Nancy Terjesen




Nancy Terjesen




Nancy Terjesen


Jeanne Wright

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

Moda Fabrics


Venice, Florida


Jeanne Wright


Note: Nancy Terjesen is not a member of the DAR. While this is a DAR quiltmaker documentation project, membership within the DAR is not required.

Jeanne Wright (JW): This is Jeanne Wright. Today's date is February 9, 2011. It is 10:35 in the morning and I'm conducting an interview with Nancy Terjesen in her home in Venice, Florida for the Alliance for American Quilts Quilters' S.O.S.--Save Our Stories project. Nancy, thank you for having me here today.

Nancy Terjesen (NT): You are welcome.

JW: You are part of a valuable oral history and we appreciate that. Tell me about the quilt you brought in today. I say quilt, but you have a pair. Would you tell me about those please?

NT: Both of them are what I call story quilts because they have writing on them as well as some sort of image. It's something that I have been doing for the last ten or twelve years, making quilts like this, that have often a line or verse from a poem that I like or a line of wording from a song, song lyric, things like that. These both have lines from poems on them. One is a poem by Longfellow about Orion, the god, and actually it's about the constellation Orion, that represents this god, which is Orion the Hunter. It shows him with his sword and carrying an animal skin. It has words about Orion with his sword. I did some by drawing an image of Orion and using things off the Internet got the exact position of the stars that form the constellation Orion and used very fancy buttons from the store that look like diamonds to sew those on the quilt, as well as a lot of sequins. The figure is embroidered with white on a beautiful fabric that shows an old-fashioned map of the heavens with pictures of latitudinal and longitudinal lines of the earth and other old-fashioned things that appear on old maps. It's royal blue color on the background. That was just sort of an inspiration when I saw this; actually at a Joann's Fabric Store, it wasn't in a special quilt store. The words are put on, as are many of mine, with iron-on material that I cut out and sew letters on one by one myself. I guess there are probably better ways to do it, but I'm very old-fashioned in my approach to quilts and I use old methods often, when probably there are new ones that would be a lot easier. The other quilt is a line from Oliver Wendell Holmes' The Chambered Nautilus, which somehow has been a part of my life, I think, this particular poem about the chambered nautilus, the shell on the beach that's been left behind. The first part of the poem talks about build stately, something about build mansions oh my soul. It's relating the shell to people and their lives. And then at the end it says, 'Till thou at length art free, leaving thine outgrown shell by life's unresting sea". So I put those letters on it. Then I made a nautilus, again, using the Internet for pictures of how the nautilus shell looked. I found some fabric that has a lot of metallic threads in it and then cut out each section of the nautilus as it winds outward, using different colors to show how a nautilus shell looks. The whole thing is put together with a zigzag stitch on the sewing machine. It's not hand embroidered. It's done with a machine. Again, I was able to find a background fabric that I thought was perfect because I thought it looks like ocean waves. I used the meandering presser foot on my old sewing machine at home [Akron, Ohio.] to do this background. That's actually what I did on the Orion quilt too. I use a presser foot on a Singer sewing machine from the 1950's. It still has the date on the machine. It's a pretty old machine. It's gold on a black body with the gold lettering on it. It's what I believe is called the Dressmaker model. It's extremely sturdy and all the parts are metal instead of plastic. So actually if anything were to break on it, and nothing has, knock on wood, if anything did break I'm sure I could get replacements parts from a repair person. So that's my workhorse sewing machine back in Ohio.

JW: I noticed you have another here.

NT: Yeah, I have my mother's Sears portable here. It has a zigzag stitch. Actually the one I have at home doesn't even have a zigzag stitch on it. It only goes forward and backwards. So this one lets me do the edges of things. But I find it's not as strong a machine as the old Singer is.

JW: The colors you've chosen for your nautilus, they are almost like a lame' in color, but yet it's not as, perhaps, gaudy. It's very soft, yet it has a sheen to it.

NT: Mm-mm.

JW: It's beautiful, what you've chosen for colors.

NT: Thank you. It was just luck, finding that fabric. I think it may have come from the quilt shop here in Venice [Florida.] It was a fabric that he had beautiful things on both sides of it. It's rather thick material. It's not a cotton, not a thin cotton at all. I actually haven't seen anything like it since the time that I got it, which was probably about five years ago.

JW: So this part of the poem you have here and that was by…?

NT: Holmes. Oliver Wendell Holmes.

JW: What does it say on your other one with Orion?

NT: 'Orion, hunter of the beast. His sword comes gleaming by his side.' That's a Longfellow poem.

JW: Mm-mm. Well you've done a fantastic job picking out the fabrics. They are just so perfect to your work. Did you pick out the design, or the fabric, or the words first?

NT: In the case of the Orion quilt I bought that fabric just because I thought it was beautiful. At the time I bought it I didn't know what I would do with it. In fact, I still have some of it and I probably will do something else with it. But I never buy very much fabric. The fabric stores would not do well if I was the only quilter because I don't have a huge stash of large pieces. I'm very tight with my money. I'm just that way. So I would probably say that that was a purchase knowing that I would do something with it. I think that the other one, with the sort of ocean waves, I think I did buy that for the purpose of this nautilus quilt.

JW: How many quilts have you made like this with the poems on them?

NT: I would say about a dozen or sixteen, something like that.

JW: Do you have a favorite author?

NT: Well one of my favorites is Emily Dickinson. I have brought down at least three story quilts with lines from Emily Dickinson. Like one of them is the one where she says--I'll tell you how I'm going to say it, the way the rhyme goes. [speaking in lyrical verse cadence.] 'I'll tell you how the sun rose, a ribbon at a time.' That's, I think, iambic pentameter. A lot of her poems are like that. I also have one about--

JW: Excuse me. While we are speaking about that one, would you tell me a little about how you did the colors? They are just incredible, the way you,

NT: They are like ribbons of fabric. They are not ribbons, but they are ribbon-sized and -shaped pieces running across the image going from the bottom part that's different ribbons of brown fabrics and then into oranges and pinks. It's supposed to be the colors of the sun rising. Then it gets into the sky part with progressively darker blues until the top part is a night sky with stars in it. So it's showing the whole range of color in a sunrise. Those were all fabrics that I had at home. I didn't purchase any fabrics in that.

JW: And one of them, you did one on Evangeline.

NT: Yes. Evangeline is in a poem that we studied in Junior High School back in the 1950's. I've always had that line, which I think is in the first line in the poem, and again, Longfellow is the author, saying, 'This is the forest primeval, the murmuring pines and the hemlocks.' Then it goes on to talk about how the trees resemble Druids and elves and their beards. I just took that first part up to hemlocks and put those words onto a picture of trees in a sky background. Actually, you know I think the original inspiration for that kind of picture was a photograph we used to have by the famous nature author, I'll think of his name in a minute [Eliot Porter.] , but he did these pictures of pine trees and a lot of people used to have a poster with this picture in it. Then it has a line from Thoreau, 'In wildness is a preservation of the world.' That was a poster that we had in our house back in the 1960's. So drawing the trees this way, that is, making very long trunks with not much branches action going on is what I used. I worked hard on the bottom of that one to make the rocks, which sometimes, to me, look like a pile of Easter Eggs, but [laughs.] to look like boulders.

JW: It was perhaps one of your most realistic ones of all the pictures [of her quilts.] I've seen.

NT: And you can't see it very well in the picture, but the branches are done just with the sewing machine. I make, usually, just come out and make the branches kind of free hand and there's probably sixty branches coming out from these trunks. Usually people who look at it close up admire the branches, but it turns out to be pretty easy with the sewing machine to make branches. The hard part in a representation of a tree is the leaves and the foliage on the trees. It ends up looking like cotton candy very easily. A tree, and I haven't figured out a way to make a, let's say a maple tree look realistic in a quilt. Some of the people have used cut out pieces of fabric, tiny pieces that they sort of glued onto it to get a scattering of leaves and then they stitch over it, over and over it, to hold it down and that looks probably the best that I've seen.

JW: But your style all of a sudden evolved.

NT: Yes.

JW: But you have one that is not necessarily a more serious author, but you have one, an adorable, little multi-colored caterpillar. Tell me about that one.

NT: That one reminds me of Carle, I believe it's Eric Carle, that does children's books that are very common around. You see his pictures of a bear, for example. You see children's toys made like this. But at the time I did it I wasn't consciously thinking about it. But I see now that it's similar, that is, he does a caterpillar with successive different bright colors making up the body. Then I put feet on it. Actually they are three-dimensional. They stick out away from the quilt. The line is, 'How soft a caterpillar's steps' which is from an Emily Dickinson poem.

JW: But it would be one that a child would especially like that one. It's happy, colorful.

NT: It's in my grandson's bedroom in Indiana. [laughs.]

JW: What special meaning do the quilts you brought to show us today, what do they have for you?

NT: As far as the Orion one, I think that we've been coming to Florida now, this is the sixth winter. Where we used to rent, when you went outside at night it was dark around the house. You'd look up at the sky and you'd see Orion. It was very, very visible because the sky is so clear down here often. There aren't lights around to interfere. We don't actually notice it in Ohio where we live. We have more trees around. It just stands out. The belt of Orion, the three stars that make up the belt, are very distinctive when you look up. It's right up there in the southern sky at this time of the year. So I got used to looking for that and also to understanding that was Orion and also the other constellation, I think it is Leo [Taurus the Bull.] which is next to it. So I got used to that as being sort of a way to recognize things in the sky. Also, there is, I think a lot of us saw the movie Beetlejuice, which was a takeoff on the name Betelgeuse, one of the stars in Orion. So I got interested in identifying what the stars are. I have written in here Betelgeuse is the star at his right shoulder. Rigel is another well-known star in this constellation. So I wrote those in and probably meaningful to me but not other people is Sirius, the star Sirius [she spelled it.] which is, I'm told is a bright in the night sky looking in that direction. My daughter's name is Siri. [she spelled it.] I've always associated the star Sirius with my daughter because she's kind of a stand out person.

JW: The embellishments that you have on that are a different size. Are they corresponding to the size you see or the brightness you see?

NT: Yes, they are corresponding to the size of the star. So I have the biggest star, or the biggest button [laughs.] and the ones like on the, that make up the animal skin he is holding are just silver sequins because those aren't big.

JW: Mm-mm.

NT: But if I recall, I had to pay about five bucks apiece for these buttons, so I was not, I felt I had enough of those. [laughs.]

JW: What do you think someone viewing your quilt might think about you?

NT: I entirely don't know what they would think. They might think I know a lot about astronomy or something but I don't. I'd like to know a lot about astronomy. I actually only can identify about five or six constellations. I've never had a course in it. But I am somebody that likes to look at nature and things and maybe they would pick up on that. They might also just pick up that I like poetry. [laughs.]

JW: How do you use these two quilts? Do you keep them in Florida or Ohio?

NT: I have them hung down here in Florida. When we bought a house here it gave me an opportunity to hang some of my quilts that have been sitting at home with no place to hang. This has worked out beautifully to have more places to put quilts. Something that I did have at home that's worked well is, there is a hallway where I have a large bulletin board and I change them. I keep quilts stuck to that and I change them all the time. They are not stuck to the wall. They are stuck to the bulletin board, so it's really easy. So seasonally or as a caprice comes to my mind I keep changing those quilts. Of course these have done their duty that way. They have hung that way at home but I've never had them hanging in any of the rooms with nails, that way.

JW: Mm-mm. Now what about your interest in quiltmaking? When did that start?

NT: I think quiltmaking specifically didn't start until quilts started becoming so popular and I picked up on that. The first one I ever made, I know when it was. I was--when I was pregnant with my daughter and that was in 1975 and 1974. At that time I had been watching a lot of TV shows about quiltmaking in the 1970's. I can recall that somebody named Penny was doing these productions out of Bowling Green State University in Ohio. I used to watch her. I used to watch Georgia Bonesteel that had shows on PBS. I learned really most of what I know from watching television and things like that. I didn't take any classes. That would have been the start. But that wouldn't have happened had I not already been a sewer and been from a family where we did lots and lots of sewing, even before I learned to sew in junior high school, it was called junior high school then, not middle school, the seventh grade class for girls was sewing, but I already was sewing before that because my mother sewed and my sister sewed.

JW: Did they do any quilting?

NT: No, there wasn't, nope. I would say people weren't making quilts very much in the 1950's. We didn't have them around the house. We didn't have them, for example, from earlier generations. The only one, and I guess this is important, the only one probably that did affect me was a little crib quilt that was used when I was a baby, when my brother and sister were babies and I still have it in Ohio. It was made by patients in a hospital in Chattahoochee, Florida, a mental hospital in the 1920's as far as I can figure out. It's one of these blue work embroidery things where you have the squares with each one having an animal embroidered on it. Then the alternating sashing is blue. So the two colors were blue and white. So this quilt must have sort of like embedded itself in my brain. Probably seeing it a lot as an infant and small child because I think that's probably, in a way, got me thinking about quilts and liking quilts, the fact that I was seeing one at a very young age.

JW: Would you say that's probably your first memory of a quilt?

NT: Yes. I'm sure it is and I'm so glad that I have it. It's great because I like to show it to people because it's far from perfect. It's not, there's a lot of errors. For example, the sashing doesn't line up right and whoever put it together wasn't careful to be sure they change each square so you can find two of the exact same square next to each other instead of being separated on the quilt. I just think that those things make it charming, the fact that's it not perfect.

JW: Do you think it was made more to be used than to be decorative and as an heirloom?

NT: Yep. I think it was meant to be used. I think it was a fundraising thing probably for the hospital. That somehow my mother would spend a lot of time in Florida and would have picked it up down there, or possible her mother did. So I think that's how we acquired it and it was just always around.

JW: Now when you started quilting, you taught yourself to quilt, other than seeing it on TV. You taught yourself, you didn't have somebody,

NT: I never had any, I never took a class in quilting, ever.

JW: Well how many hours a week do you quilt?

NT: It varies. There's times when I don't do anything, but I'd say more often it might be eight or ten hours a week. You know how it is, some days you spend a lot of time on something and other days not at all. But it might average out to that.

JW: Do you more typically quilt in Florida or Ohio?

NT: I've been active in both places. The key is to bring the sewing machine down here, which we've done every year. We bring our stuff down in our truck with our dogs and, oh, so much stuff. But I've always brought that and also one of the rubber tubs that are used, well storage tubs full of fabrics in it. Like this time I threw in from my stuff at home a bunch of fabrics thinking this will keep me for a few months and I'll make use of those fabrics.

JW: You said that there aren't any other quilters in your family at all? You don't remember any?

NT: My, after I started doing it my sister did a little bit with it but not extensively. Actually she likes me to make them and give them to her. [both laugh.]

JW: Well how does quiltmaking impact your family?

NT: I think that all of them like that I do them and they like receiving them as gifts. I enjoy giving them. I have never sold a quilt. Everything I don't have has been given. So a lot of people like my sister-in-law have them and friends have them and both of my grown children have them. I think they like them, but as far as them being really, really attentive to it, no, I don't think they are. I don't think they could tell you too much about the quilts they own because they are into other things. I found that's true generally. Most people that I know will say they are nice but don't actually have an interest in knowing how they are made. What's nice about the Venice Quilt Guild [in Venice, Florida.] is that here you have more than 200 ladies and a man who are keenly interested in the very same thing that I am.

JW: So, you are with like souls you might say. [both laugh.]

NT: It did feel that way at the meetings.

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

NT: I think there's, I could give one example. It was after 9/11 when I was very, very down and upset about what had happened. At that time I did a quilt, a patriotic quilt, which now hangs in my local township hall complex, like a city hall only it's not a city, it's a township. It hangs in there and they actually put a frame around. But the quilt has words from the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and words from other well-known patriotic songs, "Amber Waves of Grain," for example is one line. Those are all printed around the outside. There's a lot of them and they are all embroidered. Then the center part is Log Cabin squares made to look like an old flag so they are red, white and beige.

JW: Mm-mm.

NT: I don't know. The whole thing is probably about a yard square, a yard around the edges on each side. That definitely was, for me, important to think about the country in a way I hadn't before.

JW: What's something you really enjoy about quilting? What's your very favorite part?

NT: The creative part. The part of trying something out and having it turn out. We all do this. We try things sometimes and we don't like them so well. But it's best really satisfying to work on something and see it's coming together in a way that's pleasing.

JW: What about something that you don't enjoy about quilting, your least favorite part?

NT: I can't think of anything I don't like. I actually enjoy, I guess even the quilting of the thing at the end on the sewing machines. It's not tedious because it's not like a bed quilt where you have this monstrous thing that you have to get quilted down. Because of the size of these, each step is not very burdensome because it's over with pretty quickly. You see I used to make bed quilts and I ran out of beds to put them on. Nobody else wanted one and I had them all in my house. And the other thing that also, and I think this is very important for people who started when I did, is the advent of imported quilts from Asia. I'm not sure when that started to happen, perhaps in the 1980's. All of a sudden the stores, all the stores, the Penney's, everywhere they had very attractive quilts hand pieced in Asia. Not nicely sewn in the sense that all the quilting, several, the quilt stitches are large. You know the kind I mean. I see so many pretty ones. Some of them are even difficult patterns like the Double Wedding Ring pattern made in, I don't know, Taiwan or I don't know where they are made but when those things started coming out and so cheap, you could get them for one hundred dollars for a whole bed cover. It made me feel a little discouraged about making bed covers anymore because I thought, you know I, I can get something really nice without all the, so I actually have one of those on one of my beds at home because it's so pretty. I appreciate the woman somewhere over in Asia that made that thing, but it affected my attitude about making something similar, thinking I couldn't even buy the materials for the price of this quilt that is already made. You still see, like the L.L. Bean catalog has gorgeous quilts in every catalog that are made overseas. Again, they can be had for a fairly low price. So I that has affected my attitude towards, I want to do something different than that because that's sort of been taken away.

JW: What do you think makes a great quilt?

NT: Well that probably depends on, I mean I like to look at quilt books a lot. Some of the great quilts are because of their originality, like the African American quilts that have the pictures from the Bible on them. Actually I made an imitation of that once too, with verses from Negro spirituals on it. But those are great because of the fact that they are so original and speak so much of the thinking of the people that made them. Then there's others like the Baltimore Album quilts which are great because of the skills that were involved in making all those squares. It's something I would never attempt, a quilt like that. I'm not even good at appliqué but they are great because of the technical skill that went into them. I can't say between those two which is more important.

JW: What about the quiltmaker? What makes a great quiltmaker?

NT: Probably, for some, the creativeness. The way their mind works, they can visualize a project like this and follow it through. There is a lot of stick-to-itiveness that's needed too. I've pointed out to people that the craft is in making the quilt. It doesn't look very good for a long time. You have to be able to tolerate the fact that what you are working on may not look that great, but you have to see how the end result can be really great. A lot of people would be discouraged in the early stages or a lot of people will say, 'I don't like to do tedious things like that.' They, a great quiltmaker, doesn't feel that way about it. Part of it is their creativeness and another is just their, I suppose, their manual dexterity and their skills. Because when I see, I'll tell you, the ones that really impress me are done by the women from, not Vietnam, it's one of the countries right next to Vietnam. A lot of their work comes over here. It's a type of reverse appliqué where they're, have you seen, I've seen pillows made this way and it's incredible needlework because they have such tiny stitches and tiny little pieces that they are turning. We happen, in Akron which is next to where I live at home in Ohio, there's a [inaudible.] community of women that are called Hmong. Cambodia, that's where they're from. They make these things and they sell them at the international institute in Akron. So I'm pretty well acquainted with what they make and I just can't get over the needlework skills that they have. They surpass anything that I would ever attempt. I don't know anyone from here that can sew like that.

JW: What makes quiltmaking important in your life?

NT: I suppose the creative release, the idea of here's something I can do with not spending a lot of money. In fact I will get fabrics, I'm also a person--a picker that goes to garage sales and rummage sales and things and I get a lot of fabric that way. I just love the idea of taking, as they say, 'If life gives you scraps, make quilts.' I love the idea of taking something like that and making something out of it that means something, not just to me, but to people who look at it. So that's really satisfying.

JW: Well how do you think that your quilts reflect your community or region? Now you quilt here in Florida and you quilt in Ohio. Do you see the differences, do you actually quilt any differently or are your ideas inspired differently? And if not for you, for others? Do you see the greater scheme of things, the differences?

NT: I can see how the beauty in this area, is that there are some gorgeous things that are being made, such as beach themes that we probably wouldn't make up in Ohio because we don't really see that very often. I've seen some gorgeous ones of sea birds. In fact there was a book about how to make something like that. It's a gorgeous thing with sandpipers and water and reflections on water. I think the surroundings in Florida inspire you to do something like that. The Venice Quilt Guild down here is also a great inspiration because it has all kinds of opportunities for like-minded, like we said, like-minded women to get together and share ideas. One of the nice things they do at their meetings every time is Show and Tell at the end. And always a lot of women will line up to take their work up on the stage and briefly talk about it and show it to the group. I think that's a wonderful practice. I don't have a group like that in Ohio that I belong to. I do have, this is kind of interesting, I have a little group of four gals, three are my age and one is a generation younger but all like to sew and make quilts. We call ourselves the Presser Foot Babes. The Presser Foot Babes don't really meet very often because we seem to all have other things going, but we do e-mail all the time to each other. We share pictures of what we are working on. We also, as we find articles or other things about quilts we pass them around among ourselves over the Internet and we sometimes go to quilt shows together up in Ohio. So that's been a nice influence, although I can't say that that's a real big thing but none of us really want it to be a really big thing. We just enjoy it. We were all friends previously anyway.

JW: What about the importance of quilts in American life in general?

NT: I think they are very important, especially in the past when women didn't have roles outside the home very much. So that for the women in society, quiltmaking was a great outlet for their creatively, as well as a practical thing. We are seeing a lot lately about all the Civil War quilts and the fact that the women raised money for, both the north and south, raised money for their side in the war by selling the quilts they made. So it really gave women sort of a service project. Again, they were probably restricted to what other things they could be doing at that time. Now there are so many other things that women can do, but historically it was very important.

JW: What would make a quilt appropriate for a museum or a special collection?

NT: I guess it would be the two things I mentioned earlier. The uniqueness of it, the fact that it's so different from other quilts and secondly the technical skills that went into it that stand out. I have a quilt at home that doesn't come from my family, that's why I didn't mention it earlier. It comes from my husband's family. It's the basket pattern, yellow on white. The quilting on it is spectacular. Every time there was quilting, it's done in three lines, three lines of tiny stitches instead of what we would use one line of stitching to quilt, there's three lines. You can hardly find a part that doesn't have quilting on it, maybe a square inch where there is no quilting that can be found. I don't know how old it is, probably at least a hundred years old. It's something that we have had hanging on our wall at home for a long time.

JW: Is it something you would consider putting in a museum?

NT: I think it is museum quality. My local museum has quite a few old quilts. It's possible that someday I would give, donate it to them. What I have done instead of that is I have loaned them things I have. Like right now they have a Civil War quilt that I did, two of them actually that they are using in their exhibit because it's about the Civil War at that time in Ohio.

JW: Do you have a lot of old quilts?

NT: No, I don't really have a lot of old quilts. I would say that the oldest one I have probably is that one that hangs in the kitchen. Like I said, it's one hundred years old. The other one is that crib quilt I mentioned. Other than that, no. I don't have any.

JW: Now you have some sewing memorabilia. Tell me about that.

NT: That came about because I like collecting things. I'm also an antique nut and collect little stuff. [laughs.] So sometime back I made a display up of old sewing materials. At that time I acquired quite a few different types of pin cushions, different kinds of tape measures, old scissors and other tools like the stiletto and also the little, I think they are called etui. It's a little case for needles. I also have another thing that hangs on it that Victorian ladies would hang on their neck that I got off the Internet at one time, off from EBay. So I have some things like that. Those have also been displayed at our local township museum. But I still, I haven't give them to them; I just lend them.

JW: That sounds interesting. Have you participated in quilt history preservation?

NT: At this museum we have quite a few, I think the oldest one we have there probably dates around 1811. They thought it's, the early settlers coming from New England to Ohio started coming around that time. It's a Linsey-Woolsey quilt, orange and beige. It's a wholecloth. There is no design. We had a quilt expert look at that and tell us it was the most valuable piece we have, or most valuable quilt that we have. We also looked at a lot of others, including a lot of ones that use feed sacks from the 1930's and 1940's. I have been involved in doing programs about that back in Ohio, where we got them all out and displayed them and explained to people what they were.

JW: Do you know who the quilters were?

NT: Not in the case of those really old ones, but there are some at the museum that the quilters are known, but I don't personally know any.

JW: What about regions? Do you think they come from that region?

NT: Yeah. I have books about Ohio quilts that discuss this. I'll tell you a resource. Virginia Gunn, Dr. Virginia Gunn is at Akron University right near me. She is often quoted in books about quilt history and she's an expert on fabrics. There are also some other people at [inaudible.] College, which is near me, that know a lot. They have documented their quilts in Ohio as a part of that project that was done a few years ago and they made a book about it. So there is quite a bit known. What I remember, one of the points was, there's different traditions, like the tradition of the Amish, since we have lots of Amish in Ohio, the kind of quilts they made are, you can even identify different parts of different Amish communities by the way they made their quilts. Like the way they did their outside border or the way they did their corners and the colors they used. So that's part of the Ohio tradition. Then there's also a lot of beautiful appliquéd quilts from the nineteenth century that were being made in Ohio and the museum had some of those.

JW: You have a wealth of resources where you live. It's fascinating.

NT: [smiled.] Mm-mm.

JW: I would spend all my time there [laughs.] looking at everything. Now have you ever won an award for your quilting?

NT: The only time I have, and that was a small thing I did--I put my Orion quilt in a quilt show locally and it got an award for embellished, they called it, embellished quilts. But that wasn't a large show and there weren't very many other quilts in that category, so I can't say that it was an important award. But it felt good for me to see that ribbon up there. [laughs.]

JW: The last question I'm going to ask is, what do you think is the biggest challenge confronting quiltmakers today?

NT: Probably part of it is that the challenge comes from the fact that there is so much available made overseas. We are in a global world. When we make things, we are in a sense competing with what other ladies elsewhere in the world are making. This wasn't true until maybe the last three decades. So I suppose that's one of them. But there's also a lot of good things, like the availability of fabrics is fabulous, like the Batiks. I never saw the Batik fabrics and all of a sudden they are everywhere. The quilt stores are full of them and they are, to me they make a quilt so much more beautiful than they would be without the Batiks. They are easy to work with. I mean there's just about every good thing you could say about them. I think that's a definite, a great turn. The availability of books. My goodness, the number of books that you can get. That's another nice thing about the guild. The guild has a big collection of books that the members are free to take out. So it's possible to get all kinds of inspiration. I don't know how many quilt books there are now, but there must be a thousand or more. Our library has probably in the hundreds, if you include all the books that are owned by the Sarasota County system--

JW: Mm-mm.

NT: --which are available over the Internet. In the library itself in Venice I think there's probably, maybe forty or fifty books. So, there's just so much out there as compared to a few years ago. I don't think the average library had more than two or three books about quilting, if that.

JW: So, you think that there perhaps aren't as many challenges as there are advantages, perhaps?

NT: I think I do think that.

JW: Is there anything else that you'd like to add to this interview?

NT: I'm just very, very enthusiastic about what you are doing. I think a lot of us feel that we would like people in the future to know what we are doing and thinking. Now we have an oral history being collected that wasn't there before. I can imagine somebody a hundred years from now or something getting all kinds of information from what you are doing. So I just think it's wonderful.

JW: Thank you, thank you. I'd like to thank Nancy for allowing me to interview her today as part of the Quilters' S.O.S.--Save Our Stories project. Our interview concluded at 11:25 a.m. on February 9, 2011. Thank you Nancy.

Tape concludes.


“Nancy Terjesen,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed May 24, 2024,