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0:00 - Introduction

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Partial Transcript: This is Karen Musgrave. I'm doing a Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories interview with Duncan Slade. Today's date is October 20, 2008. It is now 12:35 in the afternoon and we are in--what town of Maine are we in?

Segment Synopsis: Introduction to the interview between Karen Musgrave and Duncan Slade. Establishing the time and location of the interview. Musgrave begins the interview with asking Slade about the quilt piece, "Northwood's Suite Waterfall".

Keywords: Robert M. MacNamara Foundation


GPS: The Robert M. Macnamara Foundation, Westport Island, Maine
Map Coordinates: 43.879370, -69.699210

0:29 - About "Northwood's Suite…Waterfall"

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Partial Transcript: Okay, this quilt is part of a suite of seven pieces. It is a commissioned piece. The work was commissioned by Nuveen, Inc., Chicago, Illinois for a lobby area in their offices at 333 W.Wacker Drive.

Segment Synopsis: Slade explains the quilt's commission by Nuveen Incorporated, a global investment management company, and how his grouped pitched the initial design to the company. He also gives a description of the quilt and explains the inspiration from a real waterfall in Watkins Glen, New York. Slade makes quilts with his artistic partner, Gayle Fraas.

Keywords: art quilt; corporate art collection; Gayle Fraas; Gouache paint; Jack Walsh (quilt collector); Jim Dine; Landscape; Nuveen Incorporated; quiltmaking process; waterfall; Watkins Glen, New York


GPS: Watkins Glen, New York
Map Coordinates: 42.3796492,-76.8849614

Hyperlink: Gayle Fraas and Duncan Slade, "Northwood's Suit...Waterfall."

5:21 - Quiltmaking design and process for “Northwood’s Suite… Waterfall”

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Partial Transcript: So that by the time we started working on this piece it was fairly well decided upon on about how the piece would look.

Segment Synopsis: Slade describes the pattern of the quilt itself and says it is similar to a traditional log cabin pattern. The side panels appear to stand out in an illusion required over-painting with fiber reactive dyes . The pattern itself is made from a single repeated element . It is from a drawing of draped striped fabric and that square is used in a standard grid repeat. He also states the impact of the September 11 attacks and how the project was delayed.

Keywords: 9/11; design process; Fiber-reactive dyes; Log Cabin - quilt pattern; pattern; quiltmaking process; Standard grid repeat; swastika


GPS: Former location of the World Trade Center in New York City
Map Coordinates: 40.711801, -74.01312

9:10 - On using digital techniques

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Partial Transcript: After a lifetime of screen-printing patterns and hand coloring and shading, this work pretty much follows the same process, but for this project the pattern area was executed using digital printing .

Segment Synopsis: Slade explains how digital technology has changed the quilt-making process and how he and his partner Gayle Fraas were going to incorporate that into the project by using digitally printed fiber reactive dyes. He also explains other methods like how certain water effects were created by using wax.

Keywords: art quilt; design process; Digital printing; Fiber-reactive dyes; Gayle Fraas; Paraffin wax; quiltmaking process

14:19 - Quilt size and an artistic approach

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Partial Transcript: Yes, it is about 77 by 77 inches. In actual execution the biggest printer we had access to was 60-inch wide, so it was done in three panels and pieced together.

Segment Synopsis: Slade talks about piecing individual panels together to create a whole picture (77 x 77 inches), but he emphasizes that they did as much work as possible on a single piece of fabric. He also states that as artists, he and Fraas are not limited to certain concerns that a traditional quilter would, such as the size of the stitching. He also compares how an artist's method of quilting differs from that of traditional quilters.

Keywords: art education; Art quiltmaking; collage; Concentric circular lines; Design process; Hand quilting; inspiration; Machine quilting; quiltmaking process; silkscreen; studio quilt artist; traditional quiltmaking


Hyperlink: Gayle Frass and Duncan Slade, “Northwood’s Suite…Waterfall," detail.

18:10 - Quilting on "Northwood's Suit... Waterfall"

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Partial Transcript: I think I was moving onto quilting. [laughs.] Most of our pieces are machine and hand quilted. We have always considered the machine line to be a hard line.

Segment Synopsis: Slade talks about how he uses machine quilting to create a perimeter line to perimeter for repeated components. This is so the lines of quilting are visible and the viewer can locate them. He also cites the similarity to this and Medieval manuscript illumination techniques, mentioning the inspiration of trompe l'oeil. Finally, he refers to the function of color and how it can be modified by a single line of thread.

Keywords: Concentric circular lines; Design process; line; Machine quilting; Medieval illuminated manuscript; Parallel lines; Repeat components; trompe l'oeil

21:48 - I want you to talk about the “we.”

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Partial Transcript: I want you to talk about the "we."

Segment Synopsis: Slade describes his work relationship with wife, and how it affects their artistic dynamic. There is a real emphasis on shared work even though their individual contributions are different. Slade states that they are not held down by each other. If something happened to one of them, the other would most likely continue the work alone.

Keywords: Gayle Fraas; marriage; partnership


Hyperlink: Duncan Slade and his partner Gayle Fraas.

25:27 - Studio space

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Partial Transcript: We work in a studio that is a renovated barn. If one of us is not in the studio usually the other one is and there are lots of days when we are in there together.

Segment Synopsis: Slade describes the studio he shares with his partner Gayle Fraas, which is in a renovated barn. Sometimes it is not big enough for their work. He also describes Fraas's and his different tasks in a project. They both draw, design, and paint, but Fraas does the stitching while Slade does the framing and mounting.

Keywords: Design process, Plexiglas; frame; Mounting; quiltmaking process; welded aluminum; Work or Studio space

26:47 - Framing quilts for display

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Partial Transcript: Our concern with framing is to create an archival environment where the piece can live. In the early 80's we were invited to see the Esprit collection and we consulted with their curator, Julie Silber , about how we framed our quilts.

Segment Synopsis: Slade talks about the importance of choosing a frame for quilts that will preserve it. To choose a frame he consulted the curator of the Esprit collection of quilts, Julie Silbert. He also cites the historical practice of the measures quilters took in the 19th century to use low acid paper and adhesives that protected quilts from UV light to perserve their quilts. The current frame Slade and Fraas use is powder-coated aluminum.

Keywords: Amish quilts; corporate art collection; Esprit (fashion company); Esprit Quilt Collection; Julie Silber; Powder-coated aluminum frame; Quilt Purpose - Exhibition

30:25 - On quilts as his chosen medium

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Partial Transcript: There are lots of stories that we tell about how we ended up making quilts together. One of them is that as undergraduates Gayle came and asked me if I could print on fabric.

Segment Synopsis: Slade describes his interest in print making because of the repetition of images and elements as well as how his work with Fraas started in college. He also figured out how he could position the silk screen where ever he wanted by removing the hinge pins that kept it in place. This allowed for a more flexible format. His second reason for his interest in quilts is due to the versatility of fiber-reactive dyes. Slade also attributes his home state of Maine as an inspiration.

Keywords: Andy Warhol; design process; Fiber-reactive dye; Maine; pop art; Print making; printmaking; Prints; quiltmaking process; silkscreen; Technology in quiltmaking; weaving

36:59 - On his legacy

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Partial Transcript: I've always had two thoughts about how the Art World works and how ultimately, if you're the only one that does something you are an eccentric, if they copy you, emulate you, if you have students, then you are the founder of the movement.

Segment Synopsis: Slade talks about how he and Fraas have witnessed and been involved in the evolution in quilt making, noting how their work contributed to the term "Quilt Art". He states that they have been on the sidelines of most topical arguments and that their work simply speaks for itself. He reflects on how it is necessary to look back on one’s body of work, in order to examine one’s own past history. He also notes how the “Quilt World” has struggled to know how to label contemporary quilts, and mentions his own discomfort with the term “art quilt."

Keywords: archival quality; art quiltmaking; Art quilts; craft; gallery; Haystack Mountain School of Crafts; juried exhibitions; legacy; Male quiltmakers; Michael James; Michael Kile; painter; Penland School of Crafts; Penny McMorris; Quilt preservation; Quilt Purpose - Personal income; Quilt Purpose – Exhibition; Quilt shows/exhibitions; studio craft; Studio quilt artist; Surface Design Journal; teaching quiltmaking


GPS: Haystack Mountain School of Crafts
Map Coordinates: 44.188908, -68.584515

Hyperlink: Webpage of the Surface Design Journal

46:37 - Exhibiting their work

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Partial Transcript: We try to figure out the best venue for our work. One, where people will be able to see it because ultimately this is a medium about communication and two, we need to sell it, so we've got to put it in places where there is the likelihood of that occurring.

Segment Synopsis: Slade talks about the importance in choosing a venue to display their work so people can see it and for it to potentially be sold. Since their work does not always fit into the typical genre of quilts or of paintings, this can be challenging. He also describes how involved displaying a piece in an exhibition can be compared to just hanging it on a studio wall.

Keywords: Exhibit; gallery; Quilt Purpose - Exhibition; Quilt Purpose - Personal income; Work or Studio space

49:39 - Conclusion

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Partial Transcript: And that is it. I think--we were educated as artists at a time that the belief is that if you work hard, what you do will add to that whole massive pile of defining humanity, and if you set yourself on the quest to do it in a way that is honest -then meaning will come from it.

Segment Synopsis: Slade ends with concluding thoughts about being an artist and how their art has changed he and Fraas rather than them changing art. He emphasizes that for him making art is not about ego. Musgrave then ends the interview while Slade suggests that she asks any technical questions she might have about their project to Fraas.


Hyperlink: Duncan Slade and Gayle Fraas's website