Kim Montagnese



Kim Montagnese




Kim Montagnese


Jodie Davis

Interview Date

October 22, 2011

Interview sponsor



Duluth, Georgia


[background noises are heard throughout the interview.] #00:00:01.9#

Jody Davis (JD): [microphone rustling.] And we're recording. So, the first thing I'm going to do is just, this is for bookkeeping, I'm Jody Davis and I'm conducting an interview with Kim Montagese

Kim Montagnese (KM): Montagnese.

JD: Montagnese -- for Quilter's Save Our Stories which is a project for the Alliance for American Quilts, we're at the Georgia Quilt Show here in Duluth, Georgia and it is the 22nd October 2011. Thank you for coming Kim.

KM: Well thanks. Thanks, thank you for coming.

JD: The first things I'm going to ask you about are about your quilt that you brought today. We had you bring a “touchstone” quilt. Can you tell me about the quilt?

KM: Well I can and I can tell you why I brought this one too. [slight pause.] I'm a lazy quilter. [slight chuckle heard from JD.] I'm just a lazy quilter and I've done hand appliqué, I've done hand quilting and I've done – as my kids were growing up I did a lot of hand carved piecing. Everything was by hand because my kids were little and I had to do everything by hand, prepare it the night before, bring it upstairs to the kitchen and sit there at the table and do it during – throughout the day while the kids were napping or playing or doing their homework or whatever and I could always pick something up and do it by hand. And then I realized after a long time I didn't really like hand work that much. And I wasn't really that good at it and after I finished the twelve days of christmas in appliqué and hand quilting I just said 'You know what there's got to be a better way.' I'm also not real accurate with the templates and measuring that quarter inch seam allowance and all that sort of thing so I decided to take a quilt class, a sampler quilt class. So they had us doing templates and cutting all the pieces and doing a quarter inch seam allowance. So the first week was “four patch” and “nine patch” and that was ok though we got to the "Ohio star" -- and my top and bottom rows were fine but the middle row was way too, too big -- the top and bottom were the same but the middle row was way too big so I took it all back and I told the clothes shop owner obviously there's a mistake on your pattern, obviously [JD is heard laughing.] because I followed the directions and I know that I have a good quarter inch seam allowance, she said 'Well let's check, let's just check it.' So she got out her little ruler and sure enough it was about one thread off and when you multiply that by how many times I sewed that seam -- the middle -- those two top and bottom were much smaller than the middle part so I said 'You know what this is not for me. I'm done with it.' -- I took several other classes just kind of playing around with it and finally I took a class in Mariner's Compass, drafting Mariner's Compass (MC) because I thought paper piecing was going to be it because you don't have to measure you don't have to be real precise and it just kind of tells you what to do so I went into the MC class and they were teaching us actually how to draft a MC which is math [JD laughs.] so now we have my two least favorite four letter words, math and hand -- of course I chose this five foot tall MC oval to draft and I did real well I got the whole thing done and so I had the whole middle section done and the teacher said 'Okay, now students what you're going to do is appliqué this onto a background fabric by hand' -- I said well 'Isn't there another way there there must be a better way to do' -- 'No just stop whining and appliqué this onto your background.' -- I was whining and whining..uh uh uh, like that -- she finally said 'Get over here and quit whining', she dug through her little suitcase and she pulled this piece of do-sew -- [spells it out.] D O dash S E W -- its a stretch and soak product and quietly in the corner she said 'Now just stop complaining and do what I tell you to do' so she told me what to do and sew it on and cut off all the stuff that hangs out and take it to the iron and, and do this so now I have nice finished edges, she said 'Now take this back it's going to make your appliqué easier' -- 'So wait a minute, you mean by hand?' 'Yes, but now all of your little ends are all nice and neat' [slight pause.] -- I was still whining, but anyway the class was over I took it home, folded it all up and about two years later took another class with the monofilament thread and the blind hem stitch and it had to with vines. And I said 'Wait a minute, I can use this for appliqué too right' so I pulled out my MC and I sewed the MC on to the background on the machine with the monofilament thread and here comes the cheap part, now I've got nine dollars worth of fabric hiding behind this five foot tall oval of MC so wouldn't it be cool if we could remove that piece that's behind the appliqué and make another piece out of that and put it back on the front -- I didn't want to do that to my MC because I worked really hard on that so I started making these little broken dishes quilts kind of as an illustration and the idea for the broken dishes came at easter time. My nephew was having his salad on my wedding china [JD laughs.] and he was distracted and he let go of the plate --

JD: Oh no --

KM: And it fell to the floor and it cracked just like that -- so I picked up the pieces and saved them and put them on a piece of black felt and just saved it because I said now that's broken dishes because if you look at the traditional broken dishes it doesn't really look -- it just looks like chips not really dishes -- I was thinking about this whole thing with the MC pulling that fabric from behind making a new shape putting it back on the front well now you have the problem now there's more fabric behind that piece --

JD: Oh.. #00:06:18.2#

KM: Okay, that's alright, we'll cut that out too we'll make another new shape and put that back on the front [slight pause.] and then we're going to cut -- make a big circle, looks like a target then we're going to cut it up, mix up all the pieces, sew them back together and now that looks like a broken dish -- that was really my very first quilt that I thought was teachable and I didn't want to tell anybody how I did it because I cheated -- as you see nothing matches up, it's all -- we kind of folded it to find the center and the switch it to the side just a little bit so you avoid centering it so there's no pressure ever it's never going to go back together because we on purpose switched it to the side so that's kind of where that one came from, the broken dishes -- I used all the (SOINDS LIKE 'le mey') and all the fancy glittery kind of stuff to represent the gold band on my china and -- so there it is, that was one of the first, so..

JD: Well, it's good that you persevered. [KM chuckles.]

[brief talking over each other.]

KM: I did. Thank goodness. There's got to be a better way. [laughter.]

JD; Yes, yes.

KM: [repeats.] There's got to be a better way. #00:07:23.7#

JD: Tell me about your interest in quilt making.. because it sounded like you started, what made you start?

KM: Well I actually I, I truly believe I invented quilt making. I lived on a small island on Lake Eerie and there's -- of course at that time there's no library books about quilting and I didn't have access to fabric stores so I thought wouldn't it be a great idea if I cut up all this old fabric and old clothing that we don't wear anymore [brief pause.] and I was so, I just thought I was so smart [laughter.] -- I'm cutting up all this old fabric and sewing it back together and making new fabric and then I found lace and embroidery floss and I started making crazy quilts and it was just amazing, it was an amazing kind of therapy thing to do and then I found -- I was so disappointed that I found out other people had been doing this for much [JD laughs.] -- it was actually very disappointing but I started doing it out of boredom and I just thought that I invented it. #00:08:24.7#

JD: So did you sew before that, did you have a background in sewing?

KM: I don't have a background in sewing, no.

JD: So you taught yourself?

KM: I taught myself. I used to sneak my moms sewing machine when I was in probably late elementary school she got a sewing machine as a gift and she said don't touch the sewing machine.. don't touch it -- of course we were stay at home kids they, we were latchkey kids they didn't have a name for it but we were latchkey kids -- they would go to work and I would sneak the sewing machine out and I would sew on it and I would cut up my sister's old clothing and make a pattern out of the old clothing only make it a little bit bigger and then I would use the old fabric that I found in my grandma's tin it was like old chintz and really awful fabric and then I would use that pattern to make a new outfit for my sister without knowing anything about facings or anything like that so all of her clothing were raw edges [JD laughs.] and I covered the raw edges with zigzag #00:09:23.6#
-- what is that stuff, that (SOMETHING) wrap -- and I sewed the zipper's on without turning -- it was awful, it was just awful but eventually the bobbin ran out of thread and I thought I broke the machine because I didn't know anything about bobbins so I knew, I was sure I had broken my mother's machine so I closed it all up and put it away and didn't tell her and then miraculously about three months later I pulled it back out there was some more bobbin in the thread -- in the thread and the bobbin -- so I didn't question it but anyway yes..[JD laughs.] I was definitely self taught, not well, not well, so I still don't do clothing.. #00:10:02.7#

JD: What's your first quilt memory?

KM: Well my first quilt memory came from my my grandmothers house. My grandparents are from Helsinki (Sweden) and in their home they have, they have these two twin beds in the guest room where I used to have to go -- I have asthma -- and on family holidays it was back in the day when everybody smoked in the house so I would always have to go in the back bedroom so that I could breathe and I would open up the windows and I would be sitting on this bed with a "yoyo" quilt [JD makes a sound.] looking at all the fabrics and kind of putting -- I would put those two together and this one together and that one together and it was just.. to me a "yoyo" quilt is just really a cosy -- I can smell the cooking from the kitchen, you kind of have that emotional response so that was my first quilt memory. I don't know where the quilts came from though. #00:10:55.3#

JD: But what a great quilt memory.

KM: Yeah --

JD: It takes you home and everything, that's great --

KM: It does, yeah [brief pause.]

JD: So there were no other quilt makers in your family?

KM: No.

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

KM: Well I kind of go in spurts. During the summer I quilt probably.. maybe 18 hours a day -- just go at it real fast and furious and for a couple of months just kind of experimenting and designing and, and all that -- and then not again -- we're here now so I'm not sewing at all so I probably won't sew through until about probably next spring -- #00:11:31.0#

JD: Because you're on the road teaching?

KM: Right --

JD: Yeah --

KM: Right--

JD: You do that how many months a year?

KM: Four months, a total of four months.

JD: Yeah, that's --

KM: But we're kind of split up --

JD: Yup. yep. How does quilt making impact your family? #00:11:46.8#

KM: [Smiles, sighs.] Well..[laughs.] Well, now they're happy I quilt because I can pay for college and things like that but when the kids were little I think it was good for them when I was, when they were little because I could sew at home they learned about color they used to play down in my fabric stash and they would line everything up and categorize things and -- actually my daughter, my grand daughter, she comes down, she categorizes all my pins [JD makes a sound.] in my pin cushion -- but when they were little I think it was a good thing for them because I was home with them and it was something I could do at home, I didn't have to go golfing or go somewhere else -- I think one of the funny things that they realized was when I'm sewing a lot, and I became obsessive about it that it would get to be about five-thirty and I would have forgot to cook dinner so we would order pizza and there was one week when we had three pizza boxes in the trash and the garbage man asked my son, 'So your mom's been sewing again huh?' [JD laughs.] -- so they just sort of take it with just -- yeah they're fine with it, but I think they're proud of it. I think they're happy.. #00:12:59.1#

JD: That' great, that's great. Have you ever used quilts to get through a difficult time in your life?

KM: Yes. I cert -- well I think everybody has, yes.. I think the most difficult time that quilting has gotten me through was about half way through my fifth pregnancy I found out that the baby was not going to survive [JD makes a sucking sound through her teeth.] so it was during a routine ultrasound and there were just fatal flaws in this poor baby so.. being kind of very pro-life I was advised to terminate the pregnancy immediately because there was no chance this baby was going to have a fulfilling life so [coughing.] I was not going to terminate this pregnancy so I asked them what are, what's the best deal I can get out of this and they said 'Well you could hope for the best maybe a live birth but not too much after that and the baby's going to be severely impaired' and just a lot of difficulties were ahead so we decided to find out the gender of the baby ahead of time which is something we don't, we haven't done, we always liked the surprise but we knew that this baby wasn't going to be with us so [coughing.] we got the gender, we chose a name so that he could be as part, as much a part of the family as possible for as long as we had him and I made a quilt by hand [JD laughs.] -- #00:14:19.2#

JD: Oh --

KM: By hand, using the fabrics that I had used in all of my other kids quilts --

JD: Oh --

KM: So that they could all be a part of it and they all wrote on the quilt and sent little messages to him and then we all slept with the quilt -- it was just kind of a family quilt on the couch with the chair and each of the kids would just kind of take it to bed with them occasionally and they would kind of trade it off and one night -- one morning I woke up and my husband had it next to him in the bed {JD makes sounds.] it was just, it was really sweet. Anyway so this little quilt got to be part of the family so that we could send that with him if we had the live birth that we were hoping for so the children, the other four kids chose the little sleeper for him at the hospital and so its kind of a family thing, we had counseling from the church so it was very, it was the best experience we could've had considering -- #00:15:16.3#

JD: Considering --

KM: Considering. But that quilt was kind of symbolic to us of Peter, his name was Peter, and we did have our live birth and we got to meet him and we got to baptize him ourself at the hospital and then we wrapped him in that quilt so he'll always have kind of part of all of us and so it was a really kind of difficult time but I think that really helped us a lot and it helped the other kids because they were able to participate so.. [JD makes sounds.] that's my sad story -- #00:15:41.6#

JD: That's amazing but that's quilts for you.

KM: It is -- and then my friends, my quilty friends all of course pitched in and were really helpful so just a lot of support in the quilting family too.

JD: So, so typical --

KM; It is, very typical --

JD: Well let's change to --

KM: Okay --

JD: Something a bit more happy --

KM: Okay --

JD: What do you find pleasing about quilt making? #00:16:01.2#

KM: Oh gosh, everything's pleasing about quilt making. [laughter.] I think the best thing about quilt making as a woman is that we can share this with all the other women who are quilt makers even if they work with primitive -- obviously I'm not a primitive quilt maker [coughing.] but I hang out with Jenny who works with wool and [coughing.] all of my friends have different styles and different colors and we all pretty much -- we all go shopping together, we make fun with each other about our fabric selections but we all get together and we can sew together and enjoy being together and sharing our stories and sharing our lives and sharing our children and its all kind of centered around something -- we're going to produce something that we can then pass on instead of going to a bar and drinking and sharing our stories we can sit their together and sew and then pass on these wonderful --

JD: Yeah -- #00:16:56.1#

KM: Heirlooms to our families and friends so I think thats probably the main thing -- like coming here to teach now I've broadened my horizons so now every city we have the repeat offenders [JD laughs.] that come back to the class and you have to catch up and we email and we Facebook now it's just grown now with technology --

JD: Yeah --

KM: So it's really gotten amazing. I think the other thing I love about quilt making is the ability to get things out of your head kind of as, as therapy --

JD: Yeah -- #00:17:28.7#

KM: As you know the sacred threads [coughing.] exhibit down in Columbus, Ohio and you can get all that emotion out of you and reproduce it in fabric and share it -- people get different things out of different quilts and they look at it they're going to get a different perception or a different emotional response than maybe I intended but it will affect everybody in some way and some people [slight pause.] -- I have a story about a woman who did not to like one of my quilts and that's ok -- that was her -- it's not everybody's cup of tea but it's just that you can affect other people, you can get everything out of yourself and share it.. It's true!

JD: Tell me about an amusing experience that has occurred with either your quilt making or your teaching. #00:18:18.8#

KM: Oh [shared laughter.] --

JD: One that is publishable.

KM: [laughter.] Okay.. well I'll tell you about something that happened yesterday --


JD: Uh oh --

KM: Well she might still be here I don't know if I can tell --


KM: Well just for instance, it's just a fun class so we're all having fun and everybody's relaxed and w're sewing and the ladies were sitting in the front row of the the classroom and somebody said something that triggered a memory of a broadway play and the woman at the end of the row breaks out in song and it happened to be a song I knew so we both started singing [laughter.] so we started singing to each other and she stood up and we both started dancing so we share on a whole different level -- the whole class pretty soon is chiming in on this and we're comparing -- do you know this show do you know that show so it's really -- its just hysterical, you had to be there but we had such a good time and we all hugged at the end -- #00:19:20.9#

JD: Oh --

KM: I think that hugs at the end were the best -- oh thank you thank you.. no, thank you ma'am thank you ma'am so but -- I would have to think about that some more.. everything is funny. It's just --

JD: Well, when you're on the road, traveling with -- well yes --

[talking over each other briefly.]

KM: Everything is funny -- Oh I wish I had one ready, I don't think --

JD: Do you belong to any groups, (SOUNDS LIKE) 'bees', guilds or anything?

KM: I do. I belong to the Lorraine County Piecemaker's up in Lorraine, Ohio just outside of Cleveland and I also belong to Studio Art Quilter's which is an international group of art quilter's and they have seminars all over the country and all over the world and do shows and books and things like that --

JD: Yep --

KM: But I haven't participated a lot with them just because I'm doing this but I love their website and their work, oh it's just amazing..

JD: Have advances in technology influenced your work? #00:20:12.9#

KM: They have. Tremendously. As, as we were talking earlier I was advised to take typing in high school because I could always be a secretary so I was very haughty -- well I don''t think I'm going to need how to type because I'm going to be an artist [slight pause.] -- now I regret that so now I have Mavis Beacon on my, [[laughter.] on my computer trying to learn what the elementary school children do but [coughing.] with the, with the advent of the electric quilt program and all of the designing on the screen programs and the computers I think everything -- first of all it broadens your horizons again you can be in contact with people all over the world as far quilt making I've been able to belong to groups through the computer -- multi media groups and just different types of art groups with people from all over the world sharing experiences sharing products sharing ideas -- I've been able to be included in a couple of the books because of some of these groups that I would never --

JD: Oh --

KM: -- had met them before except for the online stuff so I think that's been a huge difference and -- just being able to design quilts on -- on the computer has been huge.

JD: [quietly spoken.] Yep. [regular volume.] Describe your studio or the place that you create. #00:21:34.4#

KM: Well my studio probably is about six years old now and it was -- it's in my basement and my family completely believes that I have half and they have half. My half has my sewing stuff in it their half has the TV, the pool table and the freeze space -- well what they don't understand is that quilt table is actually my design wall [laughter.] so I pretty much have the full basement but the part that is partitioned off there's double doors there -- it was built purposefully at the furthest end of the house so you have to come there on purpose. You do not walk through there by accident. You have to purposefully open the doors and walk in so nobody sees this but me and people that go there on purpose. So one side of this room has these bigs cabinets -- my husband does root canals for a living and these are form his old office so there are back to back cabinets that have very shallow drawers and sliding things at the top with shelves and trays that slide out with a desk part that comes out and its just -- it's an amazing piece of furniture, there's two of them and I sort of got stuck with them -- he said 'We're not moving these out of the basement because they're made out of MDF and it's really heavy' -- he said 'You have to keep these here and work with it' but now I'm really glad I've got them because they're really useful so they divide that one part then there's office stuff on one side and paper and all of my altered mix media stuff on one side -- the other side is the wall of fabric [coughing.] that's put on plastic shelving, by color, then moving to the right side of the room is an island in the center that I bought kitchen cabinets -- kitchen height cabinets I put those back to back so I have two sets of drawers, two sets of cabinets and I have a countertop made at the ergonomically correct height so one end is cutting, the other end is pressing and it kind of extends so I can sit down and press --

JD: Oh --

KM: It's really fun and all the rulers are in the middle but -- usually the center part which is supposed to be the design area is about this high right now with stuff and half the drawers -- the drawers with the part with the sink have rubber stamps, paints, dyes, stains, all the messy stuff goes on the sink side with the books up above, #00:24:05.1#
the other side is the three sewing machines and the (SOUNDS LIKE) 'serger' -- what else, oh the computer and all the office supplies and the scanner and the printer are on the other side so -- it's my, its my little heaven up there, down there --

JD: It sounds it -- #00:24:21.8#

KM: The only thing I can tell you though is that if you have your studio in the basement if you're going to kind of get it going -- we did have water a couple times in the basement so the third time I finally got smart and put the little furniture movers --

JD: Oh --

KM: Under the shelving so now I can just slide it out -- I was very smart there but --

JD: Yeah.. great tip. [laughter.] We're going to move on to some questions about the aesthetics, craftsmanship and design aspects of quilt making. What do you think makes a great quilt?

KM: Well I like to look at a quilt like in the show or at a guild meeting and to me a great quilt just kind of grabs you so if you look at a quilt and it kind of gives you a response of some sort to me that's a great quilt -- it could be a negative response it could be a positive response but if you look at it and go 'Woah.. that's, that's really interesting', or 'Wow, that's awesome' -- it's not usually the best quilt maker's at the top of the line stuff but sometimes its just that, that response that you get by looking at it.

JD: Interesting, so it can be negative too -- #00:25:31.8#

KM: -- Negative -- well because not every quilt I think is meant to be pretty --

JD: Yeah.

KM: Some of them are meant to give you that emotional response. For instance my daughter's graduation quilt, she said 'Mom, I do not want a pretty quilt, I want a quilt that's all about me' [laughter.] so we have, we have for two years I collected pearls and potato chip fabric and bikini fabric and make up fabric and popcorn fabric [laughter.] and all these fabrics that were all about what she loved and then I used pictures from school --

JD: Oh..

KM: And kind of crazy quilted around it and used my rubber stamps and wrote all little quotes with my rubber stamps all over the place, there was every color on the planet and then I left some little places blank so at her graduation party we gave everybody a 'Pigma' pen so they could write messages for her --

JD: Oh.. #00:26:23.4#

KM: To carry into her life, something that's going to carry her through life and I didn't actually get it quilted so they thought I was a genius they said 'This is a great idea I'm glad you didn't quilt it so now we can take the blocks to our table, she can take the blocks around to wherever she goes and they can sign it' -- and when we put it together -- it's an horrific looking quilt [laughter.] but it's all about her and it has her friends and her pictures and her teachers and its her quilt --

JD: [barely audible.] Yep..

KM: So to me that was a great quilt it's not pretty but there's some of those sacred threads quilts that are not pretty, they're about real difficult topics -- some of the 9/11 quilts are not beautiful but they're very meaningful, wonderful quilts and they're not pretty and I don't think they were meant to be pretty --

JD: Right..

KM: So that's kind of what I meant I don't mean aesthetically ugly it's just that it -- your response to it is uncomfortable and that was the purpose.

JD: Now what makes a quilt appropriate for, for a museum or some kind of special collection?

KM: I wish I knew that. [laughter.] I wish I knew that. Oh I don't know, I don't know what would make it appropriate --

JD: You don't have to answer every question by the way --

KM: Yeah thank you, I know --

JD: Yeah you don't have to --

KM: If I knew -- [laughter.]

JD: Well then what makes a great quilt maker? #00:27:39.5#

KM: I think a great quilt maker is willing to take a risk, is willing to try new things and doesn't get too tied into the technicalities of quilting. I think we've ruined a lot of quilt makers by telling them if your seams aren't perfect if everything isn't perfect then you can't make a quilt -- those colors don't go together, no start over you can't use black as a background and they get all flustered because you're thinking that there's all these rules to follow and you have to be perfect and nobody's going to like my quilt and I think the good quilt makers are the people that say 'I don't care if anybody likes my quilt, I like my quilt' --

JD: Yeah..

KM: I love it and it's ok if you don't like it.

[slight pause.]

JD: Are there certain maker's whose work you're drawn to? #00:28:28.6#

KM: Yes, there are Yvonne Porcello --

JD: Oh.. yes --

KM: Yvonne Porcello's stuff just drips honey for me. Karen Stone's patterns. Her stuff is just fabulous. I had the opportunity to meet Kaaren Stone, I called up the phone number on the pattern, at the address on the pattern, she answered her phone in her kitchen [JD laughs.] and I was so flustered I said 'Oh, oh oh oh, is this Karen?', she said 'Well yes Kim you called me', I said 'How did you know it was me?' --

JD: Caller ID --

KM: She said 'Well apparently we have the same long distance carrier, you're on my caller ID' [JD laughs.] and I almost fainted -- oh my gosh, I'm on Karen Stone's caller ID. So she came to our guild and I was all excited and I kind of lost out on the lottery picking her up at the airport but she came to our guild and I'm at the location of our quilt shop getting ready and I ran into the bathroom real quick because I knew she was coming and I'm sitting down in the bathroom and I hear a [makes knocking sounds.] 'Kim are you in there?', 'Yes I'm here', 'I have Karen Stone here', {JD laughs.] so I am not meeting Karen Stone --

JD and KM: [at the same time.] in the bathroom --

KM: So you take her right back outside [more laughter.] -- I just love her work. I want to be Karen Stone when I grow up --

JD: Oh..

KM: I do --

JD: That's a big compliment --

KM: But, all the -- Theresa May [slight pause.] there's just, there's so many, there's just so many..

JD: A lot of talent --

KM: A lot of talent in the world, yes there is.

JD: How do you feel about machine quilting versus hand quilting or long arm quilting, do you long arm quilt your quilts -- #00:30:10.1#

KM: I don't -- I have my quilts long arm quilted. I don't have the talent for that, I don't have the vision and I just prefer to let other people who have invested in their career do that. Ladies come here, they fly in from different cities they stay at the hotel, they take the long arm classes, they invest in the machine, they practice, they know what they're doing, so I'm just real comfortable letting them make those decisions and I'm always very pleasantly surprised. Several ladies have done my quilts and they say 'Well okay Kim, what do you want on these quilts?', I say 'If I knew that I would figure out how to do it myself', I don't know what I want, I don't have that vision so I turn it over to them, I trust several of them and when I get my quilts back I'm just, I'm just blown away -- oh my gosh. It was an okay quilt when I gave it to you but now it's a great quilt. So I'm really happy to spend the money and support somebody who really invests in what they do --

JD: Yep --

KM: That's kind of my philosophy, I know if you can't afford to do that I don't, I don't -- I find personally hand quilting very difficult and I really admire people that can do it well and the hand quilting, I would do it if I could --

JD: Yeah --

KM: I just can't do it, I love it, it's beautiful. It's awe inspiring but I personally can't do it.

JD: That's why they invented long armer's, right? --

KM: They did, that's right.

JD: Why is quilt making important in your life? #00:31:38.2#

KM: Well right now it's important because I have a son still in college and I'm real happy to be here Marlene, thank you very much. But I don't know what I would do if I didn't quilt. I just can't imagine my life without fabric and sewing machines and creativity, I don't know what I would really do -- it's just been part of my life for such -- as I mentioned I really totally believed I invented quilting so it's kind of something in my DNA I don't know what I'd do without it..

JD: Do your quilts at all reflect your community or region? [pause.] What do you think about the importance of quilts in American life? #00:32:19.4#

KM: I think the importance of quilts in American life especially today is kind of bringing us back to our heritage really. I kind of feel like I'm sharing with the women who lived two hundred years ago in a different way and just like we pop food in the microwave, our grandmothers cooked food a different way than their mother's did, on the, on the campfire, on the wood stove, so we're kind of moving it up but we're still doing the same things -- we're providing comfort, we're providing recreation, we're providing so much and I just really appreciate the opportunity to be able to do that. But it really does tie you in to previous generations, so --

JD: And what's amazing about our generation is you're working at it for a living which is incredible --

[slight talking over each other.]

KM: Right, and I can do it for a living where before it does done as one of the jobs of the household --

JD: Mmhmm.. #00:33:11.6#

KM: It was.. it was just the job of the household, we have to make these quilts, we have to get it done and the women worked other and they got it done and they taught the children how to do it and they were raised and -- our ge -- our world right now is moving so quickly -- the computer you buy today is going to be obsolete next week but years and years ago nothing changed for generations and it's really interesting that each generation knew what to expect because nothing changed that quickly. They knew what to wear they knew what music to listen to they knew how to make quilts, they just -- everything was the same, the gardening, the farming and the society was very similar for a long time. Now all of a sudden we live in a world where it's just lightening speed, everything changes, the music from -- it used to be decade to decade and now it's year to year, month to month and day to day and it's just -- things are flying but we can still do this and share this..

JD: You, on this little questionnaire that we asked, just some sort of thoughts, starter, quick questions, you said that you've never participated in quilt history or presernta -- or preservation -- #00:34:18.6#

KM: No --

JD: Really?

KM: No --

JD: So you don't have an interest?

KM: Well it's not that I don't have an interest I just thought that you had to be scholar to participate --

JD: Right, right.

KM: And I'm real -- I'm really not schooled in it and I didn't really have a group and it's that I was avoiding it's just that it didn't, it didn't have it --

JD: Yeah, that's what I thought before I got asked to be on the board. There are different ways to do it --

KM: Right -- and it just didn't occur to me and then the teaching thing kind of came up and so then I got busy with that but it's very interesting and I love the history of quilts its just that I never studied it -- I didn't, it just wasn't, there wasn't the opportunity for it.

JD: Yep.. [pause.] This is a strange question I think but -- #00:35:00.7#

KM: Okay --

JD: See if it sparks anything for you. How do you think quilts can be used? Some people [finger snapping sounds.] get it right off and other people's don't so --


KM: Okay, you're not asking me what size beds will you put them on --

JD: Right, right., right

KM: Well again I think I keep going back to this emotional response thing -- and the thing about getting through the difficult situations and I think quilts for me and for all of my fiends have been used as social device. We use it socially to get together and work out our problems and talk about things and share experiences -- we'll share our quilt patterns, we'll share our fabric, we'll share our lives and to me that's how we use our quilts, then we'll use our quilts on the beds but -- I think from more it's getting the feelings out, getting the expressions out, getting the ideas out, you can be creative without having to remodel your living room [laughter.] -- so [coughing.] I think in that way the more -- the less fabric based meanings I think we use the quilts --

JD: Yeah. Yeah. Is there anything else that you want to add, is there anything that we've missed or anything ekes you want to say?

KM: Probably I'll think of it later --

JD: Yeah. always.. always --

KM: Yeah I can't think of anything right now, what else is on there? --

JD: Okay there's one more question --

KM: Okay --

JD: What do you think is the biggest challenge confronting quilt makers today? -- and this is an interesting question for you because you've been quilting for so long back when there was no books, there was no fabric -- #00:36:27.2#

KM: Right --

JD: It's like we have it all now --

KM: Yeah now we've got it all -- and again I'm going to refer back to what I said before about the generations. Before, it was a household activity, you had to make the quilts and it was part of your job to make the quilt and keep the family warm. Today it's a hobby. It's an expensive hobby and it's a time consuming hobby and even with all of our -- to me the challenge is even with all of our technology we also have video games and televisions and cars and soccer games and our schedules are so hectic and a lot of times two parents have to work in the household to provide for the family so you don't have that leisure time and when you do have the leisure time it's difficult to make that decision with what you want to do with that time so even though we're not working in the farm and building our own homes we have other things that have taken in that time so I think the biggest challenge is time. The ladies in my classes tell me -- I say 'Don't panic, this is not brain surgery, why are you panicking?' [laughter.] 'If I don't get it done here I'm never going to get it done --

JD: Wow -- #00:37:39.0#

KM: -- Because once I go home I'm not going to have time', so I get that. I've got -- my mothers living with me and my father's mother's going to come and live with us and the three kid are moving home from college and I still work full time so I think its really difficult to have that time allowance to do something for yourself, it's no longer for the family so now when you quilt you have to feel guilty about it.

JD: Yeah. When you go to the grocery store and they ask when you go to check out --

KM: Right --

JD: I say 'Well if you sold some time I'd buy it' -- #00:38:11.2#

KM: I know, they ask you in store, 'Can I help you?' -- No! [laughter.] Probably not. [laughter.]

JD: Was there anything else you can think of?

KM: No.

JD: Okay, that was a good answer --

KM: Thank you.

JD: Well, thank you so much Kim for joining us for interview --

KM: Thanks --

[talking over each other.]

JD: It was nice to see you. It was great and our interview is concluding at 12.45, again I'm Jody Davis and this is, we're at the Georgia Quilt Show here in Duluth, GA at October 22nd 2011 and that's the end of our interview --

[tape cuts off.]


“Kim Montagnese,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed May 21, 2024,