Interview with Vicky Groom, March 9, 2007

Quilt Alliance
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00:00:06 - About the touchstone quilt

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Partial Transcript: This is Karen Musgrave. I am doing a Quilter's S.O.S. Save our Stories interview with Vicky Groom. I am in Ukiah, California. It's March 9th, 2007, and it's 12:15 in the afternoon. Vicky, thank you for doing this interview with me. I'm really excited. So please tell me about the quilt you brought today.

Segment Synopsis: Vicky Groom discusses her touchstone quilt. It was based on a challenge from her quilting group to make a vegetable themed quilt and took her three years to complete. Groom didn't know how to approach the challenge and tried several techniques when beginning the project. She used a combination of piecing patterns from Ruth McDowell's Pieced Vegetables book and fused, raw-edge applique. Groom received input from her quilting group during the process and created a scene that includes a countertop, California white wine, and a border around the image. The quilt was juried into the International Quilt Festival in Houston, Texas and the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival's Competition in 2006.

Keywords: Applique; Art quiltmaking; Art quilts; California; International Quilt Festival; Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival; Pictorial quilts; Piecing; Quilt competitions; Quilt guilds; Ruth McDowell

Subjects: Appliqué--Patterns; Art festivals; Art quilts; Quilts--United States--Exhibitions

00:04:24 - How do you use this quilt?

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Partial Transcript: How do you use this quilt?

Segment Synopsis: Groom says that she doesn't have room in her house to hang the quilt. It's rolled up for storage, but she would like to enter the quilt into other contests in the coming year.

Keywords: Everyday use; Quilt competitions; Quilt purpose - Art or personal expression; Quilt purpose - Exhibition

Subjects: Art quilts; Quilts--United States--Exhibitions

00:04:39 - Title of the quilt: "Still life on the cutting edge"

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Partial Transcript: And what's the title?

Segment Synopsis: Groom explains the title for her touchstone quilt, "Still life on the cutting edge." The title was inspired by a contest she entered the quilt into that was called The Cutting Edge. It is a play on words, because the quilt features a large knife and cutting board and food in a still life scene.

Keywords: Art quiltmaking; Art quilts; Pictorial quilts; Quilt competitions; Quilt design; Quilt purpose - Challenge or contest entry

Subjects: Art quilts; Quilts--United States--Exhibitions

00:05:10 - Techniques used for the quilt

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Partial Transcript: It was a lot of fun, a lot of different techniques.

Segment Synopsis: Groom discusses techniques she used when making the quilt, including painting, drawing, and photo transfer. The wine bottle was painted on silk, and the wine glasses use different fabrics including silk organza and polyester.

Keywords: Embellishment techniques; Fiber - Polyester; Fiber - Silk; Ink drawing; Painting; Photography/photo transfer; Pictorial quilts

Subjects: Appliqué--Patterns; Art quilts

00:06:09 - Groom's interest in quilting

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Partial Transcript: So tell me about your interest in quilting.

Segment Synopsis: Groom has been interested in sewing and needle arts since she was a child. Her grandmother did a lot of sewing and made Groom clothes. Groom's grandmother also helped her hand sew doll clothes and a doll quilt. Groom continued to sew and made clothes for herself and friends during high school. She started considering quilting in her thirties but did not want to cut out all of the pattern pieces with scissors. Groom had a dream about quilting fifteen years later that inspired her to get in touch with a friend who was a quilter. Her friend Joyce gave her quilting materials to get started, including a rotary cutter, in 1998. After that, Groom was invited to join her quilt group before its membership was closed. Being a member of the group has inspired Groom to continue develop her quilting skills. She has since traveled to quilt shows including in Paducah, Kentucky and Houston, Texas.

Keywords: Childhood; Friendships through quilting; Grandmothers; Learning quiltmaking; Quilt guilds; Quiltmaking inspiration; Traveling for quilt shows

Subjects: Doll quilts

00:09:00 - Planning before starting a quilt project

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Partial Transcript: So do you plan your quilts out most of the time?

Segment Synopsis: Groom says that she does not do much planning before starting a quilt, which is one reason why the touchstone quilt took three years to complete. Sometimes she does sketch designs when starting a quilt. Groom was awarded the curator's award in the 2006 Robert Kaufman Fabrics quilting challenge. She did plan her winning mosaic quilt for the contest. Other times her idea is more vague and doesn't always work as expected.

Keywords: Awards; Design process; Mosaic quilt; Quiltmaking process; Robert Kaufman Fabrics; Sketching

Subjects: Art quilts; Quilts--United States--Exhibitions

00:09:50 - Technology in quiltmaking

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Partial Transcript: Have advances in technology influenced your quiltmaking at all?

Segment Synopsis: Groom says that she doesn't use a lot of technology in her quilting process. Part of her touchstone quilt contains photo transfer printing on fabric, but she doesn't use the technique often. Groom states that she is excited by the variety of quiltmaking techniques currently available, although having so many options is overwhelming. She did get an embroidery machine but hasn't used it much. She also has BlockBase software for her computer and hasn't used it. Groom reflects that she thinks about quiltmaking using traditional techniques, although the outcomes of her quilts aren't traditional.

Keywords: BlockBase; Embroidery; Embroidery machine; Photography/photo transfer; Techniques; Technology in quiltmaking; Traditional quilts

Subjects: Art quilts; Mixed media textiles

00:11:15 - Quiltmaking techniques

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Partial Transcript: So what are your favorite techniques?

Segment Synopsis: Groom discusses quiltmaking techniques that she enjoys including piecing, fusing, and paper piecing. She enjoys adding hand stitching and embroidery to her quilts as an embellishment technique. Musgrave and Groom talk about their shared interest in organic, crosshatched stitching on quilts.

Keywords: Chicken Scratch; Embellishment techniques; Embroidery; Fusing; Piecing; Techniques

00:12:17 - Favorite materials

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Partial Transcript: Do you have favorite materials?

Segment Synopsis: Groom has primarily used cotton for her quilts. She describes cotton as one of her favorite materials. However, she loves the look of silk and specifically mentions dupioni silk. Groom has dupioni silk in her stash and wants to try using it. Musgrave encourages her to use the dupioni silk, especially because Groom likes organic materials.

Keywords: Fabric stash; Fiber - Cotton; Fiber - Silk

Subjects: Silk quilts; Textile fabrics

00:13:05 - On being an artist and the importance of creativity

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Partial Transcript: Do you think of yourself as more of an artist, or a quiltmaker, or do you not make that distinction?

Segment Synopsis: Groom considers herself as an artist. She discusses the importance of creativity in her life, including a period when she didn't pursue creative interests and became depressed. Groom believes that everyone is an artist, as long as they are willing to develop and express their creativity.

Keywords: Depression; Quilt purpose - Artistic expression; Studio quilt artists

Subjects: Arts and crafts

00:14:40 - Groom's quilting style

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Partial Transcript: Does this quilt look like your typical work?

Segment Synopsis: Groom states that she doesn't know if she has typical work yet at this stage in her quilting career. She has been quilting for nine years but is still exploring her style and influences, ranging from whimsical to subtle designs. Musgrave affirms that it's okay not to have a typical quilting style and feels the same way about her own work.

Keywords: Aesthetics; Quiltmaking style

Subjects: Art quilts

00:16:03 - Amount of time spent quilting

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Partial Transcript: How many hours a week do you spend working on your quilts?

Segment Synopsis: Groom says she spends about twenty to twenty-five hours per week on her quilts. She previously worked at a hospital but was able to leave that job and start working part-time from home instead. This allowed Groom to spend more time quilting and doing projects around her house.

Keywords: Hobby; Time management; Work and life balance

00:17:10 - Impact of quilting on family

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Partial Transcript: So how has your quilting impacted your family?

Segment Synopsis: Groom says that her family has encouraged her quilting. Her sister has especially encouraged Groom to make more quilts to be displayed in her sister's house. The response from winning prizes and having her quilts displayed in shows has been somewhat surprising to her family and also affirming for Groom.

Keywords: Family; Quilt competitions; Quiltmaking for family

00:18:05 - Enjoying the process of quiltmaking

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Partial Transcript: What do you find most pleasing about making quilts?

Segment Synopsis: Groom explains that she enjoys the whole process of quiltmaking. However, sometimes her ideas for quilting projects don't work as planned. Even when the quilts don't turn out the way she planned, Groom still enjoys the process and techniques that go into making them. Groom and Musgrave discuss the enjoyment of finding a flow state and "being in the zone" while working on a quilt.

Keywords: Flow; Quilt purpose - Personal enjoyment; Quiltmaking process

00:19:16 - Groom's quilting studio

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Partial Transcript: So describe your studio.

Segment Synopsis: Groom talks about her studio in the spare bedroom of her house. She describes it as being messy, with pieces of fabric and projects scattered on the floor. Groom cleans and organizes her studio sometimes, but when she is in the middle of a project, she prefers not to clean it. She says that her studio has bad lighting, which she has tried to improve by adding extra light fixtures.

Keywords: Home studio; Studio quilt artists; Work or studio space

00:21:01 - Groom's sewing machine

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Partial Transcript: So what kind of sewing machine do you have?

Segment Synopsis: Groom currently uses a Janome 6500 sewing machine. She doesn't have a lot of experience using more expensive sewing machines, but Groom likes the Janome. She also bought an embroidery machine from another quilter who won it. Groom used the embroidery machine to add some embroidery to one of her quilts, but she is still figuring out how she'd like to use it in her work. She also discusses other sewing machines that she previously used.

Keywords: Embroidery machine; Home sewing machine; Janome

Subjects: Sewing machines

00:24:47 - Groom's quilt group

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Partial Transcript: So let's talk a little bit more about your quilt group.

Segment Synopsis: Groom describes herself as an introvert, but she enjoys being part of her quilt group and thinks it has helped her to become more social. For the first three or four years, Groom found it uncomfortable to be part of the group, especially when they would go on quilting retreats. Since then, she's become close friends with the other eleven members of her quilting group and wouldn't consider moving away from the area because she doesn't want to lose the friendships.

Keywords: Friendships through quilting; Guild activities; Quilt guilds; Quilt retreats

00:26:16 - Quilting retreats

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Partial Transcript: Explain about the retreats

Segment Synopsis: Groom talks about her quilting group's process of planning retreats. Previous quilt retreats were focused around working on quilts to enter into the Ultimate Guild Challenge. Groom found the challenge-focused retreats stressful, because it was difficult for her to be creative with lots of activity happening and while working in a group. The group changed how it planned retreats to have more structure and be more communal, which Groom enjoyed attending better.

Keywords: Guild activities; Guild leadership; Quilt guilds; Quilt purpose - Challenge or contest entry; Quilt retreats

00:30:13 - Group exhibitions

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Partial Transcript: So do you do group exhibitions?

Segment Synopsis: Groom discusses the group exhibitions that her quilting group has participated in, including the Ultimate Guild Challenge. Her group has displayed their quilts at libraries, fabric stores, galleries, and other Mancuso quilt shows.

Keywords: Mancuso Show Management; Quilt guilds; Quilt purpose - Exhibition; Quilt shows/exhibitions; Ultimate Guild Challenge

Subjects: Quilts--United States--Exhibitions

00:31:21 - What makes a great quilt

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Partial Transcript: What do you think makes a great quilt?

Segment Synopsis: Groom discusses the design elements that she thinks make a great quilt, including its design, color, lines, and wow factor. She enjoys when elements draw a viewer into the quilt or if the quilt tells a story. Groom explains that it's difficult to include faces in a quilt, but she enjoys seeing them when they are done well.

Keywords: Aesthetics; Color balance; Color theory; Quilt design; Quilt purpose- storytelling; Story Quilts

Subjects: Art quilts

00:32:28 - Advice for new quilters

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Partial Transcript: What advice would you offer someone starting out making art quilts?

Segment Synopsis: Groom recommends for new quilters to learn basic, traditional quiltmaking techniques first. When she started quilting, Groom learned techniques from a book called Quilts! Quilts!! Quilts!!! by Diana McClun and Laura Nownes. Groom talks about the importance of piecing and not being afraid to use color. She discusses an interview with Roberta Horton in Quilter's Newsletter magazine that talks about using color throughout a quilt, even if the colors don't seem to go together perfectly. She also emphasizes experimenting and not being closed minded about what might make a good quilt when you're starting.

Keywords: Color theory; Learning quiltmaking; Quilt magazines; Quilters Newsletter Magazine; Quilts! Quilts!! Quilts!!!; Roberta Horton; Techniques

Subjects: McClun, Diana, 1934-; Nownes, Laura, 1953-; Quilting--Periodicals

00:34:06 - Influence of being in a quilt group

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Partial Transcript: Do you feel that your quilt group has influence your quilting?

Segment Synopsis: Groom elaborates on how her quilt group has been influential, especially for critiques and being able to see other quilters' work. She also explains that without the group, Groom wouldn't have entered her quilts into contests or gallery shows. The group has shown her that there are more possibilities for her quilts.

Keywords: Critiques; Quilt competitions; Quilt guilds; Quilt shows/exhibitions; Quiltmaking inspiration

00:35:04 - Selling quilts

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Partial Transcript: Have you sold any of your work?

Segment Synopsis: Groom hasn't sold any of her quilts, although she hasn't made many of them available for sale. She priced her quilt, "Still Life on the Cutting Edge," when it was displayed at the International Quilt Festival in Houston, Texas. It was the first year that quilts were sold at the show, but her quilt didn't sell when it was on display. Groom would like to sell her quilts, but she discusses the difference between making her quilts and having the time to market them for sale. She also discusses the quilts that can be seen on the Mendocino Quilt Artists group website.

Keywords: International Quilt Festival; Mendocino Quilt Artists; Quilt shows/exhibitions; Selling quilts; Time management

00:37:25 - Taking quilting classes

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Partial Transcript: Now have you taken a lot of classes?

Segment Synopsis: Groom discusses wanting to take more quilting classes. She previously took classes in hand quilting and fabric dyeing, although she did not enjoy dyeing fabric.

Keywords: Fabric - Hand-dyed; Fabric dyeing; Hand quilting; Quiltmaking classes

00:37:57 - The importance of quilts

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Partial Transcript: Let's talk a little about the function and meaning of quilts in the United States. What do you think about the importance of quilts...?

Segment Synopsis: Groom explains how she thinks quilts represent history and stories, especially from the perspective of women. She enjoys seeing different techniques and fabrics used in historical quilts, and Groom finds personal meaning in quilts that were made by her grandmothers. Groom also compares the differences between the traditional quilts made by her grandmothers and quilts made by women in Gee's Bend.

Keywords: Family; Gee's Bend quilts; Grandmothers; Quilt history; Quilt purpose- storytelling; Traditional quilts

00:39:21 - Sleeping under a quilt Groom made

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Partial Transcript: Do you sleep under a quilt?

Segment Synopsis: Groom talks about sleeping under a quilt that she made. It's the quilt that Groom mentioned earlier in the interview, when she was discussing using her embroidery machine. She has grown to like the quilt more after washing and using it on her bed. However, she doesn't consider the quilt to be worthy of entering into a show.

Keywords: Embroidery; Everyday use; Quilt purpose - Bedcovering; Quilt purpose - Exhibition

00:39:51 - Groom's first memory of a quilt

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Partial Transcript: What's your first memory of a quilt?

Segment Synopsis: Groom discusses her first memory of a quilt. She describes it as having a Rob Peter to Pay Paul quilt pattern with curved seams. Groom says that her dad's mother made the quilt, and she remembers having the quilt in her home as a child. She also has a quilt made by her maternal grandmother and great aunts in the 1930s. Groom finds comfort in having quilts from her relatives.

Keywords: Family; Grandmothers; Quilt memory; Quilt purpose - Comfort; Quilt purpose - Heirloom; Rob Peter to Pay Paul

00:40:52 - Antique family quilts

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Partial Transcript: So what do you do with the old quilts that you have, your family quilts?

Segment Synopsis: Groom talks about displaying and storing the quilts she has that were made by her grandmother. She also discusses wanting to collage two of her family's antique quilts together and adding images of her grandmothers to them. Groom would like to work on the project together with her sister.

Keywords: Antique quilts; Collages; Family; Quilt preservation; Quilt purpose - Heirloom; Sisters

00:42:21 - Collecting quilts

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Partial Transcript: Do you collect anyone's quilts?

Segment Synopsis: Groom explains that she doesn't collect anyone else's quilts. She enjoys seeing other quilters' work, but Groom would rather spend her money on fabric to make quilts instead of collecting them. She does appreciate having the antique quilts from her family and enjoys seeing other quilts in museums.

Keywords: Antique quilts; Collecting quilts; Museums

00:42:52 - Quilts in museums and special collections

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Partial Transcript: What makes a quilt appropriate for a museum or a special collection?

Segment Synopsis: Groom discusses the design elements that she believes make a quilt appropriate for being shown in a museum or a collection. She also emphasizes that the story behind a quilt can make it more interesting and worth displaying.

Keywords: Aesthetics; Collecting quilts; Museums; Quilt design; Quilt history; Quilt purpose - Exhibition

00:43:38 - Conclusion

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Partial Transcript: Thank you so much for doing this interview with me.

Segment Synopsis: Musgrave concludes the interview with Groom.