally at a quilt store, and other than that, I have learned from the ladies that I've learned to talk to and questioned. A neighbor invited me to join her little quilt group which meets twice a month. I learned so much from those ladies. They are so good. They were willing to share their experience and teach as we go.

TB: Get a sense of community.

EF: Very much. Very much so. Just wonderful.

TB: What is your first quilt memory?

EF: I guess those baby quilts that I got from Mother.

TB: There are quilters amongst your family and friends?

EF: Friends.

TB: How does quilting impact your family?

EF: I don't know that it does. I quilt in the evening in front of the television and stay out of mischief. I don't know. [laughs.]

TB: Tell me, have you ever used quilting to get through a difficult time?

EF: No. Quilting is pure pleasure. Pure pleasure.

TB: What do you find pleasing about quilting?

EF: I enjoy the hand work. It's very satisfying. Very satisfying to keep my fingers busy.

TB: What aspect of quilting do you not enjoy?

EF: I don't necessarily enjoy the machine quilting. I find that more difficult. I guess that's why I prefer hand.

TB: Do you machine piece?

EF: I have machine pieced, yes. Some of the simple baby quilts and things were just blocks. But I don't find running it through the machine to be all that satisfying. The end result is nice, but just running it through the machine. There's not a lot to that.

TB: So you prefer the challenges of hand piecing and hand quilting?

EF: I don't consider that. I think machine for me, on this one for instance. I practiced and practiced and practiced curves on the machine and never could get it right. But when I could sit down and do it by hand, they came out much better and more satisfying. I just like the hand work. Picking fabrics and colors sometimes is a challenge, and again the ladies at the stores or people you're with can always help you out in that respect and I appreciate that so much.

TB: It is a little overwhelming, all the choices.

EF: Unless you're getting a medley where you know all the fabrics go together, yeah, it can be a challenge. I don't have that experience yet. I look forward to that. Perhaps taking a color class and learning all about that.

TB: What do you think makes a great quilt?

EF: Good materials. I learned that the hard way. Pleasing colors. Being able to get your pattern and your fabrics to come together. They don't always.

TB: What makes a quilt artistically powerful?

EF: Just the end result of the patterns and the colors all coming together. Something that's pleasing to the eye.

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

EF: History. I think when I think of museums, I think of art. Quilts that I've seen locally or in the American Spirit magazine, one in particular caught my eye. But they have the history. They have [inaudible] us through to what used to be and how we can continue that. I wouldn't look upon mine as museum, maybe not for another 200 years perhaps. [laughs.]

TB: [inaudible.]

EF: Exactly. And that's it. The quilts that were in the American Spirit magazine which are so beautiful. And some of the ones I've seen locally. You picture the hardships that those people had. I mean, for us it's a hobby. For them, it was life.

TB: What makes a great quilter?

EF: Heart. You do it to please yourself, but I think you also do it to please others.

TB: How do great quilters learn the art of quilting? Especially how to design a pattern or choose fabrics and colors.

EF: People have gifts. Whether it's whether you can paint or quilt, or knit, or whatever the gift is. Some people have that gift, and I am in awe of them. I wouldn't consider designing a pattern. I don't have that gift. But I can copy. I can use their ideas and try an emulate them. I think a great quilter designing a great anything is a gift. It's a creative experience. [inaudible.]

TB: How do you feel about machine quilting versus hand quilting? And what about long arm quilting? I know we've talked about that.

EF: Personally, I get more enjoyment out of hand quilting. I'm more successful with hand quilting. I've seen beautiful, beautiful, beautiful work that's done by machine. I have used machine long arm quilting on a couple of my projects and they've turned out beautiful. Again, another very, very creative person who just has that gift of being able to make your project look even better. But for my own project, my own work, I prefer the hand quilting. I just don't enjoy machine. Somebody else can do it. [laughs.]

TB: Why is quilting important to your life?

EF: I enjoy it. It's a good indoor activity for Oregon. It's a creative outlet.

TB: In what ways do your quilts reflect your community or region?

EF: Most of mine have flowers or outdoorsy look. Our trees, our hills, our flowers are beautiful. Oregon, our beautiful state. I'm not terribly fond of some of the more contemporary designs that I've seen recently. Mine are going to be a little more country, a little more homey, a little more old fashioned. I like that, old fashioned.

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

EF: These days I think they're a continuance of an old necessity, and I think that's good for us to continue the craft. Again, they're for our pleasure. They used to be a necessity.

TB: How do you think quilts can be used?

EF: This one's a bedspread. There's wall hangings. There's any more, cute table runners, tablecloths. They're just used in decorative senses.

TB: I have given quilts to a group that distributes them to children in crisis. Do you think given your background that quilts could have been of comfort to some of the children that you've worked with?

EF: I've made 2 or 3 lap throws also. Two to go to the Veteran's hospitals. One through DAR and one through the quilt guild, and I made one baby quilt. Oh dear. Families often in crisis would not appreciate the work or the love that a quilter or seamstress would put into a project. But perhaps [inaudible.]. You don't know what family is going to get it.

TB: Sure.

EF: Many of the families weren't appreciative of anything. I'm sorry. That's just mine.

TB: That's interesting.

EF: I see ladies that make baby quilts and baby things. And I think, do the people receiving them really appreciate the work and the love that's put into them? Not the monetary but the work involved. You would hope so.

TB: But you're not sure. If they're that deep in crisis they might not be able to [inaudible.]. Pain, perhaps? I don't know.

TB: How do you think quilts can be preserved for the future?

EF: Well hopefully they're going to be handed down to the next generations, and the next generation will tuck it away or put it on the bed or you know, bring it out for special occasions. Who knows?

TB: [laughs.] What has happened to the quilts that you've made for friends and family?

EF: The first baby quilt I had, they hung on a wall. They don't use it on her bed, so I've heard. My granddaughter uses her little horsy quilt to wrap up in when she's watching television or take to a friend's house or something like that. She takes hers with her. Other than that, I haven't made a lot. I'm still new at this.

TB: Tell me about the quilt you made for your son?

EF: My younger son is in the military and spent 3 years on one assignment, deployed out of Hawaii to look for Missing in Action. He went all over the world. Twenty-some of his trips were to Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia. When he was there he would collect T-shirts, whether they would be the unit T-shirt, Team I, such and such, with their little motto on it or perhaps a bar and grill that they went to. When he was restationed from Fort Bragg, North Carolina to Fort Collins he mentioned to me that, He says "I've got 3 boxes of T-shirts, I don't know what I'm gonna do with. The house is smaller," and so on. I said just pick some out and I'll see what I can do. And when we went to see his ceremony he had set aside about a dozen T-shirts and they were all from his time in Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. So I brought them home and again, asked my quilting friends a lot of questions and they helped me through. I made a wall hanging for him with these pieces and bits. Like cutting out the insignia, or the advertisement or whatever it was and made a wall hanging for him. It was mostly black and white. Two of the T-shirts were red, so there were two splashes of red in it, and I sashed it in black and bordered it in a gray and black small print, and made a wall hanging for him. He has it in his home in Colorado now.

TB: How did you stabilize the knit?

EF: Iron on. I don't remember that word.

TB: Backing or interfacing.

EF: Yeah. Fusible. Yeah, you pressed it on the t-shirt and then when I cut it out after it was fused.

TB: Is there anything else you'd like to say?

EF: I enjoyed this opportunity. Thank you so very much.

TB: Well, thank you. I'd like to thank Eleanor Fuhrer for allowing me to interview her today as part of the Quilters' [S.O.S.-] Save Our Stories project. Our interview concluded at 11:52 on April 2, 2007.


“Eleanor Fuhrer,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed May 19, 2024, https://qsos.quiltalliance.org/items/show/1943.