Friday, March 26, 2010

Artistically Speaking--An Interview with Malka Dubrawsky

Meet Malka Dubrawsky. She is the designer of "Square Deal," one of the 31 art quilt projects found in "Pretty Little Mini Quilts." See yesterday's post for my version of "Square Deal" titled "Duped."


Malka is a contemporary fiber artist who loves the engaging process of piecing things together, cutting them apart and sewing them back into different designs. She loves patterning fabric and finds that process calming. When in her studio, Malka joyfully immerses herself into each step of her art making and finds the 24-hour work day limiting.

In November 2009, Malka's book "Color Your Cloth" was released. She also has a DVD published by Interweave Press titled “Shape Shifting,” which includes instructions on her itajime shibori technique. She sells her one-of-a-kind items in her online Etsy shop such as the "Patches Pillow Cover" pictured below.

Recently, Malka took some time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions about her artful life. Here are her candid and thoughtful responses. Enjoy.


When did you learn that you wanted to create with fiber?

I actually have a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art, but my focus there was in printmaking, primarily lithography. I started to explore fibers because I didn't have the extensive studio facilities that printmaking requires.

Who inspires your work?

I'm inspired by other art and textiles. I love the weavings of Anni Albers and the textile art of Ed Rossbach. I also love Kuba cloths and am lucky to own a couple of these cloths from Zaire. Also, I'm a huge fan of traditional Indian textiles.

What influences your art and how would you describe your style?

I'm probably most influenced by patterning. Whether it's the way bricks are stacked in a building or a beautifully tiled floor, I tend to react first to graphic images. I do get inspired by colors as well, especially in random situations, for instance, when I see two different flowers growing alongside each other in a garden or bolts of fabric displayed in a row.

Do you paint, dye or add other surface design techniques to your fabrics?

I dye and pattern most of the fabric that I use. My go-to surface design techniques are wax resist and itajime shibori.

What are you currently working on?

Gosh, what am I not working on?

I'm almost always dyeing fabric and making new small items like pillows for my online store, "
A Stitch in Dye." I'm exploring ideas about the size and scale of patterns and enlarging those patterns for greater impact. For example, I've made a large quilt top based on the Shoo-fly pattern in my book, but enlarged the blocks to almost four times their original size. I'm also learning about screen printing and applying that technique to patterning fabric.

Sewing Studio

Sewing Studio

Do you have a studio?

I actually have two studio spaces in my home. I have a sewing studio, which is approximately 200 square feet, and a dye studio, which is located in my garage.

Dye Studio

How does your day begin and what does a typical work day in your studio look like?

My day begins at 4:30 in the morning. I wake up, drink coffee and drive to swim practice. I'm on a master's swim team, and I can't start my day without it. I usually come home about 7:30, drink more coffee, check e-mails, and then deal with yesterday's dye baths. That usually entails emptying dye baths, washing out and boiling out fabrics, and getting fabric orders ready to ship out. I'll spend a good part of the morning sewing in my studio and working on orders or items for my shop or design work. I usually do my dye work in the afternoon because I like to listen to NPR's Fresh Air and All Things Considered while I dye.

What is the best piece you ever created?

That's a tough question to answer. I don't think I have an absolute best.

When I was in art school, I did a series of lithographs that took months to make, and I was very proud of that series when it was completed. When I made art quilts, I made several pieces that gained national recognition and one of those, “Chaim's Tree,” is still one of my favorite quilts today.

"Twinkle," King Size Bed Quilt

Recently, I made a king sized bed quilt, “Twinkle,” for a customer that consisted of hundreds of dyed circles. The best pieces I make are ones where I challenge myself and am ambitious about what I can make.

Another view of "Twinkle"

What is the worst piece you ever created?

I don't know. I probably cut it up and recycled it into something else.

What is your next project?

I don't really have a single next project, but ongoing work. It may be yardage that's set to be dyed or a quilt that I'm making for a customer, or a new pillow for my store. It's always happening, and there's always something that needs to be taken to the next step.

If you were not an artist, what would you do or like to be?

I honestly never thought about being anything else. I would have to do something creative. I'm a pretty avid gardener and cook. So I guess I would explore those areas and find my place there.

"Creative, detail-oriented, adventurous"--these are the words Malka chose to describe herself. I think "passionate," "dedicated," "prolific" and "hardworking" are four more adjectives that describe her.

Now that you've met Malka, go visit her and introduce yourself. Tell her what you would do to make "Square Deal" your own or ask her one of your own questions.

Thanks for sharing your artful life with us, Malka!

If you want to win a copy of "Pretty Little Mini Quilts," leave your name here. The winner will be announced on Monday. Tell a friend.

Artfully sharing,


Jacq said...

I enjoyed reading the interview. Malka is a very creative person.

carolph said...

I enjoyed your interview with Malka. I see her fabric and designs and am inspired to try dyeing myself but afraid i'll be disappointed when they aren't as yummy as hers.

Lisa M Griffin said...

Great interview and I loved all the photos that complimented it. Especially the studio shots, that is always a treat.
Have a wonderful weekend Fannie!

Deanna said...

I think this king sized circle quilt she did is AMAZING.

Barb said...

I have just learned how to dye fabric and loved the article. Inspirational for the "newbie" that I am.

Scrappy Cat said...

Malka sounds like a very busy artist - kind of like you Fannie. I enjoyed the interview.