Doni Boyd




Doni Boyd




Doni Boyd


Marylynn Kleeman

Interview Date

November 3, 2009

Interview sponsor

Moda Fabrics


Waldport, Oregon


Nancy Edwards


**This transcript was created by QSOS volunteers and was reviewed and, in some cases, edited by the interviewee. It may not exactly match the audio recording. For citations and interview quotations, please refer to the audio-recorded interview.** Note: Doni Boyd is not a member of the DAR. While this is a DAR quiltmaker documentation project, membership in the DAR is not required for participation.

Marylynn Kleemann (MK): I am conducting an interview with Doni Boyd at my house in Waldport [Oregon.] for the Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories project. We are doing this for the American Heritage Committee of the Oregon State Society Daughters of the American Revolution. Doni Boyd is a quilter and she is not a DAR member, but she is a member of our local Oregon Coastal Quilter's Guild. Today's date is November 3, 2009, and the time is 1:45 p.m. So Doni, we're going to get started now and [pause.] we go through different questions. Why don't we start with the quilt that you brought today and if you want to tell me about it?

Doni Boyd: (DB): That is a quilt that I designed. It's called "Along the Coastal Highway." We lived in Nebraska and started coming to Oregon for vacations every year and one of the favorite things we did was to visit all the light houses we possibly could and when I found the silk-screened squares at Latimer, even though they were forty dollars for the set, [laughs.] which was quite expensive for a souvenir of our trip. I bought them [both laugh.] that same year a barn block of the month came out that had this setting on it and although I didn't do block of the months at that time and I didn't do appliqué for sure, I thought I could probably adapt it to the size of the silk-screened squares. A good friend was very good at EQ5 at that time and so she helped me by drafting-- [pause.]

MK: Why don't you explain EQ5?

DB: [laughs.] It's Electric Quilt 5--is now I think at least 6 if not 7. That is a computer program that allows you to design your own quilts online [on your computer.] and then it tells you how much fabric you need and how big the blocks and it will print out templates for you which you'll have to put all the different pages together to get a big one.

MK: That sounds really neat.

DB: It was fun. There was a bad resource leap when we actually retired and moved to Oregon. [laughs.]

MK: Do you use the EQ5 now?

DB: No, I have a copy of it, but I just haven't sat down to learn it.

MK: Yeah.

DB: So I use scrap paper. [laughs.]

MK: That's always a good choice. Why did you specifically choose this quilt for the interview today?

DB: Well, mainly because it was an original adaptation, and I had another quilt that I love dearly and it has a funny story that goes with it, but it was a pattern and so I was thinking, well now, this is probably a better representation of what I do. Then, well, I don't usually follow patterns very well. I always have to make my own footprint on it or whatever and as you can see by this quilt, I'm a scrap quilter. Never use two fabrics if you can use thirty. One time I was making a child quilt and this was thirty years ago, and my husband looked at it and he said to me, 'You know you can make a quilt with two or three fabrics,' and I looked at him and I said, 'You know husbands can be replaced.' [both laugh.] So he's given up on it since then. [both laugh.]

MK: That was probably a wise choice on his part. [laughs.]

DB: I think so. [laughs.]

MK: So how do you use this quilt in your house?

DB: Generally it's hanging on the wall. I have a double bed size quilt rack on one wall and that's kind of in our spare room. When we lived in Nebraska, it was in our living room. And so it hung there and a funny thing happened with that I, of course, worked on it in Nebraska and many friends helped and we traded blues and we had consultations and when I was working on it in Nebraska, it reminded me of Oregon and how much fun we had coming out here every summer for a month. But now that I'm out here, it tends to remind me of Nebraska, so that's kind of an odd thing to happen I think. [both laugh.]

MK: So it brings back good memories.

DB: Yes, it does of both places.

MK: That's great. So you've been quilting for quite a few years now?

DB: For thirty-four years. I started when my son was born and he'll be thirty-five next January.

MK: What was your first quilt?

DB: Well, I lived in Lincoln, Nebraska, and he was born in '75. Right before that, they had the Quilt Symposium which was one of the first--well no, I'm sorry, that was later, but getting ready for it, they had a large quilt show at the Sheldon Art Museum [Sheldon Museum of Art, Lincoln, Nebraska.], and they were all hanging on the wall and there were older quilts and one was a denim quilt that had embroidery on it.

MK: Oh.

DB: And I thought, 'Wow, that's really cool.' You know I'm going to have a baby and wouldn't that be fun because the winters are cold and a denim quilt is really warm. So I cut up jeans and unfortunately, I cut up my husband's favorite jeans. He was not too excited about that, [both laugh.] but it was just the right color that I needed and they were worn out [laughs.] and then I got them all ready to embroider on and embroidering on denim is pretty tough. It was not as happy of an experience as I thought it was going to be, but--

MK: You're talking hand embroidery?

DB: Hand embroidery, yes. I didn't know anything about machine embroidery at that point, but by the time Adam was born, I had--its back was flannel and I had it tied together and I left the very top third open and when he was born, we embroidered his name and how much he weighed on it and the date, and then I slip stitched that closed and took him home from the hospital in it. [laughs.]

MK: And what's happened with that quilt now?

DB: I still have it. My son is going to be married next July and I'm thinking that they may start settling down a little bit more. He's pretty much been a vagabond in his adult years, so I looking forward to you know passing that on for his child or at least getting it out of the house with his other stuff that we still have. [both laugh.]

MK: So, what age did you start quiltmaking?

DB: Must have been around twenty-two.

MK: Okay.

DB: I had done a little bit of embroidery and things like that before, but nothing that I really cared about that much. Somehow my nephew moved to Minneapolis [Minnesota.] during the winter where we lived and he was staying with us for a few months looking for a job up there and we didn't have a whole lot of things, you know. Adam was one at that time and so first thing I did is went to the mill end stores and bought sheets and then I made my own quilt frame [laughs.] and then--

MK: Gosh.

DB: Then we started tying sheets together to make extra blankets and I'm surprised to announce that one of those is still going [laughs.] so if you need something really sturdy, two sheets tied together will last a decade, two decades, three decades.

MK: That's amazing.

DB: It is. [both laugh.]

MK: So you made your own quilt frame to do the tying?

DB: Yes, I remembered knowing how my grandmother's quilt frame went together and although I was too much of a tomboy to have her teach me how to quilt, I think I must have absorbed some of it at some time, because I knew exactly what to do when it came time.

MK: So tell me about your experiences just in your family with the quilters. You said your grandma was a quilter?

DB: Yes, my mother's mother was a quilter. By the time I came along--that I can remember, so when I was about ten or eleven, all she was doing was hand hemming diapers for the Red Cross. She couldn't see well enough to do anything else. Now my great-grandmother on my father's side opened her house to girls in trouble and she made them piece quilts.

MK: Oh my gosh.

DB: So, if it wasn't torture enough [laughs.] to be pregnant in a society that didn't want you pregnant, she taught them how to make quilts and so I had three or four tops that they had done. So when I moved--we lived in New Jersey for a while, when I moved back to Nebraska--my mom had quilted many, many years ago before I ever came, but then had stopped. Well, when I moved back, I got her quilting again. So on every Wednesday, my sister, my mom and I, we'd get together and quilt and have lunch and quilt some more and it was really fun.

MK: Oh, how fun.

DB: Yes it was. It was great.

MK: So was that hand quilting again?

DB: Machine piecing and we still mainly did hand quilting. About that time probably started a little bit of machine quilting. Well mainly when we got together we did just machine piecing. We didn't do too much on the frames together. My sister had a frame and she quilted at home and I had a frame also.

MK: Oh, that's great. So that was kind of like a sewing--

DB: Yeah.

MK: Bee.

DB: Yeah.

MK: Family sewing bee.

DB: Family sewing bee. It was pretty fun.

MK: Did you belong to a guild back in Nebraska then too?

DB: You bet. I belonged to a guild in New Jersey, when we lived there. I did not belong to a guild in Minneapolis. We were only there two years and [laughs.] Adam was very small and I was running a daycare center for one of the colleges, so I didn't have as much time as I thought after I got those things tied. I was always working on one since then I think, but I joined right away. When we moved to New Jersey, I belonged to the Loveapple Quilters which are south Jersey and then also another one that was north of us that a good friend belonged to. I can't remember the name of it right now, sorry New Jersey [both laugh.] and then when we moved to Lincoln--there's a good guild going in Lincoln. I immediately joined there. When I moved to Newport, two week s after we moved, I was at the guild meetings. [both laugh.] I know where to go for fun. [laughs.]

MK: And was that when you volunteered too?

DB: Ah no. [laughs.]

MK: After a meeting.

DB: No, [laughs.] although I did volunteer to work at the show in August. We had just had the show on Memorial Day weekend in Nebraska; moved the second of June, I was at the probably June fourteenth meeting and they're talking about the show and I thought, 'Boy, didn't I just leave this party?' [both laugh.] So it was real fun to jump right in and I even displayed a quilt and did some volunteer time.

MK: That's good, so, you put down that you're somewhat self taught, but it sounds like you had the members in your family to help you, too.

DB: Well, yeah, except that when I first started I was in Minneapolis and nobody lived up there.

MK: Oh, okay.

DB: [laughs.] So, there were some phone calls I'm sure that to get something and what we started with was pretty easy. There was no piecing. There was no quilting. We just tied them together.

MK: Right, yeah.

DB: But that got me into making the first pieced quilt I made was an Irish Chain.

MK: Oh.

DB: Blue and yellow and I quilted that on the frame and I'm sorry to say it's now the batting for another quilt, it kind of didn't last as long as it should have. [laughs.]

MK: So it's being recycled?

DB: It got recycled as the batt [batting.] of a quilt that I really like and [laughs.] so I had read about that and it had a nice drape to it and I thought, 'Well heck, I hate to get rid of the whole thing. Maybe I can slipcover it.' And I did so that was fun. The second one I made was a baby blocks in a pyramid. I'd seen it in the Dutton Quilt Engagement Calendar [E.P. Dutton, New York.] and everybody laughs when I tell this story, but the reason I made it is because I wasn't going to pay $50.00 for a new bedspread. [both laugh.] So what, $50,000 later [laughs.] and I still do have that quilt.

MK: Oh that's nice.

DB: Yes.

MK: So you use quilts in your house for beds and decorations?

DB: Yes, we each have our own quilt to watch TV under, my husband and I and then we have two quilts on our bed, and then one hanging and then small quilts hanging, not so much here, I've got room for one. We live in a condo which is very small and then it's all windows too, which isn't a thing to complain about, but there's not much room to spread out a quilt on a wall. But in the other houses I've lived in, people would walk through my house and go, 'Hmm, are you into quilting or something?' [MK laughs.] Because there would be one in every room. [laughs.]

MK: That seems to be a trait of quilters.

DB: Yes, yes.

MK: What is your first quilt memory?

DB: [laughs,] I would say, when you said that, what I thought of was sitting in my living room in the townhouse in Minnesota and having the quilt spread out, the sheets, spread out on the frame in my--we couldn't reach the center, but we found my nephew--before he found his job, of course, was with me all the time, and so I would poke the needle down and he would take it and then he'd poke the needle back up [both laugh.] and I don't know why I ever allowed this, but he was a smoker and I remember seeing smoke billowing out from underneath the quilt frame [laughs.] so that didn't last too long. [laughs.]

MK: No smoking around quilts.

DB: No, no smoking around me. [laughs.]

MK: Yeah. How does quiltmaking impact your family or, that's kind of a strange question, but.

DB: Oh, I think like any family that's grown up with quilts, they take them kind of for granted. Mary Ellen Hopkins in one of her classes that I took said, 'Don't save your quilts for your children, your children are going to sell them for a ski lift ticket. [both laugh.] Use the ones you want and pass them on to friends and anybody who you think would really appreciate it.' My kids thought that they were deprived if they didn't have a double-sized quilt to wrap in while we were watching cartoons. It was just they liked them. They still like them. My son will every once in a while try to sneak something that needs--that is just shreds back in to be repaired, and so they really like them. I tried to get my daughter started this last Christmas. That there was a kit from Pine Needle up in Lake Oswego that she liked and it was nothing like I have. It was very wild fabrics and wild colors, electric green and purple. So I bought her the kit and we made, we sewed the pairs of the blocks, they were just ten inch squares and we sewed them into twosies and I pinned them and I said 'Okay now, you ready for foursies?' Well, a month passed, two months passed, four months passed. I snuck them out of the house and I finished it for her. [both laugh.] But until that time every time I saw her she said, 'Oh make me this. Make me that. Make this for Paetyn. I want this for our couch,' and not realizing how much work go into quilts 'cause she'd always had it.

MK: Right.

DB: So, now even though I finished it for her, I'm not getting that every time I go, [both laugh.] so it did the job whether she finished it or not.

MK: Oh that's good. Well maybe she'll get into it someday.

DB: She might. She's got two children under three so, she's a little busy now too. [laugh.]

MK: That does kind of limit your time.

DB: Yes. it does.

MK: What do you find pleasing about quiltmaking? What draws you to it?

DB: Just about everything. I love working with the fabrics. I love running my eyes over the quilts, looking at contrast and the light and the dark flowing across. I love the feeling of it around me and I love designing or even seeing a pattern on paper and then, putting your own fabrics and your own touches to it and then seeing it finished, it's so rewarding I think. I don't particularly get a lot of accolades from family members, like 'Oh, another quilt,' but I really do enjoy working on it.

MK: That's great. Do you--obviously use them for gifts too.

DB: Yes. I think almost everybody in our family has a quilt that I have made, out to my sisters and my mom, of course, has several. My mom now has macular degeneration so she can't work on quilts anymore, but all those years we made wall quilts and if it wasn't me doing it, it was my fabric going into it for her and when we moved her into an independent living center, she turned to me and she goes, 'I had no idea I sewed so many quilts' [both laugh.] and I looked at all those quilts I'd made her and I said, 'I didn't either,' [both laugh.] so it was such a strong memory of her. She just figured she had done them which isn't a bad thing to think.

MK: That's fine.

DB: Yeah.

MK: I think that's a good use of quilts.

DB: Yes. [laughs.]

MK: What are your favorite techniques and materials? You talked a little bit about scrappy look.

DB: Yes, I like patch work. I only do blanket stitch appliqué on my machine, for appliqué. I've tried [laughs.] and I always have some stupid thread or some stupid point that won't shape and so, it's just not worth the hassle, [laughs.] so I just do wonder under, windowpane and then blanket stitching on the machine, kind of a folk art appliqué, but my true love is patchwork and scrap quilts. One of my favorite patterns is the Nine Patch. I think I've made twenty different Nine Patches with different layouts with them and I'm no where near the end of that series. I really enjoy that. I enjoy paper piecing. I made a New York Beauty, using paper piecing arc.

MK: Arcs.

DB: And I like that. There's hardly any patchwork that I don't like. I just led a group of non-quilters to make a quilt for the wife of a friend who has breast cancer, and we made a Checkerboard quilt with a self-bordering checkerboard too, and it turned out really nice and they all stuck right to it, and we were able to do it because it was so simple.

MK: So have you ever used quilts to get you through difficult times?

DB: Yes. [laughs.] Almost every difficult time that I run into I head for the quilts.

MK: [laughs.] They can be comforting.

DB: Yes they can.

MK: Describe your place where you work and create. [laughs.]

DB: Ah. Well, we live in a small condo now, as I said. I'm still trying to feel my space out [laughs.]. We have one spare room, there's no straight walls in it, it's just strange, and so I do have my books and my supplies and the UFOs [unfinished objects.], of course, in a bookcase in there. We then have three other bookcases with plastic bins. I did fall in love with Ikea when I moved here [laughs.] that I put all the stash in and that's out in the dining room where we had room to put them underneath a bar ledge or the kitchen counter ledge. So when I start sewing in this house, it all comes out. It's everywhere. [laughs.] When I was designing a scrap quilt for my son's wedding quilt coming up this next summer, I tore out blues and whites and greens and yellows and oranges and reds and cut and cut for two days. You cut off a strip and you'd throw the big piece down on the floor and then later on you'd spend forty-five minutes folding these back up. And on the dining room table, everywhere, on the kitchen counter and at the end of it, I had about a six inch stack of each color, of two inch strips and my husband couldn't believe I could make that big of a mess to come up with just that little bit of fabric. I'd bring my sewing machine out to the dining room table and I sit there to sew. It's not ideal. I've always had a sewing room before, but the view from the dining room table is much better then the view from this back room. [laughs.]

MK: Yeah.

DB: So, we're making do. It does make me clear up before each meal, at least down to one end of the table or the other. I never understood women who, quilters, who would say, 'Oh, you know I'd like to sew, you know, for fifteen minutes a day, but I just don't want to get my sewing machine out,' and I thought, 'Boy are you lazy.' Well, now I'm running into that one. Yeah, I just don't want to set up when I know I have to tear it back down so at any rate. We'll see. I'm looking for a table. I'm not exactly sure what we're going to do. How're going to fit this space, but I will quilt anyway no matter where I am. [laughs.]

MK: That's great. So you don't let it restrict you.

DB: Not that much, just when I'm tired.

MK: That's good. You have to manipulate. Yeah, I can understand that. Do you have a design wall then?

DB: I do. We have that double-size quilt rack in the spare room where the storage is and behind the quilt, I put up five feet of black felt and I pinned it to the wall, so when the quilt is hanging, you can't really see any of it, but all I have to do is drop the quilt down to the bottom and I've got a design wall that nobody knows is there.

MK: That's great. That's perfect.

DB: Yes, it's always set up unlike my sewing machine.

MK: Yeah. So you can be putting things together.

DB: Yes.

MK: You talked a little bit about this group where you made the quilt for your friend with breast cancer. Have you done any other teaching?

DB: Yes, when we lived in New Jersey, so this was back when my son was four, I taught for the Community Education Program in our community and I taught a beginning quilt class. Although we didn't do samplers very much, we did a few blocks at the beginning and then we were able to look through my library of books for simple patterns and then they picked one and they made their own quilt, for the rest of that time. They may not have known very much about every pattern, but they knew a lot about the one that attracted them. So, at the end of each class, we would have these wonderful shows where every quilt was totally different, in different colors.

MK: Oh my.

DB: Different techniques and it looked really fun. I'd have to say probably a quarter of the students took the class again the next year, just to make another quilt so we had a lot of fun.

MK: How many students did you have in your class?

DB: I usually ran twelve or so? And it was.

MK: That was a good size group.

DB: Yeah, yeah, it was. And when we're not making the same quilt, it certainly was.

MK: Right.

DB: But, it was when rotary cutting was kind of new and so we had to learn that technique and, you know, how to pick fabrics, the old spotty, viney and geometric [laughs.] fabrics in each quilt and anyway we had a really good time. They were kind of upset when I moved out of that town [laughs.] so that was the end of that experience. I have done workshops and mini lessons at the retreats we held in Nebraska. Then, my small group and I were invited to Iowa to present a trunk show of what we did as a group together. We had challenges every year and so we got to do that. We earned store credit [laughs.] which we immediately spent.

MK: Talk about that, tell us about that.

DB: There was a group of us and we met every--let's see, our guild met on Monday night and then there was an evening workshop that met on another Monday night. That left us with two Monday nights a month and you can't get hooked on television two Monday nights a month, so we decided we would meet the alternate Mondays and we were sitting around and didn't really have a name for ourselves, and we were looking at a quilt and this woman said, 'You know I tried to make a two colored quilt. I really did, but unbelievably this red snuck right in and there it is in the quilt and now it's not a two colored quilt anymore,' and someone looked at her and said, 'Well, scrap happens.' We all looked at each other and said, 'That's the name.' [both laugh.] So Scrap Happens was born. We usually ran between eight to twelve people and we did lots of different challenges to each other. We would take a theme and say, 'Okay, let's see what you can do with this?' We exchanged blocks several times. We did kind of a round robin. They are still doing this without me you realize, this is hard to talk about, but we ended up with very interesting quilts because we each had our own little take on it. When the small group that was on the fourth Monday night met at a rest home in their common area, once a year we would do a show in the common area for the residents to make up for taking up their card playing room and Scrap Happens put one of their challenges in where we each made blocks for each other and one woman had taken every block but one and cut it into strips and put it around this sunflower. So this woman was looking at all these different quilts with sunflowers on it and she said, 'Deary, does every quilt have to have a sunflower on it these days?'[laughs.] So that was one of them and two of the friends had family in Creston, Iowa, and they would take back what they were working on and say, 'Well this was part of the challenge that we're doing with Scrap Happens,' and so the store said, 'Well, we really need to have Scrap Happens come and show us these in total.' So that's how we got our road trip. [both laugh.]

MK: This sounds exciting.

DB: It was a great group and it still is.

MK: Now you said too that you're going to be teaching something next year?

DB: Yes. I get to go to Mary's River Guild and show them how to make postcards. I got into postcards on the web and by joining a group on the web and I belong to Stash Busters through Yahoo which is a great group about using up your fabrics that you have and finishing UFOs. We started a fabric postcard exchange and we exchange like four times a year and from that I was invited to another group that does it more often and in bigger batches of them. So I had been doing that before I left Nebraska and I got some gals in Scrap Happens to start making them too and when I moved, it was really fun to have these online groups because there was a group that was going to move with me. I wasn't leaving them behind. They were going to be here as soon as I got my computer set up. So one day going down to Bayshore [Oregon.] which is our weekly group here, I took my postcards just to show people and someone from Mary's River Guild was there and she goes, 'Oh, oh, will you bring these up and tell us about them?' And I said, 'Okay,' and didn't think anything more of it and about six months later we were contacted and so I get to go up next March. We're really praying for good weather to get across the mountains. [both laugh.]

MK: Well that will be a fun experience.

DB: It will. I think it will.

MK: It would be fun to have you do that for our guild so do you have pictures or quilt patterns that have been published?

DB: No, I do not. I have had friends who have approached me to say, 'Why don't you come in with me and do this?' And it was just too much work with the job I had, so I didn't.

MK: But you said you've had some in--

DB: Yes, when I was teaching for the Community College, I was featured in the newspaper in the town to advertise for it and then I'm in Better Homes and Gardens.

MK: Are you?

DB: Yes, it's just amazing not for quilting and goodness sakes not for a clean house, but [laughs.] for having half-year birthday parties [laughs.] and when it came out again--I was interviewed years before it actually came out, and when it came out I told my mother-in-law, 'Guess what? I'm in Better Homes and Gardens,' and she said 'Well, not for your house.' [laughs] And I thought, 'Thank you, thank you very much,' and it wasn't. [both laugh.] So I have been published, but not for quilting in that case.

MK: And do you have a collection of quilting or sewing memorabilia?

DB: Yes, I have a collection of quilts. I have about five to ten antique quilts; mostly come through our family different ways and Rick's family, and some I bought at garage sales or at antique stores, and then most of the quilts that I made, probably half of them I still own, so they're in there. And then you start collecting sewing birds, [laughs.] the tomato pin cushions, a nice sewing basket that you see here or there, so that's the type of collection that I have.

MK: Sounds like fun. And have you won awards?

DB: I have won ribbons at the State Fair in Nebraska. One of my quilts won a blue ribbon for the best group quilt and it was a Scrap Happens quilt, so there we go, and in general that's been the extent of my award winning was the State Fair, but it is pretty competitive there.

MK: It definitely is. That's true. And have you ever participated in a quilt history preservation project?

DB: Well, I am participating in our guild's documentation. Is that about the same thing?

MK: Uh huh.

DB: So, and then participating today, so

MK: Right.

DB: Yes, some of my quilts were documented in Nebraska and then I will have three documented by next week because we documented the church Fan quilt at the study group, when it was here and then this lighthouse quilt, and then one of my grandmother's Pine Tree quilts will be documented next Saturday.

MK: Oh good. That will be fun to see those too.

DB: I think so, yeah.

MK: Did you work--now you had talked about what you did in Nebraska, in Lincoln, with the Alliance, did you have some connection with that too?

DB: Our guild, the Alliance, was just coming to Nebraska when I was moving and so our guild was instrumental in helping with the [International.] Quilt Study Center that was just built last spring. We raised enough money to sponsor the Reading Room that's in there. [the Guild placed ads in national quilt magazines asking for donations. they received many donations from friends across the country.] I think it was $250,000 that we raised to do this Reading Room and when we got the VIP tour, of course, which was really exciting to go into the building first and I was riding up the elevator with a group of ladies and went into the Reading Room and we looked around and they told us about it and all that and we got back in the elevator and one of the women said, 'Well, $250,000 doesn't buy what it used to.' [both laugh.] So that was the main things that we were doing there before they got the new building built.

MK: That's amazing. So what did you do to raise that money?

DB: We had raffles of small things. We sponsored--I'm trying to think how it was--like a sew-in that we got sponsors that paid for to make charity quilts, and I don't know there were lots of little things. There was no giant thing. Nothing that brought in more than a couple of thousand, but we just kept doing them and doing them and doing them.

MK: Until you got $250.000.

DB: Yeah. And then we also had auctions of sewing things that we donated for auctions and garage sales. It's kind of amazing we came up with that much. Lincoln had sponsored or hosted NQA [National Quilt Association, Inc.] in, I think, '92. It was in Lincoln, Nebraska, so the guild had a large stash of money that we'd earned by doing that and so that kind of gave us the first part. I think the guild probably put in half of that, the other half was what we earned looking forward to it. Yes.

MK: Whose works are you drawn to and why? What quilt artists?

DB: I think that there's quite a few that I'm drawn to, but I would never make. Hollis, that does the thread painting, Chatelain. Please look that up so we get it right for this.

MK: Okay. I'm not sure of the name so--

DB: Okay. [both laugh,] Her works are just haunting when you see them in person. You find it very hard to believe that it's just by thread, not anything that I would ever try to do. I'm attracted to antique quilts and again the patchwork and as far as designers out there I'd have to say that I like to follow Bonnie Hunter, who sponsors Quiltville on the web, and she does scrap quilting. I like Jo Morton, who is a Nebraskan quilter and author. Again she does a lot of the reproduction work so that's what I'm attracted to. What I actually make kind of becomes a hybrid of what I've seen. In fact, I got into a lot of trouble in Nebraska with my groups when we would be making a group project and we'd all be doing the same pattern and mine wouldn't look anything like anybody else's at the end of it. And so they'd kind of gotten used to it, but they still gave me a hard time about it.

MK: Was that because of color choices or fabric choices?

DB: Yes, and that when we were doing a Kindred Spirit earth quilt and they did a lot of embroidery and I didn't really want to do the embroidery and so I took the secondary block and put in something else and so while they hung together mine didn't look like it went with the rest of them, but it did start from the same blocks. I like Lori Smith also who's a designer now and she does a lot of small things that fit into like a poster frame. Hers are very, very intricate patterns and Scrap Happens did one of her patterns. Together we exchanged fabrics and stuff and were making a Star Medallion called "Reminisce" and mine is still in progress, but four of them are done. [laughs.]

MK: That's pretty great. [laughs.] What do you think makes a quilt artistically powerful?

DB: I think, obviously, it's how it views from afar. That if it moves your eyes from afar and it's striking and it can almost feel like it's an art object from far away and then as you come closer, then all that texture and the movement within the fabrics draws you in and kind of surrounds you at that point, but I'd say it's probably that first visual impact is what attracts me to quilts. If you see a quilt and you think you know everything about it within two seconds, it's not really what you would consider art quilting anyway. You know I think a quilt, to be interesting, has to bring you back to go, 'Now wait a minute, how'd she do that?' Or 'Wait a minute is that actually next to that?' Or, 'How's this pieced together?' Or 'What is the quilting that's bringing out this?' You know it's the secrets of the quilt that keep you coming, but it's that visual impact that brings you over to it to begin with.

MK: You can take that and use it even with your scrap quilts.

DB: Oh, definitely scrap quilts. Yes, because it's that interplay of fabric that looks like it might be the same fabric, but it isn't.

MK: Right.

DB: Gets very striking when you get close.

MK: Why is quiltmaking so important in your life?

DB: I think it's something that I can control. [laughs.] That sounds kind of strange, but it's a decision I make and it's a project that I do and I see it through to the end and it stays that way. It's not like housework or raising children where, you know, it's just, you don't have much control [laughs.] so I like that, it's an artistic outlet. Even if it's just a Nine Patch you're doing it your way, you're doing it different than the next person who might have the same fabrics even. And it's a way to share something with someone else.

MK: Okay, yeah, I agree with that. What do you think about the importance of quilts in just American life and in women's history in America?

DB: I think quilts played a giant part, portion of the history of women, especially women who moved to the west. It was pretty much their only outlet to get together, otherwise they were way too busy to take time to just sit and have coffee, but if they were able to say I need to go over and we're going to frame a quilt, that was considered work, so they could sit and talk and have coffee and still be quote, unquote working so that no one could say well you didn't pull your fair share or you've just been sitting around all day or anything like that. So I think, in the time before photography as being as common as it is now, when somebody moved, you might not ever see them again, you might not have a picture of them, but if they made you a quilt block, then you could always remember them with that.

MK: You get that warm feeling.

DB: Yeah, you've got a piece of them.

MK: Yeah, that's pretty important. I didn't ask you this, this is one question I think is interesting too, how do you feel about machine quilting versus hand quilting versus longarm quilting?

DB: Oh boy [both laugh.] we're going to end with the big question aren't we.

MK: [laughs.] We'll do a few more. [both laugh.]

DB: I think they all have their place, I enjoy machine quilting, I enjoy hand quilting, but, there's only so much time and if I want to finish things that are started already, then I need not to hand quilt king-sized quilts. They just take way too long for me and my hands are getting a little arthritic with age and everything, and longarm quilting has come an extremely long way. I remember when I first saw it, it looked like a mattress pad [laughs.] basically, and boy, what they do with the longarms now-a-days is just truly amazing and you know they take as much time to learn that as we took to learn anything else.

MK: Right.

DB: And, so, I am a fan of all three.

MK: Yeah, I think that's appropriate [both laugh.] What do you think is the biggest challenge confronting quiltmakers today?

DB: Time, I think has always been the biggest challenge for quilters. I also think keeping the next generation interested in it is more of a challenge now. Before you could pretty much tell your child 'you will do this' and they did it. Now your child is way too busy, that if they don't like something, it's really hard to force them into it, etc. I would love to have my daughter want to be a quilter. I don't know if she will. She's real, she's a painter and does folk art work and so it would segue very nicely into quilting. We'll see--

MK: It definitely would.

DB: What happens. My granddaughter is three right now and I think that we're going to have to make a doll quilt at least by the time she's five, but we'll see if that stays too.

MK: I think that's a good way to start. [both laugh.] Is there anything else you'd like to add to the interview that you think is important that we haven't covered?

DB: I think we have covered almost anything. I think you can tell a quilter when you start something and she's already thinking of the next project. A lot of people come and they say, 'Oh, I think I can quilt' and they'll start something and maybe they'll finish it and maybe they won't, but they're not thinking of what the next thing is going to be. I think my favorite cartoon was in a Quilter's Newsletter way long time ago and it was a woman laying underneath a quilt dreaming of another quilt, dreaming of another quilt, dreaming of another quilt. I think that's the difference between a quilter and someone who's just trying it out and it won't stick.

MK: Yeah, that's a really good analogy. I like that [laughs.]

DB: Well, I dream of a lot of quilts [laughs]

MK: I think I do too [laughs.] So I think basically that's going to conclude our interview today and I'd like to thank you, Doni, for allowing me to interview you as part of the Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories, and our interview concluded at 2:30 on November 3.

DB: And thanks to the DAR for doing this.

MK: You're welcome.

[interview concludes.]


“Doni Boyd,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed November 30, 2023,