Did you know that next year–2014–will be the 15th anniversary of the Q.S.O.S. Project? Over the past 14 years we’ve collected almost 1,100 interviews with quilters around the world! This week’s Q.S.O.S. Spotlight shines on one of the very first Q.S.O.S. interviews from 1999, Paula Nadelstern (who’s also one of many special guests at our upcoming Quilters Take Manhattan event!). Paula shared with interviewer Lorraine Jackson a bit about her kaleidoscope quilts, her family, and the unusual places she finds inspiration (like photographs of snowflakes from the 1920’s)!

Paula started by explaining a bit about the touchstone quilt she brought with her: Kaleidoscopic XX: Elegant After Maths
14-31-D8-1-qsos-a0a1b6-a_15370Each quilt that I’ve done has lead to the next idea, and the next idea. So, working in a series, creating a body of work in one series, has really stretched me as an artist. I mean, there are ideas in here that are rather simple that I didn’t think about in my first quilt, or my fourth quilt, or my tenth quilt. I love the idea that what might look very simple to somebody looking at this quilt, were very new ideas to me that I came to because I really stretched the one idea. So, there’s that sense of it. I started working with a lot of silks in my quilts, starting at about my fourteenth or fifteenth quilt, so there’s a lot of silk in this quilt. The “elegant aftermath,” the aftermath really relates to the fact that, this is really the result of understanding the sense of the kaleidoscope and the geometry that is involved in the kaleidoscope, that I know now how to make an image seem as if it’s fleeting and is spontaneous, and really give the sense of a kaleidoscope, using the methods and materials of quiltmaking. The fabric part of quiltmaking is very, very important.

And shared a bit about her studio and very patient family!
 I live in my two bedroom apartment in New York City with my husband and my daughter. She’s a college student and she’s twenty-one and beginning to move out and I’m still working on my kitchen table. I’ve never had a studio, though I’ll probably be able to start working in her room a little bit… They don’t mind stepping on pins in the living room. At this point, they are used to the kitchen table being my studio instead of the place where they, you know, have dinner, that sort of thing. They’re very supportive.

Inspiration for a kaleidoscopic quilt can start anywhere…
I’ve written two books one on group quilts and one on the kaleidoscope method. And a few other little things for Dover. And I’m now starting a book on snowflakes… Yes, actually a snowflake is really a six-sided image, in some ways it’s very much like the quilt we have in front of us. Except that basically I’ll use a blue and white palette. Not a very rigid blue and white palette, really stretching that but then also using it in the shape of a snowflake. I will be working in one sixth, designing the snowflake from that one sixth and then duplicating that six times. Photomicrographs of snowflakes were taken in Vermont in the 1920’s so we have these small, little images that I’ve used to identify the specifics of a snowflake. I’ve made one quilt like that and now I’m doing a book about it.
Interested in reading more about Paula? You can find her interview and more quilt stories at the Quilters’ S.O.S.- Save Our Stories page on the Alliance’s site!


Posted by Emma Parker
Project Manager,  Quilters’ S.O.S.- Save Our Stories