Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Fabracadabra: In Paula's Words

Yesterday we showed you Paula Nadelstern's latest collection, Fabracadabra, along with the Stained Glass and Ruffles coordinates. Today we're back with Paula herself to offer some background on these fantastic fabrics.

Just how does Paula go from idea to intricate kaleidoscope? How does Paula's art quilt design work play into her fabric design work? Which fabric reminds her of a bathing suit her mother wore in the 1950s? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and more, in Paula's own words. And then, go find yourself some Fabracadabra!

Tell us about designing a line like Fabracadabra.
A collection may start with a Grand Idea – for instance a trip to Barcelona or Abu Dubai. “Start” is the operative word, because those first ideas can end up – 4 months later --completely discarded or morphed into an altered, unrecognizable state. I am very flexible and not at all concerned about sticking to a theme because my ultimate goal is designs that tickle my imagination.

Over the years, I’ve developed a vocabulary to describe the personality and function of the fabrics I design. This personal lexicon divides fabric into two main categories: prima donnas and allovers. Each collection needs both.
Prima donnas are powerful design elements. Simultaneously temperamental and charismatic, they are the divas that give a design its distinctive voice. Any fabric that is composed of motifs that are the exact duplicates of one another is a prima donna. Mirror imaging patterns are my signature style and I make sure every collection has three of these.


Allovers play a vital supporting role. Compared with the fussy prima donna, they are versatile and forgiving. The nondirectional design of the allover looks the same from any angle because there is no implicit top, bottom
Stained Glass

As I’m coloring, I’m aware that I can cause different color ways of the same design to function in diverse ways. This concept fascinates me and it’s hard to put into words; it’s something I’ve learned by coloring collections over many years and critiquing the finished products. 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 or perhaps it connects 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” of Skus to work with.

I don’t want the prints in the Red group to work only with the Red group, the Lime with the Lime. I want as many skus as possible to intermingle harmoniously with the entire collection and also with patterns from my previous collections. 

Do you have a favorite print and/or color combination in the collection?
Keep in mind, I’m not only a designer, I’m also an art quilter who uses fabric in her own series of kaleidoscopic quilts 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. 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. 

For quiltmaking, I generally like the “Multi’s” – meaning, a print not just various shades of greens and blues. 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, like this one:

And also skus that aren’t labeled as such but function as a Multi. 

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). 

Can you talk about the Cascade design?
I view Cascade as a directional – which means you can use it to slide the eye from here to there. Its detail and delicacy delights and amazes me. So do the miraculous odd combos of overlapping colors groups, almost all Multis, courtesy of a very skilled team and a cooperative mill.
It vibrates as the peppered texture of skinny slivers and sprinkles project the sense they will fade to nothing in the next instant, referring a kaleidoscope in motion. It’s not a perfect mirror image but can used as a pseudo symmetrical fabric.

What prompted you to design Stained Glass & Ruffles? 
Both Ruffles and Stained Glass are all overs. Stained Glass is a simplification of an idea I will continue to pursue referencing the idiosyncratic shards seen Gaudi architecture in Barcelona. Gaudi mosaics are randomly cracked pieces of patterned pottery, not shaded in similar colors.

I will always try to create the perfect deep rich Reads-Like-a-Solid black. Ruffles is this year’s vehicle toward this goal. I may rarely use the Alabaster color in a Kaleidoscope quilts but I just love this elegant m√©lange of hues. 

Click here to see more of Paula's work and get inspired to make a kaleidoscope quilt like she does. 
Click here to see yesterday's post on Paula's fabrics.
Cick here to see the entire Fabracadabra collection.
Click here to see the entire Ruffles and Stained Glass collection.

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