Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Ice Crystals

It's Day 9 of our Winter Quilts Series! Have you ever looked through a kaleidoscope? When viewed through one end, a kaleidoscope displays a variety of beautiful colors and symmetric patterns as a result of mirrors that reflect the objects within the tube (the word "kaleidoscope" is derived from the Greek words meaning "beautiful form to see".) Paula Nadelstern has achieved international recognition for her innovative and complex designs inspired by the bilateral symmetry of kaleidoscopic images, including the American Folk Art Museum's first one person exhibition highlighting the work of a contemporary quilt artist (2009*). Her astonishing works of art include her precisely rendered Ice Crystals.

Kaleidoscopic XXII: Ice Crystals, 41" x 54", copyright 2000,  Paula Nadelstern 

Each of Paula's snowflakes is actually 6 identical 60 degree triangles, that are each composed of hundreds of tiny slivers of fabric. She says: "Every snow crystal that gently floats to earth is equally compelling. Our curiosity is aroused by this pure gem of nature, with its common hexagonal pattern and endless variety of structural details. The pieced snowflakes in this quilt are my attempt to translate into fabric a few of the over 6000 photomicrographs made by W. A. Bentley of Jericho, Vermont in the late 1800's and published by the American Meteorological Society in 1931."*

Kaleidoscopic XXII: Ice Crystals, detail, copyright 2000, Paula Nadelstern

The symmetry of a kaleidoscope image is a measure of how accurately the original interior image is reflected around the kaleidoscope interior; in a well-made system, there is a seamless continuity of the image sections, with the images matching up perfectly along the edge of each pie-shaped piece. Paula Nadelstern has experimented with different ways to piece the triangular wedges so that the patterns come together perfectly. She is the author of several books published by C&T Publishing that explain her process of pattern drafting, fabric selection, and piecing, including "Snowflakes & Quilts" (available as an e-book).

Last but not least, Paula designs sumptuous fabrics for Benartex - including printed panels - that can be used to create dazzling quilts with simple quilt patterns. Check out her gorgeous Patternista fabric line at Benartex.

*Image credits and links: Images are shown with the generous permission of Paula Nadelstern.  For a story about Paula Nadelstern and her snowflakes, see "A special gift--the legacy of Snowflake Bentley" by Barbara Eaglesham, The Evening Standard (London, England), December 1, 2002. A fantastic free, downloadable, full-color catalog of the exhibit, "Kaleidoscope Quilts: The Art of Paula Nadelstern", can be found at The American Folk Art Museum website. For information on Paula's upcoming exhibits and workshops, visit Paula Nadelstern's website.

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