Yvonne Porcella

Photos

QSOS_011_a.jpg

Title

Yvonne Porcella

Description

Porcella was originally a sewer and weaver before she got into quilting. This background helped her to focus on the colors and fabrics more. She is very traditional and consistent in her methods. She claims that her creativity stems from her observation skills that she learned from her nurse's training. She also talks about her books, and her evolution as an artist.

Identifier

QSOS-011

Subject

Quilting
Sewing
Appliqué
Crib quilts
Machine quilting
Patchwork quilts
Portraits on quilts
Quilting--Vocational guidance
Quiltmakers
Sewing machines

Interviewee

Yvonne Porcella

Interviewer

Jeri Baldwin

Interview Date

10/22/1999

Interview sponsor

Mary Masal

Location

Houston, Texas

Transcriber

Jeri Baldwin

Transcription

Jeri Baldwin (JB): I'm Jeri Baldwin and I am with the Save Our Stories Quilting Project and it is my pleasure to be with Yvonne Porcella this morning who is going to answer some questions about her stories in quilting. Yvonne is number eleven on our Project. It is also 11:18 a.m. on the 22 day of October. Good morning, we are very glad to have you come, and it's my pleasure to meet you. These are wonderful samples that you have spread out here on the table. Would you tell us something about these samples that are here?

Yvonne Porcella (YP): This was a class I was teaching here at the 1999 Quilt Festival in Houston Texas, and my emphasis as a teacher is to bring creativity into the lives of my students. I find myself complimenting them on any small step they make because I want to encourage them to make their own art form. So this is a very quick and spontaneous method of designing something that's quite pleasing, without failure, which is important to a student. I brought two samples which are small pieces two images, one of faces and one of flowers. The faces are--the class was titled "Flexible Fusible Fantasy Fabric Pictures," meaning that I wanted the student to be flexible, and to make a fantasy fabric picture with a fusible method so that they could just quickly clip out elements and fuse them onto a background. So what I did with this one is I started with a face first. It was very interesting because a student came up to me and told me that it was a beautifully structured class, six hour class, and we did the faces in the morning and they all were successful. Because they know their own face and they know the structure of their face and they didn't have to replicate that but rather they could do something fantasy-like with the elements of the nose and eyes. I showed them how to break those up design sections. After lunch they did a floral piece, which I encouraged them to think up a fantasy of a shape of a flower as if they were going out to pick flowers, and then make the head of the flower, build it as in a vase and add the foliage and the stems. They had much more difficulty with that than with the faces. They didn't complete the flowers as well as they completed the faces. I thought that was a very interesting feedback for me as the teacher.

JB: What got you to the point of wanting to do the faces? What was the route that you followed that got you to doing faces with your students?

YP: I started, in my career, my first art quilt was done in the 1980, but I actually was an artist from the late middle 1960's, and I used to make dolls. I'm fascinated by the paper cut-out doll we had as children; the joints were fastened with those little brass fasteners that you pull the ends across, and how you could articulate these figures. So in the exhibition "America's 100 Best Quilts Of The Century," I have a quilt in there which is based on that articulated figure, as in a paper cut-out figure, and that quilt is faceless other than a shape for the head, shape for the arms and the legs. It is a story about how I fell getting up from my sewing machine and damaged my knee and had to have surgery. The quilt is about my therapy, my physical therapy, of recovery. It's a very bright and spontaneous and a very happy quilt. I had already done [several] figure quilts, and then I moved my studio which for an artist is a very traumatic experience and I did a figure again, but this time the figure was not attached but rather exploding, as if I was coming apart in this move. Then I did another quilt with a face but only profile, nose and eyes and mouth, as in a futurist figure, a large piece, that quilt went to Poland for an International Invitational Exhibition. I decided this last January it was time to do some faces, and so I thought of myself and what mood I was in and I began to build my own self in these pieces. I've done fourteen of them for myself. They've turned into a series of men's portraits and women's portraits, so it's gone away from the self portraits and more into--fantasy where the figure actually builds itself. I did a television interview for the "Wisconsin Public Television Americas Quilts Documentaries," and they came to my studio, the interviewers and the cameras, and I created one of these faces and seeing that as an audience after I had created it, to me it was an amazing process. How this has developed, and I called in my mind--as I was creating it on camera I thought I should call it "Stress," because I was working under pressure.

JB: Amusing, well let's drop back just a minute and find out when did you begin to quilt? The very first quilt that you remember?

YP: I came from a tradition of needlework and sewing and I made my first garment when I was nine. I made dolls with my mother and I learned to knit and my grandmother, my French grandmother, was an exquisite embroiderer and a crochet artist. I mean she crocheted tablecloths, but never any quilts in my family. In 1962 my husband was invited to a wedding that was a very important wedding and I called my mother and I said, 'I am going to make a quilt as a wedding present and can you help me?' As a child my mother had appliquéd a Sun Bonnet Sue Coverlet which was tied, which was on my bed and that's the only quilt that my mother had made. So my mother said to me, 'You don't understand it takes a life time to make a quilt", and I said "We have three weeks.' By the time she got to my house I had pieced the top in sort of a rail fence design and then I said, 'What do I do next?' She said we have to put a filler in between so we went out and bought a sheet, a flannel sheet and a white cotton sheet and we put the three layers together, turned the edges over and tied the quilt and got it done in the three week deadline. Thank God there is not pictorial documentation of that quilt. Then in the mid 60's we were invited to be god parents and I don't know where. I had been making wearable art. I was a weaver at that time and into making my own clothes. I don't know where I got the courage, but when I made this god child's quilt I used a white pique fabric and there was a print on it, with turquoise and purple bouquets of flowers, and I laid that over another piece of white pique with flannel in between because my mother always used flannel, and I quilted it with black thread. Now can you imagine I stitched around all those bouquets of flowers with black thread? Can you imagine that I stitched with black thread? I was so confident in my ability to stitch. So that's the second quilt I made. The third quilt I made was a family group quilt that was a gift for my sister-in-law for their first child, and the child was born on the fourth of July, she was due in July, so each one of the family members made a red, white and blue block. My mother-in-law never forgave me for tying her to a chair over Memorial Day Weekend that year to put those blocks together. My niece still has it on her bed. So that was awfully nice, but those were the only three quilts that I have ever done but you have to understand I had been doing weaving, in public spaces and I had been doing wearables that were in galleries, so the first quilt conference where I taught was "Road To California" in 1979. The reason they asked me to teach was I had done books on wearable art in the 1970's. They knew my work, and I, at that time I was teaching what I call collage clothing. So I went to this conference and they said, 'Would you put a piece in the teachers' exhibit?' And I thought, well, I only make garments, I can do that. I didn't know anything about quilting, so I made what I thought was a nine patch and I put it on one sleeve and I put a nine patch on the other, and I thought I better put a batting in this thing so I went to the store and bought a batting. When I finished the garment, if you wanted to wear it you would have to have both arms stretched out from your body because it won't bend because the padding was too thick. Then I got to this quilters conference and I found out. The other thing was that I had hand appliquéd this bird on the garment and I found that if you put your arms down you would have not seen this bird, because it was under your arm! Then I realized that when I got there that my nine patch was, nobody knew it was a nine patch, it looked like nine squares sewn together, so I sewed a heart over it hoping it would distract people from the fact that it wasn't a true nine patch.

JB: So your route to quilting was sort of by hit and miss?

YP: It was of an artistic expression, not necessarily from tradition.

JB: But you got there and that's what is important.

YP: Yes, that's right.

JB: Let's go back to these wonderfully colorful samples that you've got here on our table, faces and the flowers. How did you decide to use the bright colors? Are these your favorite colors or are these your student's favorite colors? Or I mean I'm interested in the combinations of the colors. Talk to me a little about how you chose these particular colors.

YP: When I was a weaver I taught myself how to weave. In 1963, I borrowed a small 12 inch tabletop school loom, 2 Harness, and I went into Woolworth's and I bought crochet thread and knitting yarn because I was a knitter, and I started weaving across this weft. I took the whole loom to the local weaver's guild and I said, 'I don't have any color.' And they said, 'Well, did you twist the two threads together? Did you twist the warp and the weft threads together?' I said, 'No,' and they said, 'Go home and twist those threads together.' So when I twisted those threads together I got gray because the values of the two threads, I used pink and green, the two threads were so close that you didn't see any color at all so I went back to the store and I bought darker value threads. I came home and wove seven yards of fabric 12 inches wide and I made a skirt and a top. I won a ribbon the first time I exhibited it and that is why I learned bright colors show up better. So as a weaver and as an attempt to educate myself about pattern, designing, color, I invested a lot of time into collecting ethnic textiles. The ones that appealed to me were the ones that were beautiful and colorful, Guatemalan fabrics, and mostly fabrics were from Russia and in the Russian Steppes. I just gifted that whole collection to the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles, over two hundred objects of full costumes and textiles which I used as my inspiration. And so my color sense comes from knowing that my passion is the bright colors, but as you see I am wearing a garment that I have also made, but I have a duality in my artist career and that is hand painted fabrics which are pastel which satisfies my soft side and then my more up-lifted side is the bright colors. If one were to categorize me, I would say that I was a very positive, forward looking optimist, and I think that my quilts reflect that.

JB: I think they do, too. In fact, they are lovely, the colors are just wonderful but they look so incongruous, that it is so great to see them working together. They really work. And what other classes do you teach? Besides this one?

YP: It's interesting that I don't teach how to make a quilt because my whole emphasis as a teacher is to teach process and some projects. I teach wearable projects but in terms of quilt making I teach the process, because I feel it's important that students develop their own skills, and their own level of comfort in their designs themselves. So in 1979 when I started writing books I wrote books on costume patterns, clothing patterns without surface design, techniques or process so the same thing with my quilt teaching. For two classes I taught here, I taught fabric painting where I can guarantee you can make a beautiful piece of silk fabric in only three hours. I did that by an evolution. You have to understand my educational background. I have a degree in Science, I was a nurse for eighteen years, I was a weaver for eighteen years, and I approach my art work from a passion. I've educated myself on what I like and what I do and so I teach my students so that they can be successful in a short period of time. So when I started hand painting fabric it was simply a need to have a fabric that I wanted to use, a sort of soft pastel palette. I teach that. I teach how to paint soft fabrics and in the afternoon I taught how to do hand painted flowers, based on toning a piece of fabric and then bringing the flower out from it. Then they could then use that fabric to make in a quilt, by slicing it. I then said to my students, 'Don't look at the whole composition as a usable piece but rather small squares.' I taught a garment called "Totally Embellished Best" which has a lot of surface design on it and techniques. So we did techniques in the morning, and in the afternoon we designed the garments and then the next day there were three hours of faces, and three hours of garments.

JB: You have a quilt that is in the exhibit that is "America's 100 Best Quilts." Would you tell us a bit about that quilt?

YP: I told you briefly in the beginning of the interview how it was based on my stick figures and the fact I damaged my knee, and as I work further in my career I do less and less block work. I like to say to people, I only do three types of patchwork and I have managed to have a career where I was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1998, the Quilters Hall of Fame. I only know three quilt blocks and one is log cabin, one is one inch checkerboard and the third one is half square triangles. So that quilt in the 100 Best has appliquéd blocks, which I appliqué with the stick figure in various positions of movement. I set it like a log cabin and you can't tell where my log cabin block began or ended but I look upon it as making a center block and then bordering it with bars around and some times my bars might make up a quarter of the quilt as I am building a segment of the quilt which is based on a center block of an appliqué but it has irregular shaped bars. I do hand quilt and hand appliqué on my quilts. The small samples that I brought you are machine quilted because as an artist the concern is losing the spontaneity of the created moment. And so using this fusible and using machine stitching you can achieve this spontaneity a little more then you do it, when you do it by hand.

JB: Is your quilt in the 100 Best Quilts a full size quilt or is it a miniature size quilt?

YP: It's a little larger than a crib size quilt. I think it's 70 by 60, and it has had a lot of public exposure. It's interesting that last year it was in Japan at the "World Tokyo Quilt Expo" and it was part of an exhibition of eighty-eight leaders of the quilt world today and that quilt is in the catalog of the show--so I am very honored that it is here today.

JB: And we are very honored to get to hear you tell about it. Do you feel that that quilt most nearly expresses who you are as a quilter and as an artist?

YP: Well, I don't think that that quilt is the best that I have ever done and when you ask me what was my best quilt it's most likely the last one that I have done. But I do think as I have mentioned, my career has evolved from the first brides quilt that I made as a gift, to the first art quilt I made in 1980 which was basically strips of fabric and triangles and squares of fabric, and that quilt is in the Smithsonian Collection. And that was a great honor. But that quilt was so unique it was very colorful. That quilt also traveled around the world during the early 1980's, so the quilt has provenance. In other words, it has traveled to France for a year and traveled to Turkey, and so the Smithsonian acquired it because they wanted a quilt that. So there's a very emotional time of my life that says that must be the very best quilt because it's in our National Museum. But on the other hand, I've evolved from that point, so in 1998 I was invited to do a quilt for the International Triennial of Tapestry which hung in Lodz, Poland. That show is an Invitational of 120 Artists representing about fifty countries and they are invited to exhibit for six months in the Museum in the textile area of Poland. So for me that quilt, my quilt in that show is the coming together of my whole artistic career. I use to be a weaver. I use to weave tapestries. This was a show of the "International Triennial of Tapestries." So I went back to my roots as a weaver and historical significance of a tapestry which told the story. It tells the story of the history at that moment. We can go back as historians and look at the flora and fauna and the costumes, of that particular moment in time that's been showcased in the woven tapestry. I wanted my quilt that went to that show to be the sort of the dialogue of my place in this world at this moment done in quilt but with the concept of tapestry of telling a story. The quilt was done in 102 by 110 inches and done by hand. I laid the colors in and I stitched them by hand very much like I had that same mental and artistic feeling when I laid in the threads for my tapestries, but here my fabrics were large pieces, so the shapes were all reminiscent of what I have done as a weaver and building up areas of colors. The quilt is titled "Answering the Riddle" and I had proposed to myself questions about the Twentieth Century, and what do we take from the Twentieth Century, what happened in this century that will effect us in the next? The quilt has a lot of meaning to me because events and moments in time of the Twentieth Century are translated visually into that quilt, so that's my best.

JB: It sounds like it. What have you done with thinking about the Twentieth Century in your work and your teaching? What do you think you'll change, or will you want to change, or what do you want to leave the same? What are you going to take into the Twenty-first Century as a quilter and as a teacher?

YP: I'm still going to take the passion I have for doing it by hand. I'm going to take the passion of creating something totally for myself, that pleases myself, that comes from myself. I am not interested in scanning it on the computer. I am not interested in coloring it on the computer. Because to me the reason I am an artist, which was very difficult for me to even reach that point where that I can verbalize it because I was trained as a nurse. I was trained as a mother, as a grandmother and to be an artist was to say to people, 'Well, I think I am an artist although I am not academically trained.' But I have a passion and I know that if I don't do the work that I'd be unhappy. So for me the twenty-first century will be similar to the twentieth century because I will continue to work until I can no longer work. The wonderful part of being an artist is that the wonderful ideas never stop so the concept of the creativity that will be produced in the--however long I am going to live is very exciting to me.

JB: What is the thing you choose to do when you can do anything you want to?

YP: Oh, I work all the time in my studio.

JB: So there is no recreational time?

YP: Well, if basically I'm going to relax I'm going to be reading an article, but I do walk a lot and I do, I mean I'm social, I have a husband and grandchildren. Before I came here on Friday night I went to the football game of one of my grandchildren. My granddaughter who is in the third grade wants me to come to the third grade and give them a lesson in quilting because I did it, she said, 'Grandma, you did it for the fifth grade over there, why can't you do it for my school?' So I enjoy that and I enjoy my children immensely. I enjoy my grandchildren and I enjoy traveling, meeting people, so that's my pleasure.

JB: Are your grandchildren interested in learning the things that you teach?

YP: I just took my seventeen-year-old grandson on a trip that I was involved in as a teacher and as an artist. I took him to the Art Institute of Chicago, and I said, 'Honey, you're going to see some paintings in here that you may not understand right now, the significance of standing here in front of this painting with your grandmother, but I said when you get older you might.'. Well, last Friday night at the football game I said to his younger brother, 'Gee, Vince and I had a great time in Chicago,' and he said, 'Grandma, he pulled that up on the Internet and he showed us that painting you both stood in front of.' So that was really very special. My first born grandchild, when he was 14, I treated him to a--just he and I went to San Francisco to the Opera House and we heard Frederica Von Stade do a recital, and he was interested in the Opera House. We went from the basement on up to the top floor; we poked our heads in all the boxes. And that's the thing I get great pleasure out of doing and my granddaughters come and we have art camp at Grandma's.

JB: What happens at art camp at Grandma's?

YP: Well, I cover all of my table with plastic and I get out all of my paints. First they paint. I save the paintings, and then we take the plastic off and get out my scrap fabrics and I give them needles and threads. They create pillows and I let them make pillows first and stuff like that. Each one of my grandchildren has a quilt intended to be viewed on the wall, not on their bed, so I've made eleven grandchildren quilts.

JB: So you do a lot of quilting?

YP: Yes, I do.

JB: Do you teach adults or do you teach children? Do you teach professionally?

YP: I teach adults. I'm really fortunate to teach women who really enjoy me and my style in quilting. They say, 'I really love your colors,' and I think it's because, as you mentioned, the colors are bright and a lot of the people might be intimidated by using them. When they come to classes, and say, 'I've come to class and brought all the wrong fabrics.' I say, 'You didn't, you brought the fabrics that you love. I make my quilts with the fabrics that I love. So there is no wrong fabric and there is no fabric that I don't love so we'll make it work.'

JB: So it's nice to teach to people who are enthusiastic.

YP: Exactly. So what I have done is I go into the schools and I try to teach them about the geometry of quilt making. I usually start like maybe a 40 minute presentation. I start with the basic nine patch, and I show them the traditional nine patch, and I show them how I've taken the nine patch and evolved it into a contemporary quilt, like this quilt, like this sample that I brought. This is a four patch, but you can reduce it down, but for me it carries that tradition into a contemporary artist presentation, to have a little bit of a four patch.

JB: And a four patch being? What do you call this?

YP: That's chartreuse and this one is raspberry pink.

JB: I've heard other names used for these colors. I was wondering what you thought they were.

YP: Well, back in 1987 it was very difficult to find chartreuse or lime green fabric, and also orange fabrics. You only found orange fabrics during Halloween and they were printed on very awful fabric and they were made for Halloween costumes. Now, I think that is the only single thing that has changed and that is the availability of fabrics for quilt makers and I am sure that a number of us contemporary quilt makers were searching for fabrics to use and didn't want to have flower sacks or small calico prints. When I made wearable art, I literally stopped making wearable art because I couldn't find the fabrics that I wanted. Prints weren't big enough, weren't large enough, so then I went into decorator fabrics, so I could get that large scale print and now if you look at the availability of fabrics, if you go into a quilt shop it is overwhelming the number of choices that a quilt maker has. I think that's the single thing that has changed the types of quilts that we're seeing. I mean, you see Baltimore Albums made out of alternative fabrics like bright red colors on a black background but it is all the beautiful Baltimore Albums.

JB: What is your favorite fabric? The material?

YP: Cotton. Thank God for cotton, because I work with silk, and the garment I have on is silk, and it is pieced in on the inside. Every time you piece silk fabric, you say, 'Oh! Thank God, there's cotton.' Because it's not an easy fabric to use, silk isn't, but it's beautiful. Like this one is a mixture of silk and cotton, some of these elements in my floral bouquet, because of the light play, see how the light bounces off of this? You can tell that's the silk, and this is cotton, so it just gives you a different play, but this is done with fusible which is much easier.

JB: This you're speaking of, this wonderful poinsettia?

YP: This is my Christmas quilt, I did it at Christmas time and I call it "Still Life with Red Flower". It's a poinsettia with fantasy flowers again, purple and green, chartreuse and the stripe is nice here. And then, this one is also silk and cotton, it's this magenta silk. I love this silk because it has, notice the pattern, this fabric here and the fabric on the bottom are the identical same fabric turned upside down, turned backside up. So it was woven with a--you see you'd have to be a weaver to understand this, it's woven with a magenta weft with an orange warp. So this is where the orange comes out here and the magenta comes out when you turn it the opposite way. This fabric, a friend brought me from Thailand in 1963, that's the last of it right there. Often times I'll do that. I'll have a fabric that I love and I only have a little of it, so I put it in a quilt that becomes my favorite as sort of a remembrance for me at that special time.

JB: So you much prefer cotton, but you were susceptible to silk?

YP: Yes, I am. I mean, as we are sitting in this booth with not good lighting the chartreuse, this is also an iridescent fabric, it has a blue warp and a chartreuse weft and you can see where the light catches here where you get this wonderful iridescent silk to the fabric.

JB: What would you say to a student who really wants to come to your class, I would really like to quilt, but says I am really not creative?

YP: I tell people that you can become creative; you may not feel you're creative now but you can teach yourself. Unlike any other skill you can teach yourself to be creative; 'cause all you have to do is open your mind and your eyes. You have to see things. I use to teach a class on creativity where I'd give them a list of things and they would have to go on a scavenger hunt. It would have been in an area that I was unfamiliar with so I would get there a little bit early and I would walk around and I would see things and I would put them on my list and I'd say, 'You have to see these items,' and they would come back and they'd say, 'I didn't see them,' and I'd say, 'That's because you weren't looking. They were there.'

JB: Could you name some of them?

YP: Like for instance, a star on a house. And I had walked in the neighborhood where there was a house that had a star cut out in like the dent in the top, but you'd have to look up to see that. Or a duck in a yard, sure enough a house around the block had a duck in the yard, those ceramic ducks planted in with the flowers. So creativity is a lot about looking, and every experience is a learning experience. Everyone. I am sitting opposite you and I am enjoying the textures of your vest, the subtle difference in the weave in the pattern of your vest, so those all get stored in the data base, under "cat" as your name tag. But you have to understand I was trained as a nurse. The first nun, I was trained by nuns who were very, very explicit; she said you will never become a good nurse unless you become observant. You must be able to walk into a patient's room and be able to assess all the needs of that patient by looking, and then categorize them in your mind and fulfill the tasks in the order of importance. The last thing you do is water the flowers. If there are flowers in the room, that have been brought there by the patient's families, then it's part of their environment and you need to take care of those also.

JB: So being a nurse made you a good artist?

YP: I think so, because it's also a very hands-on occupation. There's a lot of feeling, a lot of nurturing with the hands, and that's what we do when we work with fabric. I mean the greatest thing a fabriholic does is walk around feeling fabrics.

JB: So which texture do you like the best?

YP: Cashmere. I mean when you feel cashmere--that's the greatest thing I used to do when I was sewing my own clothes, would be to walk into a fabric store and not look at the fabric. Just walk down to the wools and feel them, and go "cashmere"--or flannel--you could feel the difference between your finger tips through the wool and with your senses, not just your eyes. Even music; I love to listen to opera, that's my entertainment when I am driving, is listening to opera. And capturing that feeling of the artist, capturing that note, that to me is art. I mean it's all art, even over at the hotel, the Four Seasons. Every time the elevator opens there is a star in marble in the floor that opens, every time that elevator opens I say, 'Oh, we can do that design in the quilts.' That is the weirdest.

JB: Yvonne, you've done a number of books in connection with your profession, your artist work and quilting work, but I think you've done one most recently that might be your most favorite?"

YP: Well, I've done seven books on process and projects and my most recent book was on "Art and Inspirations," so it was the opportunity to show my art and educate people on what I have had as inspiration. It could be as simple as travel or as simple as my family, my heritage, and one of the chapters in the book is called "In Praise of Life" and it's regarding a friend of mine. I've always heard about artist muses and I never fully understood until my artist muse died. She was a very dear friend who I met in 1971, and we dialogued for two hours before we ever exchanged names because we had a common interest. She lived a ways away from me so I had to travel in my car to visit her, and she would call me on the phone and she would say, 'Go jump in your car and tomorrow for lunch we are going to have a picnic, we are going to the Pet Cemetery,', and we'd go to this cemetery and laugh and have a good time as we read the names of some of the pets, take pictures and everything. And I used to make her garments in the 1970's. She used to commission me to make garments. She was a teacher in one of the colleges in California and she wanted a different outfit when she had a final exam or a mid-term. She wanted to stand up there in some wonderful outfit, so I would make all of her clothes for her. I sold my clothes in galleries, and I didn't realize that she was buying these clothes along with me making some for her. She would come over and say, 'Here's a pile of fabric, let's make me a dress.' And so I would say, 'Here's my pile of fabric,' so we put it together and now these garments are in the collections of three museums in California. So the San Francisco Museum of Fine Arts, M.H. de Young Memorial Museum, acquired three of these garments and also one of my contemporary pieces. And so I got a call from the Conservation Department and they said, 'It's so rare we get work in by a living artist in the Textile Department. Can you come and tape-record how you have made these garments?' So I went and recorded how I made them and this whole dialogue about how we had put together the whole collection of fabrics and embellishment and ornaments. Also, my new piece, which happens to be on show right now in a show of recent acquisition. When my friend died I established a memorial in her name, for her students to donate in her name and we'd purchase a wonderful piece by Candice Kling, who does that artful ribbon and it's on display right now. It's so wonderful to see that name underneath this piece that's gifted to the collection, by the donation of. Anyway, sometime later I was in the San Francisco Airport going to teach at a conference and this woman came up to me and I said, 'Hi Jean, how are you and where are you going?' and she was going to the same conference as I was going to. She said, 'I'm having a booth, I'm a vendor,' and she used to sell ethnic textiles. I've known her for years and she said, 'I have to tell you this beautiful story.' I said, 'What is it?' She said, 'Well, I have a friend that is a docent at the textile Conservation Department and they were privileged to listen to your tape of how you made those garments while they made the muslin shrouds to cover the garments. Isn't that nice?' So my book "Art Inspirations," I think is important because it does show this evolution, it does show the building of a career and it shows my eleven grandchildren's quilts because nobody has ever seen those. And they amongst themselves show an evolution of my work. From nineteen years ago to the present grandchildren. So I think it was a wonderful gift to be able to do that. And I think, if nothing else, I hope that it inspires people, 'cause as we said, creativity comes from anywhere so never pass up the opportunity to increase your vision.

JB: And I was going to ask you what you would say to people if you could say anything you wanted to, but I think you have just said it. Thank you very much, Yvonne Porcella, who has been interviewing on this Friday morning, October 22, 1999 at the International Quilt Festival at Houston as part of the Quilters' Save Our Stories Project, which you are one of the inaugural story tellers. Well, thanks, we are very grateful for you being here.

YP: And thanks for inviting me.

JB: And I am Jeri Baldwin. It's been a great pleasure to have been able to speak with Yvonne Porcella.

Interview Keyword

Weaving
Fabrics
Nursing


Citation

“Yvonne Porcella,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed July 25, 2024, https://qsos.quiltalliance.org/items/show/2472.