When we subscribed to Quiltnet in early 1994, among the first postings we encountered were those of Marina Salume (pronounced Sa-LOO-may). They stood out from the rest partly because of the exotic name, and partly because of an aura they radiated.
Marina seemed to know something about everything that had to do with quilting, or internetting, and had an idea or suggestion for most quilting problems raised on the list. Yet there was never any hubris in her postings, offered as they were in a calm, matter-of-fact way that bespoke deep knowledge and a strong sense of the history of the Quiltnet community, with which she has been involved almost since its inception. In fact Marina has written a history of Quiltnet which is available from her as a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) file.
We are mostly lurkers on Quiltnet, but having read and enjoyed Marina's postings we knew we wanted to meet her when she announced an upcoming trip to Atlanta a few weeks ago. We made contact through e-mail and arranged to have dinner with her at a local restaurant along with two other local Quiltnetters, Jennifer McMullen and Amy Smith, who work at Emory University where Quiltnet used to live. This profile is a result of our face-to-face meeting with Marina and a subsequent interview with her by e-mail after she had returned home.
Marina lives in Half Moon Bay, California, with her husband, mother, and three children. She describes Half Moon Bay as "a neat little town . . . that is on the Pacific ocean about an hour south of San Francisco. They grow flowers and pumpkins there and there is also an active fishing fleet--it's rural but is close to Silicon Valley and SF." Her husband works as a systems designer at TRW, and she works in the marketing department for Sun Microsystems.
Marina brought some of her quilt tops with her to Atlanta, along with a small photo album of her work, which we passed around as we were awaiting our meal. Of her quilts she says, "I started out traditional but always changed something, or designed my own quilting patterns, etc. My style has gotten more and more 'non-traditional' but I am always interested in learning new techniques, etc. I was very influenced by Nancy Crow; she was the first non-traditional quilter I noticed. Nancy Halpern is another quilt artist I have become friends with after attending her workshops. But I have always tried to establish my own 'style,' not just copy the work of my teachers. I think I am finally becoming better at that."
Marina does, indeed, have a unique style. Its influences include everything from oriental art to her children's school drawings, but the combination of elements is completely her own, and quite dramatic and striking. Lately she has added fabric dying and painting to her techniques, and has started to add these to her quilts.
She began quilting in 1974: "I was just out of college and broke so I thought I could 'use up scraps' from my clothes-sewing and make quilts. My grandmother-in-law lived on a farm in northern Minnesota and made quilts for all her beds--she gave us a quilt which I loved. But it did not have enough quilting to withstand machine washing (with cotton batting) so when it started to deteriorate I decided I had to replace it. A co-worker was also interested in learning to quilt so we encouraged each other. I 'invented' chain piecing on the sewing machine (there were no books about it in those days) when I realized I could sew all the little triangles faster that way-- I made a variation of 'Birds in Flight' for my first quilt. [It was] machine-pieced and hand-quilted with a bird pattern I designed which was published in Quilters Newsletter in the mid-70's. Since then I have sent in many articles to be published in various magazines, mostly 'Quilt World,' and two books which are still in print, 'Scrap Quilts' by Nancy Martin and 'Japanese Quilts' by Yuko Watanabe and Jill Liddell."
As for computing and quilting, Marina does not use any kind of design software to assist her in the design of her quilts. "I have played with some computer drawing programs," she says, "but I found that I prefer to design by playing with fabric--I don't draw out anything before hand--I just 'let it happen.'"
She is, however, active on many quilt-related maillists. She was an early participant in Quiltnet: "When I started, it was a block exchange group. So I made a lot of blocks for other people and received quite a few. I have made one small wall hanging out of those blocks but the other blocks are still waiting:-).
"I remember being totally intimidated when I read the other members' bios and so many were working on PhDs in engineering and other technical fields, so I sent on my 'quilt bio' listing where my quilts had been published, etc. Since I had more experience than most of the others, those were my credentials."
Asked about the significance of the intersection of computers and quilting in her life, Marina says: "Immediately, it inspired me to spend more time quilting and to focus on it more--chatting with people every day who thought quilting was important is a tremendous productivity booster. Email has brought me friends in England, Italy, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and all over the US.
"I used to say that I would not want to stay home and make quilts because it is such a solitary activity--now I think I could do it because my online contacts would keep me going. I just have to think of a way to make the mortgage payments :-)."
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