By Sandie Webb
With an eye for color and a feel for textures, Lucinda Carlstrom stitches intricately patterned quilts from paper, silk and gold leaf.
“I think that I am the only artist who uses thrift-store silk and expensive gold leaf in the same piece of work,” she said.
Walking through her Brookhaven home and studio, it is obvious that she has a penchant for Japanese art, plants and furniture. She even cultivates the delicate-leafed Japanese maples in her backyard.
“I grew up in western New York State, and one summer when I was about 6 years old I attended the Chautauqua Institution, where my dad taught,” she said. “I was mesmerized with the production of Madame Butterfly and it played a major influence in my later life and art. Also, I was once married to a man who is half-Japanese.”
Silk, she says, is the perfect fabric for her art because it is naturally triangular, which gives it luminosity. “I am a colorist first,” she said. “That is where it all begins.”
The 1200-square-foot studio behind her home offers storage upstairs and her workroom with sewing and quilting machines downstairs. One area is for her favorite source of silk – Japanese kimonos. Her collection includes almost every color and pattern.
On Oct. 16 and 17, the days of the Brookhaven Arts Festival, Carlson will host her annual studio open house at her home at 1075 Standard Drive. She will demonstrate her high-speed quilting machine and the intricate hand-drawn stitches and patterns that enhance her wall and bed quilts.
With the many varieties of silk available, her favorites are from India and Japan. She can feel a material and determine if it is real silk or imitation polyester. Some silk pieces come from recycled skirts and other garments from thrift stores. Unlike cottons, silks can be safely stored for years without rotting, with the exception of Victorian-era American silk that was treated with metal salts to stiffen it.
Carlstrom’s career has spanned three decades. She was chosen for the Quilt National 2009 juried show and later featured in the book Quilt National 2009. Her entry quilt included 2,000 tiny pieces of paper. Her entry for the 2011 show will include 4,726 pieces.
She smiles about the delicacy and rarity of her work, ”Maybe one day I will see one of my quilts on an episode of Antiques Road Show.”