Sunday, October 28, 2007

Quilt Market Report 2: Elly Sienkiewicz and Gerald Roy

These people are two of the greats in the quilting world, in my opinion, so I was eager to hear their presentations on their new fabric lines. Both have deep connections to the historical quilting tradition, which is something that, as a crazy quilter, I respond to deeply.
Elly, as all quilters know, is responsible for the revival of the Baltimore Album quilts...she has taught them, created fabrics for them, and even created an Applique Academy for passing on the fine handwork skills necessary for them to continue to be made. She is a most gracious lady. Her presentation was about her new fabric line, "Remember Me", especially designednfor use in Balimore Album quilts today.
Gerald Roy began collecting antique quilts in the 1960s with his partner, Paul Pilgrim. Since that time he has been a teacher, author, antique textile appraiser, and fabric designer. He is now currently designing fabrics for Windham. While he has long been involved in producing reproduction fabrics, his new line is bold, contemporary, and graphic.
Both of them talked about the design process behind their fabrics....and I knew I was in the presence of greatness!

Elly is holding up one of her quilts, ruefully laughing at how the border design used in it was not a good seller (I love it though). What works and what doesn't?....

She has decided to redraw many of the patterns from her previous books to smaller block they are sewn up at 8" square.

The commitment of time and attention to detail is what makes me love these a crazy quilter who will easily put 6 to 12 months into a quilt, I can and do relate.

The opening in this block design is meant to be filled with an appliqued sillhouette, portraits of loved ones, traditionally. But I can't help but think about how photo transfers could somehow be integrated into this concept...not in a traditionally reproduced Baltimore Album quilt, but in a quilt based on its sensibilities and traditions.
Which leads to a lovely discussion I had with Elly today in her booth at Robert Kaufman fabrics. "What makes a classic?" was her question. "What makes some some art last across the decades and centuries?" Her answer was that classics must have an element of transcendence, something of goodness, truth, and beauty in them to last.
How I loved hearing that!
But then she gave another quotation: "For art to have meaning for the future, it must include the coin of its own times". Hence, the photo transfer in that silhouette block!

Gerald Roy is an old school designer, formally trained in art. He reminded me so much of some of my professors at Cornell in the 1970's, just so aesthetically aware.
He produced his new line to fulfill his own needs in a way: fabric that he could use in his own work just simply wasn't out there. The people at Windham gave him carte blanche to design this line, called "Graphic Rhythms".

These designs were a product of Mr. Roy listening to music. In response to the rhythms of what he was hearing, he filled notebooks with line drawings. Then he would abstract sections from them, create repeating images from the sections, refine those, etc.
He follows the old school of painting in that he never uses black...he mixes colors using complimentaries in order to keep them very clear, rich, and bright. He used that principle in coloring these designs. He also had this to say...."In working with color, if you have likes and dislikes you work at a disadvantage. Not ever using certain colors is like playing a sonata with part of the keyboard missing." That is good for us to remember, isn't it?

I had to ask him....."What music were you listening to when you made these designs?" Lots of kinds, he said, but above all, the Bach Fugues.
I KNEW he was going to say Bach!!!!

One tip for you all....the Regency Dandy line he created last year, that uses vintage designs in hot, contemporary colors exemplifies the things that Elly and I were talking about about regarding what makes a classic, how to make that contemporary...I asked if there was any of the fabric line left on the planet and he said no...but then two shop owners in the audience piped up, "We bought the whole line and we still have some." Here's the

Lots more coming....!


Deb Hardman said...

Lucky you. It sounds like an interesting time.

Vicki W said...

VERY interesting. Thanks for sharing! I have to have those G. Roy fabrics.

Amy Munson said...

Quilt market must be fantastic. I love the whole idea of the combination of traditional and contemporary quilting. It is something I strive for in my work as well as my "real" job. I work with the historic preservation of architecture and buildings and dealing with the issues of a modern family living in a 100 year old home can be quite challenging.

Possibilities, Etc. said...

Fabulous post you have given us - it will take me reading it several times to thoroughly enjoy and digest. those graphic rhythms look very much like needlepoint stitches. Hmmmm. I did my first needlepoint quilt things from the Album Quilts in the early 70's. I had a great book, but lost it. I would love to see that market, as I love quilts so.

Kay said...

I love the Gerald Roy fabarics. What an interesting discussion about timelessness and what makes a classic. I was just looking at a fabric catalog recently and thinking how tediously trendy some of the new stuff is, and it's refreshing to see and hear another point of view.

Marty52 said...

Thanks so much for the updates, Allie. So much to think about in this post... thanks!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Allie, for sharing these most wonderful photographs and a very well written report on these two outstanding fabric designers. I've just finished a class with Elly, where she had the first quilt for us all to drool over. That fabric may not have been flying out the door, but it's neigh-on impossible to find now

Anonymous said...

this Baltimore quilt album is very gorgeous. I love