Posts Tagged ‘concentric squares’

Monday, January 8th, 2024

I wrote a little while back that this wall quilt had been accepted for a Studio Art Quilt Associates juried online/virtual gallery, but showed only the detail in that post, because my quirky policy is to never show the full image of a new work until it hs been published or exhibited somewhere. As the “Geometric Expressions” gallery went live this week, here is “The Shimmer Effect” in full:

I love concentric squares, and I love the traditional Nine Patch quilt block. so beloved of quiltmakers – and here both elements are blended into the design for this work.

My artist statement about this work reads – “A square symbolises balance, solidity and stability.  Hand stitching over concentric squares in gentle neutral colours calmed my unease at current disorder and chaos in the world.  Metallic threads in my work signify value or importance, here referencing tradition and hope.

Close detail, “The Shimmer Effect, 2022. Each square is ~6cm.

I posted about it while making this quilt as it was such a long project. It’s about 1m square, with each concentric square unit being ~6cm, with a total of 121 squares of fused nylon organza strips oversewn by hand in metallic thread. The fabric used in the squares has a subtle glittery texture. The grey background is plain cotton.

This blog is really my artist’s diary, or the nearest I will ever come to keeping one, but I also post on Instagram, @schwabealison, too, and that tends to be where things pop up, sometimes from the archives, before they are eventually bound into a post on this site. Cheers!

This One’s Going To Take A While, Continued…

Wednesday, July 27th, 2022

I posted the previous article on this project just a little over a month ago, June 22nd. Though I’m putting as much time in as possible, it is taking at least as long as I thought it would. I did estimate the number of concentric square units wrongly, but essentially 11 rows of 11 units works out at 121, so I must have just transposed figures, which I do tend to do a little – but didn’t realise until I put the whole thing up on the design wall today and understood why I was finding I had a few more than I expected to finish in the outer row.

Now that the whole design is almost finished, and I feel the ‘brown’ ones, of deeper gold shimmering sheer fabric strips overstitched with copper thread, are coming up just a bit too dark.

I have few options –

  • do nothing – see upper left
  • unpick some copper thread and sew over the fabric strips in gold thread – see right of of this pic.
  • add some gold stitches in amongst the copper stitches to lighten those units a bit – the central of the right square, and the fight side of that square.

It was evening when I finished doing this sample square, and in the night light it didn’t seem to make enough difference to justify the amount of extra work to change all the coppery blocks. However I’ve left it pinned to the design wall and will make a final decision when I see it in the morning light.

I have just 5 blocks of the outer row to finish.

An Obsession With Squares

Saturday, July 23rd, 2022

My followers know I learned traditional geometric patchwork and quilting when we moved to Denver in 1987, but after a year or so I began to make my earliest art quilts. I’ve been focused on the nice symmetry and balance of a square ever since; and while searching for my earliest mention of concentric squares, aka the Square in a Square block of traditional p&q, I found an early 2005 blog post – and it amazed me that the quilt I referenced in that was made so long ago –

“Heritage Quilt” 2005 ~70cm x 95cm (in retrospect that’s an odd title)
work in progress

These days I’m still basting square outlines of ~4inches, which must be my inbuilt comfort setting; and I’m still finding ways to use squares in/on other squares. Let me quote from that 2005 post –

And finally, a little session focused just on doodling with pencil and paper did it. Just squares and triangle thingies, dots and dashes, and all of a sudden inspiration took over.”

This is still how a lot of my design work begins….. and I concluded:

“I feel this is a new direction compatible with my interest in the origins, factual and legendary, of patchwork and quilting, and exploring the common ground between the traditional quilts and what has developed in the contemporary/art quilt world. The square outlined by the grey basting stitches is around 4″ side.”  The right half of the photo above shows just a little of the grey basting thread up near the top of the frame. 

I was a teenager when I developed an interest in early Man and his primitive activities as known only by unearthed artefacts and markings on cave and rock walls. That prompted me to to study at tertiary level the better documented and understood later ‘ancient’ civilisations of Greece, Rome and Egypt, and I’m always thrilled every time new discoveries are made on all continents. I’ve always been fascinated by markings and patterns that appear from within human groups we know were not in contact with each other. These marks probably have proper name, but I just call them ‘primal symbols’. I feel I need to thoroughly investigate ‘squares’, probably one of the great primal symbols… but today I don’t have the time – I’m stitching at full speed on the latest squares work, and have only 25/112 left to do – and have to get back to that. It’s a dank grey day outside, perfect indoors / stitching weather.

These squares are ~3.5″ across, so about 4″ must be my comfort zone! And yes, that is a big needle, in fact a darner which suites me perfectly, and with the hoop’s help, enabling me to sew each stitch quite fast, in one smooth movement..
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