Chatting about Color with Fabric Designer Elizabeth House

Today we have a special guest here at Quilts & Creativity:  Elizabeth House, student and designer of the newly-released LizzyDish from Andover fabrics.  I’ve always wondered how a fabric starts from an idea to actually making it onto the printing press, and Elizabeth shares her thoughts on design, color, and how she envisions using LizzyDish in projects.  Enjoy!

Q:  Please tell us a little about you:  how did you get started in quilting and fabric design?

A: My name is Elizabeth House, and I am from Humble, Texas. I’m graduating in December with a BFA in Printmaking. I am also a book artist, and textile designer. I have a real love for Vince Guaraldi, beautiful design, cleverness, and sleeping.

I got my start in the quilting world from my mother (editor’s note:  Cherri House of Cherry House Quilts). She has quilted for as long as I can remember, and for as long as I can remember I wanted to design the fabric she was using. I was very young when I decided that I wanted to design fabric, but it wasn’t until recently that I actually started quilting myself. I think almost a year to date! But I got my actual start in fabric design last year (2007) at Fall Market. You can read all about it here!

Q:  What was your inspiration for LizzyDish?

A: I have such a fascination with images from the 1950’s and 60’s. I feel like if there was a time in this past century that I could have been alive, like 20-30’s it would be those decades. A kid in the late 30’s and working in the 50’s.  Ok. I will put it like this: I would either like to have been a Vaudevillian, Fanny Bryce, OR, a 1950’s concept artist, Mary Blair. So, just add those things plus a love for entertaining, baking, cooking, all together party throwing and you have LizzyDish.

I wanted it to feel like you found it. You were handed down something or you went thrifting or garage sailing and there was a dish towel, a box of old recipe cards, a cook book, or a set of mixing bowls that reminded you of what was, how your mom, or your grandmother cared for things. I saw those things in my grandmother’s house. An exquisite attention to detail that we, for the most part, pay very little to no attention to. The mothers of the fifties were renaissance women. They wore aprons, everything matched, meals were timed. There is definitely a resurgence of this, the timing, the aprons, the details, but it was more of a calling then and I wanted LizzyDish to feel a part of that era. I want to be a modern renaissance woman of that same caliber.

Q:  You’ve written in your blog that you keep about 3-5 journals going at the same time.  Is one for color?  How do your journals influence/inspire your work?

A: It’s gotten a little out of control, the notebook thing. I keep one for a specific project that I am working on, which has grown into large sheets of folded paper that I keep meaning to bind, but have really been liking the ability to just lay them all out and look at them together… one is for notes… but I seem to be getting lazy, because they are all starting to blend together which requires me to carry all of them at all times. They greatly influence my work, I would never throw away any of my journals or sketch books. They are like lessons and I am grateful to be able to turn to them to gain inspiration, as well as avoid previous pitfalls.

Q:  You were inspired by Fiestaware, retro kitchen appliances,  and the state of Hawaii for your colors.  Can you elaborate on how you selected those colors?  Do you choose colors intuitively or use color theory to guide you?  How does your color chart guide you?

A:  I feel like the more familiar you are with color the more intuitively it comes. I don’t go about things looking for a triadic color scheme or to be monochromatic. It usually occurs to me later that I have created split compliments or analogous color ways with no actual intention. I would say color is probably one of the most important things to understand. For this group, because the inspiration for the images was so strong I wanted to play with colors of the same era.

For the color way Kitchennaire I wanted it to be kind of girly. I took inspiration from popular Fiesta Ware of the 50’s as well as the idea of a Barbie Homemaker. I like the image of that. Appliance is the retro appliance, the avocado green, and the ochre yellow, as well as a touch of the Rock and Roll-Space Age. Sunny Side Up! is based on the new state-hood of Hawaii as well as the Beach Party Movie craze. Elvis Presley, Gidget, Franky and Annette. There is a definite reason to each color. It took a while to get correct, but it was worth it. I feel it is a very sincere fabric collection

The color chart is a guide, after I choose colors in the beginning I place them all in the chart, and I take away and add from there. It’s just a key to the whole thing, like a color map.

Q:  Have you made any projects yet with the LizzyDish fabric?  How do you envision it being used?  What fabrics would you recommend to use with it?

A:  I have designed several projects, but I currently don’t have the fabric in my hot little hands. As soon as I do, all my sketches will come to fruition. As far as how I see it being used, I see it as much more than novelty prints. It would work in anything from quilts, to aprons, all the way to children’s wear. There are no limits to what LizzyDish can, and should be used for. I would use it with solids. But I am very excited to see what people create. If I had a house, I would upholster a breakfast area in it. I’ll be saving some yards for when that day comes.

Thanks Elizabeth for stopping by today and chatting with me about designing fabric.  It’s great insight to peak into the mind of a designer and see how a fabric goes from idea to the quilt shop!