Golda Griffin




Golda Griffin




Golda Denman Griffin


Erma Beeson

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

Susan Salser


McKinney, Texas

Interview indexer

Erma Beeson (EB): My name is Erma Beeson and today's date is September 2, 2010, about 1:30 p.m. I am conducting an interview with Golda Griffin in her home for the Quilters' SOS Save our Stories project. We are doing this interview for the American Heritage Committee of the Texas Society of the American Revolution. Golda is a quilter and is a member of the John Abston Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. The first thing I want to do is thank you for participating in this Quilters' Save Our Stories. The goal of this interview is to record your quilt stories in a friendly relaxed way. We really want your personality to shine through. So, I am just going to ask you a few questions that are just a yes or no answer and then we will get into you telling your story. First of all, do you make quilts?

Golda Griffin (GG): Yes.

EB: Do you make wearable art?

GG: Yes.

EB: Do you sleep under a quilt?

GG: Yes.

EB: Have you given quilts as gifts?

GG: Yes.

EB: Are you self-taught?

GG: To some extent.

EB: Okay. Do you have quilt makers in your family?

GG: Yes.

EB: Do you belong to a quilt guild?

GG: Yes.

EB: Have you ever been a board member or chair of a committee in a guild?

GG: Yes.

EB: Do you belong to a sewing bee or group?

GG: Yes.

EB: Have pictures of you, your quilts, and/or your patterns ever been published?

GG: No.

EB: Do you collect or sell quilts?

GG: No.

EB: Do you have a collection of quilting or sewing memorabilia?

GG: Yes.

EB: Have you ever owned or worked in a quilt shop?

GG: Yes.

EB: Do you teach quilting?

GG: No.

EB: Have you ever won an award?

GG: Yes.

EB: Have you ever participated in quilt history preservation?

GG: No.

EB: Do you have a design wall?

GG: No.

EB: Do you have a studio or sewing room?

GG: Yes.

EB: That's great. Now the rest of these questions, you are going to be telling me good deal more than I am saying and don't hesitate to elaborate. The first thing we want to talk about is the quilt, the quilt, that you have chosen or selected. I want to tell me about the quilt, and I'm going to say it is pretty much up to you which one you want to talk about.

GG: I think this one makes a better talk.

EB: That's great, that's great. So just tell me a little bit about this quilt.

GG: This came to me as a stack of unfinished blocks. And the other quilter involved was my grandmother, Mary Exa Dorsey Denman.

EB: And you already started to tell me a little bit about it, but why did you choose this particular quilt?

GG: Well, the longer I worked on it the more I fell in love with it, and I decided it was really nice workmanship on it.

EB: And what special meaning would you say that this quilt had for you?

GG: It was just a link to a family of people where there is very few women and since this is one of my DAR lines, I thought it would be nice.

EB: That is. If someone were to see this quilt, what might they conclude about you?

GG: That I was picky, picky.

EB: That is also very good. Do you have any plans for this quilt?

GG: No, I do not. I have already done I wanted to do with it.

EB: Okay, now, we are going to talk a little bit about your involvement in quilt making. Tell me about your interest in quilt making, just in general.

GG: Well, several things about quilt making I like. Also, there's several things I do not enjoy doing. So, I would say to you that I enjoy very much selecting the fabrics that go together or that I think go together and seeing what can be made out of them.

EB: Yah, that's very good. What age did you start quilting?

GG: Well, I really don't know. [pause.] I figure about 1979.

EB: Okay. Was there somebody that you learned to quilt from?

GG: No, not really.

EB: Okay, when you were quilting a lot, how many hours a week do you think you quilted?

GG: Nine to ten hours.

EB: Okay. When you think back about quilts what is one of the first memories you might have about a quilt?

GG: I have another one that's a little bit old, and I thought it was just gorgeous. And it ended up at my house.

EB: That's good that it ended up at your house. Who had that quilt originally?

GG: My aunt. She made it.

EB: Okay. In fact, that leads me into my next question. Are there other quilt makers in your family and then also among your friends? You might tell us first about your family.

GG: Well, truly, I thought at one time I would recruit my mother, that was just what I thought. I thought she would like to do this, and she quickly told me, she said 'You and Nel think you will get me into this but Ma and Granda Mack grandmother couldn't get me to,' so give up in other words.

EB: And Nel, your sister, is she is quilter also?

GG: Yes. She is.

EB: Are there other family members who are quilters, well your aunt?

GG: I don't think there is any living quilters now, except we two.

EB: Okay. Now, what about your friends?

GG: I have quite a number of quilting friends. Some of them belong to the Quilters guild in McKinney [Texas.] but more of them belong to the Quilters guild in Plano. [Texas.]

EB: Okay, and I think at one time you belonged to the quilter's guild of Dallas. [Texas.]

GG: I did. But Dallas got further and further away, further away.

EB: I know. Do you think quilt making had much of an impact in your family?

GG: I can't say that it did. I found another partially done piece of work that I decided was done by my mother-in-law. I finished it and gave it to our son.

EB: That's great. So, kinda both sides of your family--

GG: Participated.

EB: Yes, participated. That is good. Is there or have you ever used a quilt to get through a difficult time?

GG: Oh yes. I think that is one of the very best things it can do for you, is to help you through difficult times. It gives your hands something to do while time going by and you're in a mode of survival.

EB: That's very good. Now, can you think of an amusing experience that might have occurred from your quilt making?

GG: [pause.] Only one and it's not worth recounting.

EB: [laughter.] Sometimes things happened when you have a group of quilters together that you might rather not recount.

EB: What do you, you have somewhat answered this, but I am going to ask again, what do you find pleasing about quilt making?

GG: The result justifies the effort, is part of it.

EB: That's good. Now, are there parts of quilt making that you do not enjoy?

GG: Yes, I do not enjoy cutting and tracing little blocks, patterns on fabric.

EB: I absolutely understand that. What are the quilt groups you belong to?

GG: Well, I belong to a small group that is allied with the Quilters' Guild of Plano. I guess that's all right now.

EB: But I know you have been active in other groups as well, I know. Does your little group that meets on Mondays, is that part of the Plano group?

GG: No.

EB: That's just a group of friends.

GG: I'd say yes.

EB: Okay. Now then, I'm going to add that she has also belonged for many years to the Dallas Needlework Guild.

GG: The Needlework and Textile Guild.

EB: And I know she served as an officer and a program chairman of that group. I know personally that she did that and did a very fine job.

GG: Thank you.

EB: Now, there have been advancements in technology, computers used for quilts. Have those influenced your work?

GG: I really can't answer that. I can't think that it did. I guess I know what you are saying.

EB: Have you ever in the past few years used the Internet to find information or find patterns?

GG: Well, I understand that that is a good place to do that, but I have always found enough inspiration right around here without having to go to the Internet.

EB: That's great. That's a really good answer too. What are your favorite techniques?

GG: You mean the needlework that I like to do, my favorite things?

EB: Yah, but if you think about quilting, whether you like to appliqué or piece.

GG: Well, I do like to appliqué to some extent, but I can't say it is a favorite of mine because I haven't done that much of it.

EB: Okay. Well, the piecing, you have already said that you like to piece because it' in the piecing that you get to see the shapes and things.

GG: How they go together.

EB: Exactly, yes, how they go together. I think that's really good. Now, tell us a little bit about your sewing room and how you kinda put it all together.

GG: Well, it probably just more or less happened. I made it definitely known that I wanted this area, and I suspected some other things got first choice, like a place to sit and eat. [laughter.]

EB: But, as I remember, you have a small sewing room where you kept your fabrics and books.

GG: Yes, it was a combined sewing room and library.

EB: Okay.

GG: Cause I worked for a number of years as an Elementary Librarian.

EB: Oh, that's good to hear too.

GG: For the Plano Independent School District.

EB: I didn't know that either. That's very good. Would you say that most of the time you were planning your quilt--where did you do a lot of that?

GG: I afraid I don't have an answer to that.

EB: You get inspiration all around.

GG: It just kinda comes to me.

EB: Okay. I think that is very true. I have a question about balancing time. When you were quilting quite a lot how did you kinda balance your time for your creative things and all the other things you were involved with for your family?

GG: I just sorta worked it out as I went along.

EB: Okay. You didn't have a specific time that you set aside, or did you ever have a specific time that you said, my quilting time is--

GG: No, not that I recall. Back through the years, it seemed to me that we had better television than we have now and so I did like to quilt and watch and listen to television.

EB: Okay. That makes a lot of sense.

GG: You can get quilting done that way.

EB: Yes, yes. You really can. Do you use or have you ever used a design wall?

GG: I just don't have a place in here for a design wall. I think it would be very good, but I don't have a place for it.

EB: I shouldn't interrupt you, I am not supposed to interject, but I can remember one time, a number of years ago when you were working on [pause.] a quilt with different colors, not a Bargello--a watercolor quilt. I can remember, for some reason, coming to your house when you were working on that quilt and you had pieces, still working on that quilt.

GG: Placement.

EB: Placement and it was not a design wall at all, but when I came and saw that it kinda what I thought it was like. I thought, how great, Golda is moving the colors and it turned out beautifully.

GG: Thank you.

EB: Now let's talk about some of these design aspects and craftsmanship. What do you think makes a really great quilt?

GG: I particularly like to look at the landscape quilts that people put in magazines.

EB: Okay and what do you maybe think makes a quilt artistically powerful?

GG: I think the colors are the first thing that come out and grab you, at least they grab me. They have a feeling and a mode of their own, I think.

(EB: And that's very good. Is there something that you think makes a quilt appropriate to go in a museum or a special collection?

GG: What does it take?

EB: Yeh.

GG: First of all, it has to be attractive and [pause.] it needs a nice design within the rules of design, exemplifies it.

EB: Anything about the stitching of it?

GG: It needs to be top quality stitched.

EB: Okay, if you think about quiltmakers, and you know a lot of quiltmakers, is there anything that makes someone a great quiltmaker, that makes someone stand out above the rest?

GG: Combination of the things they put together.

EB: the design and the color and the whole feeling?

GG: Yah.

EB: Are there any artists or quilt designers that have particularly influenced you?

GG: No.

EB: How do you feel about machine quilting vs hand quilting?

GG: I think both have their place.

EB: With the advent of the long-armed quilter, what do you think about these long-armed quilting devices?

GG: I think they have a place too, but I do feel like it needs to be separate from the person who does the fine hand work.

EB: So, if you are looking at a collection of say Dallas quilt show you would really like to see the hand quilting separated from the machine quilting and even then, separated from the longarm quilting.

GG: The longarm quilting could have a place in the machine quilting.

EB: Okay.

GG: That how it seems to me.

EB: That is probably true.

GG: I don't take anything from the people who are able to use machines.

EB: Absolutely.

GG: And come away with something beautiful.

EB: This last kinda group of things is more about the functions and meaning of quilts in American life. How would you say that quilt making has been important in your life?

GG: It's helped me through difficult times, and I think its super good for that.

EB: Yes, it is and I think some of the other things that I have heard you express is how it has tied you to generations other than yours.

GG: True.

EB: If you think about quilts in your community, in a region, even in the North Texas Region, how do you think quilts maybe have reflected our community or our region?

GG: Well, quilts were one way for women to have something they could create by themselves that were beautiful. There were years when there wasn't anything beautiful to be seen.

EB: That's right and they really did serve a great purpose, giving that creativity as well. If you think beyond our area of the country, the importance of quilts in American lives?

GG: They have had quite an impact on other aspects of American Life. I was looking at just one in the new DAR magazine about a family and how they designed the burial plot quilt, and they had pieces for each individual.

EB: That is fascinating. In what ways do you think it was important to women history?

GG: It was one outlet for women when there weren't many others.

EB: And probably not only gave them an outlet but provided something that their families needed.

GG: Something they could use.

EB: Right. How do you think quilts can be preserved for the future?

GG: I don't know.

EB: That's difficult to know.

GG: It's harder than you first think.

EB: Yes, it really is. When you think back, what has happened to quilts you have made or maybe those your friends and family have made?

GG: I don't know but I haven't given a lot of them away. They don't have a need for them, but I did give my granddaughter one not long ago. She obviously liked a quilt with colors that matched her world. She just was admiring it recently. She turned it over and was looking at it and said 'Oh Grandmother, I really do like this quilt. When you get through with it, could I have it?" 'And I said, 'Yes, you can have it today.'

EB: That's nice and looking at the quilt you brought today too, that tells a story about you remembering your grandmother as well so, it just ties those generations together. If you had to say the greatest challenge for quiltmakers today, what do you think that would be?

GG: Shortage of time and money, because all of these supplies cost money, one way or the other.

EB: And when you think back about how the fabric that's in the squares that your grandmother made and where that fabric came from, and you then think about fabric today.

GG: Well, the appliqué pieces, I feel were sacks. I feel these (referring to displayed quilt) were sacks. And what they did was I understand, if you found a sack that you really liked, you got busy collecting until you had enough to make whatever it was you had in mind.

EB: I'm so glad you said that story.

GG: I intended to tell it earlier and forgot.

EB: That story is so true, especially that region. My grandmother would pick out the sacks with the feed in it that she liked, and she would buy that feed.

GG: Same thing. There are lots of different designs.

EB: Very interesting. Grandmother would also buy dresses. They were pretty much all cotton dresses, and she would buy dresses that she liked the fabric that, 'Oh I think I can use that.' I've asked a lot of questions. Is there anything else you would like to say about quilting, and you might tell us a little about the smaller quilt that you won the prize for?

GG: Well, I think that is a case of evolving. I may have a general idea, but the design evolves as you came to work with it, I think and it doesn't turn out like you had in mind, if you had something in mind. You have found a better way, or you discovered that what you had was not physically possible to do. You weren't going to get that done like you wanted it to. The little quilt that you are talking about, it's an especially small one and it took several months to get it together, even at its size. I know exactly where it is, I think. I'll walk to it, the little one on the wall.

GG: I am thinking of that little one. This one over here. The colored with the points.

Carole Lowe (CL): We thought you were thinking about this other one.

EB: Oh, my goodness.

GG: That's a daylily

EB: And look she has added all of the beads.

GG: See, I didn't have a picture in my mind, how it was going to look and it evolves.

EB: This is fascinating. You really have emphasized the shape of the flower with the stitching around the edges and adding the beads. You also used different colored threads.

GG: Yes, by now I have a good collection of fabric and threads, so I can pick out what I want, or if I do need something extra, I can go and just buy just one thing. In the beginning I would need six things to buy, now I just need one.

EB: I love the way you quilted that.

GG: Well, thank you.

GG: That is the artistic part of what you do, Golda, that you don't think about. Most people would just quilt, quilt, quilt and just gone around the design. This is the quilting that makes you focus on the flower.

GG: Yes.

CL: The interesting thing about this one is that you didn't have a pattern, you just kinda--

EB: It's a good example of utilizing more than just quilting techniques.

GG: There is some embroidery on this one and a little bit of beading.

EB: And understanding color.

GG: Color is one of the most interesting things.

EB: The color of the binding is used to emphasize the colors in the quilt.

GG: When you start trying to do something like that, the first thing that pops up is do I have enough to do it.

EB: That's right.

GG: It may be exactly what I want, but can I make it with what I've got.

EB: That's right. Anything else that you think you should tell us about quilting or how it impacted your life or the projects you've done.

GG: Well, it has been an important part of my life, because I have made friends would not have known otherwise, people who enjoyed the same things I do, and it gave me a way to express my admiration for the beauty of nature like the daylily.

CL: Would you talk for a minute about the piece that is in the dining room that you did that won an award?

GG: The Amish, yes. I had been to an Amish lesson somewhere in the north part of Dallas I think, and I wanted to make one. There again, I had no picture I just started out with different shades of the same color and the pineapple just fit in real well, I thought. That was probably from the early 80's and--

EB: --and you entered that in the Dallas Show?

GG: Yes, that one, yes, that's true went to the Dallas show.

CL: What makes it an Amish quilt?

GG: The colors, for one thing, and the simplicity of the construction.

EB: And a lot of the beauty of those quilts come out not only in the color and simplicity but in the stitching as well. because when you see it from the distance you don't see the motif until you--

GG: --get close.


Carole Lowe


“Golda Griffin,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed April 16, 2024,