Welcome to the ChromaZone, my 14th fabric collection for Benartex. (BTW, companies like Benartex, the ones who design and print our quilt fabrics are called converters, because they convert greige goods into the prints we buy in the quilt stores. Greige goods (pronounced gray) are raw fabrics before they undergo dying or bleaching.)
I don't have an art or textile design background. My degrees are in Occupational Therapy with a Masters in Psych, although I haven't worked in the field in a very long time. Until my accidental apprenticeship with textile designers, everything I knew about color I learned as a kid from my prized box of sixty-four, kid-worthy crayons.
Keep in mind, I'm not only a fabric designer, I'm also an art quilter who uses fabric with luminosity and shading in her series of kaleidoscopic quilts and I'm a teacher whose students' success often relies on fabrics that mirror image. When I set out to design a new collection, I'm balancing these three aesthetics.
My goal is to design beautiful stuff that can be used in a myriad of ways for anyone's piecing adventure, not just to be used to make kaleidoscopic designs. I welcome color and motif inspiration whenever I'm lucky enough to notice it: an elevator door, a set of Italian dishes, a painting at the Met, the arabesque patterns in the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque on a teaching trip to Abu Dhabi.
From the start, ChromaZone was to be about color. Lots of it. The title was the product of a brainstorming session fueled by a lovely Sangria in Casa Hidalgo, a fish restaurant in Sitges, Spain where me and my three best quilting friends were exhibiting our Semper Tedium quilts...but that's another story.
It was also intended to be a relatively small group taking less time than usual because of my extensive 2014 travel schedule. Ha. With this in mind, I began by making mock-ups using artwork from previous collections. Months later, an existing design called Dragon Feathers turned into Dragon Medallions (2596), Magmatude (2597) evolved from Magma, and I re-colored a previous allover called Sunstone (4319) to work with the new group. Check out Sunstone Ink (4319-12), the exquisite tonal black. It may not be the blackest of blacks but it is a gorgeous rendering, mysterious and textured. Vox (2599) is brand-new artwork, taking on the role of a great ombré stripe automatically sliding the eye from here to there, forming visual pathways that instill an element of motion. We had ambitiously over-designed the previous collection, Fabracadabra, which turned into a collection too big for marketing purposes. The leftover, Filigree (2598), was adapted for ChromaZone.
ChromaZone has five patterns in four colorways. I always do a Blue group (because I know it will be the most popular) and I always include a Multi filled with lots of different colors. The new direction this time is a Christmas color story, as true to the iconic colorway as I am capable of since I'm programmed to believe that when it comes to color, more is more. The Caribbean group was inspired by a teaching cruise to the Bahamas.
This collection has a more painterly quality than usual. In previous collections, most of the designs have a precise quality with clear definitions of the motifs because each element is outlined. The outline keeps each color contained in its position. Without an outline, a painterly effect is created because one color might fall-on another producing a third color. This is called trapping. Fall-ons are less apparent when it's a fabric with a single color story, like shades of yellows. The role of the outline is to separate colors that don't make good neighbors, like orange and green which can generate an unwanted muddy brown where they touch each other. The painterly approach made a difficult job even harder for the stylist whose job is to make sure that what I create on paper can be produced on fabric. A good example of both of these effects can be seen in the pattern called Filigree. The colorful, painterly patterns in the background are not outlined. They are kind of mushy, while the prominent white scroll is outlined in black so the white stays fixed.
Dragon Medallions (2596): three different large 10” medallions; two small 3 1/4” medallions
Filigree (2598): 24” repeat
Magmatude (2597): 8” motif and 4 1/2” motif
Vox (2599): runs length of selvedge