I make my quilts on the same block in the Bronx where I’ve lived my whole life. Until my mother-in-law passed away in May 2021, we were three generations living within a block of each other on this most northern NYC street: my daughter, my mother-in-law, my husband and me. For over twenty-five years, my workspace in our ninth floor, two-bedroom, cram-packed-with-fabric-and-sewing-stuff apartment was the forty-two-inch round kitchen table. Our perpetual dining companion was a Singer Featherweight, purchased for $25 at a yard sale. I used to call it an old machine until I learned it was a year younger than I am. Together we made my first quilt (a comforter cover, really) in 1968 in my college dorm. We continued as a team through the first twenty-seven quilts in my kaleidoscopic series. Today I work in a 15- by 10-foot studio revamped from my daughter’s former bedroom. Picture ceiling-high cupboards stuffed with fabric, drawers overflowing with the paraphernalia quilters collect, six feet of design wall, and a Bernina poised on a 4 by 6-foot counter, waiting to continue the forty-five quilt in my series.
My interest in things kaleidoscopic began in 1987 when I was struck by a bolt of fabric—a sumptuous, sinfully expensive, bilaterally symmetrical Liberty of London tana lawn. Little did I know that purchasing a quarter yard would change my life forever, leading me, three years and four quilts later, to the state-of-the-art kaleidoscope and a new career. The lesson from this anecdote is obvious: buy that piece of fabric no matter how expensive it is. As I peer through the incredible kaleidoscopes I have garnered over the years, like a sleuth searching for clues, I discover my design inspiration all over again. Who knows what the next turn of the scope will reveal, to me or to you?