Interview with Lynda Noll, November 5, 2011

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00:00:00 - About the touchstone quilt: "Cross-stitch to recovery"

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Partial Transcript: You want to leave it on pause for me, so I can tell her some stuff? [Unidentifed person says 'sure,' unidentifiable noise.] Okay and we're on. This is Karen Downer, and today's date is November 5th, 2011, and it is 11:05 [A.M.], and I'm conducting an interview with Lynda Noll for Save Our Stories, it's a project of The Alliance for American Quilts. Lynda and I are at the International Quilt Festival in Houston, Texas, and I want you to tell me about this quilt that you brought today.

Segment Synopsis: Noll describes the touchstone quilt and her process for making it in 2006. She made it after having scoliosis surgery and going through a year-long recovery. She made a cross-stitch block for each month of the year based on a paper calendar. Each block took Noll about 100 hours to complete using the counted cross-stitch technique. Noll explains her creative choices when making the cross-stitched blocks and her decision to sew the blocks into a quilt. She recalls the recovery process. Noll finds cross-stitching meditative, and she was able to reflect on her family and health as she worked on the quilt.

Keywords: "Cross-stitch to recovery"; Binding; Borders; Counted cross-stitch; Cross-stitch; Design process; Embellishment techniques; Family; Family life; International Quilt Festival; Karen Downer; Quilt Purpose - Therapy; Quilt purpose - Disease/illness

Subjects: Quiltmakers--United States

00:05:28 - Motivation for showing the touchstone quilt / What the quilt says about Noll

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Partial Transcript: So why did you choose this particular quilt to bring to the interview as opposed to some of your other quilts?

Segment Synopsis: Noll describes her motivations for choosing the touchstone quilt. She chose the quilt because it required a lot of time, effort, and reflection to make. The process of making the quilt allowed her to reflect on who she is and her family's background. The quilt also shows Noll's design choices, especially how she created the border and binding. She thinks this quilt reveals her attention to detail. Cross-stitching requires a lot of focus and organization. Noll had to be persistent and motivated to finish cross-stitching the blocks and make the quilt.

Keywords: Cross-stitch; Design process; Family; Quilt design

Subjects: Quilts--United States--Exhibitions

00:06:57 - Exhibitions / Plans for the touchstone quilt

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Partial Transcript: And how do you use this quilt at this point? Do you exhibit it?

Segment Synopsis: The quilt is displayed above the fireplace in Noll's home. She has also exhibited it in several quilt shows. It received an honorable mention in the 2006 Austin Area Quilt Guild's exhibit and first place in the 2007 Chisholm Trail Quilt Guild's show. She hopes to one day pass the quilt on to her children, although they have not been very interested in her quiltmaking so far.

Keywords: Austin Area Quilt Show; Awards; Chilsom Trail Quilt Show; Quilt Purpose - Exhibition; Quilt Purpose - Home decoration; Quilt purpose - Heirloom; Quilt shows/exhibitions

00:08:00 - Interest in quilting / Learning quiltmaking

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Partial Transcript: I'm going to move on to a portion of our questions that try to get at your involvement in quiltmaking in general, so would you tell me about your interests in quiltmaking in general?

Segment Synopsis: Noll describes her interest in working with color and quiltmaking. She enjoys incorporating many different colors in her quilts. Her favorite fabrics to use are batiks, and she likes blending bold colors together. Noll recalls making her first quilt using a cardboard template and scrap fabric. As a teenager, Noll lived on a military base in Panama. Her family had a limited supply of clothing and fabrics on the base, so they would sometimes make their own clothing. Noll used fabric scraps leftover from making clothing to sew her first quilt top. Several years later, her mother had the quilt top finished and gave it to Noll as a gift. Noll still has the quilt, and the fabrics in it remind her of specific memories from her childhood. She didn't start quilting again for twenty years after making her first quilt top.

Keywords: Daughters; Fabric - Batiks; Fiber - Polyester; Learning quiltmaking; Machine quilting; Mothers; Panama; Quilt tops; Quiltmaking for family; Scrap quilts

00:11:45 - Long arm quilting / Memorial quilt

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Partial Transcript: So your first top all those years ago, it was quilted for you. Do you now do your own quilting?

Segment Synopsis: Noll explains that she sometimes struggles with whether or not to do her own quilting. She does not have a long arm machine and quilting on her home machine can be difficult. Noll describes making a memorial quilt for her father. She decided to machine quilt it on her own, although it was very large, because she wanted it to be entirely done by herself. Noll believes if she sends a quilt out to be finished by a long arm quilter, then it hasn't been completely made by her.

Keywords: Fathers; Long arm quilting; Machine quilting; Quilt Purpose - Memorial; Quilt label

00:13:36 - Time spent quilting / Previous crocheting

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Partial Transcript: How many hours a week do you piece, or quilt, or--?

Segment Synopsis: Noll says that she hasn't been able to quilt as much as she would like to, because she is finishing school to become a nurse practitioner. She explains that her family members were not quiltmakers, but her grandmother and mother did a lot of crocheting. Noll also learned how to crochet as a child and eventually began making afghan blankets. She thinks that crocheting influenced her to start cross-stitching and quiltmaking.

Keywords: Family; Grandmothers; Knowledge transfer; Mothers; Time management

00:14:54 - Amusing experience / Least favorite parts of quiltmaking

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Partial Transcript: Do you have any amusing experiences that have occurred to you as part of your quiltmaking that you can share with us?

Segment Synopsis: Noll discusses an amusing story about her quilt being published in the “Lone Stars III: A Legacy of Texas Quilts” book. She was excited and checked her mail and email often to find out more details about her quilt and the book. Noll's husband didn't understand why she was so excited, because he thought there would only be a small image of her quilt in the book. She was surprised when two pages of the book were devoted to her quilt. Noll also talks about how she is currently frustrated with figuring out the best way of doing fine, precision machine quilting.

Keywords: "Lone Stars III: A Legacy of Texas Quilts"; Family; Husbands; Machine quilting; Published work - Quilts

00:16:42 - Austin Area Quilt Guild

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Partial Transcript: Do you belong to groups, or guilds, or--?

Segment Synopsis: Noll is a member of the Austin Area Quilt Guild, but she was more active in the guild before starting to work full-time and go to school.

Keywords: Quilt guilds; Time management

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

00:17:08 - Technology / Favorite techniques

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Partial Transcript: Can you talk a little about how all this wonderful technology that's coming to us -- machines, and good grief, every notion you can think of -- how is technology influencing your work?

Segment Synopsis: Noll describes how technology has changed the quiltmaking process. She is inspired by seeing new technology and techniques at quilt shows. She discusses creating cross-stiches based on a photograph of her family, which Noll scanned and converted into a cross-stitch pattern on her computer. Noll's favorite quilt pattern is the Blooming Nine Patch, and she enjoys cross-stitching and working with color. She has also tried using a Snippet Sensations technique for fusible applique.

Keywords: Blooming Nine Patch - quilt pattern; Cross-stitch; Family; Fusible applique; Photography/photo transfer; Quilt shows/exhibitions; Snippet Sensations; Technology in quiltmaking

00:19:27 - Studio / Time management

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Partial Transcript: Describe where you work. I mean, where you quilt, where you sew, your studio.

Segment Synopsis: Noll describes her earliest interest in drawing and being inspired by her previous artwork. Noll has a portrait that she drew of her dad hanging in her studio, along with oil paintings that her mother painted, and quilts hanging on the walls. She has a separate room dedicated to sewing and mentions having lots of fabric. When asked about managing her time, Noll explains her struggle to balance working and quilting. She discusses the need to earn money, while also being able to do what she enjoys. Although Noll has a design wall, she usually uses the floor instead when she's working on a project.

Keywords: Design walls; Fabric stash; Family; Home studio; Quilt Purpose - Art or personal expression; Time management; Work or Studio space

00:21:51 - What makes a great quilt / What makes a great quiltmaker

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Partial Transcript: Okay, we're going to move to a section that talks about aesthetics, and craftsmanship, and design aspects, and your opinion in some of those areas. What do you think makes a great quilt?

Segment Synopsis: Noll believes that creativity makes a great quilt, rather than just following a pattern. She views quiltmaking as a form of self-expression. Noll describes a quilt that she recently made called “Inner Peace,” which reflects her personal philosophy of finding happiness from within. She explains that a great quiltmaker uses their imagination and creativity, while being technically proficient.

Keywords: "Inner Peace"; Aesthetics; Quilt purpose - Art or personal expression

00:23:33 - Inspiring quiltmakers / Influences

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Partial Transcript: Is there an artist or a quilter that, whose works you're particularly drawn to?

Segment Synopsis: Noll discusses two women who have influenced her work: Caryl Bryer Fallert and Kathy York. She admires Caryl Bryer Fallert's use of brights colors, and her background as an airline stewardess who retired and pursued her passion for quiltmaking. Noll also admires work by Kathy York. She recalls working at a quilt show and telling York how much she likes her quilts. York was surprised that Noll knew her work. Noll says the artists she admires use color and creativity, and they sometimes include humor in their work.

Keywords: Kathy York; Quilt shows/exhibitions; Quiltmaking inspiration

Subjects: Fallert, Caryl Bryer, 1947-

00:25:06 - Importance of quiltmaking / Personal expression

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Partial Transcript: Okay, we're going to transition now to the fourth area, and that's the function and meaning of quilts. This is where we talk a little bit about the historic aspects and quilts in American life, and especially in the life of women. Why is quiltmaking important to you?

Segment Synopsis: Noll explains why quiltmaking is important to her as a means of self-expression. She recounts more details about making her touchstone quilt after having back surgery, including how members of her quilt group brought her meals during recovery. When asked if Noll's quilts reflect her Texas heritage, she says her quilts tell more about her personal life and inner thoughts.

Keywords: Friendships through quilting; Quilt Purpose - Therapy; Quilt guilds; Quilt purpose - Art or personal expression; Social quiltmaking activities

Subjects: Wichita Falls (Tex.)

00:27:27 - Meaning for women's history in America / Quilt preservation

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Partial Transcript: What do you think about quilts and their special meaning for women's history?

Segment Synopsis: Noll notes that there is a lot of history in quilts, especially when viewing the fabrics and patterns from when a quilt was made. She explains that there is personal meaning in quilts, and historic quilts can give insight into what was happening in women's lives when they were making them. As with her own work, Noll recognizes the self-expression in historic quilts. Noll mentions organizations committed to quilt preservation, and she discusses the importance of documenting the stories behind quilts and what they mean to the quiltmakers. She explains how the label on her quilt featured in the Lone Stars III: A Legacy of Texas Quilts book includes additional information about the quilt, including a photograph of Noll with her dad, a description of the fabrics, and the meaning and inspiration behind the quilt.

Keywords: "Lone Stars III: A Legacy of Texas Quilts"; Fabric - Batiks; Photography/photo transfer; Published work - Quilts; Quilt Purpose - Exhibition; Quilt Purpose - Memorial; Quilt documentation; Quilt history; Quilt labels; Quilt preservation; Quilt shows/exhibitions; Quiltmaking inspiration

00:30:34 - Quilts as gifts

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Partial Transcript: Do you have any idea how many quilts you've made?

Segment Synopsis: Noll says that she has made around a hundred quilts. She explains that she has given most of them away. Noll recalls giving a themed quilt to her son’s teachers when he was in school until the fourth grade. She involved the students in his classes to make different squares for the quilts. Noll also made a quilt to thank her brother for his military service and had family members sign it. Noll's brother and mother have quilts that she made for them displayed in their homes. She also displays quilts in her own home.

Keywords: Brothers; Family; Mothers; Quilt Purpose - Bedcovering; Quilt Purpose - Gift or presentation; Quilt Purpose - Home decoration; Quiltmaking for family; Quilts as gifts; Signature quilts; Snippet Sensation

00:32:57 - Challenges confronting quiltmakers

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Partial Transcript: A couple of times in our discussion, our interview, you've mentioned the economy. I'm going to ask you a question now about what do you think is the biggest challenge confronting quiltmakers today?

Segment Synopsis: Noll explains one of the challenges of being a quiltmaker is having enough money to take care of her family and still be able to quilt. Noll says that she hasn't been able to find a way to make a living from quiltmaking yet, so she is still working as a hospice nurse practitioner to support her family.

Keywords: Quilt Purpose - Personal income; Selling quilts; Time management

00:33:45 - Personal meaning in quilts

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Partial Transcript: Okay Lynda, I want to thank you for spending this time with us. You obviously have stories to tell, and I'm sure they're coming out in your quilts. I want to ask you one last question and that is this: did we not touch on something that you want to make a record, is there anything we didn't get from you today that you'd like to add?

Segment Synopsis: Noll says that talking to a quiltmaker about their work can give viewers a different interpretation of a quilt than what their original impressions may be. Learning more about the personal meanings behind quilts can change viewers' perspectives, not only about specific quilts, but also about other parts of their lives.

Keywords: Quilt documentation; Quilt preservation; Quilt purpose - Storytelling

Subjects: Quiltmakers