Featured Artist: Paula Vielhaber
I am soooo excited to introduce you to one of my favorite creative people in the world! Paula and I met in Tokyo at the International Quilt Show. I was living in Shanghai at the time and Paula had just moved to China. Part of our quilt group traveled to Tokyo to see the quilt show and Paula met us there. I’m not even sure if she had unpacked her boxes before she hopped on a plane to meet us. That is just how Paula embraces life! Jumping in….seeing, exploring, and taking in the culture of every place she lives. Learning new languages and immersing herself in the beauty of the world. I love her bold and colorful style and I think you will too!
Please welcome Paula Vielhaber…..
FABRIC, COLOR, QUILTING.
...these are the essentials of my creative life!
And that's me, PAULA.
Born in Germany, citizen of the world, fabric addict, color lover and inveterate optimist.
I started school dressed in a bold pattern mix and with an orange schoolbag on my back. At the age of 12 I bought a used sewing machine with my pocket money and started taking sewing classes. Art was always my favorite subject at school and after completing the technical college of design and an education as an interior decorator, I opened my own textile store for interior decoration— 20 years ago.
And guess what? My neighbor across the street was a friendly, smiling American lady with a patchwork store stuffed with colorful fabrics. Love at first sight, the woman AND her fabrics! We became close friends (and still are) and she would teach me all about quilting and I would help her customers find the right color combination for their quilt creations. For the next 9 years I was sewing curtains at daytime and quilts at night.
Then a big change happened to my life. My husband got a job offer from his company to work and live in Shanghai, China for the next three years.
Yeeeaaaa, let's go!
An exciting journey began. I traveled most of Asia by either accompanying my husband on his business trips or on our private holidays. In each country we went to I would keep my eyes open for the traditional fabrics of the country. So I found hand dyed batiks at the island of Bali, Indonesia, handwoven silk in traditional patterns in Kashgar, Xinjiang Province in the Northwest of China, colorful handwoven cotton fabrics in Vietnam, bold handprinted cotton in India, traditional batiks in Malaysia, cotton prints in Australia and New Zealand with traditional patterns from the Aborigines and the Maoris… And not to forget handwoven silks in China and Thailand.
Very soon I became a member of the International Quilt Group of Shanghai and there I met an interesting bunch of likable ladies who taught me even more about quilting and who became close friends to me. We would travel together to famous quilt shows in Tokyo, Japan and to Sydney, Australia. We would go fabric shopping together, in— and outside of China.
One trip even brought us to the famous 'Mr. Happy Quilter', a whole sale dealer in Seoul, South Korea, and each of us would return with suitcases full of patchwork fabrics. Some of us would even leave their underwear behind for another yard of textile! ;O)
We would do projects together for charity or just for our own fun. That's how I learned how to do Paper Piecing and I am sure I never ever would have finished this quilt without the help of my quilter friends!
Last year the Shanghai Quilters Alumni Group celebrated their first Reunion in the Netherlands and our plan is to meet in Washington State next year in October. Our connection is still going strong.
In the end, the three years which were planned for Shanghai expanded to six years in the 25 million metropolis of China. But my husband's company had new plans for us and we moved on to the South of Sweden. I really like the look of the bright, calm and clear Scandinavian Interior Style with its white flooring, light-colored furniture and textiles in pastel, grey or beige. But when I tried to create this style at our home I did miss my colors and I had to throw in a red cushion, a tablecloth with a big pattern and a happy quilt. Furthermore the Swedish winters were really killing me with its darkness and I almost lost my inveterate optimism. But my therapy was color again when I started sewing my “Anti Depression Quilt” with plenty of cheerful colors.
After I had 'survived' four winters of Sweden we moved on and returned to Asia where we have already been living in Bangkok, Thailand for two years, and my eyes are getting spoiled here by the colorful culture of this country every day.
So much inspiration, so many happy colors in their nature, lives, fabrics, food, interior....
Not to forget the lively Chinatown of Bangkok where I regularly go for shopping fabrics, notions, and nicknacks and which has become my second home.
Here I feel like I am in (fabric) heaven!
With all that fabric on hand I have the freedom of playing around with traditional patchwork patterns, but also with modern abstract ideas and a big variety of color. Whatever comes into my mind I can turn it into my creations.
What a joy!
And should you visit Bangkok one day just get in touch with me and I will introduce you to the colors of Thailand.