a chat with kaffe fassett
By Patricia Belyea
SEATTLE / LONDON It was tea time in Seattle (7am) and tea time in London (3pm) when the phone brrringed at Kaffe Fassett’s studio in the UK. I had set up this opportunity to chat with the King of Color a week before Kaffe’s new book, Bold Blooms, releases.
My first question was about Kaffe and Brandon’s spontaneous approach to design. His answer was as elusive as the subject. “That’s like pinning down a butterfly.” Kaffe talked about “knowing it when I see it. We test out an instinctive idea and when things fall into place, it makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. It’s exciting and full of energy. But a difficult thing to describe.”
I asked Kaffe how he became involved with patchwork after his early beginnings in still life painting, knitting, crochet and mosaics. Kaffe told me that his first fabric for Rowan was inspired by a piece of ancient Roman glass found in a drawer at the Victoria & Albert Museum.
The fragment interested Kaffe because of the colorful misshapen circles of murrini within the glass. At first Kaffe knitted a waistcoat with the murrini motifs. Then he painted the design for the fabric company.
Called Roman Glass, this iconic fabric pattern is stilled produced today. (I used Roman Glass in one of my first quilts! How about you?)
Talking about his upcoming book, Bold Blooms, Kaffe stated: “Nothing rivals the colors of flowers except the crystals beneath the earth. Their colors are so life enhancing. I’m delighted to have readers look at flowers, in all their glory.
“I‘ve thought about this book concept for 25 years. At first, I wanted to do a book about amazing interiors from around the world—with extreme examples of decorating with flowers. For instance, magnificent homes in China and India.
“Instead Bold Blooms is a survey of the textiles and ceramics I’ve collected over the years. All decorated with flowers. This new quilt book really focuses on aesthetics.”
“What’s next?” I queried the non-stop creative.
“I always want people to get turned on by color and scale. One of my favorite things is to show my quilts and get other people’s reactions.
“The quilts from Bold Blooms will be on display in Houston this year. I’ll be walking around with groups of folks and talking about the quilts at the Festival. I’m looking forward to that.”
We signed off with a promise to catch up next time I head to the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham UK.
Bold Blooms releases in the US on September 13, 2016.
To order Bold Blooms from Glorious Color, a website run by collaborator Liza Prior Lucy, click here
To visit Kaffe’s website, click here
To buy Kaffe’s fabric, please visit your local quilt shop.
All images from Bold Blooms are copyrighted © 2016 Debbie Patterson. Used by permission of publisher Abrams.
Image of knitting and murrini glass by Steve Lovi, from the book Glorious Color, published by Clarkson Potter. Supplied by Brandon Mably.