Interview with Barb Forrister, November 4, 2011

Toggle Index/Transcript View Switch.
Search this Index
00:00:00 - About the touchstone quilt: "Emerald Treasures"

Play segment

Partial Transcript: This is Karen Downer, and today is November 4th, 2011, and it's approximately 9:15, and I'm conducting an interview with Barb Forrister for Quilters' Save Our Stories, a project of the Alliance for American Quilts. Barb Forrister and I are at the International Quilt Festival in Houston, Texas. Barb, will you tell me about this fabulous quilt that you brought?

Segment Synopsis: Forrister discusses her touchstone quilt, "Emerald Treasures," and the techniques she used when making it. The quilt began with a painted background. It also features three-dimensional turtles and embellishments made from beads, wool roving, and dyed cheesecloth. Forrister describes sending her quilt to a show, where it was awarded second place. However, it was damaged while being shipped back from the show. The quilt was accepted into the West Coast Wonders exhibit at the International Quilt Festival before it was damaged. Forrister was not sure how to fix the quilt, but she eventually repaired the damage and was able to show it at Festival.

Keywords: "Emerald Treasures"; Cheesecloth; Embellishment techniques; Fabric - Painted; Fiber - Wool; International Quilt Festival; Karen Downer; Quilt Purpose - Exhibition; Quilt competitions; Quilt shows/exhibitions; West Coast Wonders

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

00:03:11 - Finding meaning / Plans for the touchstone quilt

Play segment

Partial Transcript: What special meaning does it have for you after having gone through that with it?

Segment Synopsis: Forrister found additional meaning in the quilt after realizing that she could the repair it. She was glad that the quilt could continue being shared with other people instead of being permanently damaged. In addition to being shown at the International Quilt Festival, Forrister's quilt was displayed in the Copper Shade Tree Gallery in Round Top, Texas.

Keywords: Copper Shade Tree Gallery; Quilt Purpose - Exhibition; Selling quilts

Subjects: Round Top (Fayette County, Tex.)

00:04:09 - Learning quiltmaking / Quiltmaking for family and charities

Play segment

Partial Transcript: I'm going to move on to an area that sort of gets at your involvement in quiltmaking in general. Can you tell us at what age did you start quiltmaking?

Segment Synopsis: Forrister began quiltmaking in 1999 and learned how to quilt by taking classes. She has a traditional quiltmaking background but primarily makes art quilts now. Forrister discusses giving quilts to her family and donating art quilts and a portion of the proceeds from selling her quilts to nonprofit organizations such as the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative, the American Cancer Society, and the National Wildlife Federation. Forrister explains the touchstone quilt is part of series that is based on sea turtles impacted by oil spills.

Keywords: Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative; American Cancer Society; Art quiltmaking; Free motion quilting; Learning quiltmaking; National Wildlife Federation; Piecing; Quilt Purpose - Charity; Quilt purpose - Activism/Awareness; Quiltmaking classes; Quiltmaking for family; Traditional quilts

Subjects: Art quilts

00:06:28 - Quilt groups / Favorite and least favorite parts of quiltmaking

Play segment

Partial Transcript: You told us a story about how this beautiful quilt was almost destroyed. Do you have an amusing story associated with your quiltmaking experiences?

Segment Synopsis: Forrister talks about participating in quilt groups including the Austin Art [Quilt] Group, Austin Fiber Artists, and the Austin Area Quilt Guild. She describes the challenges of working in groups and recalls putting together a quilt with nine group members. The group decided to cut and reassemble some of the members' pieces, so they would work better with the overall quilt, rather than being included as a whole. Forrister loves quiltmaking and especially enjoys painting and dyeing fabric.

Keywords: Austin Art Group; Austin Fiber Artists; Collaboration; Connie Hudson; Design process; Fabric dyeing; Frances Holliday Alford; Guild activities; Kathy York; Leslie Tucker Jenison; Painting; Quilt guilds; Sherri McCauley; Social quiltmaking activities

Subjects: Austin (Tex.); Austin Area Quilt Guild

00:09:08 - Techniques

Play segment

Partial Transcript: I think you mentioned earlier that you actually dyed everything in this quilt except perhaps the buttons I'm looking at, the beads, those are beads.

Segment Synopsis: Forrister describes the materials used in her quilt, as well as the techniques she used to make it. She painted and dyed all of the fabric in the quilt. The quilt also has elements created from gel medium, art glitter, and paints. Forrister likes incorporating three-dimensional elements and mixed media in her quilts. She notes that making art quilts allows her to use a wider variety of materials than would be used in traditional quiltmaking.

Keywords: Art quiltmaking; Beads; Cheesecloth; Embellishment techniques; Fabric - Hand-dyed; Fabric dyeing; Painting; Techniques

Subjects: Art quilts; Mixed media textiles

00:10:53 - Technology / Design process

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Technology is so prevalent in the quilt world. How has technology influenced your work? Or has it influenced your work?

Segment Synopsis: Forrister explains her process of taking nature photographs and working from the photos when preparing to make a quilt. She often creates sketches based on her photos when creating quilt designs. "Emerald Treasures" was inspired by photographs of turtles that Forrister saw on a trip to South Carolina. Forrister prefers to use a design wall instead of working flat on a table. She also uses the design wall for photographing her quilts. Forrister included a black binding on the touchstone quilt, because she wanted it to have a frame. The touchstone quilt also has elements that extend from the sides instead of having straight edges.

Keywords: "Emerald Treasures"; Binding; Design process; Design walls; Photography/photo transfer; Quilt design; South Carolina

00:14:02 - What makes a great quilt / Inspiring quiltmakers

Play segment

Partial Transcript: I'm going to move on to a section that just speaks in general about aesthetics and design aspects of quiltmaking. What do you personally think makes a great quilt? In your mind, what's a great quilt?

Segment Synopsis: Forrister discusses what she finds visually appealing in quilts, especially design elements like color and composition. Forrister collects quilts and artwork made by other artists, and she explains her motivation for collecting quilts that have design appeal. She recently purchased works by Kathy York and Cynthia Wenslow. Forrister also admires the work of Hollis Chatelain, who she has been studying with.

Keywords: Aesthetics; Collecting quilts; Cynthia Wenslow; Hollis Chatelain; Kathy York; Quilt design

00:16:33 - Hand vs. machine quilting

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Talk a little bit about, I see work that must have been done by hand in this quilt, and I see work that appears to have been done by machine. What's your philosophy of hand versus machine, and their place in your art?

Segment Synopsis: Forrister compares the consistency of machine quilting versus the relaxing and aesthetically pleasing aspects of hand quilting. She likes combining both methods to provide more interest in her quilts.

Keywords: Embellishment techniques; Hand applique; Hand quilting; Machine quilting; Quiltmaking classes

00:17:48 - Importance of quiltmaking / Reflecting regions in quilts

Play segment

Partial Transcript: We're going to move to a section that addresses the function and meaning of quilts in American life. Why is quiltmaking important to you? Not just your quiltmaking, but why is quiltmaking in general important to you?

Segment Synopsis: Forrister speaks about how to keep quilts relevant for the future. She says that it is important to educate people about quilts, document quilts, and introduce them to younger generations. Educating other people about crafts will ensure those traditions are carried on. When asked about reflecting regionality in her quilts, Forrister mentions a three-dimensional piece she made that was displayed in the Artists Village exhibit of the International Quilt Festival. Her piece is inspired by the adobe pueblo architecture and landscape of New Mexico, where Forrister is originally from.

Keywords: Artist Village Project; Beads; International Quilt Festival; Knowledge transfer; New Mexico; Quilt documentation; Quilt shows/exhibitions; Tactile Architecture

00:19:20 - Meaning for women's history in America / Quilt preservation

Play segment

Partial Transcript: In what ways do you think quilts have a special meaning, particularly to women and women's history?

Segment Synopsis: Forrister reflects on how an important part of quiltmaking in history has been repurposing materials. Women have reused clothing and other fabrics to include them in their quilts. She discusses quilt preservation techniques including protecting quilts from sunlight and storing them in archival paper and boxes. Forrister notes that art quilts should be enjoyed and displayed on walls, because they won't last forever. She thinks that it is safe to display art quilts hanging on walls, as long as they are not exposed to light or other harmful elements.

Keywords: Quilt preservation

Subjects: Art quilts

00:21:22 - Challenges confronting quiltmakers / Future plans for quiltmaking

Play segment

Partial Transcript: What do you think is the biggest challenge that confronts us today as quiltmakers?

Segment Synopsis: Forrister emphasizes the importance of having your own artistic voice in quiltmaking. She says it is tempting to copy an existing quilt instead of creating something of your own. Forrister is moving more toward making soft sculptures and incorporating them into quilts with three-dimensional elements and motion sensors.

Keywords: Art quiltmaking; Quilt design; Technology in quiltmaking

Subjects: Art quilts

00:22:49 - Educating about art quilts / Traditional quiltmaking

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Okay, can you think of any special way for quilts to be used, maybe particularly art quilts? How can they be used to benefit society? Maybe a way that they haven't been used in the past; do you have any thoughts on that?

Segment Synopsis: Forrister explains that art quilts are still relatively new to the public. She says that galleries and art buyers don't always know how to present or take care of quilts. She hopes that art quiltmakers are able to educate the public so there is more awareness of art quilts in the coming years. When asked about returning to traditional quiltmaking, Forrister says that she has a few quilt tops that she still plans to finish. They are traditional king-sized quilts, and finishing them will be a challenge because Forrister doesn't have a long arm machine.

Keywords: Art education; Long arm quilting machine; Quilt Purpose - Charity; Quilt tops; Traditional quilts

Subjects: Art quilts

00:24:21 - Engaging quilt viewers / Involving youth in quiltmaking

Play segment

Partial Transcript: I want to begin to close now, but we still have time, so we don't have to actually quit. So I want to ask you, are there other stories, is there another story, that if someone collects your quilt, purposefully or it's given to them, what do you want them to know about you?

Segment Synopsis: Forrister says that she is pleased when buyers and viewers connect with her quilts. She finds it to be a huge compliment when viewers want to touch her quilts, although other quiltmakers don't always approve of having people touch their work. Forrister emphasizes the importance of educating younger generations about quiltmaking. She fears that quiltmaking will die out if younger quilters do not carry on the tradition. Forrister notes that contemporary art quilting and modern quilt guilds have appealed to younger quiltmakers in recent years. She also mentions introducing young children to quiltmaking through scouting troops and school systems.

Keywords: Art education; Modern quiltmaking; Modern quilts; Quilt Purpose - Utilitarian; Teaching quiltmaking

Subjects: Quiltmakers