I've studied quilt and textile history for more than twenty five years, receiving my certification as an appraiser by the American Quilter's Society in 1994. I passed rigorous written and oral examinations demonstrating knowledge of three hundred years of textile history, dye processes, fabric printing methods, patterns, construction techniques, regional variations, market values, and other factors that influence the value of a quilt. I appraised literally thousands of quilts before my retirement in 2016.
My fifth grade teacher placed a pile of cut out magazine pictures on a table. We were told to choose a picture and write a story about it - and my life changed. I've been smitten with the written word, both the words I read and the ones I write, since that day. My quilt career pushed aside my writing for the past 25 years, but paper and pen are in my hand and in my future.
As soon as I say "Hey!" you will know I am a true southern chick. Born into a military family, I've lived and traveled worldwide, moving nearly eighty times.
People ask me why I make quilts, followed immediately by the statement that they "don't have the patience." Creating quilts has nothing at all to do with patience - the process is as necessary to me as breathing. And you've never met a more impatient person!
I recycle needlework made by unknown women who came before me. I can't bear to see someone's hard work thrown away so I use bits and pieces of anything made by hand - embroidery, crochet, aprons, etc., and I recycle vintage yardage for the wonderfully mellow - and sometimes tacky - look.
Before I began quilting in 1974, I was a writer, fascinated by the fact that a person could express an idea, a story, or an emotion in written form and another person reading those words could understand and experience the same emotion. A connection was established between strangers.
Now, I see viewers identify with and laugh about "To Hell with Housework" and see them elbow each other in delight as they read the naughty limericks on "The Salacious Secrets of Sam and Sue." Yet others shed tears as they examine "Memorial Day" in detail, read the stories of every woman in "The Whispers I Hear" or contemplate my AIDS quilt.
As I see this taking place, I am humbled to realize the quilts are actually speaking to people - and the silliness or sadness in my heart has been transferred to them, just as powerfully as if it had been the written word. All this from a few fragments of old cloth.
Amazing, simply amazing.
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Teddy Pruett is a native Floridian born into a military family, and has moved nearly eighty times. She recently retired from a 25 year career as a Certified Appraiser of quilts and textiles, and is a nationally recognized expert in the field of quilt history. Her location in Florida put her in the enviable position to work with quilts from all over the country and all time periods. Teddy is an active, participating member of the American Quilt Study Group, the Southeastern Quilt Study Group, and the Florida Quilt Study Group, past co-curator and member of Board of Directors of the Florida Quilt Museum.
Teddy has shared quilts and information all over the country, both antique and her own Second Hand Story quilts made of recycled textiles. Teddy's work has appeared in books, magazines, art galleries and museums and she has been featured on a PBS special.