Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Color Rebel

The Modern Quilt Guild recently hosted an essay contest where folks wrote up why they love fabric designer Kaffe Fassett  to celebrate his new autobiography coming out - thought you all would enjoy Karen's entry - you can see some of Karen's work on her blog~ 

Color Rebel

by: Karen Hall Calhoun

Age 3:  “No, sweetie, redheads cannot wear pink or red.”
                                “Why, Mommie?  I so pretty!”
Age 5:  “Blue and green fingerpaints do not belong together.”
                                “Skies blue, trees green, and they       together.”
Age 16:  “No, only one print, and the rest have to be solids”
                                “But why?  These prints sing together.”
Age 20:  “Don’t put black and brown in the same piece!”
                                “Um, but this tobacco brown and coal black look great.”
Age 27:  “You can’t have gold and silver in the same item”
                                “Bummer.  Are there Metal Police out there now?”
Age 31:  You simply cannot put a plaid and floral print next to each other.”
                                “Dang if I know who made up all these color rules, but I’m not sure I believe them.”

So, how did Kaffe help me grow as a quilter?

I started my first quilt in college.  It was horrible, and I never finished it.  A few years later, my next quilt was a rainbow of two inch squares.  I hand-pieced this postage stamp pattern in campgrounds as we  back-packed through Europe between medical school and internships.  I did finish this one, and still have it.:)  Then we dove into our careers, and my quilting shrank to collecting a yard of fabric here, a yard there, for a quilt ‘someday’.

A few years later, I wanted some fancy flower pots for our garden, so made a brief foray into mosaics, first looking for a few books to get me started.  It was then that I first ‘met’ Kaffe, in his ‘Mosaics’.  I was astounded.  Here were shapes, textures, colors- that I’d dreamed of.  Almost as though he’d peeked at my dreams and made them solid!  But it was actually in a BOOK!  Nobody was harassing him for ‘illegal’ color choices!

And so, the beginning of my Color Rebellion.

My next meeting was Kaffe’s Glorious Needlepoint.  Another visceral response:  Big wonderous flowers, ethnic prints, all sorts of geometric variations- it really could be done!

I then realized that Kaffe had also designed some quilt books.  I felt almost involved in some torrid romance as I paged through these books, again and again.  I loved seeing the objects Kaffe collected, that inspired and informed his designs.

As my children got older and I had more time, I tip-toed back into quilting.  For a while, art quilts and surface design delighted me, but I never lost my love for commercial fabrics.  I mixed colors, shapes and patterns with abandon.  Some were dismal, well deserving of their place in the ‘round file’, but I gradually developed a surer eye for mixing and designing. 

Now I’m enjoying the Modern Quilt movement, the play of solid colors with patterned cloth, and negative spaces showcasing imaginative quilting designs.  Kaffe’s books, compositions and designs were a passport to Color Freedom.  Thanks so much!  Just thinking of these brings a happy smile to my face!

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