Suzanne Staud




Suzanne Staud


Karen Musgrave interviews Suzanne Staud, a quilt maker, for the Quilt Alliance's Quilters' S.O.S. Project. Staud discusses her personal contributions to the Quilt Alliance's raffle quilt for their 2003 conference in San Francisco, California. She talks about her inspiration for the quilt, Harriet Powers, and her love of folk art. She details individual parts of her quilt and the inspirations for each part. She then talks about her personal feelings about the raffle quilt as a whole and further details how she was influenced by folk artist Harriet Powers.




Decorative arts
Crafts & decorating
Textile artists
Creative ability
Folk art


Suzanne Staud


Karen Musgrave

Interview sponsor

Nancy O'Bryant Puentes


San Francisco, CA


Karen Musgrave


[Suzanne was quite tired and had an hour drive home so it was agreed that the interview would be only 15 minutes. Tape begins with Suzanne talking.]

Suzanne Staud (SS): Quilts matter.

Karen Musgrave (KM): I have to do a brief announcement. This is Karen Musgrave. I'm conducting a Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories interview with Suzanne Staud. It is 9:08 in the evening and I'm in San Francisco. So, tell me about your contribution to The Alliance raffle quilt.

SS: It's Staud. [loud ping noise made by something hitting one of the glasses of water.]

KM: Oh, Staud. Oh, I'm sorry.

SS: That's okay.

KM: I did do it right tonight when I talked about you.

SS: That's okay. [laughs.] That's good. I've known Yvonne [Porcella.] for years and I've done two of her business cards. She came to me with this brochure project. [clears throat.] I love folk art. In my folk art books are all these quilts that are considered folk art. So, in my collection I found a small part about Harriet Powers and I loved the colors that she used. They were natural, earthy. The quilts were about people. You know black people linking together generations. Nature - the flowers, the sun, the moon and the stars, fruit and all of that. So, [clears throat.] on the brochure cover, [The Alliance for American Quilts brochure that SS designed.] using the quilt Harriet Powers designed for inspiration, said to me history. That's why I have the word history going up the side of the brochure there [pointing to the brochure.] with just that proportion and whenever I see that schoolhouse block style of quilt. Is that a schoolhouse quilt? [KM softly in the background hums yes.] That to me immediately says quilt. I don't know how other people feel about it but I wanted this brochure to say quilt right away, so it's [schoolhouse blocks] up in the left corner very prominent. Then I have a little pin cushion--this was all done on the computer; I have scanning capability so I took my pin cushion and just put it in the scanner and scanned it. I didn't take a photo of it. I left all the little pins it in and used that. I called on things that I had seen Yvonne use and things that I've used myself with my--I use to do fabric sculptures. But plaid--all of a sudden I thought plaid would be a really neat thing to do because you see that in quilts. The 'Quilts Matter' that was--I did a big play off the 'Q' on this cover as being not only quilt but stands for quality, and the M that I used on it, it's a different style type. It's kind of scripty. I just love the way that looked kind of-- [someone walks into room and says, 'oh' and walks out.] It looked kind of E=mc2? that kind of thing. I thought it looked kind of intelligent. [SS and KM laugh.] I just like the touch of that and they are overlaid. They were overlapping causing layering. And I actually used a button that I found in my grandmother's button box after she died she left to me. The box had extraordinary buttons in it. So, I scanned that and used it, as a part of my history. The bird and the nest and the eggs are again about nature, and part of that bird is actual fabric that I had and scanned. And I tried to make the leaf become the bird's wing in a way. And the one thing that I noticed in older quilts is nature was a big--it played a big part in how they beautified their homes in their quilts. And you know it still continues. The thing that I like best about this brochure is the layering, the 'cover us' came out of just that. That it was layering. As I was putting this together was actually--almost like I was putting together a quilt and covering myself. Then I thought, 'Cover us would be like asking people to please help us preserve these American quilts and to preserve art which they are.' And then, let's see. The chest--the treasure chest is just an idea the quilts are treasures, so many treasures to be told and to know about the quilts. And let's see. And then the computer--you haven't heard about the computer but--

KM: Everything is online.

SS: Yes, all online now and this whole job was done on the computer. I mean I do my fine art on the computer. I do painting roughs on the computer and then I enlarge them on canvas.

KM: How small are they?

SS: Oh, they are a thumb nail.

KM: That's what I heard.

SS: They can be just tiny, but they are--they are concise or very intricate. They are nearly how it's going to look when it's completed. As a matter of fact, many times I will show my clients a rough first--and they don't even see it in color, they see it in pencil and very small. But I can--I do little call outs indicating (with arrows) that this is what this is going to be, and this is the color it will be. I didn't do it this way for The Alliance brochure because I felt that I knew them well enough to go ahead and just do it the way I would like to see it done. And I think that's about it. All I can think of.

KM: How do you feel about the quilt?

SS: Oh, the quilt is excellent. It is just excellent. It's a--I remember Yvonne telling me what it was all about. What you were doing here this evening with that quilt but I had forgotten in the process of coming from Modesto to San Francisco. I was all harried about not getting here on time then I was an hour late. I was way in the back of the room, so I didn't hear a lot of the description, but when Yvonne took me up close and showed me exactly what was going on I was just thrilled with what she did with the whole--taking parts of the brochure and applying them to the quilt and parts of herself and it really does cover you, so it's excellent. I love--it looks like Yvonne's quilt. I don't
know if that was the goal because I know other people contributed to the whole thing but there are a lot of surprising elements that I love in - fabrics that were selected that are so rich and they look like bead work some of them. Some of them look like pieces of treasure that you could find in a treasure trove. I wanted to touch it. It's just wonderful. Yeah. [note: KM chose all the fabrics in the quilt.]

KM: Tell me more about the quilt that you drew inspiration from.

SS: This one here the Harriet Powers?

KM: Yes, Harriet Powers.

SS: It's been too long. I would have to have that book in front of me. I do have it at home but that's in Modesto. It was a little--almost a little prologue to this quilting book or this folk art book about her and it had a couple old color photos of her quilts and I loved the natural colors -I don't usually use in my art. My art is more like Yvonne's. It's very colorful--my graphic design. Harriet's work was--of course it's probably faded as it's aged but it's so beautiful with natural colors. She was working with a lot of browns. You can see that. Amazing woman.

KM: Do you have any idea when this was--

SS: No.

KM: Okay

SS: Sorry.

KM: It's okay we can get that information later.

SS: There is so much I don't know about quilting but I'm getting there being good friends with Yvonne.

KM: I want to thank you for your time and for your contribution because it was appreciated.

SS: It was my pleasure.

KM: I will conclude this interview. [tape ends.]

Interview Keyword

Folk artists
Artistic influences
Personal contributions
Creative processes
Women in quilting



“Suzanne Staud,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed June 16, 2024,