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DIY Inspiration: Sandy Suffield’s Paper Quilts

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DIY Inspiration: Sandy Suffield’s Paper Quilts

July 27, 2022

A message from Remodelista reader Sandy Suffield always gets our attention. A London art director and vintage collector who rarely buys anything new, Sandy first presented us with The Engine House, a formerly derelict electrical building in rural Suffolk that she found on WreckoftheWeek.co.uk and transformed into one of the world’s best-looking vacation rentals. Next, she introduced us to her sister Victoria Suffield’s 1930s family home and lifestyle shop, The Hambledon, in Winchester. And recently she surprised us with photos of her current pastime, collages inspired by antique American quilts that she creates from scrap paper.

“Making paper quilts was a nice balm in weird lockdown times, when I spent weeks at a time at The Engine House,” writes Sandy. “I made them out of what I had on hand—packaging from purchases on eBay, my father’s 0ld paints, PVA glue, occasionally I used the silver wrappers from takeaway naan bread.”

The pursuit continues: in between her day job as a designer—Sandy recently produced a series of still-life sets for Kinfolk—she’s made dozens of paper quilts, many of which hang throughout The Engine House. And she sticks by her original approach: she uses only scrap materials so nothing is bought to make them. Here’s a sampling of Sandy’s paper quilts in situ, in process, and closeup. Scroll to the end for purchasing details.

Photography by and courtesy of Sandy Suffield (@sandysuffield and @theenginehousesuffolk).

Framed Paper Quilts at The Engine House

sandy&#8\2\17;s paper quilt 4\2 is the perfect companion for her prize joe  9
Above: Sandy’s Paper Quilt 42 is the perfect companion for her prize Joe Colombo 1960s Kartell Universale Chair.

Of her inspirations, Sandy tells us: “As a kid, my folks would take us to the American Museum near Bath, in the West of England, where the quilts were always a highlight. And when we visited friends in California, my mum brought back antique quilts; they sat folded on the arms of sofas and were used as precious bedspreads. More recently, I got to see a show of beautiful Gee’s Bend quilts at Alison Jacques Gallery in London, and I bought an amazing quilt on eBay (and spent a slight silly amount to have shipped from the US)—so inspiration comes from several sources.”

sandy matched a quilt to her steel framed \1986 ikea moment sofa by niels gamme 10
Above: Sandy matched a quilt to her steel-framed 1986 Ikea Moment sofa by Niels Gammelgaard, which she reupholstered in Rivet, a fabric composed of 100-percent recycled materials, in a color called Fuse.

Sandy uses thin packing paper—”recycled from my eBay habit”—as the substrate and material for her collages, and works freehand—”I never sketch stuff out or plan at all.” Her color combinations have been inspired by everything from a nuthatch’s plumage to the graffiti in an underpass.

paper quilt 4. sandy&#8\2\17;s graphic designer training—she initial 11
Above: Paper quilt 4. Sandy’s graphic designer training—she initially worked for Pentagram in London and later at Apple in California—shines through in her creations and the way she displays them. “The very first quilt came about while I was absentmindedly playing about making a card for a friend’s birthday.” Sizes vary: many are “quite wee” but the latest are larger.
&#8\2\20;only a few conform to traditional quilt patterns, such as tumbling 12
Above: “Only a few conform to traditional quilt patterns, such as tumbling blocks [shown here]. Most are simple stripes and brick-like shapes.”
paper quilt 48. sandy finds most of her frames at goodwill shops and thrift sto 13
Above: Paper quilt 48. Sandy finds most of her frames at Goodwill shops and thrift stores: “the size of the frame dictates the size of the quilt.” When possible, she displays the original contents of the frame on the back.

The Process

sandy begins by painting scrap packing paper. her father is an artist and she u 14
Above: Sandy begins by painting scrap packing paper. Her father is an artist and she uses his leftover paints. The painted pages then get cut into strips.
next, she cuts the paper into geometric shapes. she applies glue—akin to 15
Above: Next, she cuts the paper into geometric shapes. She applies glue—akin to Elmer’s—with her fingers.
the shapes get stored in an antique tin that sandy thinks once held men&#8\ 16
Above: The shapes get stored in an antique tin that Sandy thinks once held men’s starched collars. “Making paper quilts is faster than stitching,” she says. “I think I’m too impatient to be a real quilter, but lockdown did make me dream of a convivial stitching group.”

Closeups of the Finished Work

paper quilt 46. up close, the brushstrokes are visible. 17
Above: Paper Quilt 46. Up close, the brushstrokes are visible.
paper quilt 3\1. wrinkles and creases are also part of the look: &#8\2\20;i 18
Above: Paper Quilt 31. Wrinkles and creases are also part of the look: “I actually like how the careful geometry of traditional quilt patterns gets messed up by using glue on thin paper prone to crinkle,” says Sandy. “They always end up a wee bit wonky.”
paper quilt 39. sandy has begun selling her collages and accepting commissions: 19
Above: Paper Quilt 39. Sandy has begun selling her collages and accepting commissions: prices start at $350 (£300) for an approximately 8.5 inches-by-11 inch quilt. Query Sandy on Instagram @theenginehousesuffolk or @sandysuffield. And also consider taking a vacation in a house filled with her work—The Engine House still has available summer and fall rental dates.

More quilts and patchwork inspiration:

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