David White




David White




David White


Jeanne Wright

Interview Date


Interview sponsor



South Portland, Maine


Jeanne Wright


Note: This interview is the second of three interviews with David White conducted by Jeanne Wright on September 15, 2010. See also: CO80922-001 and CO80922-003.

Jeanne Wright (JW): This is Jeanne Wright. Today's date is September 15, 2010. It is 4:13 in the afternoon. I'm conducting an interview with David White. This is the second part of an interview that I did earlier today. We are in the South Portland Public Library in South Portland, Maine. Dave, we've touched on a lot of things throughout the first interview, but we've barely touched the surface, so let's continue. Okay?

David White (DW): Okay.

JW: Is there a group of some sort of professional drivers who gets together around the quilting subject? Do you have a type of guild?

DW: No, we don't have any guilds that I am aware of. It's all, at this point, just straight individuals.

JW: To find your patterns, what do you seek, or are you absolutely open-minded?

DW: Absolutely open-minded. I like patterns, as I was explaining before, I look at the pattern versus an example of the pattern, from the standpoint that I'll select the colors later. The pattern is first and the colors come second.

JW: That's interesting. It's about a 50/50 mix. Many people pick colors first.

DW: Mm-mm.

JW: Do you keep any completed quilts in your truck?

DW: I have not got a completed quilt in the truck except I am doing some donation quilts that I'm in the process of completing. They are basically 40" x 40" crib-sized quilts for children. The organization I'm working with is The American Sewing Guild, the Denver chapter. They make up kits and they dole them out to me two at a time. I put them together and quilt them. I actually do the machine quilting on the truck using my little sewing machine.

JW: And I believe you are working with another guild in Michigan?

DW: Conquer Cancer out of Michigan has contacted me. They don't do quilts, but they do pillowcases for their critically ill kids. That's something that takes 15-20 minutes to make a pillowcase. But it's the same idea of owning my time and brightening the life of a little kid. You know, they have to touch your heart.

JW: Have you ever been able to present one of your quilts or pillowcases, or is that something you'd like to do?

DW: I'd like to do that in the future. It's just not something right now that I've had the opportunity to do.

JW: Okay. The quilt that you had for us today, please tell me about that.

DW: That was what we called the Heart Quilt. The fabric was bought, once again, at Ruth's [Ruth's Stitchery, a fabric shop in Dave's area in Colorado.] last Christmas. She had a back room of overstocked or out of stock material and the wife and I went in there and we found a particular pattern of roses with some green petals on kind of a tan background. But there were four or five different colors and patterns to it. I had seen this Heart Quilt before. We couldn't come to a decision on what color we wanted to make the actual heart portion of the quilt. It's nothing more than a one-layer Log Cabin design, but the heart makes the bottom portion of it, and it does look like a framed heart. The quilt that I made, that particular one, was my third quilt that I pieced together and the material, the background material, I actually had to break a promise to my wife that I would not go to a fabric store without her. I was in Georgia and auditioning the background with the heart blocks and it just wasn't working. It was a striped pattern, and it just wasn't right, so I stopped. I had to convince these nice ladies in Georgia that I actually did make the quilt blocks and my wife didn't send me there. They were very congenial after that to help me find this new background material. The results, when people see it, they just absolutely love it. That's my favorite quilt, only because I was able to do something to prove to my wife that I really enjoyed the quilting, the patterns and colors without her input. To take it a step further, to help her to make a little mini Heart Quilt, with my instructions.

JW: So, you started quilting before she did?

DW: She actually has been quilting for many years. I'd never taken an interest in, doing it for myself. I would go to quilt shops with her and even quilt shows in Denver and Pueblo [Colorado.] and our local area. But I really never thought it was something that I would get too involved with.

JW: What was the light bulb that turned you on to this?

DW: When I sat down with that material and my little old Singer and produced "My Guy" in three weeks. That was the light bulb that said, you know, I really enjoy doing this.

JW: "My Guy" was the name of your quilt?

DW: That was the pattern. It came out of one of the periodicals that we get. I couldn't even tell you, once again, which periodical. [American Patchwork and Quilting, June 2009.]

JW: What colors did you use?

DW: We used autumn colors in that particular one--oranges and browns and umbers--and then framed it in a dark forest green pattern.

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

DW: Well, it was my first one. Now the Heart Quilt. I liked it because that was the one, like I said, that I actually got to share what I was doing with my wife.

JW: How big is that the Heart Quilt?

DW: It's about 60" by 60".

JW: It doesn't have a backing on [it] or batting at present. Will you be doing that?

DW: I'm hoping that in the future, to get off the road and spend more time with my wife in the house and set up a longarm quilting and piecing business.

JW: Hopefully we will have a little chance to talk about that as we go along. This quilt that you brought with you that you showed me today, why did you choose this particular quilt this particular day to bring?

DW: Because the pattern, once again, the colors are absolutely gorgeous and rich. The pattern itself is very simple, but stunning to look at. For me personally, knowing the fact that my wife and I were partners in it makes it special.

JW: Is it a pattern you would do another quilt?

DW: I have toyed with the idea.

JW: What do you think that someone looking at your quilt might conclude about you?

DW: One of the things that really, I think, that has surprised people, and when I say people mostly it's women that look at my quilts, they are surprised about the quality and workmanship that's involved in it. I don't want to say that I have a lack of quality, but I try very hard to make sure that points are on points and the corners are corners and everything is square, we are not getting any wavy lines in sashing. I like to think that when people look at it, not only are they looking at the colors and the pattern, but also the workmanship within it. Once again, we've been to a couple quilt shows--Las Vegas [Nevada.] and Denver [Colorado.]. She [his wife.] quietly said to me, she says, 'You know you have a couple of quilts that are better than these that are hanging as show pieces.' I was thinking the same thing, but I didn't say it.

JW: Is that something that you'd like to do is show your quilts?

DW: I would definitely, I've got a couple of ones that are on the truck, when they are finished, I would definitely like to get them judged. It's not a vanity thing. You always--my particular endeavor is to always do a project and learn something from it.

JW: How are you going to use this quilt?

DW: That particular quilt is probably going to be a wall hanger [hanging.] Not what I really want to do with it, but we've got a spot in the house where I've been told a donated quilt hanger is going to go and the Heart Quilt is probably going to fit it real well.

JW: Mm-mm. How large is that quilt?

DW: 60" by 60"

JW: Okay. Your interest in quilt making, how did it become a part of your life as a truck driver? Your wife suggested maybe that you might like to do it. How did you get that all incorporated and started? You started gathering--you have a machine now and your equipment. How did it all get started for you in your own mind? What were you thinking? How far were you going to go with it?

DW: Well at first, I thought, well let's try this just to see if I like it. Then I started realizing that I was actually looking forward to the end of my day, that I could get back in the bunk, pull the curtains, turn the radio on, get back in the bunk area and involve myself in the creation of a quilt top and a quilt, knowing that it was well within my skill range to be able to accomplish that. I like that aspect of it, using your time, owning your time, and having a product come out of it, whether it's going to be for personal use, for donation, or just to enrich your life. As I said earlier, to get away from the solitude, just drive and going down the road to point B, stop, eat and go to sleep. Now I have something more to look forward to.

JW: How many quilt tops have you made?

DW: To this point, fourteen in a little over a year.

JW: A little over a year, wonderful. You said you give them to charities?

DW: I have, yes. I'm working with a couple of charities, one specifically right now, but there's going to be a couple more that I want to get involved with to fill in my free time, I guess.

JW: Those are mostly for children?

DW: Mostly, yes. I haven't heard back, one of the ones that I have some questions into is the American Heroes for Valor group. It's Wounded Warriors, I'm sorry, where they present quilts to some of our returning soldiers as thank you gifts while they are in Walter Reed or in some of the other Veteran's Hospitals rehabilitating.

JW: That's very nice. You are a Veteran?

DW: Yes, I am.

JW: You were in the Air Force?

DW: Twenty years.

JW: What type of work did you do there?

DW: I was an aerospace physiologist.

JW: Well, that's kind of like quilting. [both laugh.]

DW: I usually get the cross-eyed look, like, what is that? That's where I have to explain to them that I was an instructor in aviation physiology, which is how the human body interacts with equipment and airplanes.

JW: It has nothing, absolutely, to do with quilting.

DW: Nothing.

JW: Which is the beauty of it probably for you?

DW: The instruction side of it makes it very interesting because I'm finding that I can be very comfortable talking with people about quilting, because now I'm getting more knowledgeable. If somebody says, 'That looks like a cross point.' Yeah, I know what a cross point is and I know how to steam set and if they are talking threads and I know the difference between rayon, polyesters and cottons.

JW: It sounds like you have a great deal of knowledge for only a year. You should be writing books, not just making quilts.

DW: A lot of it is self-taught. There's information available to anybody that wants to find it, whether it's through periodicals or my biggest source, of course, is going out on the Internet when time allows. Just a multitude of different sites and information that's available in that environment. As I said earlier, people should not feel intimidated. There's help out there, whether it's you, reading and understanding. There's a few people that I call, [and ask.] 'How do you do this?' or 'Could you show me this?' And they are always welcoming.

JW: Would you be interested in writing a book at some point?

DW: I've toyed with that idea. One of the things, working out of the Midwest, when you're going down some of the roads you will see barn quilts. Basically, they are quilt designs that the owner of the farm has designed or has owned. It has some history to it; too much history to be talking about here, but the Midwest is just full of these different barn quilt designs. I have thought that in my travels it would be nice to stop and talk to them about the design--when it was designed, who designed it, get a picture of it. You know a couple of hundred of those and I could fill up a book real easy.

JW: Very interesting. I'll buy one.

DW: And it would preserve a little bit of our history also.

JW: Right. We should maybe restate on this Part B of your interview that you are from Colorado Springs, Colorado and you travel most of the states, do you?

DW: All the 48 contiguous.

JW: Okay. How many hours a week do you quilt?

DW: I'm usually putting in 10-12 hours a week.

JW: You do most of the quilt while you are on the road?

DW: Except for the cutting, yes. As I was mentioning in the truck while we were there, you have to get real creative in the rolling process to put some of the long edgings and sashings together, but it's something that you just learn to adapt.

JW: How many quilts do you have in progress right now?

DW: I've got three quilts in progress right now.

JW: Do you ever sell any of your quilts? It doesn't sound like you do.

DW: No, I haven't sold any and I really don't think that I want to get into selling quilts. I've got a future grandmother-in-law who's got a quilt, she has told me, she says, 'Well when you get time." and I said, 'Well I've always got time for quilts.' But she wants me to finish a project for her. She was just amazed at what I've already accomplished. She said this one won't be a challenge for you. But she wants to complete it because I guess the fabric and the pattern was picked out by her and her sister, both of them a little bit older now and neither one of them have the capacity to do the quilting. I've even suggested that they could come to the house. We can do this together. She said, 'No, if you could just do it for me.' So that's an avenue.

JW: Sounds like you've got to put a little bit of that story on the back of the quilt, to preserve the story as the quilt moves along to someone else.

DW: Most definitely.

JW: What's your first quilt memory?

DW: That's an interesting one. I remember that at my Grandma White's house, sleeping on a great big old feather bed and she had a 1930's pattern, a huge quilt that she had made, handmade, out of 1930's patterns and it was just little bitty pieces. That was the warmest, most enjoyable sleeping quilt that I've ever had. That was my first real impression of quilts. I couldn't have been [but.] eight or nine years old.

JW: Was it perhaps feed sack cloth?

DW: There may have been some of that in there, but it was the pastels, mostly yellows and greens.

JW: What area of the country was this?

DW: This was in Missouri.

JW: Missouri.

DW: So, it very well could have been the feed sacks.

JW: Do you know who made it?

DW: She made it. The story that my dad told me about it was that she was a seamstress. So being a seamstress, she had all kinds of scraps and that she had taken all of her scraps and made that quilt for that bed.

JW: A wonderful childhood memory.

DW: Mm-mm.

JW: Now what about your family and friends? You said that your wife quilts. Does anyone else in your family or do you have close friends that quilt?

DW: Well, my sisters profess to quilt, but we haven't seen any projects. My sister Cindy, she's a little bit envious [laughs.] that I've got time and energy because she's a single Mom and a professional. She's very active but doesn't have the time. I'm trying to convince her that it's only an hour or two a week. It's all you've got to dedicate, and hour or two, maybe three a week. [She says.] "Well, ya, ya ya."

JW: How many hours, did you say how many hours you think that you quilt a week?

DW: I'm 12-14.

JW: Do you find that you don't sleep as much? You as a quilter have to say you sleep, I'm sure, but--

DW: I actually sleep better. I know that I actually sleep better because of the quilting. Because it gives me an activity to kind of de-stress or de-tune from an eight to eleven hour driving day. That's something that until you are there, it's hard to appreciate.

JW: How does this quilting impact your family?

DW: I think between my wife and I; it's brought us much closer together. Family and friends, they are very supportive of us.

JW: Your kids think, 'Oh this is great, Dad's out quilting.'

DW: They are asking when do they get their quilts? It's more of a personal thing with them. [laughs.]

JW: Have you ever used your quilt, any of your quilts, to get through a hard time?

DW: I can't say that I have yet, but I can honestly see where it would give me some clarity. I could be working on a project and, as I mentioned before, use it as a mechanism to reduce the stress associated with a tough time or a period of time.

JW: What about an amusing experience? It sounds to me like you must have had a few in your quilting career. Have you got an amusing experience that you could tell me about?

DW: Well, the Wall Street Journal was kind of interesting because the young lady that did that, she had a lot of positive feedback from all over the country, as a matter of fact, around the world. Subsequent to that article, the Colorado Springs Gazette did an article on me with pictures. There's a quilt shop and a longarm company in Kearny, Nebraska. Rogene, [laughs.] a sweetheart of a lady, I love her. Every time that I'm about ready to go on home time I get a phone call from her saying, 'Are you going to stop by?' So, I have to stop in Kearny. She was relating a story to me. She's got a longarm business on the second floor and their fabric and notions are on the first floor. There was a couple, an elderly couple, that was in the store there. She [Rogene.] had hung a copy of the Wall Street Journal article and the [Colorado.] Gazette article on their notice board. It's right by the cash register. This elderly woman walked by and looked at it. She says, 'Oh, do you know this gentleman?' [Rogene.] says, 'Yes. Dave comes in here regularly, about once a month on his way home or sometimes on his way out.' The lady looked at her and said, 'He really exists?' [JW and DW both laugh.] Rogene told her, 'Yes, he really does. He does quilt and I've seen his work. He's been up here to learn and share experiences and stuff.' The lady was just bowled over with the fact that, I guess she thought that the newspaper created this.

JW: What town was this in?

DW: Kearny, Nebraska. A little farm community.

JW: What do you enjoy most about quilt making?

DW: I like the colors and the patterns, sometimes the patterns and the colors. It gives you the ability to kind of look outside of your world and to see things simplistically instead of very complex. So, it allows me to get focused.

JW: What do you not enjoy about quilt making?

DW: Mmm. [laughs.] That's an interesting question. I guess what I don't enjoy is when I've seen, and I've been in quilt shops or fabric shops and I see people walking around and they touch the fabric and then they walk out empty handed, knowing they came in there for a purpose or a reason, but they didn't find it.

JW: Mmm. That's interesting. That's something you don't like. Like you wish you could help them find what they are looking for.

DW: I wish I could help them. The ladies at Ruth's, they know if I get started with a customer, don't worry.

JW: Ruth's, that's Ruth's Stitchery in Colorado Springs?

DW: Yes.

JW: Would you like to work in a quilt shop?

DW: I'm not so sure. Not so sure. Like I said, I enjoy people and like helping people. I'm not so sure that I could cut cloth and not do more with it.

JW: Like so many of them, you probably wouldn't actually be able to take any money home? You'd use it all in store credit?

DW: Yeah. [laughs.] [Like holding up a sign,] 'I work for cloth.' Yes. [both laugh.]

JW: What are your favorite techniques and materials? You seem to piece quilts, but you're talking about perhaps to try hand appliqué?

DW: The hand appliqué is something that I might try on a small scale in the future. As I said before, most of it is all machine work right now. I'm not intimidated by the machine. As a matter of fact, I've got a really, really nice sewing machine at home that my wife is experimenting with now, because I was home over the last holiday, and we went down and bought the machine. I was actually playing, experimenting, stitching, doing all kinds of things and she was in the bedroom asleep.

JW: Oh, tough duty huh? Playing with a new machine. [both laugh.] Do you use cotton pretty much exclusively?

DW: There is one rule that I picked up a long time ago and I liked the results of it. It is results based. I piece with cotton and when I'm doing my machine quilting, I use a polyester thread.

JW: Why the polyester?

DW: Polyester has a better tendency to handle laundering and dryers than cotton. It just gives it a better--you get to see the stitches better and it doesn't fade.

JW: Do you try to match the color of the fabric when you are machine quilting, or do you do something like a light gray or something neutral?

DW: When I'm [JW coughs.] machine quilting I always try to do a contrasting color. Many of the little children's quilts that I've done, the quilting material is a lighter blue and a red and I use red as the contrasting color so they can actually see the patterns.

JW: It makes it more fun.

DW: Yes, it does. I can also see my mistakes. [both laugh.]

JW: That's true. What's your favorite color?

DW: My favorite color is red, followed by blue and then a real strange one is black.

JW: Do you ever put them in the same quilt?

DW: Haven't yet. Haven't quite figured out how to do that yet.

JW: Is that something that you would like to do?

DW: If the pattern was right, remember, colors and patterns. If the pattern was right, maybe so.

JW: What about advances in technology? Have you seen that help you at all or have your thoughts about technology as it's been coming along?

DW: The first sewing machine that was on the truck was a mechanical sewing machine, and old, like I said, it was a Singer. It was very difficult to get used to. The little machine that I've got on the truck right now is a, it's a Brother. It's kind of an entry level. It wasn't a real expensive machine. It has some decorative stitches and so forth. But being a computerized machine--boy right off the bat you could tell. It started up nicer. It stopped. It's got a little button right on the front of it. I didn't have to use a foot pedal. For what I was doing it was very, very nice. Now the new machine has a touch screen, [laughs.] a needle up, a needle down, I can pivot, it's got a pivot, oh, it's got more things on it, more doodads if you will.

JW: You don't even have to quilt. I mean you just can play. [laughs.]

DW: Exactly. But once again, it's getting comfortable with that piece of equipment. I think that's one of the problems with people who own sewing machines. They are not willing to just sit down and try something. They're not going to hurt it.

JW: Are you going to put it on your truck?

DW: Oh, yes.

JW: And what will she [his wife.] be sewing on?

DW: She has a couple of other sewing machines. [both laugh.]

JW: Well, now what's your shop like at home, your quilting area at home? You've told us about a rather small area on your truck, but at home what do you use?

DW: One of our upstairs bedrooms has been converted. I think it's a 12 by 14-bedroom area. It's got a dedicated cutting table with a dedicated platform for two sewing machines. We've got a little portable ironing table that can be moved around. When two people get in there it's a little confined. We've run over each other's toes a couple of times. Usually, one of us is doing something and the other one is kind of sitting back watching. The real plan is, and this goes along with some of the future endeavors, is that we have an 800 square foot unfinished basement that I have already drawn up plans where I want to put up a longarm quilting machine and an office, as well as a sewing machine and take everything that's upstairs and move it downstairs.

JW: Will you still be working together then?

DW: Oh, absolutely. That's my goal.

JW: Are your designs--is your style--the same in quilting? Do you like the same patterns and colors, or are they quite different?

DW: I would say they are complementary. She looks for more simplistic designs, but still using the colors to accentuate the design itself. I'm a little bit more experimental, as you saw in the Dresden Star. When she saw it, she said, 'Oh, that's got to be hard to do.'

JW: That's what I thought.

DW: It really is not that difficult, but it's a technique that you have to get comfortable doing. It goes along with, if somebody can show you how to do it and you can follow instructions, success is in the future. As you saw in that one, I did one and she did the other and it's very difficult to tell any quality difference between the two.

JW: Mm-mm. What do you think makes a great quilt?

DW: Design. Craftsmanship. Having been to some quilt shows, the quilts that people ooh and ahh about all have a higher level of craftsmanship in them and they are judged on that craftsmanship. I've seen some very, very beautiful whole cloth quilts. All it is, is hand stitching, but it's impeccably done. And they are beautiful, but the quilt is all one color. That to me is intriguing, and what I would like to one day consider myself to have the skills to accomplish.

JW: What do you think makes a quilt artistically powerful?

DW: That would be the colors. Colors just tell the whole story about artistic.

JW: Both light and dark? Pastel and dark?

DW: Doesn't matter the color. You can have the vivids all the way through the pastels. They can be stunning, if done correctly.

JW: Which do you prefer?

DW: I like the vivids. I like the prints and the vivids.

JW: Do you ever quilt with pastels?

DW: The most pastel that I've quilted at this particular point is that "Meet Me in Paris" in the yellow and blue.

JW: That was gorgeous. [DW laughs.] What do you think would make a quilt appropriate for a museum or a special collection? Now you've traveled all over the United States. You must see things that are more particular to one type of area. Like if you went to Missouri, would you see a different type of quilt than you would in Wisconsin?

DW: Oh, absolutely. The Midwest is kind of, if you will, quilt central because, just because of a lot of heritage.

JW: Explain that a little more--quilt central.

DW: There is a lot of quilting activity in the Midwest, from quilting organizations to fabric stores to museums. Now I have had the opportunity to go to the National Quilt Museum in Tennessee.

JW: In Paducah?

DW: Paducah. Paducah, Tennessee.

JW: Kentucky.

DW: Kentucky. Some of the examples they have in there. Those quilts are from all over the world.

JW: Can you tell a quilt from the Midwest if you are going through like that?

DW: Yes. Yes, you can.

JW: And the telling would be how?

DW: Patterns and designs. The patterns in the Midwest tend to be more of the standard, not really stunning design. There is no real, this is difficult to put into words.

JW: It's more like your macaroni and cheese in life? It's that comfort quilt; it's the quilt you know.

DW: Yes. The east coast and even the west coast, they have a tendency to be much more experimental with the patterns, as well as the colors. A Bargello--I've seen a couple of those on the west coast that are just--they are stunning. I don't think I would ever attempt one, but they are stunning. You don't see that a whole lot in the mid-west.

JW: What do you think of as a--I live in Maine, so what do you think of when you think of New England quilting?

DW: More of the traditional quilting, American quilting styles. If you were to go to some of the better-known websites and just pick out a maple leaf pattern, that more or less reminds me of the New England style.

JW: Have you had much of a chance to see quilts here in Maine, or in New England perhaps?

DW: Not in this particular area. We do come up. My company does come up here, but I haven't been able to get much time to be able to stop and see.

JW: I'm glad that they helped you arrange to come for the time today. I've had a wonderful time with you, looking at your truck and having you see some of our beautiful area. I'm very, very pleased you could come up.

DW: I appreciate that.

JW: What do you think makes a great quiltmaker?

DW: A lot of it, I think, has to do with the individual. There are certain people that have risen to a level where they have a tendency to not communicate with us. In doing so, I think the message and the enjoyment of the quilting is lost. [A door opens in the background.] What I am able to do is to breach some barriers to why people quilt. We all love what we are doing. It's a level to try to get people to see that you can do it at your leisure, at your pace, your level of involvement. But if you need a little enthusiasm, join a guild. Find a shop that if you've got a question, that you feel comfortable asking the shop owners or the personnel in those shops to answer a question. Chances are that they would be more than helpful in the process of creating these quilts. One of the messages that I try to get out is enthusiasm and empowerment. People start quilting because they are enthusiastic about a pattern or a color of cloth or a project that they are going to make for somebody. There are a lot of them that are sitting on shelves and are kind of forgotten. The way I look at it is that they have lost their enthusiasm. I would only ask one question. Why have you lost it? You need to find it. If you need enthusiasm and you need a little nudge, there's people that will help you. As I told you earlier with my sister, she's envious that she can't devote three hours a week doing the quilting. Well, that's an excuse. People need to feel empowered to spend whatever time, two or three hours a week to enjoy something that--I don't know a nasty, mean quilter. I haven't met one yet. Okay? I think that from that standpoint we would all have a much better attitude about what goes on in our lives and the way we conduct ourselves.

JW: What do you think is the biggest thing that holds people back, that they just don't step up and do it?

DW: Some of it, I think, is intimidation. I think a big part of that is intimidation. You know, they get it, they buy a pattern, and they may even step to the point of buying cloth, but then they don't know what to do. They are too intimidated to ask a question or to read or to research and to take it to the next step, which is, okay now you've got to cut the cloth. Okay, now we've cut the cloth. The next intimidation is, how do I use the machine? All those steps are barriers to a completed project.

JW: That's interesting. So, intimidation, whether it's fabric or shopping for the fabric or using the machine or second guessing their design choices, their color choices.

DW: Ah-huh. Ah-huh. You know I told one lady one time at Ruth's, I told her, 'You know, it really doesn't matter if this pattern and this color is exactly right for you. If you don't like the results, you can donate it.' [laughs.] She said, 'That's a very good point.'

JW: You said something about asking questions in a quilt shop, that you are not intimidated to go in and ask questions and it makes me think of the stereotype of a man who won't stop and ask directions when he's driving, but you have no problem with that in asking questions in a quilt shop. You don't feel like, 'Oh, gee, I don't know enough. They'll think I'm stupid.'

DW: No. This isn't about an ego. It's about, as I said, trying to find some enjoyment out of what I'm doing and if I can't figure it out myself, there is somebody out there that can answer my question. It's just finding that person and then posing the question to them.

JW: Would you agree that many people would be intimidated by asking the questions in a quilt shop?

DW: Absolutely. [As he previously noted.] One of things that I think is the saddest sight I've seen is to have an individual, primarily women, walk into a fabric shop, walk around and touch fabric and turn around and walk out empty handed. Because something brought them into that shop and for them to leave without being able to answer that question of 'Why am I here?' I think is a real tragedy.

JW: Have you ever stepped up and said, 'Ma'am, can I help you?'--

DW: Yes.

JW: --or 'Are you trying to match that pink? I think I've got a good color here, or, that brown will soften that pink,' or something?

DW: In Ruth's they know that I am usually showing and telling, and they have learned that I am not bashful, that I will help customers. It is to the point where I'm not taken aback if somebody says, 'Thank you for your opinion,' and walks away. At the same time, a lot of them [say.], 'What do you think of this?'

JW: So, you just as soon lend a hand. You and I were talking earlier today about quilters seem to be giving people.

DW: Yes.

JW: They want to share what they know. It's not a secret they have learned. They want to learn a new technique and they want to share that. Do you find that to be true?

DW: [coughing.] Excuse me. Very much so. Very open and honest giving people. [coughing.] That'll teach me to take a drink of water at the wrong time. [coughs again.] Okay.

JW: Okay. I think probably one last question on this tape, then I hope that you will go with me onto a third tape. Are you comfortable with that?

DW: Sure.

JW: I know there are some things that you want to say that aren't the standard questions I might ask, and we do have a few more questions. Before we move on to that, I wonder how you feel about machine quilting and hand quilting. You said that you are machine quilting now. Hand quilting, is that something that you'd like to get into? It sounds like you are planning to get into longarm quilting.

DW: The machine quilting allows you to get to an end result or finished product quicker. The hand quilting is beautiful, but it's [emphasizes.] hundreds of hours. It's a lot of work. I guess the reason that I'm sticking to the machine quilting side of it, although like I said earlier, I would like to try hand quilting, I like to be results oriented. A finished product or a finished quilt top or 'What's my next project' is results orientated.

JW: Mm-mm. Okay. I would like to conclude this tape. Is there anything else you would like to add for a moment before we end?

DW: Not at this time.

JW: I think you would, and I know I would, like to move into another tape?

DW: That would be great.

JW: I'd like to thank Dave White for allowing me to interview him today as part of the Quilters' S.O.S. -Save Our Stories project. This part of the interview concluded at 5:53 on September 15, 2010.

(The interview concluded, but the tape was accidentally left on for a few minutes, until the end of the tape and the conversation is captured below.)

JW: Okay, 5:53. Now let's stand up for a minute to just shake off and maybe get some water.

DW: Boy, that was a long time to take that gulp.

JW: Well, we did 42 minutes and 36 seconds, but the first one, it seemed like, 'Wait a minute, we just said Hello.' [both laugh.]

DW: Well as I told you, 45 minutes is sometimes, if you were having to drag some of the questions [answers.] out, I could see where it would be one-word sentences.

JW: And you can't ask a yes or no to many people, because [they.] would [just.] give you a yes or a no.

DW: That's correct.

JW: But you're much more giving and can fill in those blanks.

DW: Well, I think if you are going to share a story with somebody, the details have to be there.

JW: That's what I was hoping, and they are coming. Now I know that you want to talk about some things too. I think these [remaining, suggested.] questions and things you are going to want to talk about are kind of going in together because it's talking about the meaning of quilts in America.

DW: And that was kind of leading, at the tail end of it, into enthusiasm and inspiration.

JW: I know you had started saying that before we sat down here today.

DW: That, to me, is the message in all of this, if somebody was to listen to it. What I'm hoping that they are going to understand is that, you know, if I can do it in my truck, okay, with a little creativity and organization, what's stopping you? You've got a house, a car--

JW: Well, that's like the interview I did three weeks ago on that lovely little 100-year-old lady. She had one arm, and she is still quilting. Just one arm and 100 years behind her. So, yes. You can find a way to do it if you want to.

DW: That goes back to, like I was mentioning, people coming in, and I've seen young, as well as old, walk into a shop, look around, touch a few things and walk out.

JW: That wouldn't be me.

Tape ends. [Part three of this interview: CO80922-003.]



“David White,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed March 1, 2024, https://qsos.quiltalliance.org/items/show/2129.