Interview with Annabel Ebersole, May 27, 2009

Quilt Alliance
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00:00:01 - About the touchstone quilt: "Periwinkle Dreams"

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Partial Transcript: This is Karen Musgrave, and I am conducting a Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories interview with Annabel Ebersole. Today's date is May 27, 2009. It is now 10:40 in the morning. Annabel is in Reston, Virginia and I am in Naperville, Illinois so we are conducting this interview over the telephone. Annabel, thank you so much for taking time out of your day to do this interview with me. Please tell me about your quilt "Periwinkle Dreams."

Segment Synopsis: Ebersole describes her touchstone quilt, "Periwinkle Dreams." It was made for a project coordinated by Judy House to decorate the cancer treatment area at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Each quilt was based on the theme of natural elements used for chemotherapy research. In Ebersole's quilt, the natural element was periwinkle. Ebersole gives a detailed description of the quilt's design, the project, and the quiltmaking process. Ebersole also discusses other healing quilts she has made with Fiber Artists @ Loose Ends. Ebsole mentions buying hand-dyed fabric from Heide Stolle Weber at the Quilt Surface Design Symposium. She also briefly discusses writing the artist statement for her touchstone quilt.

Keywords: "Periwinkle Dreams"; Artist statement; Design process; Fabric - Hand-dyed; Fiber Artists @ Loose Ends; Fusible applique; Heide Stolle Weber; Judith House; Karen Musgrave; Kay Lettau; Machine quilting; Quilt Surface Design Symposium; Quilt design; Quilt purpose - Disease/illness; Quitmaking process; Walter Reed Army Medical Center; Wonder Under

Subjects: Walter Reed Army Medical Center

00:07:08 - Meeting Judy House / Influence of travel

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Partial Transcript: Tell me a little bit more about Judy.

Segment Synopsis: Ebersole describes meeting Judy House in a quiltmaking class at the Quilt Patch in Fairfax, Virginia. Ebersole says she and House "bonded right away," based on the shared experience of living in other cultures and the influence it had on their artwork. Ebersole describes some of her cultural experiences from living in Portugal, Brazil, and London.

Keywords: Friendships through quilting; Joen Wolfrom; Judy House; Quilt Patch; Quiltmaking classes

00:13:27 - Interest in quiltmaking / Teaching quiltmaking

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

Segment Synopsis: Ebersole's family has a history of quiltmaking and fiber arts. She describes some of the heirloom quilts that have been passed down in her family. Ebersole has a background in sewing, knitting, and needlepoint. Her first formal quilting class was taught by Leslie Pfeiffer in Brazil, where she learned to hand quilt. She continued quilting when her family relocated to London. Ebersole helped make quilts for the Girl Scouts and school fundraisers. She also became a member of London Quilters, took quiltmaking classes, and went to quilt shows. When she returned to the United States, Ebersole took a class with Judy House and became interested in art quilts. She worked at the Quilt Patch and then helped open the Artful Quilter, where she continues to teach. Ebersole started teaching hand piecing with Bev Koenigsberg. She discusses the classes, projects, and her approach to teaching in more detail.

Keywords: Bev Koenigsberg; Fabric/Quilt shops; Family; Grandmothers; Hand piecing; Judy House; Leslie Pfeiffer; London Quilters; Mothers; Quilt Patch; Quilt history; Quilt purpose - Heirloom; Quilt shops; Silk quilts; Teaching quiltmaking; The Artful Quilter; Tumbling Block - quilt pattern

00:21:37 - Time spent quilting / Current project

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Partial Transcript: So how many hours a week do you quilt?

Segment Synopsis: Ebersole changed jobs at the Artful Quilter two months before the interview and has had more time to quilt since then. She dedicates about three or four hours a day to "quilting endeavors." Ebersole says she is still learning the best way to use her free time. She describes one of her current projects, which is a quilt featuring different fish species that Ebersole is making for a nephew who may sell it on her behalf.

Keywords: Quiltmaking for family; Selling quilts; Time management

00:23:48 - Studio / Family support

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Partial Transcript: You mentioned your studio, so describe your studio to me.

Segment Synopsis: Ebersole's studio spans several spare bedrooms in her home. She describes each room, including her main studio's cutting and sewing tables, storage shelves, and two design walls. She stores most of her books, magazines, and teaching materials in a second bedroom and also recently moved her ironing board into a third bedroom. Some of Ebersole's art quilts are displayed on the walls, but she is planning to store her quilts on rolls as she continues making them. Ebersole says her family is very supportive of her quiltmaking. There were quilters in her husband's family. She and her husband have a quilt frame and heirloom quilts that belonged to his great-aunts. Ebersole's three daughters all learned to quilt and continue to make quilts as gifts, although one daughter primarily knits now.

Keywords: Children; Children's quilts; Daughters; Design walls; Family; Frames; Home studio; Quilt National; Quilt purpose - Birth; Quilt purpose - Gift or presentation; Quilt purpose - Heirloom; Work or Studio space

00:27:33 - Quilt groups / Retreats

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Partial Transcript: You mentioned belonging to Fiber Artists @ Loose Ends. Do you belong to any other art or quilt groups?

Segment Synopsis: Ebersole recently became a member of Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) and hopes to become more involved in it. She is planning to take an upcoming class at the Quilt Surface Design Symposium. Ebersole is also an active member of Reston Quilters Unlimited in Northern Virginia. She has planned retreats for the guild, participated in its quilting bees, and will be on the nominating committee next year. Ebersole's husband has been surprised at the amount of traveling she does for quilting retreats and events, but he is supportive of her quiltmaking.

Keywords: Family; Fiber Artists @ Loose Ends; Guild leadership; Husbands; Quilt Surface Design Symposium; Quilt guilds; Quilting bees; Quilting retreats; Quiltmaking inspiration; Reston Quilters Unlimited; Studio Art Quilt Associates; Traveling for quilt shows

Subjects: Reston (Va.)

00:30:22 - Inspirational artists and quiltmakers / Advice to beginning quilters

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Partial Transcript: So whose works are you drawn to and why?

Segment Synopsis: Ebersole cites painters Raoul Dufy and Gustav Klimt as influences on her work. She was inspired by Sue Benner when taking her quiltmaking class. She also finds attending events like the Quilt Surface Design Symposium to be inspirational and invigorating. Ebersole thinks that learning hand piecing and traditional quilting was very helpful for her as a beginning quiltmaker. She also discusses one of the hand piecing projects that Ebersole is currently teaching. Some of the students are concerned about choosing colors that work well together. Ebersole assures them that color selection is a skill that develops over time.

Keywords: Color theory; Donna Radner; Fusible applique; Grandmothers; Hand piecing; Hand quilting; Lisa Greisen; Quilt Surface Design Symposium; Sue Benner; Traditional quilts; Wonder Under

Subjects: Dufy, Raoul, 1877-1953; Fassett, Kaffe; Klimt, Gustav, 1862-1918

00:33:48 - Challenges confronting quiltmakers / Quilt legacy

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Partial Transcript: What do you think is the biggest challenge confronting quiltmakers today?

Segment Synopsis: Ebersole thinks that developing an appropriate sense of color is challenging for quilters, because many of the quilts that appear in magazines "are very matched," because they are from the same line of fabric or a kit. She sees this as a challenge to learning color theory and using fabric from a stash instead of buying fabrics that are already coordinated. After working in quilt shops for nine years, Ebersole has noticed that some colors and prints may go out of style for a while, and then eventually come back. She does not like buying fabric online, because Ebersole prefers to be able to see and touch it first. Ebersole is working on being a better photographer, so she can submit accurate pictures of her work to juried shows. She would like to be remembered for her experience as a quilting teacher and contributions to charitable projects. When asked if there is anything else she would like to share, Ebersole says that when she's packing for a trip, she packs her quilting handwork before packing a suitcase.

Keywords: Color theory; Fabric stash; Fiber Artists @ Loose Ends; Quilt Purpose - Charity; Teaching quiltmaking

00:37:53 - Identifiying as an artist / Importance of quiltmaking

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Partial Transcript: Do you consider yourself more as an artist, or a quiltmaker, or do you even make a distinction?

Segment Synopsis: At this stage in her life, Ebersole considers herself an artist. She says, "for a long time, I ignored that artist person inside of me, and now I'm really letting her out to play." Ebersole prefers quiltmaking because she likes the tactile aspects and having a finished product. It also draws on her training in cartography and geography. Ebersole says a quilt is something "you can wrap someone in." She describes a quilt she made for her father when he had Alzheimer's disease. The quilt was decorated on the front with things he enjoyed and on the back with family photos. Although Ebersole was living in London, the quilt made her feel that she "was hugging him from a distance, and I was doing something that could make a difference."

Keywords: Alzheimer's Disease; Family; Quilt purpose - Artistic expression; Quilt purpose - Comfort; Quiltmaking for family

00:40:32 - Meaningful contributions / Response to the touchstone quilt

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Partial Transcript: Is there any other time that you feel that you've, that a quilt has really contributed in a meaningful way to someone?

Segment Synopsis: Ebersole feels that her quilts and teaching have contributed in meaningful ways. She says, "it's almost a ministry in some ways, that you give of your talents, that it's just being channeled through me." People have told Ebersole how meaningful her help was or said that she picked the exact right color for a project. When asked about how people have responded to her touchstone quilt, Ebersole says that some of the nurses told her, "Yours is the one that we can stand in front of and get lost in." Ebersole also discusses teaching an "art quilt exploration class." She finds teaching rewarding and enjoys being around other artists while helping them to develop their creativity.

Keywords: Sacred Threads; Sheri Alcorn; Teaching quiltmaking

Subjects: Walter Reed Army Medical Center