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0:02 - Introduction

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Partial Transcript: This is Eleanor Wilkinson. This interview is being conducted for South Central Michigan Q.S.O.S, a project for the Alliance for American Quilts.

Segment Synopsis: The interviewer, Eleanor Wilkinson, introduces the interviewee, Jean Champagne

Keywords: Battle Creek, Michigan


GPS: Battle Creek, Michigan
Map Coordinates: 42.3303, -85.1686

Hyperlink: Jean Champagne, "Magic Vine."

0:33 - Tell me about the quilt you brought in today.

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Partial Transcript: Let's first talk about the quilt that you brought in today?

Segment Synopsis: Champagne talks about the design of her quilt, which was supposed to be an Irish Chain. However, she placed most of her effort in her applique and altered the pattern to highlight that aspect. Champagne mentions she got the inspiration for this quit from newspapers, and a quilt program. She also discusses her preferences when constructing a quilt.

Keywords: applique; cat; dog; Eleanor Burns; flowers; Irish Chain - Quilt Pattern; Magic Vine - Quilt Pattern; newspaper; pet; Quilt Purpose - Bedcovering; San Jose, California; Simply Quilts - television program


Hyperlink: Jean Champagne, Detail, "Magic Vine."

2:42 - What do you think someone viewing your quilt might conclude about you?;What are your plans for this quilt?

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Partial Transcript: What do you think that someone looking at this quilt might think of you as a quilt maker? I don't know, that I like color.

Segment Synopsis: Champagne talks about her trademark as a quilt maker. She also discusses how she uses her quilts, and what she hopes for them in the future. She keeps this quilt in storage. She wants her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren to each choose the quilts they want to inherit. If they do not want to keep the quilt, they should sell it for money.

Keywords: children; color; contrast; grandchildren; keepsake; money; Quiltmaking for family

4:00 - First quilting experience

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Partial Transcript: When did you start thinking about quilting? When did you get interested in quilting?

Segment Synopsis: Champagne talks about her first experience with quilting as a child. As a five-year-old girl she received a present from her grandmother that sparked her interest in becoming a quilt maker

Keywords: adoption; blocks; Christmas; colors; doll bed; grandmother; learning quiltmaking

4:44 - On her first quilt

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Partial Transcript: So, you've already got some design ideas as a five-year-old, when did you really start putting quilts together?

Segment Synopsis: Champagne talks about the first quilt she made. She talks about the memories of that quilt, and how her family used it. She used a polyester comforter as the batting for that quilt and mended it multiple times. It evolved from a bed quilt to a utilitarian quilt, and it eventually was mildewed and needed to be thrown away.

Keywords: batting; comforters; daughter; grandchildren; kids; Learning quiltmaking; patched; Quilt Purpose - Bedcovering; Quilt Purpose - Utilitarian; scraps

5:51 - What she learned from her first quilt

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Partial Transcript: And I learned a lot from that. Cut accurately, for one thing. Know where you are going when you start because, otherwise, when you have to add to it, you've got all of one color on one side and your quilt isn't balanced.

Segment Synopsis: Champagne talks about the lessons she learned after making her first quilt. She also discusses what she would have done differently.

Keywords: balanced; batting; children; color; design; outdoors; Quilt Purpose - Utilitarian; squares; Tied quilts

6:58 - Subsequent quilts Champagne made

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Partial Transcript: The next one had a little better design. It was equilateral triangles, sewn into a star. And I learned to plan a little bit.

Segment Synopsis: Champagne talks about the following quilts she made. She discusses how she continued to improve her quilting skills. She created a quilt from her stepfather’s old bowling shirts that had embroidered turkeys as a motif.

Keywords: bowling shirt; design; Embroidery; equilateral triangles; mother; Star quilts; turkeys

8:11 - From whom did you learn to quilt?

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Partial Transcript: Did you have teachers that taught you to quilt or did you learn this all by yourself?

Segment Synopsis: Champagne talks about how she was a self-taught quilt maker. She mainly learned from books and magazines, and customized those designs to fit her needs.

Keywords: books; Design process; Eleanor Burns; graph paper; Knowledge transfer; Learning quiltmaking; patterns; Published work - Patterns; quilt magazines; retired; Simply Quilts - television program

9:17 - Number of quilts she has made;How many hours a week do you quilt?;What is your first quilt memory?

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Partial Transcript: How many quilts do you suppose you have?

Segment Synopsis: Champagne estimates she has at least twenty quilts in her possession. She estimates she spends about two hours an evening working on quilts. She also tells Wilkinson her first quilt memory, which was about looking through Christmas catalogues from mail order companies. She wanted a Hawaiian style quilt.

Keywords: border; cat; Christmas catalogues; daughter; Hawaiian quilts; Published work - Patterns; Quilt Purpose - Utilitarian

11:17 - Are there other quiltmakers among your family or friends? Please tell me about them.;How does quiltmaking impact your family?

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Partial Transcript: Progress is a good thing. Are there any other quiltmakers in your family?

Segment Synopsis: Champagne talks about previous quiltmakers in her family. She notes the unusual technique her family members used, which involved sewing blocks onto a quilted background. She also discusses how quilting did not really have an impact on her family. Quiltmaking has long kept her occupied.

Keywords: children; friends; mother; piecing; sisters

12:28 - Tell me if you have ever used quilts to get through a difficult time?

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Partial Transcript: Have you ever used quilting to get through a difficult time?

Segment Synopsis: Champagne talks about how quilting has helped her through deaths in the family. She mentions how quilting can provide comfort and relaxation especially during hard times, such as when her father died. Even quilting for a short amount of time provides her with a comforting feeling. She has learned how to quilt with her feet up in a recliner chair so that her ankles do not swell.

Keywords: children; father; Hand quilting; hoop; Quilt Purpose - Therapy; quilting frame; relaxing; soothing

14:21 - Tell me about an amusing experience that has occurred from your quiltmaking?

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Partial Transcript: Have you ever had an amusing experience connected with your quilts?

Segment Synopsis: Champagne tells a story about her pets.

Keywords: cat; dog; hoop; quiltmaking process

14:53 - What do you find pleasing about quiltmaking?

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Partial Transcript: And what do you find pleasing about quiltmaking?

Segment Synopsis: Champagne talks about her experience with quilts and their lasting effects. To her, quilting provides relaxation and is a way to remember loved ones who have passed.

Keywords: death; relatives; relaxing

15:52 - What aspects of quiltmaking do you not enjoy?

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Partial Transcript: Are there any aspects of quilting that you don't enjoy?

Segment Synopsis: Champagne discusses her dislike of machine quilting. She admits that some of the machine quilters are talented, however, it is not something she enjoys.

Keywords: Long arm quilting machine; Machine quilting; Wanda Warner


Hyperlink: One of Wanda Warner's quilts

16:32 - What art or quilt groups do you belong to?

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Partial Transcript: Okay. What art or quilt groups do you belong to?

Segment Synopsis: Champagne talks about the quilting groups she belongs to. She explains that the groups she belongs to are very informal. She is giving a new quiltmaker some of her supplies she no longer needs.

Keywords: daughter; friends; Social quiltmaking activities

17:26 - Have advances in technology influenced your work? If so, how?

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Partial Transcript: What about in technology that have happened through the years? Are there any that have been very helpful for you?

Segment Synopsis: Champagne discusses how advancements throughout the years have affected her quilts. She focuses on the different types of fabric that can be used for batting, noting that a cotton batting stays in place nicely when machine quilting, while she prefers polyester batting for hand quilting.

Keywords: batting; color; Fiber - Cotton; Fiber - Polyester; Hand quilting; Home sewing machine; Machine quilting

18:43 - What are your favorite techniques and materials?

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Partial Transcript: Yes. Do you have a favorite technique?

Segment Synopsis: Champagne discusses her favorite techniques to use when making quilts. She mentions applique as her favorite, and her emphasis on color rather than fabric type. Now that all of her friends and family have received quilts from her, she has become more experimental with time consuming techniques like applique. She again comments on the differences between cotton and polyester batting.

Keywords: applique; batting; color; Fiber - Cotton; Fiber - Cotton or polyester blend; Hand quilting; Machine quilting; relatives

Subjects: .

20:15 - Describe your studio/the place that you create.;Do you use a design wall? If so, in what way/how does that enhance your creative process? If not, how do you go about designing your quilts?

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Partial Transcript: Let's talk about where you create. Do you have a studio or sewing room?

Segment Synopsis: Champagne talks about her creative process. She mentions that she often gets a second opinion from her husband, and how she likes to quilt outdoors on her porch during the summer. She recalls learning to sew on her mother’s Singer Featherweight sewing machine.

Keywords: Design process; Design Wall; Doll quilts; granddaughter; Guild activities; Hand piecing; Home sewing machine; Knowledge transfer; learning to sew; Machine piecing; mother; nature; outdoors; Quilt Purpose - Charity; quiltmaking process; Singer Featherweight sewing machine; squares; watercolor; Work or Studio space


Hyperlink: Singer Featherweight sewing machine, like the one Champagne learned to sew on as a child.

24:02 - What do you think makes a great quilt?;What makes a quilt artistically powerful?

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Partial Transcript: That one [refers to her quilt.] to most people, wouldn’t think that was a great quilt because there’s not enough contrast between dark and light.

Segment Synopsis: Champagne discusses how she thinks a quilt should look. Color, to her, is very important along with good contrast in the fabrics. She does not like quilts that have such subtlety blended color choices that the pattern is not visible. She comments on a painting she owns that looks like the waves in Lake Michigan, whereas she doesn’t care for minimalist and abstract paintings. She thinks the same is true for quilts.

Keywords: color; contrast; Design process; imagination; Lake Michigan; Painting; pattern

27:01 - What makes a quilt appropriate for a museum or special collection?;;Whose works are you drawn to and why?;What makes a great quiltmaker?

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Partial Transcript: Ah, the person who had it, the variety in it, the care.

Segment Synopsis: Champagne talks about her quilt preferences and what makes a good quilt maker. She tells Wilkinson that she favors traditional quilts, and a quilt maker who is willing to rework areas of their quilts. She does not like many of the art quilts she has seen at quilt shows. She mentions some of the quiltmakers whose work she admires, including Joyce Rupp, Wanda Warner, and Sharon Juarez. She also mentions her love of 1930s fabric and Baltimore Album quilts.

Keywords: 1930s; Art quilts; Baltimore Album quilts; colors; Joyce Rupp; Machine quilting; Quilt shows/exhibitions; Sharon Juarez; traditional designs; Wanda Warner


Hyperlink: Example of a Baltimore Album quilt, Maryland Historical Society.

29:09 - Which artists have influenced you?

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Partial Transcript: Are there any artists that have influenced you?

Segment Synopsis: Champagne talks about the different artists who have influenced her quilts. She provides examples such as Jinny Beyer and Beth Ferrier. She mentions some of her friends from the local quilt guild who have influenced her work.

Keywords: Beth Ferrier; Beth Howard; Jinny Beyer; Mary Lou Hollenbeck; Rosemary Kimball


Hyperlink: QSOS interview with Jinny Beyer.

30:27 - How do you feel about machine quilting vs. hand quilting? What about long-arm quilting?

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Partial Transcript: How do you feel about machine quilting versus hand quilting?

Segment Synopsis: Champagne discusses her opinion on machine quilting, its advantages and disadvantages. She acknowledges the merits of machine quilting, but mentions that there are advantages to hand quilting as well.

Keywords: Charlotte, Michigan; Hand quilting; Jamie Wallen; Kalamazoo, Michigan; Machine quilting


Hyperlink: Machine quilter Jamie Wallen’s website.

32:04 - In what ways do your quilts reflect your community or region?;What do you think about the importance of quilts in American life?; In what ways do you think quilts have special meaning for women’s history in America?

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Partial Transcript: How do you think your quilts reflect your community?

Segment Synopsis: Champagne talks about her views on how quilts reflect American life now, as well as in the past. She talks specifically about the roles of women in the past, and how quilts have the ability to provide a sense of continuity between generations.

Keywords: American life; frountier; Generational quiltmaking; historical significance; museums; pioneers; praire:money; Quilt history; women

34:52 - How do you think quilts can be used?;How do you think quilts can be preserved for the future?

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Partial Transcript: How many ways do you think quilts can be used?

Segment Synopsis: Champagne talks about how she thinks quilts should be used, and how to make sure they last. She explains that quilts have a comforting effect on people, not only while making them but using them as well. She believes quilts provide more comfort symbolically than another type of blanket can. Champagne also discusses her reasoning behind selling her quilts. She notes that her son has used some of her quilts from utilitarian purposes, and she wishes these quilts were treasured instead.

Keywords: dog; love; money; Quilt Purpose - Comfort; Quilt Purpose - Utilitarian

36:37 - What do you think is the biggest challenge confronting quiltmakers today?; Final thoughts

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Partial Transcript: Now, what do you think is the biggest challenge for quiltmakers today?

Segment Synopsis: Champagne talks about the challenges the younger generation of quiltmakers face when trying to find time to quilt. She explains that often their time is consumed by other obligations that people don't have much time for quilting.

Keywords: friends; kids; retire; Time management