Caryl Gaubatz




Caryl Gaubatz




Caryl Gaubatz


Jana Hawley

Interview Date



Houston, Texas


Jana Hawley


Jana Hawley (JH): It's October 23, 1999. We are at the Houston International Quilt Festival. My name is Jana Hawley and I'm interviewing Caryl Gaubatz. Would you please spell your name?

Caryl Gaubatz (CG): C-A-R-Y-L G-A-U-B-A-T-Z.

JH: Caryl Gaubatz, okay. Tell us about the quilt you brought today.

CG: It is, well, I was an army nurse. And I was in with the Forty-First Combat Support Hospital and we were sent to Saudi Arabia and Iraq during Desert Storm. And this quilt was hand pieced in Saudi Arabia and Iraq during the war.

JH: Oh, goodness. It surely is historical, isn't it? So did you make it?

CG: Yes.

JH: Okay.

CG: I hand pieced the center, and when I got back to the States I added the border by machine, because it was straight stitching but all the center part was hand pieced.

JH: What year was the quilt completed?

CG: '91, 1991, July.

JH: Okay, so the whole thing was--

CG: Started in December of 1990 and completed quilting and everything in 1991, July.

JH: Do you acquire the fabrics in Saudi?

CG: Some of them.

JH: Okay. So you took some fabrics with you?

CG: I took only a few with me. We left--do you want to hear the whole story?

JH: Absolutely, just talk away.

CG: We left on November 24, the day after Thanksgiving, and I didn't take any quilting materials with me because I didn't think I would be able to do any sewing over there. And my stepfather died in December, and I came home on December 12 but I was too late for his funeral but while I was there I came across Valerie Fons Kruger's article on the Three Continent Canoe Trip. And I figured if she could quilt in a canoe going down the Amazon, I could quilt in a tent so I got my mother to take me to a quilt store and I bought three quarter-yards of fabric but that wasn't nearly enough. And the dark green squares are Army cravat bandages. They are issued to every soldier, and they are 100% cotton and they were free so that's why there are so many of them. And this is the attic window design. And they are in the window, the square, the window, because everywhere you looked you saw Army so that's why they're in the window. And then the other pieces from friends and people that were in the unit, those that are around here. In the very middle there is a flag--everybody had little flags. And these are the corps devices of people in my unit- the professionals in the unit, dentists, supply corps, nurse, doctor, and so forth.

JH: And tell me where does the flag come from?

CG: People had little flags and they took over with them, very patriotic. So this is just a little cotton, actually it probably isn't even cotton; the flag is probably some polyester thing that someone had. And then, these are from people's uniforms, that they gave me.

JH: And then some of these other fabrics have a real historic look to them, also.

CG: Some of them were people's bandanas, this is a bandana. This is the two fabrics I went with. And a lot of them were handkerchiefs and bandanas that people had. Over here, this is the dentist's boxer shorts. This is the emergency room nurse's boxer shorts. I put the shorts together.

JH: So how did they give you permission to cut into their boxers?

CG: I traded a box of cereal for that and I traded a camel's skull with large teeth for that for the dentist.

JH: [laughing.] Where did you get the camel skull?

CG: It was lying in the desert.

JH: And you found it?

CG: I found it.

JH: And traded it--

CG: It had very nice teeth so the dentist thought it would be good to take back and use to teach. And this was the pharmacist's kerchief right here. And after we had been there about two or three months we were sent up to a place called "Log Base Charlie" near the town of Rafha, R-A-F-H-A, in Saudi Arabia, Rafha which was eight miles from the Iraqi border. And we were there for a month getting ready to go north for the war. And one of the doctors was allowed to go in town everyday to buy kerosene for our heaters. And I said, 'Do you ever see fabric?' And he said, 'Well, it's all over.' I said, 'Here's twenty dollars, buy me as much as you can.' He said, 'I have no taste.' I said, 'That's okay.' And he didn't. And anyway, he brought this back. And I particularly like it because these have the crescents which were on the minarets, or on their mosques. It was voile, so I had to line it with a sheet. And then, I wrote back to my quilting bee that I was running out of fabric, and they sent my some but they also told the quilt guild what I was doing. And the quilt guild put it in the newsletter and I started getting fabric from all over and they told their friends and I got fabric from all over the U.S.; people I have never met. I have fabric from Australia and Germany in here. And so the ones in the center are the earliest and then as I got more--so it gets prettier as you go out. One of the ladies in my tent, someone had given her a muslin tea bag, a little bag with tea leaves--and that came from her.

JH: Unused, has it not been used?

CG: No, it hasn't been used.

JH: Because it doesn't look like its tea stained.

CG: We cleaned the tea out of it. She wasn't a tea drinker so she let me have the jasmine tea. And then somewhere else there's the instruction, here are the instructions for making the tea, up here.

JH: Now is that--what country does that come from, do you think?

CG: Well it says so right here--I'm guessing--does that look like Pittsburgh? [Pennsylvania.]

JH: Yeah, Pittsburgh. So it's American.

CG: It's American. That was a handkerchief I found. I was stationed in Germany and I was walking through Munich one day and there was a dirty handkerchief in the street. And that came from that.

JH: Goodness sakes.

CG: People knew I was making it to go with green, so they sent me colors they thought would go with green and that's what you see in a lot of these. There are some sad stories with this. My battle buddy--when you got over there you were assigned a person that you were supposed to know where they were at all times so that if anything happened to them you could report it. My battle buddy's name was Marie, and a lot of the kerchiefs come from Marie. We had been there about two months when Marie received word that her husband died. So she was sent back to the States before the ground war started, and she was not able to get back to us, although she did not have to come back to us, they would have allowed her to stay home and take care of the estate--she came back because she felt that we were her family and this is where she belonged. And so I think Marie is a real hero so she came back and a lot of these come from her.

JH: Is that another handkerchief? Do you know if this is a handkerchief?

CG: That was my husband's. He sent me that. I said, 'Gary, I'm running out of fabrics. Can you send me some light colors?' And so that was one of the things he sent me.

JH: Is it a handkerchief?

CG: Yes, it's a handkerchief.

JH: This has a fascinating history. Have you documented via graph on where each fabric came from?

CG: No I haven't.

JH: Because you have--we are unable to catch it on tape as you point to different things, each fabric has such a story that it would be wonderful if you could document through a graph where the different fabrics came from. Have you though about that?

CG: I can do that.

JH: That would be an interesting--In this particular quilt I think it has lots of history and lots of stories for each different type of fabric that's in it.

CG: I just have to say something more about the jasmine tea. This lady's name was Amy and she was a very delightful--She was in charge of the lab, she was a medical technologist. When she returned to the states her husband murdered her for the insurance money.

JH: Oh my goodness.

CG: It's kind of a sad quilt, too, because I remember things that are bad that happened to the people that were represented in it.

JH: So were the people in your troop--I don't know the military language, but in you group in Saudi- were they all supportive of you quilt building?

CG: Yes, they were very supportive and they were constantly offering me fabrics, like silk nightgowns and things I didn't really want to use. You know, knit things.

JH: And the backing is--

CG: Is just plain muslin.

JH: Okay.

CG: And I purchased it when I returned home.

JH: Okay, so it got quilted when you returned home.

CG: Yes.

JH: And did you do the quilting yourself?

CG: Yes.

JH: Okay.

CG: By hand. And also for the border I picked the colors red for the blood that we shed, and this for the sand. And on their money this was a design...I'm sorry, there is a design that looks sort of like a gate or a pointed arch, and I used that as a quilting design for the border. And the border is sand-colored because of all the sand we were around. And in the corners there are the palm-leaf or Hosannah design because the House of Sa'ud had crossed swords and a palm tree was their symbol for that family so that's why I have palm leaves in the corners.

JH: How is this quilt similar to other quilts that you've done?

CG: It is not. Now I have stopped doing anything traditional. I'm doing very modern and contemporary things now.

JH: Do you have a quilt in the show?

CG: Yes I do, its called "Sloth Cloth."

JH: Sloth cloth?

CG: Mm-hm.

JH: Can you describe it a little bit?

CG: Well, it is a mother and a baby sloth in a tree and I do a technique which I call curved watercolor piecing. And the background is all blended greens, curving very sinuous, and I've cut all the templates and pieced it all--it's an original. It's not traditional at all. And the sloth themselves I dye-painted and painted the fabric with fabric paint and it's very heavily quilted.

JH: And what part of the show is it in?

CG: Mixed media, aisle 1300.

JH: When did you begin being a quilter?

CG: Well, I took my first formal class in 1980. I had done very appalling things before then.

JH: [laughing.] Like what?

CG: Well, you know, things where the corners didn't meet--

JH: Okay, I thought you meant you had a calling totally out of quilting.

CG: Oh no.

JH: What's your first memory of a quilt?

CG: I was visiting a friend who was stationed in Massachusetts in 1975, or Connecticut. And we went to Old Sturbridge Village, Massachusetts. And I found a book on old American quilts. And it just was so exciting that that was when I wanted to start making them.

JH: Do you remember them as a child? Did they have any purpose in your life as a child?

CG: No. No one in my family every quilted.

JH: And you never had them in your home?

CG: Never. No.

JH: Okay. Are you still in the military?

CG: I retired in 1995 and now I am a full-time fiber artist.

JH: Great. So of all the quilts that you own, obviously this one has lots of stories, but why did you--is it the stories of the quilt--is that why you brought this one?

CG: When I asked Marsha, I asked her to choose between a giraffe quilt that had been published in this year's "Fiber Arts Design Book 6," or this one. And she thought this one would be more historically significant.

JH: Well I really think it has lots of stories to tell. How will you use this quilt at this point?

CG: I just have it hidden away in my closet to preserve it.

JH: Okay.

CG: I had it on a bed, but we're downsizing our life so I don't have that bed anymore so that's why it's in the closet.

JH: Okay. And does it ever go into exhibition?

CG: It has been. Not recently, but it did go to Japan and it was in the quilt festival in Williamsburg. And right after the Gulf War in 1992 a Canadian whose name is Nancy Cameron Armstrong organized an exhibit at the International Quilt Festival called "Women in the Eye of the Storm." And it was in that exhibit.

JH: I suspect that there would be other opportunities for exhibit that are military museum related.

CG: We do have a medical museum in San Antonio but I have not offered them the quilt and they have not offered any interest.

JH: In the future what life will this quilt have?

CG: I don't see it having too much. And if, when I die, maybe someone will want it for a museum. I don't know. As far as I know it's probably the only quilt that came out of the Gulf War. I mean, that was quilted in the gulf war. Many that were inspired by it, but I think this is probably the only one that actually was made there.

JH: Okay. Tell me about your life as a quilter, and how you get inspired to do quilts, the transition from a piece like this to what you're doing now. Those are several questions all at once, aren't they?

CG: How--I'm sorry--

JH: Tell me about your current inspiration.

CG: Okay, when I first started quilting my teacher said, left us with the impression, that if it didn't come out of a book it wasn't any good. And so it took me a long time to free myself to make my own patterns. Okay, so now I don't like to do anything that's in a book. And I am very much interested in animal rights. I was a member of PETA [People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.] for a while. I'm not anymore because I think they exploit women as much as they promote animals. But most of my quilts are animal quilts, dealing with animals and animal messages. I mostly do wearable art now. And I had a garment in the Fairfield this year.

JH: Can you describe that garment?

CG: It was a long coat with a very large collar. It was a Vogue pattern by Claude Montana, and it had curved watercolor piecing which is a technique I have developed and it was all blues and purples and greens and magentas, like the sea billowing and blowing.

JH: Sounds wonderful, I love Claude Montana. He's one of my favorite designers. Are there other quilters in your family?

CG: No, I'm the only one.

JH: And do you have children?

CG: No children.

JH: So you aren't passing your skills down to any young people?

CG: No.

JH: Are you ever teaching?

CG: Yes, I do teach. And I also lecture quilt guilds now and then.

JH: Okay. What do you enjoy most about quilting?

CG: It's therapeutic. That was one reason I did this quilt in the desert, because I needed to escape from the situation. When I was sewing, I wasn't there. And on the bus as our unit drove up to Iraq after the ground war started we weren't sure what we would find or what was awaiting us. And I sewed the whole way up there. And everyone thought that was very strange, but it was my way of escaping reality. And now I quilt because, I don't know, when we create we're in touch with the creator.

JH: What's the least favorite thing about quilting?

CG: Well, I don't hand quilt anymore. I do only machine. And I think, probably like everyone would say, basting and putting on a binding--

JH: [laughing.] I view quilting as primarily in the women's realm. Can you speak your opinions on quilting and women and what quilts play in the life of a woman?

CG: Well, that's a very politically charged question. If we go back to the beginning of it, and I would like to talk about that, I may be going around a bush to get there. But in San Antonio there is the Southwest School of Art and Craft, which was formerly the Southwest Craft Center. And they're trying to get away from the idea of quilts as craft, or textiles as craft, and more seeing them as art. Okay? And back in the late 1800's, all the textile arts were identified with women, and it was what you did when you were not doing something useful for your family. You just had it as your little hobby. So textile arts had been identified with women and not useful pursuits. And therefore, when people did textile pursuits, they didn't receive much money for them because they were hobbies. And fiber artists have found that there is not as much gallery space offered to them because they are thought of having a second-rate, or not a first-line art form. And it gets down to the bottom line, people will not pay as much for a quilt as they would for a piece of fine art, sculpture, painting, even though you might put in just as much work and time and effort. So, it has become necessary for fiber artists to increase public appreciation for their work as an art form in order to become accepted in art exhibits and to receive top dollar for their work, which they deserve. Does that answer your question?

JH: Mm-hm and feel free to talk more about it. Do you have other things to say about that, because I can see that you're getting excited about this?

CG: Well, I'm thinking that fiber arts is probably going to be the way in which's the meeting ground between fine art; sculpture, painting, and craft. Fiber arts is the meeting place. And it is an art form and I do believe that.

JH: Is it ever a craft form?

CG: Well, certainly. This is a prime example. This is not top drawer, but then if you go through the Mennonite or Amish quilt exhibit here, that is art. Those perfect little stitches. They were in touch with their soul, with their creator, when they did that. I really believe that. It's so technically beautiful. The quilt we are looking at now is not perfect in any amount or form, but what makes it beautiful is because the emotion and feeling that went into it.

JH: Certainly. There's a lot of soul in this quilt. So, if we talk about quilts and women's lives outside of the art form, but in the other things that it has done for women--do you have anything to say about that?

CG: Well, quilting in the United States is a billion dollar business.

JH: Is it?

CG: It is. A billion dollar a year business. And where, someone was just telling me that the town of Paducah takes in fifteen million just for their show, which is a few days. Where there is money, there is interest. And there is interest in pleasing the person who wants to spend the money. And so in this instance, women have money-power and people will listen to us. And if we could use that for other ways, I think we would be very powerful.

JH: What's your vision of what quilts will be in the next millennium?

CG: My vision. I haven't really given that much thought. I suspect that they will tend to be much more contemporary. We still value our past and you will still see a lot of traditional quilts, but I think more people will feel really freed to do, really, art quilts.

JH: You spoke that animals are often an inspiration. Do you draw inspiration from anything else?

CG: I do mostly garments now, and when I think of garments as art forms I think they should be creative and make the person feel good when they're in them. And they should be different and they shouldn't be cookbook or cookie-cutter, you know. I think we can be walking art forms, and use our garments to express ourselves.

JH: Well I don't want to--my background is in fashion merchandising and one of the observations I make is that when you go to stores, it doesn't matter which store you're in, all the fashions are the same.

CG: Exactly.

JH: So do think that there's a circle coming back to wearing fashion as an art form because of what's happening in retail situations? I mean, we have no choices at the mall. There's no choice. Do you think it will give us a creative expression?

CG: Absolutely, but it will take a certain type of woman to wear that. Many women, unfortunately, don't have time, you see, two-career family. And I would like to see more women express themselves. And I think that the disgust at what is being presented to us to wear, you will see more women doing their own. Unfortunately, I hear that the sewing industry has bottomed out. And that's why you see so much energy lavished on the quilter. And if you see most fabric stores now, they've gone crafty because they can't make enough money to stay afloat if they just have dress fabrics. So many, many of the fabric chains have half crafts and half fabric. And that's why I see such a plethora of dyers. You can't find the fabric you want so you dye it or you hire somebody to dye it for you.

JH: Have you done any fabric dyeing yet?

CG: Quite a bit. I am very fortunate the Southwest School of Art and Craft in is San Antonio. And Jane Dunnewold is, I think, one of the proponents of the surface design movement, one of the leaders in the idea of art cloth. And I've been so fortunate that I've been able to take some classes from her.

JH: You live in San Antonio?

CG: I live in New Braunfels, which is 36 minutes from the Southwest School of Art and Craft.

JH: Did you end up in New Braunfels because of your military background?

CG: No, my last year of duty was in El Paso and my husband found a job in New Braunfels. And that's why we live there, but I really love a little town. It has a real sense of community and it has many aspects, it's very old-fashioned as far as morals and values, and I like that.

JH: It's a German heritage.

CG: German heritage, yes.

JH: What, for you, makes a quilt a great quilt?

CG: For me, a great quilt--I would say what speaks to me emotionally, and it may not be technically perfect, but if it has color and design and touches an emotional chord; that's a great quilt.

JH: Has your world broadened beyond the process of quilt, quiltmaking? Or, how have quilts taken you into a broader realm of your life?

CG: I think I've been very blessed and sometimes I feel like I've been led because of quilts. I think that this is my talent. I don't have many talents--I can't sing but I can sew, and because of this doors have opened and now I am able and fortunate to have this as a career. Not to make very much money--I only pay for my supplies but because of quilting, or quilting garments, this is my new career. And it has really changed my life.

JH: Have you networked with new people that you--

CG: Oh yes. Through the School and then I am on email and I'm a member of two lists- the Dyers list and the Complex Cloth list. And also when one goes to conferences and conventions one networks and meets people, and I was able to meet a couple of pen-pals at the Quilt Festival this year.

JH: Great. What makes a quilt artistically powerful?

CG: Well, I suppose that would be the emotion it engenders in the viewer, and you bring to it a lot of your own feelings and memories and the quilt will pull them out of you. You know, when you look at something it will speak to you. Does that answer your question?

JH: Is there anything else about a quilt that's powerful?

CG: Color. Design.

JH: Of the design components, which ones do you think are the most important? [laughing.] Color and design.

CG: I think something that makes a lot of visual impact that's very bold, that's what speaks to me. I don't like pastels, so color, to me, is probably one of the most important things in a quilt. And values, light and dark.

JH: Well, this quilt reflects your military community, but do your contemporary quilts reflect the community that you live in--you spoke of New Braunfels.

CG: No, not at all because I only am able to do one show-quality quilt a year. And I make them animal quilts. My first one is a giraffe, the second one is the sloth, and I just finished a hippopotamus. And I put so much time and effort in my quilts I only get one a year done. And so I'm on this animal thing because I think they have no voice and we have to be their voice. And if I can have people who look at them even for one moment think about what we're doing to the world, maybe that's all I can do.

JH: When you design a quilt, which comes first, the fabric in your accumulation of fabrics, or the design?

CG: The design. And I have heard it said that the difference between a quilter and an art quilter is, a quilter says, 'Here is some pretty fabric, what will I do with it?' and an art quilter says, 'Here is my idea, how do I express this in cloth?' And that's what I try to do.

JH: Does your family support your--

CG: My husband is a saint. Yes, indeedy, he does.

JH: Does he travel with you?

CG: No, because he's still working but he retires next year and I'm hoping he will be able to.

JH: We're coming to the close of a century, and a millennium. How have quilts--what role have quilts been for the past and then what will they be for our future?

CG: I see quilts as a symbol of family, and I also see them as a way of touching the past. Because when I'm quilting, I'm doing what people did centuries before so I am one with them when I do that. And, for the future- families are more nuclear now and if they can bind us at all, that will be a good function for them. Certainly when I do demonstration quilting for the public with my quilt guild, many people come up and say, 'Oh, my grandmother did this,' and so forth. So that is the binding of the family together but I see and I hope that quilts become an art form, and that that's the place that they take and people get away from the notion that quilts have to be on the bed and that on the wall is where they could be, in a museum on the wall.

JH: Do you fear that there will ever be a lost interest in quilting?

CG: Certainly I fear that. And I think, like all fads, it's a very real possibility. And maybe it's a feeding process. People, who merchandise, quilting merchandise, need to keep us interested and our interest will keep them providing. And I hate to be so cynical but I certainly hope it doesn't die out.

JH: During you years as a quilter how have you seen the whole experience changing?

CG: Oh it's burgeoned. My first quilts were backed with sheets and made of polyester. Now there are thousands and thousands of fabrics to choose from. These are your paints on your palette, and so you have to have a lot to choose from.

JH: And you can't mix them like you can with the paint medium. I mean, in the same manner.

CG: And when you make a mistake you can't paint over it.

JH: But you can rip it out. [laughing.] What historic quilts inspire you most, or are you most awed by?

CG: I suppose things with bright colors and values and I like the old log cabins. This book that inspired me had a whole chapter on log cabins and I thought that they were really wonderful because of the dark and the light, the values. And that's kind of what I liked.

JH: Now is there anything else about the philosophy of quilts that you would really like to talk about?

CG: I didn't come prepared for that one, I'm sorry.

JH: That's okay, that's okay. If you couldn't brought a different quilt today, what would it have been like?

CG: It would've been my giraffe quilt, which is an original design. And it actually--I do a lot of trapunto in my quilts somewhat to puff the animal out so his little nose sticks out. And it is actually very photographic looking; it is not a "cute kitty" quilt. But it causes people to respond in a "warm, fuzzy" fashion because it looks so real but the nose pooches out with trapunto. I think when people look at that it engenders warm feelings for animals, which is what I want to do and this is what I would want.

JH: Well I think you do beautiful work. Is there anything more about this quilt that you would like to say?

CG: No, I think one of the neat things about this quilt is the emotion it brought from other people who generously sent me the fabric without even knowing me. People that I will never meet or be able to thank and I thought that was kind of neat. It has a lot of love in it.

JH: A hundred years from now, what will Caryl's legacy be?

CG: I'm not sure since I don't have any children. I guess it will be my animal quilts. And I hope it will be.

JH: And what impact do you hope that it brings?

CG: I hope that when people see my quilts, it will inspire them to do things and to try different things because I have.

JH: This is sort of backtracking a little bit, but I'd like to know how you decide which animal you're going to do your next quilt on.

CG: It's kind of an emotional thing. The giraffe just spoke to me. It was a picture in a child's book, a photograph in a child's book. When I was doing the sloth--in college I took comparative anatomy and we had to choose an animal, so I chose the sloth. And I really thought it was a wonderful animal. It doesn't get much press. People think they're stupid and whatever, but they're really a fascinating animal. And also I'm very conscious of copyright. And I knew that no one had ever made a quilt of a sloth. I didn't have to worry about people thinking I had ripped off their idea. And the hippo, I was at the zoo and I took the picture myself so I didn't have to worry about infringing on a copyright.

JH: Why a hippo?

CG: It was in a pool. And I looked down on it, and there was a school of carp swimming all around the hippopotamus. And one of them came right up and was nibbling in its ear, and it was like it was telling it a secret. So this quilt's called "Telling Secrets" and it has carp made of organza. I'm a big into recycling, and I go to the thrift store and buy a lot of wonderful fabrics there. So this was a black organza party dress. And I made the fish and I appliqu├ęd it down so it's very transparent looking, it looks like it's underwater because you can see through the fabric underneath it.

JH: Oh, fascinating.

CG: I don't know what your question was I got so excited about the quilt.

JH: I was talking about how you get...which animals--how you choose which animals, but, now I've lost my train of thought. I had a question. I don't remember what I was going to ask. It really was a question I wanted to know. Recycling--do you actually go to the thrift shop and find fabrics?

CG: I do and also I am a volunteer for Hospice New Braunfels. Hospice is a very important thing to me. I was an operating room nurse and I worked also as a nurse anesthetist for eight years. And so many patients came to the O.R. [operating room.] who we should have let die with dignity. And we just kept them alive and did all these things to them like feeding tubes, gastrostomies--and I felt Hospice was such an important thing to let a person die with dignity. So I also am in charge of the yearly Hospice quilt project, and we make a memory quilt to honor everyone who has died who has been a patient that year. And I also support them by their thrift store, where I can get marvelous silks and I can get all kinds of wonderful things that I can put in my quilts, for like fifty cents.

JH: So there's a lot of economy involved here.

CG: Yes, but it is also recycling. Why should some things be thrown away just because someone doesn't want them, if you can use them. And that keeps them going.

JH: Well, I think you're thoughts behind your quilts are very powerful, and I'm fascinated by what you do. Is there anything else that you'd like to say before we end?

CG: No, but I just thank you for asking me here.

JH: Well, remember you are now a legacy. You're going to be going into our archives. And the stories that you have told will be really useful for somebody in the future and we appreciate that.

CG: Thank you.

JH: It is 11:30 on 10-23-99 and we thank Caryl for her interview.

[the tape shuts off then restarts.]

JH: We're going to add a little bit more to this interview.

CG: Okay, I'm a member of Fiber Artists in San Antonio, and we just had our annual show. And Nick Cave was our juror. And I put in a quilt and a garment. The garment was not accepted but I would like to tell you about it. I went to the thrift store and I collected silk. This jacket is made of two skirts--two dresses, twelve silk blouses, and a scarf. And it was inspired by a picture I saw of whirling dervishes from Sudan. And they have marvelous patched garments to show a contempt for wealth and that they live in poverty. And they're brightly colored and beaded, and just fabulous tunics. And I was just so thrilled with this. So this has all these fabrics which are fuchsia, turquoise, aqua, royal blue, that I have been managed to glean. And I cut triangles and faced them and sewed them down by one side of the triangle. So they're all hanging loose, very raggedy looking, but they have finished edges, not raw edges. And because they're silk, they're so light, and when the person walks they have this rippling effect, like a whirling dervish with the bright colors. Well, our juror was Nick Cave and this was not his concept of quilting so it didn't really hurt my feelings that he didn't accept it to the show because he gave an award to my hippo quilt so that made the pain less but that's how I recycle. And I feel very good that I was able to use so many garments that someone had thrown away, to turn out something that I'm very proud of.

JH: And to make a statement.

CG: Yes.

JH: Because certainly that's making a statement, also. So that's fascinating. I want to talk to you more about that. Okay, now I think we're finishing our interview. Thank you very much.


“Caryl Gaubatz,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed May 22, 2024,