ID number: TQ.2015.002
Name of interviewee: Stephania Rickard
Name of interviewer: Marlene Cohen
Name of transcriber: Michele Webster
Location: Stephania’s home
Date: 29 January 2015
Length of interview: 0:08:28
In this interview Stephania Rickard describes her Kaleidescope quilt, conceived during a trip to New England and made by hand using paper piecing methods. She discusses her sewing history including her membership of London Quilters and her involvement in forming an art quilt group Colour Effects.
Marlene Cohen [MC]: Right this is quilt interview TQ.2015.002, Marlene Cohen interviewing Stephania Rickard. Stephania thank you very much for showing us your quilt. Could you tell us something about it please?
Stephania Rickard [SR]: Well the quilt was made soon after we visited New England in the Autumn and I was very impressed with the wonderful rich colours which we saw there. I wanted to make a large, king size bed cover and I also wanted to do it by hand, so that I could have something to do while I travelled, cos we used to, at that time, we used to have quite a lot of holidays. So it’s done by a very old-fashioned method which is on the individual pieces were put onto papers and then sewn by hand. And the pattern is called ‘Kaleidescope’ and I used a variety of fabrics, some of them are African fabrics which we bought in, I can’t remember the name of the road, [MC: Goldhawk Road] Goldhawk Road, at that time it had a lot of ethnic shops and a lot of African shops. And the rest of the fabrics were mainly bits and pieces given to me by various friends or bought as fat quarters. The colours are green, maroon and a golden yellow going into brown. It probably sounds horrible when it’s described in that way, but they do seem to work together alright.
MC: They work together beautifully.
SR: The backing is a sort of maroon colour with a small black pattern on it.
MC: Can you tell us something about you and quilting?
SR: Well, I have sewn for quite a large part of my life, I used to make my own clothes and at a certain stage I thought of making a patchwork quilt and I started collecting all the bits and pieces of dress fabrics from my… which you collect when you have off-cuts but then I abandoned the idea and I gave all those pieces away much to my chagrin later on. And then we were refurbishing our bedroom and I bought a curtain fabric from Liberty’s and enough material to make a bedspread and the print on it had a sort of quilt-like feel about it so I thought I will make it as if it were a quilt and I decided to consult my friend Marlene who’d been to America and learned how to quilt, how to set about it. And this started me off with, I went to a class where I learned how to put things together and carried, then joined London Quilters and carried on from then on.
MC: So is quilting a big part of your life now?
SR: It was for some years, it’s less so now. I, it was important when we formed the group called Colour Effects and there were six of us sewing and meeting and having exhibitions together. But our group unfortunately has broken down because three of the members don’t live in London any longer and somehow the impetus has disappeared. And also time seems to be at a premium now, because I do other things and one day a week is sacrificed to baby-sitting, which is a big chunk out of the week, and quilting’s become a smaller part of my life. But I’m still hoping to produce something in the future.
MC: You’ve always sewed, is that right?
MC: Can you tell us something about that?
SR: Well, I remember when I was quite young having a game, I can’t remember what that sort of game was called, a toy, which my mother bought me when I was ill as a young girl, in which you cut out pieces of paper and pinned it onto a sort of cardboard doll and I made lots of different dresses and designs and so on, so I’ve always enjoyed thinking about design and things related to sewing and I’m just a very practical, hands-on person. I enjoy knitting and sewing and painting and doing anything by hand really. I’m very much a hand person, perhaps rather than brain.
MC: Thank you [microphone noise]
MC: TQ.2015.002. Stephanie you mentioned Colour Effects before, could you just tell us a little bit more about that please?
SR: Yes, certainly. The quilt that we were discussing isn’t the first quilt I made. The first quilt I made was tumbling blocks in red, silver and black which was another traditional quilt with an arty aspect to it, which I gave to my son and he used it as a blind for his window which was rather a strange use for it! And at that stage I went to a course I think in Bristol and a group of us together discussed the possibility of forming a little group to do art quilts. And it was at that stage that Colour Effects was formed. Six of us got together and the project was to learn things together, to discuss things, to meet occasionally but not to sew together, we never actually worked together. We worked individually in our homes and then compared what we did and after a while we decided to have an exhibition. Three of the members became very serious, well-known, famous quilters; Marlene, Alicia and Christine. The other three were not quite so committed, but we enjoyed being together and we had four exhibitions which were all very successful and very enjoyable. And all of us progressed incredibly as a result of this experience. So our work became much more sophisticated and interesting and I think a lot of people enjoyed looking at what we produced.
MC: Thank you Stephanie, that’s very interesting. Is there anything else you’d like to say about quilting in general? More about this quilt?
SR: Well this quilt is now in our visitors’ room and so quite a lot of people see it. They all seem to like it and I hope one day it will be passed onto one of my sons and that they will enjoy having it as well.
MC: Thank you very much.
SR: Thank you.