Interview with Joan Hailey Hansen, February 14, 2008

Quilt Alliance
Toggle Index/Transcript View Switch.
Search this Index
00:00:04 - About the touchstone quilt: "Jackie's Chocolate Quilt"

Play segment

Partial Transcript: This is Karen Musgrave and I'm doing a Quilter's S.O.S - Save Our Stories interview with Joan Hailey Hansen for the Alzheimer's: Forgetting Piece by Piece Q.S.O.S, which is also the name of the exhibit that the quilt is in, and today's date is February 14th - Happy Valentine's Day! - and it is 6:23 in the after-, in the evening, and we are doing this interview by phone, because Joan lives in Rolla, Missouri and I live in Naperville, Illinois.

Segment Synopsis: Hansen describes her friendship with Jackie Voss Jones, which began in high school and continued throughout their lives. Jones's son and Hansen's daughter married each other, so Hansen and Jones have a mutual granddaughter, Haillie. Jones died of lung cancer, but had Alzheimer's. Jones really liked chocolate and Hansen described her as having a really positive attitude. Hansen designed the quilt to highlight those aspects of Jones' personality. She also incorporated a painted copy of Voss's high school graduation picture.

Keywords: Alzheimer's: Forgetting Piece by Piece; Bonnie McCaffery; Pictorial quilts; Quilt design

Subjects: Alzheimer's disease

00:04:44 - Plans for quilt / Writing on quilt (front and back)

Play segment

Partial Transcript: What are your plans for the quilt, when you get it back?

Segment Synopsis: Hansen plans to give her quilt to her granddaughter Hailie, who lived with Jones, and to Hailie's father. Hansen says that the writing on the front of the quilt is not characteristic of her style, but that she needed that content to be there. The interviewer reads out the passage. On the back of the quilt Hansen put the full text of the information about Jones that she sent to Ami Simms. She also (she thinks, but is not quite sure) put practical information about where the quilt should go after the exhibit and who would ultimately get the quilt.

Keywords: Alzheimer's Disease; Ami Simms; Techniques

00:08:26 - Feelings about being accepted into the exhibit

Play segment

Partial Transcript: How did you feel when you got into the exhibit?

Segment Synopsis: Hansen, who does not think of herself as an experienced quiltmaker, reports being "shocked" when her quilt was chosen for the exhibit. Hansen's quilt number 49, is one of the higher numbers in the exhibit, which caused some concerns for her about the quality of her quilt and (in a context in which many people were too emotional to see the whole exhibit) about how many people had seen it. (Ami Simms had refuted one assumption and the interviewer, who had white gloved the exhibit a couple of times, refutes the other.) Hansen expresses hope that Oprah [Winfrey?] would have the quilts on her show.

Keywords: Alzheimer's: Forgetting Piece by Piece; Ami Simms; Quilt shows/exhibitions; White glove volunteer work

00:11:23 - Visiting the exhibit

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Have you seen the exhibit?

Segment Synopsis: Jones' family and Hansen saw the exhibit in St. Louis. They took pictures, which was technically against the rules and upset the show director when Hansen mentioned it later, but Hansen said that she took pictures only of her own quilt, that she wanted the pictures with family members, and that the white glove volunteers allowed her to take them. The interviewer explains the reasons for the rules. Hansen says that if there is adequate room on the back of the quilt, she will put the photographs there.

Keywords: Alzheimer's: Forgetting Piece by Piece; Photographs; Quilt shows/exhibitions

00:13:02 - Learning to sew / Teaching / Quilt shows

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Well, tell me about your interest in quiltmaking.

Segment Synopsis: Hansen learned to sew in high school, when her father made her take a Home Ec class. Afterwards, she started sewing her clothes. She expanded her skills through reading and classes. Hansen discusses her teaching of classes on how to make "wearables." She has participated in a couple of quilt shows and won prizes twice. She describes, in some detail, a vest she made in a workshop by Rachel Clark, which was given a "special prize for the most entertaining garment."

Keywords: A Stitch in Time Quilt Show; American Quilter's Society Quilt Week (Paducah, Kentucky); Clothing; International Quilt Festival; Quilt shows/exhibitions; Rachel Clark

Subjects: Sewing

00:17:09 - First quilt

Play segment

Partial Transcript: So, um, tell me about the first quilt you made.

Segment Synopsis: Hansen's first quilt was small and very simple. She was very proud of that quilt, because she really liked the color scheme, but when she showed it to her quilt guild, another woman had sewn a more elaborate and (to Hansen's mind) more "original" version of the same basic theme. More recently, she has been painting pictures on quilts. Hansen started quilting in 1999. She joined a quilt guild and also took many classes, including classes in making wearables and in technique. She discusses in some length a couple of projects that drew on the thread painting and bobbin work skills she learned from Libby Lehman's class.

Keywords: Jackie Robinson; Jenny Raymond; Libby Lehman; Pictorial quilts; Rachel Clark; Thread painting; quiltmaking classes

00:24:34 - Sewing room / Bernina sewing machine / Bernina quilt show

Play segment

Partial Transcript: So describe your studio.

Segment Synopsis: Hansen says that while she does have a sewing room, she cuts in another part of the house and stores her fabric pieces in a walk-in closet. Hansen says that her sewing machine is a Bernina and she has high praise for Bernina machines. When she taught a class on appliqué, the Bernina sewing machines that some of the women brought could handle appliqué and the monofilament she was having some students use as a backing, while some of the other sewing machines could not. Hansen likes the Bernina quilt show, too, but can't see devoting a year of her life to making something that would be up appropriate for that context.

Keywords: Bernina; Bernina quilt show; Home sewing machine; Sewing room

00:27:25 - Advice for someone starting out

Play segment

Partial Transcript: So what advice would you offer someone starting out?

Segment Synopsis: Hansen would advise a beginner to take classes. She stresses working towards "perfectioin." Learning to fit clothing and to alter patterns is also critical. Hansen refers back to the project for which she won a special prize as an example of very well-made clothing and describes some of the techniques she used for that piece in detail. Sewing is greatly improved by learning "all those little tricks."

Keywords: Techniques

00:29:46 - Teaching

Play segment

Partial Transcript: What do you like about teaching?

Segment Synopsis: Hansen taught for thirty years. For much of that time, she had coed 7th grade classes, and one of the things she taught them was how to use sewing machines. Later, when Hansen was no longer teaching school, a friend asked her to teach in her quilt shop. Hansen has found both adults and seventh graders to be enthusiastic learners. She is looking forward to returning to teaching. Her next class will be on fitting pants. She has also taught how to make purses.

Keywords: Clothing; Teaching

00:32:46 - Favorite quilts in the exhibit / Artist statement

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Let's return, before, before our time is up, let's return to the exhibit.

Segment Synopsis: When asked if she was drawn to any particular quilt in the Alzheimer's: Forgetting Piece by Piece exhibit, Hansen says, "they all speak to me in some way or another." In the same way that a person might appreciate different personalities among people, she appreciates the variety among the quilts, and she cannot choose one in particular. When asked about reading her artist statement for the CD, Hansen reported that it was easy, in part because of her public speaking experience.

Keywords: Alzheimer's: Forgetting Piece by Piece; Artist statement

00:35:24 - Importance of creative endeavors

Play segment

Partial Transcript: So why is, um, creative endeavors important, to you?

Segment Synopsis: Hansen says that creative work is an "outlet" for her. She likes doing original work and does not like quilting. She tells a story about working on a quilt with 102 identical blocks and finding it extremely boring. Hansen says "art runs in the family." Both of her siblings are engaged in hands-on, creative projects. "Peace of mind" is another side-benefit of creative work. She says that when healthy, she works on her projects almost every day.

Keywords: Creativity

00:37:30 - Family's response to the quilt

Play segment

Partial Transcript: So what did your family think of the quilt?

Segment Synopsis: Hansen said that her family liked the Alzheimer's: Forgetting Piece by Piece" exhibit quilt. Otherwise, Hansen is not sure what her family thinks about her quilting, although she does cite a variety of reactions to specific projects. She talks (apparently hypothetically) about making quilts for her great-grandchildren. Hansen feels honored to be included in the show and glad to have had a chance to commemorate Jones and to tell other people about her.