Lost Art of Quilting With Pauline Boyd January 21, 2013 by Shiva Rose In my fantasy I am the Waldorf mom who saves remnants of my children's old clothes that carry within them memories; like the pink striped shorts Coco wore when eating an ice cream cone on a trip to Venice Italy, or the maroon velvet ribbon Charlotte carried around for days when she was two. I would save all these bits of my past, their past, and weave them into a quilt which will tell the story of their precious yet all too fleeting childhood. I tried to quilt for a Waldorf school auction gift last year, and sadly mine was so crooked that one of the sweet moms in the class had to redo it. I guess I'm missing the quilting gene and that's why I am in awe of Pauline Boyd and her ability to create these works of art that are also recycling old materials. Pauline is an artist first and with an artist's consciousness carrying her love of a dying tradition forward with Counterpane. My friend Kate Mulling and I paid a visit to her studio in Echo Park, and discovered an array of fabric pieces that loom as far away as Indonesia and as close as a thrift store in Silverlake. Here is a mini interview with the local artisan Pauline: 1) What inspired you to start quilting? A trip to Arkansas in 2004 to visit some family friends- they had just closed a quilt shop and their house was filled to the brim with quilts, books, fabrics, notions, etc. That made me interested in the actual construction- but when I look back there were so many influences. My father has his grandmother's depression era quilts that I was always without realizing why- and just growing up in a bohemian household in Echo Park- I was always surrounded with amazing textiles, bits and pieces from around the world. Everything ends up a little piece of the puzzle, I guess. There was definitely a distinct pull to make one though. I made my first one rather manically- cutting up all my sheets and curtains and clothes. Which I still do. 2) Where do you source your fabric pieces? I've been lucky to be able to travel a huge amount the last few years- to visit my (now domestic) long distance boyfriend- and those trips always became these magical treasure hunts. I love to trade, especially, and try to do that wherever I can. Otherwise, I'm just always looking, anything could be potential material- a striped end of an otherwise worn out kitchen towel, a dress that never quite fit. Men's shirting from thrift stores always yields lots of yardage in more neutral tones and cottons. Another interesting thing that happens is that people give me things- scraps of things from other projects or something that they can't bear to throw away. Its really cool and touching- since the things I most love to use are the things worn and storied. Of course, sometimes a girl just needs some hot pink neon fabric and she has to go downtown to a fabric store too... 3) How do you think being an artist compares in LA to New York City? Well, hard to say really since I was involved in such a different type of industry in NYC. 14 years of pursuing a very different career, so its just hard to compare. For me, the geographical change allowed for a fresh slate and as a result, LA feels so productive and well suited for a life of creating and making, and doing it serenely, which I'm into now. And I have roots here. Which is more meaningful now than it was in my 20's. New York is New York: its still the epicenter of art and culture to me (and basically the universe), but what's refreshing is to see so many incredible people who are making art and interesting lifestyles for themselves here in LA- its very affirming. 4) Are you a mermaid or forest fairy? a mermaid! a water baby, a dreamer, an empath. 5) Quilting seems green to me since it's recycling old remnants of history. Does that influence your work? Absolutely! That's the crux of what I find interesting about quilting. The utility/folk side of it. Simply making something you need out of stuff you can't use anymore, and finding a way to make it beautiful. Its such a gift to oneself to work in that way, I feel. Working with found/repurposed materials also creates this organic problem solving in my work- I might only have a limited amount of something for a border for example, so then I have to find a solution in the moment: maybe a similar fabric, maybe the shape changes altogether. On a larger kind of life level, it inspires this sense of capability in me when it comes to other areas as well- the way I cook and eat for example, or the way I dress. It teaches me how to live a greener lifestyle by giving me the confidence to be more self-sustaining in little ways. 6) What or where is your dream vacation? The wilds of somewhere... or maybe the 70's. 7) What or where is your favorite meal? Any large pile of seafood that has to be picked/cracked/dissected until my fingers are raw. 8) What book is on your nightstand? Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees by Lawrence Weschler, conversations from his lifelong relationship with the artist Robert Irwin. Its kind of always on my bedside table as a little reminder of what it means to see, my vision, yadda yadda. Developing my eye without being precious about it. And Florida, the novel by Christine Schutt. 9) Where can we find your designs? On my website: www.counterpanehandmade.com, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn at the impeccable Beautiful Dreamers, sometimes at the retail space at the inspiring Yogala Echo Park, sometimes at the Venice Bazaar hosted by the beautiful All For the Mountain, and more stores around LA this spring hopefully!