In class, students often ask if I design a specific fabric for a specific new quilt idea. If I understand the question correctly, the answer is no. First come the patterns and then come the quilts. I can’t wait to see where the fabric will lead me; I need to physically handle it in order to uncover its secrets. I’m as curious as if I hadn’t been part of the process.
As I’m coloring, I’m fascinated by the idea that I can cause different color ways of the same design to function in diverse ways. In one colorway, a contrasting motif might pop and create a visual line when it connects to its repeats. In another the same motif may be colored in a hue that softens it so it recedes (rather than pops) or connects it to a neighboring motif (rather than standing out on its own.) Some of this is serendipity, some contrived by me but ultimately it means I have a bigger “vocabulary” to work with.
Keep in mind, I’m not only a fabric designer, I’m also an art quilter who uses fabric in her own series of kaleidoscopic quilts (http://paulanadelstern.com/quilt-gallery/index.html) and I’m a teacher whose students’ success often relies on fabric that can mirror image. When I’m designing, I’m balancing these three aesthetics.
I always like some color combos better than others--sometimes simply because I l think the relationship of color and design is so beautiful, it gives my heart a little tug of affection every time I see it. Sorry if it sounds schmaltzy but sometimes I can’t believe this charismatic design exists and I’m the one responsible.
4310 Wings Pink Orange is an example. It reminds me of a bathing suit with a matching jacket my mother had in the 50’s. I’ll never know why.
I generally like the “Multi’s” – meaning, the prints with multiple colors. For my kaleidoscope technique, I need hyperabundant groupings because a fabric that is shades of green and blues AND pinks and reds will let me lead the audience’s eye seamlessly into other patches that are either in the blue family or toward reds and oranges. A Multi is more versatile, elastic and adaptable than a single family group.
In my collections you’ll find Multi’s that are labeled Multi’s (4306-99 Multi) and also skus that aren’t labeled as such but function as Multis. A Multi is harder to print on fabric accurately. Printing on paper is a completely different process and I am very grateful that the studio team I work with understands there is a method to my color madness and use their incredible skills to achieve my vision, no matter how long it takes (within reason).
FABRACADABRA has 3 patterns that are true Prima Donnas, meaning they are composed of motifs that are the exact duplicates of one another. Wings is created from a single butterfly design. Tangles throbs and pulsates and really draws you deep into its magic. The third pattern, Three of a Kind, revisits the medallion lay-out.
Cascade is a pseudo-symmetrical design, meaning it’s not a perfect mirror image but can often be used as if it is. I view Cascade as a directional – which means you can use it to slide the eye from here to there. Its detail and delicacy amazes me, as do the miraculous odd combos of overlapping colors groups courtesy of a very skilled team and a cooperative mill. It vibrates as the peppered texture of skinny slivers and sprinkles project the sense that they will fade to nothing in the next instant, referencing the motion in a kaleidoscope.
The Allover in FABRACADABRA is called Stained Glass. There are 12 colors. The design references Gaudi’s idiosyncratic shards seen in Barcelona and is an idea I hope to pursue.