In 1935, Eliseo Rodriquez learned the rapidly vanishing tradition of straw appliqué while participating in the Works Progress Administration program and, in turn, taught the technique to Paula. By the 1950s, they were among but a few practitioners of the craft.
"Since then, their family has carried on the tradition of straw appliqué as they taught their children and grandchildren the technique, working out of their kitchen in their home," said William Field, director of the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art in Santa Fe. When informed of Paula's death in 2008, Field remarked: "Paula was a tremendously important person in the Hispanic arts."
Adding to that, Stuart Ashman, the state Department of Cultural Affairs secretary, said: "Paula Rodriguez, along with her husband, Eliseo, are the two artists most responsible for the revival of traditional straw appliqué. They truly turned straw into gold. She will be missed, as she is revered by many Santa Fesinos. Muchos cariños (affection) a la familia Rodriguez."
In the 1970s, a conservator for the Museum of International Folk Art saw work by Paula and Eliseo and encouraged them to showcase their pieces at the Spanish Colonial Arts Society's Spanish Market. As a result of doing so — and because of immediate interest in their work — they periodically conducted workshops in straw appliqué at the museum and at the New Mexico State Fair. In 1994, Paula was honored with a Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts for her work in straw appliqué. Ten years later, both she and Eliseo were recognized for their contributions in folk art traditions with a National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship. Together, their work has been collected by the Smithsonian Institution as well as private collectors throughout the world.