Fran Kordek


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Fran Kordek




Fran Kordek


Karen Musgrave

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

Moda Fabrics / United Notions


Columbus, Ohio


Kim Greene


Note: While the interview took place at the National Quilting Association's Quilt Show in Columbus, Ohio, Fran lives in Elkins, West Virginia, which is why this interview has been placed in the West Virginia Q.S.O.S. project.

Karen Musgrave (KM): This is Karen Musgrave and I am doing a Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories interview with Fran Kordek. It is June 20, 2008. We are in Columbus, Ohio, and the time is 8:17. Fran, I want to thank you for taking your time to do this interview with me. Tell me about your quilt that you brought today.

Fran Kordek (FK): The quilt I brought today is called "First Two, Then Four, Now Two Again." In 1986, I believe, I had the opportunity to take a class--first time I traveled to take a class and it was a class in Celtic appliqué. This opened a whole new area of history and understanding of Celtic design and that started a love affair with Celtic quilting. And I made a sampler for my husband. It is not this piece. I did some more and then I didn't do Celtic for a while because I did it all by hand and my interest changed to machine, so when I finally learned how to do Celtic by machine, I made this piece. So, the story behind this piece is that it starts off in the middle with the two strand design and I'm the lighter blue and he is the darker blue and he surrounds me and he protects me but he never ever smothers me. That is surrounded by a circle for our wedding vows and that is heavily quilted in a leaf motif for our love of nature. The next area I bring in two new fabrics. One is a brown and red fabric for our older daughter Kara and it brings in a brown and blue fabric for our daughter Mavis. It is the four of us intertwined together. And then the outer area is the two blues again because we are empty nesters. The border fabric is a little different and it breaks into the family area because we will always be family. And, it is heavily quilted, and hidden in the quilting, very difficult to find, are our names and dates and places, things that are important to us. There is a very detailed label on the back that explains everything because, when I forget, then it will be on the label, way in the middle. It is snapped in and it is difficult to find, but it is there. You have to unsnap it. It is not for public viewing. You can read it. So that is the story behind that quilt. When I was asked to bring one quilt, there were other quilts that came in mind but when I had to think of the one quilt that was most special to me, that is it. That is the story behind that quilt.

KM: What are your plans for this quilt?

FK: It hangs in my husband's office and whenever I need to take it for a Celtic class or a lecture or this, 'May I use your quilt?' 'Yes,' so he is very proud of it too.

KM: What does he do?

FK: My husband is a wildlife biologist for the state of West Virginia. He is now Assistant Chief; he will be retiring pretty soon.

KM: Good.

FK: Will I be retiring? No, trust me, I will never retire.

KM: Tell me about your interest in quilting.

FK: I did not grow up with quilts. I didn't learn about quilting until about 1972 or so. Born and raised in Massachusetts, but my husband was doing graduate work in Pennsylvania and we took a little trip into a small town and I saw quilts. That is the first time I remember seeing quilts, and I had experience with machine sewing, I had made my clothes and did a whole bunch of other things, and I saw the little spaces between the stitches and thought that was bad workmanship. So, I had a lot to learn. I started collecting information and started doing it and had very poor technique, but I learned on my own. I really believe by just jumping in and doing it, you can learn.
We were in Pennsylvania. I became associated with a craft group called Central Pennsylvania Village Crafts. I was at home with a young child then and they helped me develop my skills, market products, and it just grew from there. We moved to West Virginia in 1978 and there was a small shop there. I met the owner and she asked me if I would start teaching, I looked behind me and said, 'Who are you talking to?' [laughs.] I did it and was extremely nervous, but I wanted to share it and I firmly believe that I learned quilt making by teaching it. I have a background in education, that is where my degree is in, my secondary degree, and I can't teach it unless I know how to do it. I would just practice and practice and make mistakes and refine my skills and started teaching and it just snowballed from there.

KM: How many hours a week do you quilt?

FK: Right now?

KM: Um, hum.

FK: Quilt or something related?

KM: Sure.

FK: I don't quilt. I don't make as many quilts as I want because I am so very involved with teaching, so a lot of my time is in making samples. I have also designed--it started probably in 1989, 1990 - designing a lot of stained glass patterns and marketing my own designs, and I do all the writing, I do all the photography, I do all the stuffing of the bags and that takes a while. So, it is not quilting, but it is bookkeeping and teaching related to quilting. I consider it a full time job at quarter time salary, but quilting takes up I would say at least forty or, something related to the quilting business, thirty to forty hours a week easily.
KM: Tell me about your stained glass.

FK: It is a technique that evolved over time. I got a book; it was probably '78 when we moved to West Virginia, by Roberta Horton. I had two young children and it was all done by hand, and I said nice idea and I filed it,. But several years later, like probably '88, somebody came from a retreat and they had a piece from a kit that they bought from Lois Smith and it was stained glass, but it used purchased bias put all on with a twin needle. I incorporated ideas from Roberta and Lois and started doing my own designs and it just snowballed from there. The patterns were pretty successful. I still sell them, not many now because they are not new,. I haven't designed a new one since 2002, I believe, and people want new things all the time. The class is still popular. Stores contact me and I still sell directly to stores, but the distributors are not interested because they are not brand new. But that [stained glass quilt making.], quilt making in general, has taught me so much other than quilt making, like marketing my own products, working with people.
I have gained an awful lot because of quilt making. One of the areas it took me into is teaching, and teaching has been very, very important to me. Talking about this with my roommate, who is also a teacher, it is not like we are going to turn the world into master quiltmakers that is far from it, but quilt making is so much more than making a perfect quilt. Sometimes we feel like we should be hanging a shingle out because it gives women who are sad or grieving or have other problems a chance to get together with other women, and somebody who thinks they can't do anything because they are not creative, when they do something they just light up and, even if it is a short time, sad women can become happy. That is very important. It sounds pretty fake but good teachers, I believe, touch people's lives and quilt making touches peoples lives. Even when they don't make quilts, when they can receive quilts for comfort. Teaching has been very important to me. Get me to shut up now. [laughs.]
My involvement with NQA [National Quilting Association, Inc.] has been important, very important. I was teaching for a couple of years and didn't know if I was on the right track so I figured certification might help me. So that is when I pursued certification with the NQA program. It perhaps has helped me professionally, but it has helped me as a teacher. I mentioned that I have a background in education, but when I approached quilt making, the lesson plans were up in my head and working through that program I realized the importance of putting everything down on paper and I know that made me a better teacher. Professionally it did help me because at some point NQA decided to recognize teachers and decided to do a Certified Teacher of the Year. And, in 2003, it was a wonderful year for me because that year I came to the 2003 show and was a judge for that show and was named the first NQA Certified Teacher of the Year. To be recognized by your peers is, is very satisfying.
I can back track again with NQA. In 1994 the NQA show was in Charleston, West Virginia and that was the first time I went to a NQA show,. I was already a certified teacher and a member, but a dear, dear friend who was quite a bit older than myself, she and I took the short course in judging. I took the short course in judging, not because I was interested in becoming a judge, but I wanted to be a better teacher. I wanted to make sure that what I was teaching was on track with what I was supposed to be teaching. That friend, I already said she was a mentor, Jean, was a wonderful person,. We went to it together, she encouraged me to go along, and I don't know what the short course is like now, but when I took it, it was very, very intense. I would get to the hotel room and cry because I felt I'm an idiot. But after I took the course I said, 'Yes, I can do this.'
So, the following year the show was in California and I couldn't do it, but in 1996 the show was in Grand Rapids,. I submitted my paperwork and I went for my panel and I became a certified judge. I missed the show in Reno, but I have been coming to the show every year since then. I consider it professional development and a family reunion. By coming and observing the judging, you reinforce, you improve your own judging style and you learn about new techniques. Being in West Virginia I am a little isolated, but it doesn't take much of an effort to come to this show, other shows, go online to keep up with what is going on. I thank NQA for that. Where do we go from here?

KM: Have you ever used quilt making to get through a difficult time?

FK: Yes, definitely.

KM: Tell me about it.

FK: [laughs.] Okay I will tell you about it. I'm going to cry. Both of our daughters were born with birth defects, the most serious being under developed kidneys. It was shortly after we moved to West Virginia, this is, I don't remember the year, when our older daughter had kidney failure. We lived in Elkins, West Virginia and received our care in Pittsburgh, which is three hours away. We spent a lot of time on the road or in the hospital. I did not make quilts, but quilt making got me through it, because I was daydreaming about quilts,. I would read about quilts; I would draft quilts on graph paper and it was an escape. Eventually our other daughter also had kidney failure so, for several years, we had two children on home dialysis and quilt making was a lifesaver because it was something that I could lose myself in. They both received transplants in 1984 so I can tell everybody that if you haven't considered being an organ donor, you need to do it, because I have two wonderful daughters right now, because of their kidneys. They both have celebrated their 24th anniversary and one is married and one is a nurse and they are both delightful children, or excuse me, young adults. [laughs.] It is frightening, sometimes, to think about what quilt making did to them. [laughs.] Because I opened up my cedar chest one time where I have the little notes written for mom and Mother's Day cards and there are Celtic pieces and patchwork pieces and they grew up with it and it is very much a part of their life. I also feel that seeing Mom as somebody who can travel and somebody who can teach and somebody who can maintain her own business on her own has been a good example for them. They can do it.

KM: Do either one of them quilt?

FK: They have quilted. They have made quilts. They appreciate quilts, so my quilts will find a home. They are very supportive, and most supportive is the guy behind me. He has never questioned what I have done. I know, [laughs.] especially when I first started to travel, he was probably sitting there on the edge of his chair, but he has never, ever stopped me. He has always, always encouraged me. Couldn't have done it without him. I would like to go into another area that has been very important to me and, again, he was there with so much support, and that is my work with the documentation project. West Virginia Heritage Quilt Search had one of their meetings in Elkins, one of their beginning organizational meetings, and I went just to lend support because I'm here [in Elkins.] and that is it. And, you know what? [laughs.] I got dragged into it, largely because of Jean Talbott, the mentor that I mentioned. She was the coordinator for our region and I was her assistant coordinator and we worked very well together. I am very proud of the work we, as a state, grass roots, volunteer, no money, did for our documentation project. We documented our quilts in '92 and our book was published in 2000.
If things were done now, if we were doing it now, it certainly would be done differently. But '92, I don't think computers were invented then, right? So, everything was on paper and pencil. I talk about that supportive guy; when it came time to make sense of all the data that we had written on bunches of paper, 4,204 quilts, and we decided the only way we were going to be able to make sense was to get the data on a computer. We were going to pick and chose on some kind of program. But my husband said that if we went to all this trouble to collect that data, we should make an effort to save all the data. A friend of his and he designed a simple program, and it had to be simple because the people entering the data had very, very low end computers,. But he and a friend helped design a program so that volunteers could enter all this information. I don't know how many volunteers were involved, but it was over the course of several years and we got the information in. And then he helped me somehow make sense of it and there is an appendix in the back of the book. It doesn't look like much, but it is at least the time of several full size quilts summarizing the data. I am very proud of his, my, our work because it is preserving women's history, quilt history, West Virginia history, and I'm pleased.
We are in the process now of working with The Alliance of American Quilts to get that information onto, and I don't know when that will happen. I'm still involved there. Unfortunately, most of the women who worked on that program are either not with us or unable, so verifying some of the information that goes on is going to be with me. I will do it because those years, '92 to 2000. It just needs to be done.

KM: How many quilts did you document?

FK: 4,000,. What we have in the database is 4,204, but not all quilts. Some of them are coverlets, some of them are tops that weren't finished, or collections of blocks. There was a small project in Marian County, I believe, so that was incorporated into it. That total, 4,204, that is pretty good.

KM: Yes.

FK: Again, looking at the data now, it is like we could have done so much better, but we did the best that we could do.

KM: At the time.

FK: At the time. With the resources, with the lack of funds. I was talking to Juanita Reed yesterday because she was very much involved with that project, and she said some of the slides are being scanned and the slides are poor quality,. That is the best we could do, and any image, even poor images.

KM: Better than nothing.

FK: It is better than nothing at all.

KM: I agree.

FK: I need your help now, where do we go from here? [laughs.]

KM: Do you belong to any quilt groups?

FK: Yes. I'm a founding member of our local quilt guild. It is the Log Cabin Quilter's Guild of Elkins, West Virginia. Started off with about six members. Right now, we have maybe forty or fifty on the mailing list, but twenty members that regularly attend. This is good for our area. Elkins is small, just about 7,000 people, but is the hub for quite a radius. We do community projects and I'm proud of those.
I also belong to NQA, AQS [American Quilting Society.], AQSG [American Quilt Study Group.] I don't know, there are several small--oh West Virginia Quilters, excuse me. The state guild. Right now, we are getting ready to have our biennial show in a couple of weeks. That is what is coming to mind right now for organizations.

KM: How have advances in technology influenced your work? You started with hand.

FK: I started completely with hand. I grew up making my own clothes. My mother made my clothes and she taught me to sew and so I thought anything could be done by machine. But my first piecing for quilts was a disaster, and I had my one little book, "Complete Book of Quilt making" by Marguerite Ickis, I think that is how you pronounce it, and that was my bible. I think that was the only book available then and that got me started. So, everything was by hand. My first quilt was Grandmother's Flower Garden. Nobody told me you don't start there but I did, and it was all recycled fabrics because that was all we could afford, and completely pieced by hand, quilted by hand, back seams were done by hand, binding by hand. And, with my work with Central Pennsylvania Village Crafts, in order to produce you have to go a little faster, so through them I learned machine piecing. I pulled out some of my old things. I did try machine quilting and actually was quite successful, but somebody told me machine quilting was not acceptable so I stopped it. But then, I enjoy working on the machine. I just improved my piecing, and eventually machine piecing, and my work now is done almost entirely by machine. Occasionally I will do hand quilting. I enjoy hand work. Even though most of the work is done by machine, I do like to have some kind of hand project going because I like working with my hands and I don't like sitting without something in my hands. It is like if you want to know what is going on TV you should be watching TV, not listening to TV. I get that comment often. I find that many, many parts of the quilt making process are also a meditative process and that is very important to me, the spiritual nature of quilt making and it is definitely there with hand work, but it can be there with machine work.
When you are not concentrating on what you are doing and you are just doing mindless meandering, it does become a very special quiet, peaceful, meditative time. It applies to machine work as well as hand work. When you are not trying to learn it, when you've got it. And that has been a very, very important part of quilt making too. I am a quiet person and I need my space and I need my quiet time and I can find it in quilt making.

KM: Describe your studio.

FK: [laughs.] Okay. For a while it was the dining room table and I don't approve of that. I right now have a room. It is a small room. It also has a computer in it. Small, but it is my space and I like having my own space because I can stop in the middle of a project. And, if somebody is coming to the front door, they don't have to see my mess, which is a mess. I tend not to clean up after myself and sometimes it is 'Okay, stop, you have to find the table!' The nice thing about it is that it is adjacent, with a very, very big door, to our family room, so my husband, when he is there is watching TV, I may not be with him watching TV, but I'm there with him. We can share space like that. That is, it, it is a small room, I don't know, probably not more than, I'm not good at numbers like that, 12 X 12 [foot.], a small room.

KM: What do you have in there besides your computer and your sewing machine?

FK: My computer, a very large working table, it has a lot of wall cabinets, wall counters. My husband helped put up the cabinets and everything, and we lowered the table that the sewing machine is on so it is at the proper height. He did something special for me recently. I had one window in it and, I guess you call them casement windows, they were high and it was above my sewing machine. But, about a year or two ago, we took out that window and put a nice big window. So, when I sew, I look out at the woods. And he put a nice birdfeeder, so in the winter there are birds and right now there are plants and the hummingbird feeder, so I can be distracted by the hummingbirds now.
But nature--my major was in biology with a minor in education. He is a wildlife biologist, so nature is extremely important to us. So, to be able to actually look out and see green or snow or whatever, it is good. It is good. That was a big improvement. Light in there is poor, but we turn on the lights and I can bring the light in.

KM: What advice would you offer someone starting out in quilt making?

FK: Do it! [laughs.] Do it. The most important thing is enjoy it. Don't get so hung up on the perfect points and perfection. The process is more important and just keep doing it. People getting involved with quilt making will find out that quiltmakers are a very special group, because you come together with quilting but other friendships develop. Somebody gets sick and it is like everybody is there, it's family. So, it is hard to explain, but you know. Unfortunately, I guess I have the business aspects sometimes and there are politics in quilt making too, but still the core is this wonderful feeling.

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

FK: Right now, today, economics, because we are seeing it. I mentioned our state guild is having this show in about a month and registration for classes was very, very poor. And I'm hearing that from other organizations and other established retreats. And the only thing I can attribute it to is the poor economy.

KM: You said this is a record-- [attendance at the NQA Show.]

FK: This is which is good. It is very good. Plus, there are more large shows and there are only so many quilting dollars. So, was the question the challenge?

KM: What is the biggest challenge?

FK: I would say right now that is the only thing that is coming to mind. Well, another challenge is balancing time, not only for the professional quiltmaker but for any quiltmaker. There are only so many things, young mothers with families. There is only so much time. Or older quilt makers with older families, you have to be caregiver. One of the problems is balancing time.

KM: What do you think makes a great quilt?

FK: Not what you see, it's the story. I have quilts that are bigger and probably better executed. I was asked to bring one quilt. Several of my recent quilts have definitely been influenced by my work in the documentation project and two of the quilts that I especially like; I was going to bring one of them. And I'm saying, 'Okay, which quilt is most important to me?' and I asked my husband, 'Help me make a decision, which one do I bring?', and no doubt in his mind, this one. What was the question again? Oh, what is important in quilt making?

KM: A great quilt.

FK: A great quilt. Okay, going back to the sentiment, which I think makes every quilt great, is the story that goes into it.
As a judge, what makes a quilt? And as a judge you have to separate yourself from that very important part of quilt making and just look at what you see in front of you. Great design and great workmanship. And great design means something that comes from you and that is different from other things. Not copying and not necessarily completely original, but something that is different from everything else and something that has very good workmanship.

KM: Do you like judging?

FK: I enjoy judging. I find it a challenge. It is exhausting. I've judged both by myself and with others. When I judge with others I've, I've only had one unfortunate situation where there was a clash in personalities, but most times judges just mesh and it is good to have several judges because, as much as you try to be aware of all techniques and all the available patterns, you can't be. So, it is just bringing more information and more knowledge to the table. I enjoy judging. I try to be gentle, because I think it is very important to be supportive and to encourage people to go on. If there is an item that lacks skills, you don't have to beat it to death. Just be kind and helpful and move on. You certainly don't want to discourage quiltmakers. I encourage people to enter items that they are proud of. I know it hurt me and I know from other people it hurts when you get that first evaluation because how could they say that about my quilt. But after you enter a couple and find out that the same quilt can receive opposite comments, hopefully people realize that a judging comment is only one opinion and that the most important opinion is the opinion that you have about your own quilts. The judge looks at it for, at most, three minutes if that and you look at it and love it the entire life of the quilt. That is the important thing. You are the most important judge of your own quilts.

KM: How do you think the shows have changed over the years?

FK: They have increased in number.

KM: What about the quilts?

FK: They have increased in caliber, the quality of the quilts. It is mind boggling, I keep looking at them and it's like where can they possibly go from here? And yet some how somebody goes beyond here. It is like, as a judge, sometimes it is a little tough for me, but I'm dealing with it. It is like I know what good work is, why can't I do it. But I remind myself, why are you doing this? You are doing it because you enjoy it. Winning the ribbon is not everything. You do the best you can. Also, there are times when I've worked on a quilt and yes, I could rip that out and maybe do it better, but it would drive me crazy and if I just move on it is good and I don't want to drive myself crazy. I want to get this finished and I want to enjoy what I'm doing.

KM: Whose works are you drawn to and why?

FK: Initially Jenny Byers. I had her books and they were my bibles and I still respect her. What she did for designs in her time. Still outstanding, but when her work was just beginning. And right now, it has to be Diane Gaudynski. Other machine longarm quilters, I admire their work greatly, but because I struggle with a domestic machine, I admire what she [Diane Gaudynski.] is doing.

KM: It is a phenomenal book.

FK: Absolutely. To know that she is doing it on a small machine. I can think of other longarm quilters' names because they are certainly doing phenomenal work too.

KM: That is a big change.

FK: A very big change. There are always changes and it is expected and we are going to be facing still more changes because the changes aren't over yet. No matter what you are using, I keep telling my students, there is a learning curve. I do teach basic machine quilting and it is like I tell them, 'You do hand quilting, you see the machine person doing it quickly. Okay if I get a machine I will be able to do it. You get the sewing machine and you are struggling and you see the longarm people doing it. Well, if I get a longarm quilting machine I will be able to do it. You get the longarm machine and you start on it, well, a computerized and I could do it.' And my argument or my statement to them, always, it is not the machine that does the work, it is the operator behind it. And that applies to even the little simple machine called a needle, a hand needle is a machine, and no matter what machine or what tools you are using, it is the operator behind it and practice. There is no way around it. Some people may learn more quickly than others, but you still have to practice and learn how to use that tool.

KM: What ways do your quilts reflect your community, your region, or do they?

FK: I don't know if they reflect my region other than my work with the documentation project definitely influencing the quilts I recently have been doing.

KM: Tell me about the quilts that you have been doing recently.

FK: Two of the quilts that were definitely influenced by the project, when I did "Pyrotechnics" and one I call "Sunburst." "Pyrotechnics" is a pretty complicated design of triangles exploding out from the center. I was drawn to it because it is a pretty graphic design and it appeared to be a regional design. And Fawn Valentine, who was primary author of our book, couldn't find a published source for it. I was intrigued with that, so the challenge for me was to draft it, then make it, and then make it doable with today's techniques. And that is what pleases me. I've taught it to many, many people and, although it is not an exact duplicate, it wasn't intended to be. It certainly looks like it, and it is a heck of a lot easier to make. And that is one of those classes where they look at it, the students look at it, think they can't do it, and yes you can. They do, and quite successfully, and they are pleased. I am pleased on two accounts: that they did it, but they kept this old pattern alive and were able to do it. "Sunburst" pattern was--I teach regularly at the Pearl S. Buck Birthplace in Hillsboro, West Virginia, and I went to teach there once at their retreat and there was this old quilt there. They said that the story goes that it was made by somebody in the [Pearl Buck.] family. It is a round pattern and they looked at me and said, 'We want to do it.' That was the challenge. I did draft it and make it. I went back there and taught it to them. I've got some weird techniques to make it, but again students can do it and it is keeping this pattern alive with today's techniques. That is what I enjoy doing. Taking something that is old and traditional and yet you can do it, and yes we are going to keep it alive.

KM: Very good. You have done very well by the way.

FK: Thank you, I didn't really prepare for this, and I thought we have to talk about the teaching, we've got to talk about the [both speak at the same time.] Quilt making has been important to me. Very important.

KM: Are there any aspects of quilt making that you don't enjoy?

FK: Don't enjoy, the bookkeeping. [laughs.] Marking a quilt, I don't know sometimes marking a quilt, but then when I have to sit down and actually do it, it is okay. That is probably what I don't like doing, marking, but sometimes it is necessary. I can do some free motion stuff. I know the part that I really, really enjoy is the initial designing. In the beginning I was designing and coloring on graph paper. Now it is on the computer. I really enjoy designing and playing on the computer and, unlike the majority of computer quilters, I don't use EQ [Electric Quilt.] at all. I use Quilt Pro and I'm all for Quilt Pro. It has served me well, not only in designing my own quilts, but in doing my handouts, because I can do illustrations in Quilt Pro and then carry them into my word processing packages. Again, quilt making has made me do unexpected things. The first time I went on an airplane was because I had to go some place to teach and it was too far to drive. There have been a lot of firsts because of quilt making. A lot of firsts that are unrelated to quilt making, like going on the airplane, like getting into your car by yourself and driving a thousand miles. By learning how to do word processing. That is not quilt making. Learning how to do the drafting. Geometry improved tremendously after I started quilting. My interactions with people, because I'm not exaggerating, getting up that first time or the first couple of years with quilt making was extremely difficult for me. If you told me twenty five years ago that I would be standing up and lecturing, I would say no, you are crazy. I was visibly shaken to the point where somebody asked if I needed medical attention. So quilt making helped me grow up. Although I am a very quiet and private person, if I'm doing a job, I can take charge and I can do it. That is what I'm supposed to do and quilt making made me do that. Definitely improving my self confidence and making me grow up.

KM: How would you like to be remembered as a quiltmaker?

FK: Hum, I would hope somebody that touched people's lives and is patient.

KM: Very good. We have talked for almost forty-five minutes. That is good. Thank you very much.

FK: Thank you for this opportunity.

KM: You are more than welcome. We are going to conclude our interview at 9:00.



“Fran Kordek,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed June 21, 2024,