Monday, August 20, 2007

Kaffe Fassett class

When I got the programme for the Festival of Quilts it seemed a natural choice to do a colour workshop with Kaffe Fasset given that I love to work with a whole range of colours.... as long as they are copper, gold, ochre, beige, sand, rust....! Ok. Brown. There is nothing wrong with brown. But I confess to looking at Kaffe's fabrics and hating them but loving his quilts. So, wanting to understand how to get from one to t'other, and be brave enought to have a go, I signed up.

It was a day class based on his Frothy Quilt which was in one of his older books and reappears in his new book Quilts in the Sun. We were told to collect 25 fabrics in 1/4 0r 1/2 meter pieces in two complementary colourways in differing intensities and that we could cut into the required half square triangles before hand to save some time.

So, I was a bit bemused as to how it could take a day to teach us how to assemble tringales. Esecially as we were not even sewing them, just pinning then to a portable design wall ( flannel sheet) to take home. But all became clear.

Firstly it does actually take a long time to pin all those bits to a sheet! However, the class is not about patchwork technique ( although Rowan pattern writer Pauline Smith was on hand for those who needed help with technicalities). It was about colour.

Once we had got some fabric up - as in the picture above- in any order but following the light and dark pattern placement, Kaffe started to prowl and give advice. I found him contemplative, gentle and respectiful in his advice but definate at the same time. When my first pieces were up I stepped back to look at it and he joined me and asked what I saw and what I liked. His advice was that I needed to deepen the colours from my pinks and cobalts - the prints were different but the tones all a bit samey. He suggested taking the blues to purples and the pinks more to the orange of which I already had a flash and had said I liked. When he suggested more vibrant pink I laughed and said that compared to brown I thought my pink was exceedingly bright and he said 'Oh no, I'm talking Barbara Cartland's dresses pink." You can see two sample pieces from Pauline's scrap stash pinned up to the photo above as we experimented a bit with his ideas.

At that stage I got to go shopping with Kaffe down at the Cotton Patch stall in the festival hall proper and I began to add in the five new fabrics I picked. ( I did really pick them - he approved them!) I think you can see from this photo the difference it makes.

After lunch we worked some more and then Kaffe went around the class giving a 'crit' about each quilt - his response to the colours ... here he is saying that mine is ' rich and passionate'!....He was very positive about each quilt and I began to wonder if he could genuinely like every quilt and find only good in it. But then he came to one which was in oranges and greens. He said that this was an example of one that didn't work and that he had been arguing with the maker about it all day but she liked it as it was which was fine. However, he said that he would add in more colours and tones as, although hers was orange and green, it was flat and reading as if it might as well have been black and white. He held just one triangle of pink up against it and the whole class ( except the maker) ooohed and ahhed!

The class cost £65 which I think was expensive but I certainly don't berudge it. I did not get a whole ream of notes as I once did in a Dawn Cameron Dick class - the lessons learned were much more subtle and mostly by doing and being nudged rather than being lectured to. The main lesson I learned was to take my colours a little further round and deeper into the colour wheel than I am used to. It was also interesting to see how the same pattern came out in other people's fabrics - you can see some works in progress above and below..

My lesson was in adding colour - for other people it was taking it out and being willing to cut a little, stick it up on the board fast ( Kaffe's exact words were ' just run it up the bloody flag pole' )so you can see how it works and if necessary scrap it and go to something else.

I have been assembling the blocks today but am now so tired I have starte dto rotate the bocks as I sew which is my warning sign to stop. When eth borders are on I'll show you finished product. But, however it tuirns out I have proof that it has been touched by the master...


Helen said...

Re the last photo: Does this mean you will NEVER wash this quilt :-)

katelnorth said...

Very interesting - thanks for sharing that. I've never been a Kaffe Fassett fan personally (I mean, I don't like (most of) the fabric - don't know him personally!) but I can see that he really knows about colour - sounds like the class was intriguing.

Thimbleanna said...

Ooohhh, you lucky girl! And I'm agreeing with Helen -- it might be that you never wash this quilt! LOL.

Jennifer said...

What a wonderful treat and experience for you! I hope you use that photo of him with your quilt on the label. How did you end up going with the pinks and blues, by the way? The effect is wonderful, but I missed how you broke out of your usual palette. Were you glad you did? Do you think you've learned things you'll apply to your favorite colorways?

Nellie's Needles said...

YEAH to you for "getting it" and YEAH to Kaffe for his style of teaching. We only really learn by incorporating theories and principles into our own work and style.

Also, thank you for relating the "whole" story from your initial thoughts about taking the class to the resulting end of it.

Jenni @ Fairybread said...

What an experience - shopping with Kaffe Fassett. I have used a few of his dark pinks in the latest string quilt and they really give it some ooomph. It is so easy to have things all the same tone, then you wonder why people don't go 'wow'.