By now you have seen the cover and a few bits of Simple Shapes, Spectacular Quilts by Kaffe Fassett with LIza Prior Lucy and heard a bit about the glory inside. Kaffe and Liza examine shapes
in a way that reinvigorates our interest in the simple square, the
triangle, the diamond, rectangle and circles.
This book brings us back to where we began.What fascinates me between the pages of this book is how Kaffe and Liza continue to push the envelope, they continue to present ideas and concepts that grow our minds as they continue to create images that define inspiration. An angle of particular interest to review is how they interpret tradition. Tradition in itself is a living, breathing ever changing reflection of how we celebrate our lives. It is how we live and what we leave behind for those that come later to review and adapt to their own. As quilters we may think about these things more than...well, non
quilters, as our world is focused on what we see and what we can do
with it. Traditionally, quilters looked out the window as women of the
home and saw animals, trees and plants.
Their quilts reflected a sense of purpose while living on the land,
hence the idea of "Country" style quilts.
Today we live in a different world, filled with complex images. Multi-layered visions of buildings, roads and signs fill our eyes and brains to overload. We are used to seeing so much more...and yet are we? We glean from Kaffe the power of observation. Don't we awaken the idea of beauty when we look at the glorious color (no pun intended) of his fabrics and fascinating pattern of the quilts? I know for me, my mind clicks in as my eye engages....I want to see more! I want to examine, think and learn as much as I can about what makes the fabrics and quilts so amazing.
Shapes, simple, repetitive shapes are with us as well, mirrored in our textiles, our structures and our ideas. Life becomes a blending contrast of ideas that are both familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. It takes concentrated observation for us to notice, observe and then to record our images in a way that reveals something new about us. Our individuality is shown in layers, textures and patterns woven into our lives as our own personal traditions are born. This book in all its glory helps us to remember to look at our surrounds and to OBSERVE.
Many of us have a few Kaffe books already but never mind...it all started many years ago here...from the first book way back when until now, I have been obsessive about working with these fabrics, these shapes, these ideas.
As I flipped through the pages of his first quilt book I found a new appreciation for working color with simple shapes. Making the quilts in the book fine tuned my eye to the effect I wanted to create.
I had to know so I asked Kaffe what he thought he'd be doing if he hadn't met Liza. I imagine the knit, tapestry, and mosaic books could have been a life but..."I'd be painting and knitting I suppose. How sad to think of missing all this fabric world and you industrious inventive souls!!" I guess what I was really worried about is what I would be doing if they hadn't teamed up!
Having enjoyed Kaffe and Brandon's company for a week while they visited Sydney a while back I was curious about just what were his most vivid memories of Australia and had his visit here influenced anything in particular either fabrics or designs so again I had to ask.
"By far the most vivid impression of Australia is the aboriginal art works and the work Rosalie Gascoigne. Both so free and fresh with ideas I've used in Quilts and Prints. The relaxed, creative spirit of people there, also affects me as I think back over my trips. I love what students do in the Material Obsession shop." (Much hand clapping here as I also love Aboriginal Art, Rosalie Gascoigne and class members at Material Obsession!!!)
Kaffe points out that when we travel, that sense of adventure of seeing new things means we are more keenly aware of our environments. This book is a result of traveling with eyes wide open.
In this book, as in all the books, Kaffe manages to inspect and then reveal to us what made the essence of the traditional quilts. The repeat of the line, the blended contrast of the various fabrics, the attention to detail. It is always interesting to imagine how they did what they did despite the limited access to the fabulous tools we have today. The lines reflect the familiar, the fabrications reflect the now and the combination opens the door to all kinds of new paths for more travel.
I often wonder about how those gals would have reacted to the fabric choices we have today. Would they opt for the quieter, softer palettes or dive into the bold, saturated colors we have at our finger tips now. So, that was my next question, how might the quilters of yesteryear see what we are doing now? Would they embrace the color and pattern or reject it for a more simplistic approach...what would those tradition setting quilters think of his fabrics? "I think a lot of the fabrics now are more "bobby dazzler" in effect. That is partly to appeal in a competitive market. I actually love a lot of the simpler 2 and 3 colour prints used in old quilts and would like to use that simplicity but people expect me to more party time! The vintage quilt makers loved their more complex fabrics for borders sometimes, so I think they would love some of the more showy numbers." More enthusiastic hand clapping here as we think so too!
So the scene is set and we live today. Some of us have the ability to travel more than others. However, the internet makes travelers of us all. We can sit in our pj's and wander around seeing things near and far. Given the rate at which good images travel (and knowing what Spiderman says which is with great power comes great responsibility! ) I asked, does it make you happy that you are changing the world to be a more beautiful place one image at a time? "Thanks for that comment. I do try to inject some magic to heighten our lives and love it when people recognize and respond to it. "
We put together a lot of quilts in the shop and people often ask, "Is this too busy?" That question always makes me laugh as I don't really get the concept but it made me wonder if Kaffe does so...Do you ever considered the use of a neutral or pattern free fabric in your quilts?
"Actually, yes I do. More and more to isolate rich pattern with plains is something I love in Vintage pieces. I'm contemplating a book just on shirt cottons and stripes."
Tradition has many aspects. From fussy cutting paper piecing to the dynamic and haphazard quilts of Gees Bend, we are in the luxury position of seeing examples of so many varieties of work. My favorite quote regarding quilting is "chance is our creative director" which was made by one of the Gee's Bend Quilters. Looking throughSimple Shgapes Spectacular Quilts, it would appear that the chances found in nature are Kaffe's inspiration as well as a recognition of man made structure. How do you manage to maintain the fresh approach with such an enormous body of work?
"A wonderful phrase. Yes I love to respond to the spontaneous in life. The great thing about getting to this great age is to realise if you are open you will never lack inspiration faced with any materials or circumstances in life. That's how one stays fresh. No rehearsals!"
While Kaffe was visiting we went to Bowral to an antique shop. There we were treated to viewing lots of old quilts. It was fun to see which quilts took Kaffe's eye. If you had to describe your most favorite quilt , where would you start and what elements would it include? "My favorite quilt would be a scrappy color filled patchwork quilt done around 1860 to 90 using repetition of geometry in harmonious but odd colors."
Become a world wide traveler while sitting in your favorite chair. Grab this book from the top of your favorite stack, rest your head and please your eyes among the pages and then...Get busy absorbing how Kaffe and Liza present what will surely be the traditions of tomorrow. You'll find that you will take what you love and make it yours. The presented fabrics and patterns are the gate to the traditions of today that will soon become the treasures of the future. ENJOY, Kathy
ps If you don't have this book, we have it in stock! Just pop me an email and we'll get it sorted. Thanks for having me on the blogtour!!