Karen Musgrave (KM): This is Karen Musgrave and I am doing a Quilters' S.O.S. -Save Our Stories interview with Diana Bracy. Diana is in Las Vegas, Nevada, and I am in Naperville, Illinois, so we are conducting this interview over the telephone. Today's date is December 9, 2008. It is now 3:09 in the afternoon. Diana, thank you so much for taking time to do this interview with me.
Diana Bracy (DB): You are welcome. Thank you for having me.
KM: Please tell me about your quilt "Living the Dream."
DB: The idea of the quilt "Living the Dream" actually started with me meetingand shaking hands with our President-Elect Obama. We [my husband, Vincent R. Bracy, Jr. and I.] attended a ceremony here in Las Vagas. It was called "Living the Dream." ["Living the Dream" - A Silver Legacy of Keeping Dr. King's Dream Alive."] It was sponsored by Macy's. [my husband's employer.] It was the 25th annual celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Out then Senator Obama was a surprise visitor to our event. We were told that some of the local politicians might stop in give a speech. We were seated at dinner. Our table was located at the very front of the podium. Suddenly, in walks Senator Obama! The crowd just went crazy. Of course he spoke, we were totally mesmerized and he was about twenty-five feet from me. His secret service and everyone were there and at the end of his speech I just had chills, just chills. I just felt so totally unreal and just felt connected to him. I felt as though I could actually touch him which I've never felt before with any politician. You know even with politics and listening to everybody's stories I felt that they were just so far away from me that if I said, 'hello,' they would never hear my voice. Even if Las Vegas said, 'hello,' they would never hear us. I felt a connection with him and after he spoke he was at the top of the podium going along the line with the dignitaries and he was shaking hands with them. It was wonderful. There was a rope between our tables and the podium. As he walked down the stairs I was taking pictures. I thought, 'Oh my god I hope secret service doesn't like take my camera or something,' but I was nervous and I took a picture. He walked directly over to me and extended his hand. I was like, 'oh my gosh.' I dropped my camera. I don't know what happened to it but he grabbed my hand and I shook his hand and even with his other hand he held mine. He looked directly into my eyes and he said, 'Thank you.' And I said, 'You're welcome.' I didn't know what else to say I was so dumbfounded. He then started going down the line and everybody started coming up because we didn't expect that we were going to be able to touch him. As he was walking down shaking hands with everyone I found my camera, I started to take pictures and my heart was just going pitter-patter and I said to myself, I knew I could touch him. I didn't literally mean to actually touch him! I felt that if we told Senator Obama our stories that he would listen to our woes. He would listen to the problems that we were having and he would take it to a higher step. I felt like he was a person and indeed when he touched me and shook my hand, looked into my eyes I was like he is a person. When I looked at him I thought I could do a mosaic art. I do famous faces. I have also created regular faces. I was thinking that I have just got to capture his face in my mosaic photography. That is what inspired me to do his image. I had to do it.
Now as far as my art is concerned, what I do is called mosaic fabricphotography. It is taking a photo with the use of my computer and I translate that into pixels. I define where to place light, medium and dark values of the image. I trace around the pixels in order to get the details that I want to appear and make this my pattern. I select multi-colored batik fabrics as my palette. So the selected areas that are identified in my pattern as values of light, medium and dark are matched with my batik fabrics. The batiks are sorted in the same value system, light medium and dark. The back side of the fabric is ironed with fusible webbing. My foundation is fusible tricot. The prepared batik fabric is fused on top of the tricot. Since both the fabric and the tricot are fusible, when ironed, they adhere to each other. This forms a permanent bond. I use thousands of pieces of fabric in one image. When you touch it, you realize it is actually fabric, even though to see it, you would think that it is painted. I had finished Dr. Martin Luther King and I also did the Kennedy brothers. [John and Robert.] It is the image where their heads are together and they appear to be whispering. I named my mosaic "Whispering". I always wondered what they were saying to each other. At my very first solo show I won my first solo award. It was the Boulder City International Festival [23rd Annual Boulder City Fine Arts Festival in Boulder City, Nevada.] and that was last year [actually 2008.] I thought again of making the Obama mosaic when I was looking at the Kennedy brothers hanging on my wall. I also had Dr. Martin Luther King's image hanging on the wall, so as I was working on Obama. I felt as though I was connecting those important people. They all meant something different to me and they all had a major impact on my life at some time or another. In working with each and every one of them I felt some sort of kindred spirit I guess for lack of better words. I felt as though they all had the same dream. Dr. King wasn't able to be able to live the dream, but he knew that it was going to happen. I knew that it was going to happen. My father knew it was going to happen, but I didn't believe it was going to happen in my life time. When I was looking at the almost finished mosaic of Senator Obama, President-Elect now, I felt as though they were all in the same room. It was such a feeling. I can't even begin to explain it. It was surreal. As I was working on his face, I could just see it. I could just see it come together. When I was done with it I hung them on each wall in my room and turned around and looked at all of them and I just felt as though I was in a perfect place. Dr. Martin Luther King started with a speech and I wasn't there to listen but I have heard it over and over and over again, I am now fifty-four years old and in listening to Senator Obama, president-elect now, I feel as though he has taken the torch. That he has taken Dr. King's torch and that he has taken it on and not just himself but what we all want for the world. I am a disciplined person, just to be able to come together as one and be able to get this right this time. Obama, Dr King and the Kennedys messages are all about the people. That is why I am so drawn to President-Elect Obama. That is what made me do his image and even now its, its emotional to even talk about these great men right now. I felt as though I had to capture those moments in time. I did it and I'm so pleased with what I've done with my art.
KM: What are your plans for this quilt?
DB: Actually, as soon as I made the quilt, somebody saw it somewhere and askedif I could show it in Houston International Fall Festival. [Houston, Texas, October 25 through November 2, 2008.] It was there in a show category called "Patchwork Politics." I said, 'Sure.' It went to Houston. I was really excited because this is a show that I have always wanted to be involved in and never thought I had the skills to actually be able to make a quilt to be accepted. When they called for patchwork quilts, the Obama mosaic made it. I wasn't able to attend Houston Festival but when I turned on my computer the day of the opening, I received so many emails about the quilt and everybody told me it was so wonderful. [that.] they had never seen anything like it, so it made its dbut for the first time there
Actually I received the quilt back from Houston about two weeks ago and I reallywould love for our President-Elect Obama to have it. I mean it is his. If not, then it's going to just travel. I have a couple of dates that people would like for the quilt to be shown. Such as, Susan Walen's . [the exhbition, "President Obama: A Celebration in Art Quilts," will be from February 9 to March 5, 2009 in the main gallery (King Street Gallery) of the Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation Arts Center.] Sue Walen of Bethesda, Maryland. It can travel or if Obama would like to have it, it will be his. Otherwise I will have it here in my house and cherish it forever.
KM: Have you contacted him?
DB: Who Obama?
DB: No, I have not. In fact, I have not. [laughs.] No, but I think I willbecause everybody is everybody blogging about the mosaic. People that I don't even know are blogging to me about the quilt and they are saying, 'Oh my god this would be so great, if Obama accepted this quilt. You should contact him to see if he would like to have the quilt.' In actuality I'm working on another one now hopefully to get done for the show that has Michelle and Obama. Just a beautiful picture and I'll be done with it in about a week. So if there is room [in the show.] I will have another one. If not that one, maybe he would like to have one for Michelle and himself so I will be done with that one very soon.
KM: Very nice.
DB: Yes, yes.
KM: Tell me about your interest in quiltmaking.
DB: Well my interest in quiltmaking started about fifteen years ago, my bestfriend of almost forty years has just started quilting. I do believe we were in our early forties and I thought maybe quilting was for old ladies. I told her, 'You know we are too young to quilt,' and she goes, 'No, no it is fine.' Even though we are the youngest people in our group, you know it was great. So she purchased all the equipment and I decided to take a quilt class. When I took the class I couldn't learn. For some reason the lady and I couldn't understand what she was telling me to do. In quilting there is a certain terminology that you use. You don't normally hear, the names of the quilt blocks. They say things like, make a Log Cabin, [Grandmother's Flower Garden, Rob Peter to Pay Paul.] Monkey Wrench. [they are talking about a particular block name to sew.]. They talk about the rotary cutters. [mats, rulers, and the purple thang, (yes, thang).] Things I had never heard of before. I thought, 'I'm not ready for a class.' What I am good at is reading. I purchased just about every how to quilt book and went home to read. I learned the terminology and then I began to understand what the instructor was trying to explain to me. She was speaking in quilter's terms that I didn't understand. That was a lack of communication. Educating by reading helped me to understand. I was taking an intermediate class, maybe I should have taken a beginners class so I could start from step one. I was a seamstress and I knew about sewing clothing, but quilting is totally different. The seam allowance is different, the supplies are different, and of course the books are different. Understanding the terminology was the key everything. I learned so much in reading the books myself then I thought it was time to try and make a quilt. I made my first miniature quilt and it was more of a traditional quilt. It was the dark colors and called the Log Cabin quilt. It had colors like plaids and what we call calico, which is kind of an old fashioned look. It was nice but it didn't wow me. What I decided to do was try brighter colors, something vivid in jewel tone colors. Using the same patterns, I made the blocks. They then turned out like 'wow.' I'm thinking, 'Now this is what I want. This is what I'm looking for.' I need that wow factor, not something older and traditional which is okay for some people and I can appreciate it. I had to feel as though I was making something that I enjoyed making. In doing that, I thought, 'I love these vivid colors. I love these wild colors except now I want to do something that is kind of artsy.' So I started doing something called Color Wash quilts and it is also called Watercolor quilts. With that you are cutting little squares of floral fabric and you are reproducing a bouquet of some sort. That style was more artsy. Maybe a birdbath with the bird in it all made with flowers and tone on tone which are just the background fabrics that reads as a solid color but there is depth to it so it looks like a scene. I thought, 'Great this is exactly what I'm doing.' And I was getting more excited. This is what I wanted to do. Then I decided to try to do somebody's face in fabric and reproduce that. I purchased another quilt book. It explained the process to get a face onto a canvas that looks like the photograph. It was called more of a mosaic because the edges were jagged the way mosaic tile would look or something like mosaic glass would look. It has a little stair step look on the edges. After that I thought, 'Oh my god, this is absolutely amazing.' [After reading the book, I made my first mosaic of Mona Lisa. The pattern was inside of the book and I had to transfer thousands of numbers on a large piece of gridded paper. I fell in love with this method. My excitement led me to taking a class from the book's author. She was amazing and I finished my next mosaic of my grandson, Javon. Even he recognized his image, saying, 'Nana, you have another grandson on your wall.'] I started teaching the class to others. [Tammie Bowser, the author, and I completed a life size mosaic of her grandmother, called "Unforgettable." She entered the quilt in the Houston's Fall Festival Show in 2003 and we won an award for an International finalist for a two person quilt. A couple of years she did a mosaic of Duke Ellington where the edges were smooth, not jagged like stair steps or tiles but literally smoothed out. She showed me the process of how to do that.] I was just passionate. Then I knew that was for me. We differ in how we start the process and I've been doing that now for five years. I've done lots of mosaics and each one gets better than the next. I've tried wild colors and I absolutely love it. With Obama's face, when you look at it, it actually does look like a painting. My fabrics pieces are about as small as a quarter of an inch. You can literally put it on your fingernail and if you sneezed they would all blow away. Really you should breathe normally while you are doing this work. I sneezed a lot and things were going all over the place. [KM laughs.]
You just have to find it again and put it back in place. It is like, 'oh mygosh,' each and every little piece means something. Just a little part right in the middle of the pupil of an eye and I can capture that. The more I do it the better I become. When I look at a human face, a regular face, I'm looking at how I can recreate that face and which colors I would use. Not your skin colors, but something that is totally different, totally off the wall. Obama is blues, mauves and purple and you can see his image even though the colors are not his skin color. That, again is what makes me passionate about what I do, creating and creating.
KM: How is it quilted?
DB: Actually it is not quilted. You can quilt it. Tammie quilts hers. Sheoverall quilts over the top and it a different texture to the quilts. My method is actually not quilting it at all, I hand stitch the bindings to finish the edges. I like the flat look. It can be quilted and some of my students do quilt their work. It looks really nice but it actually changes the texture of the face and I just prefer mine to look more like a painting.
KM: Whose works are you drawn to and why? Besides Tammie's.
DB: [I forgot to mention it before, but my first mosaics that were made by thebooks, were sewn. Thousands of two and one half inch squares were fused and then sewn together. Once I was taught how to fuse the fabric without sewing.] The first one I did was my husband [Vince.]. By using the smoother edges, I wanted to see if I could capture his face. Of course, I've been married to him almost thirty-four years and it is a face that I see everyday. He has a beard and I thought oh my goodness if I could recapture this face with the beard and actually have it look like hair then I think I am doing something. I looked at the picture and I actually did it and it looked okay. It is quite large and I couldn't really see the image as clearly close up. Then I stepped away about five feet, six feet, I turned around and all of a sudden his face appeared. I did it and it looks like hair. Then I was like oh my god it's almost as though if you stand closer it becomes more like an abstract painting. If you stand further away, because of the distance, you can actually see the depth of the photo and you can make out the face. It magically appears. Tammie taught me the basics of how to do this.
KM: How big was your husband's?
DB: My husband is probably maybe thirty-six by maybe forty-two.
KM: Obama's "Living the Dream" is fourteen and a half by eighteen and a half.
DB: Yes it is smaller. I made it smaller because I thought you would be able tosee it clearer in a closer area. I also thought making it smaller would make it less time consuming and easier. In actuality it doesn't because the actual pixels and the pieces I use were much smaller. So it is easier to make a bigger one. Here in Las Vegas most of the homes have cathedral height ceilings. You are able to see if from a distance because of the size. The smaller ones like Obama, you could stand right next to it and see exactly what it is. On the other hand, people in Houston blogged about seeing Obama's image from the top of the escalator and he was only 14 by 18 inches, on the floor level! If you stand close and look through a camera lens right at the picture it looks 3-D. It is the most amazing thing I have ever seen and until you seen it is hard to even imagine. If you are far away from it you can actually still see the picture.
KM: Describe your studio.
DB: My studio is my apartment home. I have two rooms and I work in a small area.I actually use a [TV.] tray and I also have a sewing table four feet long that is what I call my big table. Because the pieces are so small I'm able to put it on a table and I just need a little room for my tiny iron. My iron is about 1 inch by 2 inches. I fuse with the little iron to make it easier to work in small areas. I have two stations set up, one in the extra bedroom and one in our master bedroom. Normally I have two mosaics going on at one time. So if I'm in the room with my husband watching TV, I've got another one there. If I go to another part of my house I can take my work area with me, it's portable. For instance, right now I just finishing Dizzy Gillespie and I love the way he is coming out. I have already started on Michelle and Barack Obama. I'm going to go ahead and get them going. After that I have, oh gosh I can't even image how many more faces I have already printed that I'm ready to start on. I'm doing a jazz series. I've done Louis Armstrong (two different images), Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday and Duke Ellington. I'm drawn to the jazz scene and because all of these things have been happening throughout my life I thought to make other things, such as Barack Obama. When Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s celebration came up in a January, I did one because of that. I thought, 'Well let me just do the Kennedys too, because after all I did do Dr King. Why not make it a political theme? So I stray a little bit, but I always go back to my jazz scene. I have patterns for John Coltrane. I'm going to be doing Ella Fitzgerald. Every now and again, maybe every one or two months I do get a commission to do someone else's photo. I'm doing commissions of people, their animals, or maybe grandkids, and even their own faces. I stop my regular work and get to doing the commission. I'm constantly working on one or two pieces at a time.
KM: How much fabric do you have?
DB: I have a lot. [laughs.] I have a lot. In my closet here in my hallway I haveshelves and it is full of batik fabrics which is what I prefer to use. Batik fabrics are better than the calico even though the calico fabrics would work, it will give it a more different look. The batik fabrics look more like hand painted fabrics and there is such a variety of colors in those fabrics. I could probably use one piece of fabric and get ten or fifteen colors out of it. That is what I love doing because it is kind of difficult to look at a batik fabric and say that would be great for the area of the cheek, on a face, even though they are different colors. One cheek may have greens and blues and the other check may have the darker shade of the same color. Even a yellow or an orange in the other check, would work. Just as long as the values of the fabric work the color doesn't matter. I use color value and hues rather than actual colors of the fabric. I'm drawn to the color, but I'm looking at the value to decide whether I would like to it. There could be a lighter spot, maybe the shine from the flash of camera lens on the forehead or on the nose. The shadow of the nose area, the eyebrows, the lips, and the background could be much darker. I would use dark blues or blacks or dark purples or something that is dark in that particular area. That selection of just the right value is what brings the faces out. If you are using the different tones of the face, light, medium and dark, with graduation between those colors, the face will definitely come out. In my closest I have rows and rows of batik fabric. I have a storage unit, gosh probably the largest one available in a rental unit full with shelves of fabric. It is not all batiks because I do other quilts sometimes but now I believe I don't even want those fabrics. Maybe I do. I need to go back and reload and get batik fabrics.
KM: How much yardage do you typically buy when you buy something?
DB: Not much at all. When I'm buying, if I see something that I like, dependingon where I am I will buy it a small piece. If I am here in a local area a yard would do. A yard would probably make several small mosaics. I use one quarter yard or less of nine different batik fabrics. Even though they are only nine fabrics it looks like there may be up to forty different colors in there. In actuality there are only nine fabrics in a face. I try to use odd numbers, that seems to work because I divide them into equal parts, again three light, three medium, three dark. Every now and again I might do twelve colors, just to give it a little more jazz a little more color in it. It is unnecessary really to get the faces, I just want to get a little deeper with the color. For instance, Obama I believe I only used nine fabrics. Well with the one I'm making now with Michelle and Obama, I'm using I believe fifteen fabrics. I'm doing that because when I looked at the face I thought there was a couple of really light spots, one the nose and one is forehead that I didn't want to use.
I thought if I add more colors then I can diffuse the light spot and that isactually what happened. When I looked at it I thought I'm going to have to go with more fabrics in order to spread it out a little bit more and not have a light, light spot on the tip of his nose or on his forehead. I look at the fabric and determine that this would be great in that area and this would be great in another area. The fabric selection is also a key in choosing these mosaics.
KM: Do you belong to any art or quilt groups?
DB: I actually belong to one here, it is called Desert Quilters of Nevada and itis probably about four or five hundred members in the actual guild. The guild consists of several circles and the circles are different people that are interested in particular things. None of the circles really pertain to the kind of art that I do. Most of my time is really spent teaching at a local large quilting store here. The circles are formed by interest groups. They are appliqu, traditional or they are doing miniatures, which I do love. They are using scraps so there is a scrap happy circle. I don't seem to fit in any particular group. If I would attend it would pretty much be to see what everybody else is doing in the quilting world. It is me sticking my head in and are seeing what they are doing at the same time. It is just me all alone here in my house just enjoying this art. I do it right here.
KM: Do you think of yourself ore as an artist or quiltmaker or do you even makethe distinction?
DB: It is a touchy situation with other people I'm finding. I considered myselfa quilter however about six months ago I started showcasing my art online. I started listing my quilts for sale. I call them quilts and everybody else that looked at them said that this is more of a fiber art. They wrote that I was more of an artist and I thought, 'Oh, I am?' I didn't consider myself an artist. I said, 'Well, I'm a quilter really. I don't know how to paint. I don't know how to draw.' To me that is an artist. I didn't think making a quilt made me an artist. However, I was convinced to join this group of artists in a festival. It is the Boulder City Museum. A group of ladies that said, 'Diana, I believe you should join our fine arts festival.' I'm thinking, 'With my quilts?' And they said, 'Yes indeed.' I said, 'Oh but I'm not an artist,' and they said, 'Give it a try because we believe that you are.' I had faces, you know famous faces and I sent photos and they actually accepted it! I thought, 'Oh my god.' I thought, 'Alright I will set up my booth with all of these other artists.' There were probably a hundred or so and they were from seven different southwestern states. They had sculptures, paintings and everything else imaginable. As I was unloading my art, I was almost embarrassed to put it up because I thought, 'This doesn't go with anything and I'm just so ashamed.' My husband convinced me. He said 'No your work is beautiful.' I thought, 'Okay.' Well I know that there were judges coming around the booths because they were writing notes and whispering to each other. I was shaking in my boots thinking they are going to close my shop up and say, 'You need to go home.' I was so nervous. They came back three times and after the third time they were asking my husband the spelling of my last name and I thought, 'Oh my god.' I'm petrified. During the show they were announcing awards and they called my name. They called me for the Kennedy brothers mosaic "Whispering." I won a fine arts award for that and they consider me an artist. They said, 'You need to put that in your resume. You need to put it on your business cards and your stationary. You are an award winning fine artist and it took me three months [laughs.] to even learn to say it. Most of the other artists said that they were coming to the show for over twenty years and they had not received an award yet. Once they gave me the award and this huge ribbon and I put it on the Kennedy picture. All of these people were coming and it was just amazing the amount of attention. Nobody had seen anything like this art before. From that point on they said I can call myself an artist and I think I'm feeling a little more comfortable with it now, but I'm still a quilter. I'm still a quilter.
KM: I think that it nice. [laughs.] That is a great story.
DB: [laughs.] Thank you.
KM: What advice would you offer someone starting out?
DB: If you are starting out as a quilter, I would say start at the beginninglevel. It's wonderful to have hands on instruction. However, just be sure that the instructor is accustomed to starting out with new quilters. It can be intimidating and there is so much to learn. However, I will say that it is addictive. Once you get started you are in. It is just sometimes finding your style. Learning how to quilt is the beginning. They teach you all of the basics, your fabrics and your tools of the trade, they show you how to get your seams correctly, how to lay your block, and even how to quilt it in the end from start to finish. Make sure you are starting at a beginning level and read books. I read books. I have every type of quilting book I ever want to read and more. I would like to have more and each artist or quilter has their own way of doing things. I have also noticed that some teachers that you go prefer to teach their method as the only way. Just understand that, you know learn their method but everybody has their own method. You, as a quilter or an artist will find your own. Just being creative and just have fun with it. I am still having fun fifteen years later.
KM: What do you think is the biggest challenge confronting quiltmakers today?
DB: Today the challenge really is the economy. Quilting is actually not a cheaphobby or art form. It can be expensive. You need particular tools for various blocks if you want to do a particular thing you have to have so much and a lot of people now are cutting back on the amount they would buy. When new notions would come out, we couldn't wait and everybody would stop and just buy it. Now I find that the people are slowing down a little bit. Rather than buying a new pack of blades for the rotary cutter for instance, they will buy the sharpener to sharpen the blades themselves. We would never think of ever reusing or sharpening. Also scrap fabrics are being recycled. Normally people give their scraps away. Some people are trading by swapping fabric. I think you go into groups and there is a particular fabric or group of fabrics you just thought I am not going to use this again, you will trade with someone else. [You come home with your "new stash."] I find that people are recycling more. When I started quilting, at what I called "my young age" because my friend and I were the youngest two in the bunch. We were working with women that were like ten, fifteen, twenty years older than we were. In there days, they used to use quilts to cover up with and for warmth, for utilitarian purposes. When I started quilting we were doing it more for an art form, more to show, to present at a quilt show to be judged, to be "looked at." Almost like you can't touch my quilt, it is an art kind of form. Now, it is just starting to change where somebody needs a quilt for their bed. They are actually using the quilts. I made a quilt for my dad, when I first started quilting. He recently said to me that his quilt is starting to just really look a little tattered on the edges. I think he's is hinting for a new quilt. I told him that I will make him a new quilt. Maybe I need by stored fabric, after all. I think that people are now recycling with all of the merchandise I have in here. My glues, my scissors, mats, rulers and notions all are expensive. I am not going to go out and buy the new handled Gingher scissors. Normally I would buy the collector's pair each year it comes out. I have probably twenty pairs here so I am not going to go out and buy any because I can't afford to do it right now. I have so much merchandise in here. I have so many books, patterns, fabric and so many hundreds of spools of thread. I really won't have to go out and buy anything at all should I chose to make another quilt. I can make quilt after quilt after quilts. Everything that I may need, I have already.
KM: What kind of fusible do you use?
DB: I use about three different types. I use Steam-A-Seam, Steam-A-Seam 2 andHeat-n-Bond lite. Now the Steam-A-Seam 2 is great because it is repositionable. If you should put a piece of fabric down and it is in the wrong place or it is crooked and you would like to straighten it, you would just pick it up, put it down and then fuse it. Now that is more expensive. Steam-A-Seam works as well and that actually is just one sided so once you fused it down it is permanent. Now my absolute favorite for what I do, my fabric mosaics, is Heat 'n Bond Lite. The Heat 'n Bond I use the light weight and it is actually so pliable. It is soft. It is drapeable and normally I buy it by the bolt. I have bolts of that I keep on hand. That is my absolute favorite. The back of the fabric almost looks like it is coated with Teflon or it has a really nice bond. When I fuse with my iron on it, it bonds perfectly well. [You do need to read the manufacturer's instructions and irons heat at different temperature on the same settings.] If you use the iron too hot you've lost your bond and you would have to start all over again. I also use a UV protected spray to resist fading on image and it has an acrylic coat on top of that so it help protects the edges of the fabric.
KM: What does your husband think of your quiltmaking?
DB: Oh my, my husband is my biggest fan. He is my support system. He is a quietman. He is a gentleman and he doesn't say much. Three years ago he suggested that I start my own business. He felt that my mosaics would do well. Being here at home and making my mosaics is a dream job. I could do it full time in my pajamas. He has been there for me financially, emotionally, and keeps me grounded. I really didn't know specifically what he thought about it my quilts. He would say it is nice, I love it, it is beautiful and that was it. How I found out how my husband feels about my quilting is at the same show last year. My husband went with me to help me get my tent set up. He was going to hang around with me for awhile. I had another friend that was going to join me. Well it was really busy throughout the show and my husband kept saying, 'Why don't you eat?' And I said, 'I can't.' [Well when I get excited I don't eat and can't eat and not to mention it was so busy. I was constantly talking about how I do what I do and I had piles of uneaten food backing up.] My husband come up to me and each time he would say, no you step away from the booth. He would get a chair and insist that I sit, eat, drink my water and relax. He said that he would talk to everybody. My husband is a personal shopper at Macy's and he has been a Manager for years so he is used to dealing with people, talking to people. I didn't have a problem with that. My issue was I didn't know if my husband could explain my process so that they would be able to understand how I do it. He never really talked to me about my process. I talk to him constantly. Well I sat there and I heard my husband say, 'Oh hi, how are you? Well this is called mosaic fabric photography. My wife uses the mosaic method and she actually uses Heat 'n Bond in back and she uses batik fabrics. Not only that, it takes her about forty hours to complete a small one such as this size and she is doing this next.' I was blown away. He says, 'If you stand back you see depth of field, look through this camera, look through the camera lens.' [KM laughs.] 'You see what I mean.' My husband was going on and on.
KM: What a gift.
DB: [laughs.] I mean I was just outdone, I was just totally outdone. I looked athim like [sighs.], and said, 'You were listening.' [laughs.] He says, 'I hear everything you say.' [laughs.] But he knew the batiks. He knew the hand dyes. He knew things like that.
KM: So he was paying attention.
DB: He was, he was, not only was he paying attention but he explained theprocess even in a different way that I did and they understood it. It was just amazing.
KM: How do you want to be remembered?
DB: Oh my, I would like to be remembered as a quilter, just a warmhearted ladythat loves what she does. I started out as a quilter. I will end up as a quilter. I would love to think of myself as a quilt artist but just a warmhearted loving person that wants to pass on my education. I love teaching about my quilts, I have my phone open, my emails open if there are any questions. I do sell Tammie's book. I do tell them when they buy them if you have questions about the process feel free to call me at any time, so I want to be available and I want to teach, I want to pass on the craft. I want everybody to know that quilting is not a dying art. It is actually continually rolling on and on and on. It is just different ways of looking at what you would call a quilt.
KM: Is there anything else that you would like to add that I haven't touchedupon before we end our time together?
DB: I would just like to first of all thank you so much for taking the time tointerview me about this topic and I feel so extra special about being a part of this Obama art. That is what they are calling it and to just have little old me from Las Vegas participate. I'm in an apartment home and have the opportunity to be interviewed, to have my quilts shown in Washington, D.C., just actually have my name out there to say that I was a part of history and that means a lot to me. A lot, a little part of history.
KM: We are all a little part of history.
DB: Yes we are, yes we are. [laughs.]
KM: I want to thank you for taking time out of your day.
DB: Thank you Karen.
KM: Spending time with me, you did a great job. We are going to conclude ourinterview at 3:54.
DB: Thank you so very much.
KM: You are welcome.