Interview with Camille Carter Gorham, May 25, 2010

Quilt Alliance
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00:00:02 - About the touchstone quilt

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Partial Transcript: This is Evelyn Salinger and I'm conducting a Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories interview with.Camille Carter Gorham. Today's date is May 25, 2010. The time is about 11:20 a.m. And this interview is taking place during the Daughters of Dorcas meeting in Washington, DC.

Segment Synopsis: Gorham's touchstone quilt, "Exploding Star" is based on an Exploding Star pattern. Every square contains a lighter color and a darker color. Gorham says she made the quilt entirely from scraps, with the exception of the blue cloth she used for the border.

Keywords: Exploding Star (quilt pattern); Fabric - color; Fabric stash; Light and Dark (quilt pattern); Quilt star; Split Square (quilt pattern)

00:04:09 - Techniques and construction

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Partial Transcript: So for whom is this quilt?

Segment Synopsis: Gorman plans to keep this quilt. She hand quilted it, in part, because she wanted the project to be mobile, so she could work on it in other places than behind the sewing machine. Gorman and the interviewer discuss the piecing and construction of the quilt in modest detail. Gorman says she also likes machine quilting. She made another quilt, in a Lover's Knot pattern, that she hand quilted. Gorman and the interviewer continue to discuss the construction and stitching of the touchstone quilt.

Keywords: Fabric - Multiple scrap; Hand piecing; Hand quilting; Lover's Knot (quilt pattern); Piecing; Techniques

Subjects: Machine quilting

00:08:19 - How Gorham started quilting / Previous sewing experience

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Partial Transcript: When did you first encounter quilting and quilters in your life?

Segment Synopsis: Gorham thinks she started quilting in approximately 1992. Someone she worked with quilted. She also read something about the Daughters of Dorcas at this time and decided that she wanted to join them, once she had retired. Gorham did, however, sew a lot during her life before retirement, starting with a junior high class on clothing. Her mother sewed and made a lot of the clothing for her family of six girls and at least one of Gorham's sisters also still sews. Eventually, she in turn made clothes for her own children, especially her daughter.

Keywords: Daughters; Daughters of Dorcas and Sons; Family; Mothers; Sewing

00:10:55 - Family: reaction, gifts, and reunion

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Partial Transcript: Yeah, what does your family think about, b-, your passion?

Segment Synopsis: Gorham reports that some of her family members do not understand how she can be patient enough to quilt. She, on the other hand, says that she finds quilting relaxing. Gorham has made quilts for several family members, as well as for charities. As of the time of the interview, Gorham is anticipating going to a family reunion and making two quilts for it. One will be a "raffle quilt" to be raffled off and the other will be a "memory quilt' for a relative in her nineties, which other people will sign. (Gorham adds that the item in question will actually be a pillow, rather than a quilt, because likely attendance at the event is unknown.) Gorham and the interviewer discuss the reunion in modest detail.

Keywords: Family; Quilt Purpose - Charity; Quilt Purpose - Gift or presentation; Quilt Purpose - Personal enjoyment; Quiltmaking for family

00:13:44 - Personal background / Joining quilt groups after retiring

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Partial Transcript: Did you come from, the Southern part of the country as well, or no?

Segment Synopsis: Gorham is from Richmond, Indiana. She worked for AT&T and, eventually, Bell Atlantic. She ended up in Washington when she transferred within AT&T. Although she sewed during her working years, she did not start quilting until she connected with the quilt group run by Sarajane Goodwin at the Washington Senior Wellness Center (Washington, DC). Goodwin encouraged Gorham to join Daughters of Dorcas. Gorham and the interviewer discuss the Wellness Center briefly. Gorham says the quilt group there has some fluctuation in membership, but there is a core group of about ten people. Gorham creates raffle quilts for this group, with some of the money going to the center and the quilt group retaining some for supplies.

Keywords: Daughters of Dorcas; Quilt Purpose - Fundraising; Quilt groups; Sarajane Goodwin; Washington Senior Wellness Center (Washington, DC)

00:17:10 - Favorite part of quilting / Time spent quilting / What Gorham does with her quilts / Documentation

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Partial Transcript: So, what is your favorite part of quilting, or, the process?

Segment Synopsis: Gorham's favorite part of quilting is other people's appreciation of her work. She adds that appreciation is important to her, because she thinks people often are unaware of the amount of work it takes to make a quilt or the fact that a quilt made by an individual is unique. Gorham estimates that she puts in roughly six hours or a little more on days when she quilts. Mostly, she gives her quilts away, but she keeps quilts that are particularly important to her and has one on her bed. She takes pictures of her quilts and puts some of the pictures in an album with photos of quilts she has seen at quilt shows. She also keeps scrap books with magazine pictures of quilts for inspiration.

Keywords: Flow; Home studio; Quilt Purpose - Bedcovering; Quilt Purpose - Personal enjoyment; Quilt documentation; Quiltmaking for family; Time management; unfinished objects (UFO)

00:21:22 - Inspiration / Designing quilt patterns / Hand quilting vs. machine quilting / Teaching quiltmaking

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Partial Transcript: Well, from where do you get your inspiration for the different patterns in general?

Segment Synopsis: Gorham says that inspiration sometimes comes after she has started making a quilt, but has not worked on it for a while. At least for those quilts, it is only at that point, she says, that "it comes to me what I want to do with that." Gorham has made a few small quilts using her own designs, and belongs to a group that encourages people to create their own designs. Gorham uses both machine and hand quilting. She says that she prefers the appearance of hand quilting, but that it is time consuming. Gorham has done some introductory teaching of quilting.

Keywords: Creative Spirits Fabric Arts Society; Daughters of Dorcas; Hand quilting; Machine quilting; Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library (Washington, DC); Quiltmaking inspiration; Teaching quiltmaking

00:24:59 - Quilt shows / Previous ceramics work / Sewing room and fabric stash

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Partial Transcript: Have you entered any shows?

Segment Synopsis: Gorham has entered the annual Daughters of Dorcas quilt shows, but no others. She has never had anyone commission a quilt from her. She thinks she might be more likely to attract that sort of work if more people knew that she quilted, but quilts for pleasure, rather than to make money, anyway. Gorham used to do ceramics, but the people who ran the shop moved out of town. Since ceramics was rather an expensive hobby, Gorham was more relieved than not, and she thinks quilting is a better hobby. Gorham has a sewing room and a lot of cloth. In the interests of minimizing her purchases of cloth, Gorham has lately been making scrap quilts.

Keywords: Daughters of Dorcas; Fabric stash; Home studio; Quilt Purpose - Personal enjoyment; Quilt shows/exhibitions; Scrap quilts

00:27:09 - Meaning of quilting for American women

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Partial Transcript: How, would you, say that, the quilting has, um, had meaning for the American woman?

Segment Synopsis: When asked about the importance of quilting for the American woman, Gorham talks about the ways in which it is important to her. It keeps her from feeling alone and fills her time in a very engaging way. Belonging to quilting groups gives her the opportunity to make friends and she appreciates the "fellowship." Gorham is the coordinator for this year's Daughters of Dorcas raffle quilt, "Spring Garden." As of the time of the interview, they were ahead of schedule in the construction of the quilt. Gorham has done similar volunteer work at the Washington Senior Wellness Center (Washington, DC)

Keywords: Daughters of Dorcas; Friendships through quilting; Quilt Purpose - Fundraising; Quilt groups; Washington Senior Wellness Center (Washington, DC)

00:31:00 - Advice for beginning quilters / Shopping for fabric / Children's books about quilts

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Partial Transcript: Um, do you have advice for new quilters?

Segment Synopsis: Gorham's advice to new quilters is to take it slowly and to have patience. She recalls her own first quilt with amusement, but adds that over the course of years, people's quilting improves. Gorham likes shopping for cloth, but is trying to do less of it. Gorham says that she thinks she was meant to quilt and recalls a book from her childhood, A Patch-Work Quilt of Favorite Tales, that had a poem about quilts. She memorized the poem. [This book in question most likely was first published in 1933 by M. A. Donohue & Co.] Salinger remembers a book she had as a child that featured a grandmother who talked about the stories of her quilting patches. [The best match for this book after a quick Internet search is In Grandma’s Attic by Arleta Richarson.] Gorham agrees with the interviewer that quilting has been good for her mood.

Keywords: A Patch-Work Quilt of Favorite Tales; Fabric stash; Grandma’s Attic by Arleta Richarson; Quilt Purpose - Personal enjoyment