Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Nicolette Pach, quilting art in Huntington Bay, NY

The studio of quilter Nicolette Pach
in Huntington Bay, NY
We have recently visited Nicolette Pach, quilt maker, in Huntington Bay, NY. Windows of her home studio, which she expanded a few years back, look out on the Long Island Sounds on one side and the greenery on the other. One wall is taken almost entirely by a design board, very much in use. Working tables evolved over the years to accommodate larger formats.

Nicolette Pach
at her studio
Art played a great part in Nicolette's family history. Her paternal great-great-grandfather, Morris Pach, and his brother Gotthelt Pach, were commercial photographers whose New York studio, Pach Bros, had a long-term contract with the Metropolitan Museum to photograph artwork in the collection. Nicolette's great uncle, Walter Pach, student of William Merritt Chase, active member of the European art world at the beginning of the century, staged the famous 1913 International Exhibition of Modern Art in New York also known as the Armory Show; he was a painter and an author of many publications on art and museums. Nicolette mother, Constance Barnard Pach is an exhibiting sculptor, her father, Stewart Warner Pach, was a painter and photographer who flew photo reconnaissance flights over Germany during WWII in the Army Air Corps. Her great aunts on both sides, Josephine Ways Barnard and Edna Heinekamp Willliams, were painters.

Detail of a quilt in progress
by Nicolette Pach
For her profession Nicolette chose a non-artistic career, she became a lawyer, a decision she never regretted. She served as a judge at the Family Court first in Suffolk County, with 10 years on the bench, and now in Queens. She was the force behind the creative and very successful Family Treatment Drug Courts project, a progressive approach to drug abuse crime, concentrating less on the punitive aspects and more on providing realistic help to the offenders and their families.

Quilt by Nicolette Pach
Though very active professionally, Nicolette found time to work on her artistic projects. She was always attracted to fabric and needle and has already worked in needlepoint and embroidery when she started experimenting with quilting. She attended quilting classes at the Greenlawn Historical Society. Learned basics. Her own path developed - Nicolette's work was recognized with awards and honors at various quilt shows.

Nicolette prefers her own designs over established patterns, but has used both. Lately she makes mostly wall hangings of varied sizes. She usually starts with a detail which she repeats, like variations on a theme in music, and works it into a larger scale design.

Front and reverse of Reef quilt by Nicolette Pach
Nicolette started working on it after one of the major oil spills
Photos by Nicolette Pach

She usually works on a couple of quilts at the same time. They all are at different stages - design, initial sewing, quilting, finishing. Quilt making is a slow process to be savored at any stage. Switching between projects allows for a fresher look and helps the pieces not to look overworked.

Front and reverse of a block by Nicolette Pach

Nicolette collects fabrics anywhere she travels. She looks for unique fabrics, beautiful on their own and selects them more because of their interesting color than design. Her successful choices of fabrics are mentioned at juried shows. Having worked with various 'moody' fabrics including silks and batiks she is now coming to fully appreciate cotton with its consistent weight and stable stretchiness. She experiments with threads; her latest, for a large silk project, is a fishing line; she had to rig a special contraption for her longarm quilting machine, which she always hand guides, to have it perform to her satisfaction.

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