Friday, February 26, 2010

Tumbling blocks divided by 4 or 9

We're continuing our series on tumbling blocks variations, and the artists who have inspired us with their creations based on this versatile pattern. In the versions we're showing today, each side of each block is made up of four or nine different fabrics. The tumbling blocks are oversized, allowing for each side to be divided into fourths or ninths without each "tile" becoming too small. The use of multiple fabrics in a single block adds to the mosaic appearance of the quilt.

Hand Painted Tumbling Blocks Quilt, by C. Jean Horst

Hand-painted batiks were used to create the above quilt, which was pieced and quilted by the Amish of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The tumbling blocks are huge. Each side of each cube is made of nine different fabrics, such that each cube is made up of 27 individual pieces (3 x 9 = 27). Notice that the three-dimensional illusion is preserved by careful arrangement of light, medium and dark values. We can't help but notice the perfect piecing. For more information, click here.

The Big Tumble, by Diana McClun & Laura Nownes

In the Big Tumble, Diana and Laura have combined bright solids with dots, stripes and other prints to produce a riot of color and texture. Each cube is made up of twelve different fabrics (3 x 4 = 12) but the textures and colors are carefully repeated throughout the quilt to avoid chaos. For the pattern and workshops, including strip piecing methods, click here.

Images courtesy of John & Arlene Volk at Amish Country Quilts, and Diana McClun & Laura Nownes at Diana and Laura.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Tumbling blocks... more illusions

We are fascinated by tumbling blocks patterns and other optical illusions. In a series of posts, we want to share with you some of the variations we've found, and analyze how the illusion is created!

The design above is a rug, done in the 1985 Ypsilon design by Vernor Panton. We've also found some wonderful quilts done in the Y-variation of tumbling blocks... like this Y? Why not! quilt by Kathy Klassen (below). This beautiful batik quilt was made from three light, three medium and three dark fat quarters, plus 0.5m background fabric. Kathy sells the pattern here, and teaches a workshop on her piecing methods.

Visualization of Ypsilon illusion: As in all tumbling blocks, the basic blocks (step 1) are made of light, medium and dark values. The shading creates the illusion of a three dimensional cube (we used 25%, 50% and 80% values). We took individual blocks and stacked them, one at a time, to form the Y shape (step 4). If you count the number of light, medium and dark diamonds in step 4 you'll see that there are 3 of each. The pattern is then formed by staggering the Y shapes, as shown (step 5).

Needless to say, this is a visualization aid, but not a piecing diagram! Strip piecing methods such as Kathy's, and other timesavers, are highly recommended. We'll feature some additional tools and techniques in upcoming posts.

ps. Kathy lives in beautiful British Columbia, home of the 2010 Winter Olympics. We hope she is partaking of the festivities (go, Canada!)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Optical illusions

The optical illusion known as 'tumbling blocks' dates back to ancient times, and is one of the most enduring patterns in quilting...and in mosaic tile! The use of light, medium and dark values creates the illusion of three-dimensional cubes, as shown below.

Tile floor, Pompeii

Tile floor, Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome

In quilting, fantastic variations of color, design and pattern have been applied to the basic block, creating a variety of special effects. In this and subsequent blogs we'll explore the universe of possibilities, and feature some of our favorites.

Amish quilt, 'stairway to heaven' variation, ca. 1935. This quilt was seen at the Amish Abstractions exhibit at the DeYoung Museum.

Tumbling blocks quilt, circa 1910
: This quiltmaker included plaid fabrics, and varied the the light/medium/dark shading throughout the quilt. This adds visual interest as the eye wanders from place to place to resolve the pattern and figure out which way is up:

Antique orange and blue tumbling blocks quilt with prairie points, at Material Pleasures. In this beautiful quilt, the stripes add a contemporary feel:

Tumbling blocks quilt by Ann Moran
: This harmonious design was created by repeating rows of blocks in complementary colors. Ann says that she is not a professional quilt maker ..."I studied many tumbling block quilts and then created my own":

Tumbling blocks quilt by Penny Halgren
: In this charm(ing) quilt, each fabric was used only once. See Penny's website for her methods and tips:

Tumbling rainbows quilt by Lynn Harris as seen on Etsy. The calico prints really enliven this joyful quilt, and the block-shaped machine quilting further adds to the three-dimensional effect:

Image credits and links: Tumbling blocks graphics were created with 25%/50%/80% gray scale values, by Marina & Daryl at Quilt Inspiration; Tile floor at Pompeii, photo by Susan Gordon; Floor tiles in the Basilica of St. John Lateran, photo by Tino Warinowski, 2006, as seen at wikipedia; Amish abstractions poster, deYoung Museum (the quilt also appears on calendars, greeting cards, and jigsaw puzzles at the museum store); Richard Walker, photo of comforter in the "Tumbling Blocks" pattern, ca. 1910, from the exhibit Common Threads: 150 years of Adirondack Quilts and Comforters; at the Adirondack Museum, New York; Tumbling blocks quilt by Ann Moran, see Ann's site and her other projects here.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Resplendent: the works of Jayne Townsend

When we came across the embroidered batiks of Jayne Townsend, we were astounded by their beauty, and wanted to share it with our readers. Jayne is a UK-based artist and design teacher who is based in the Peak District in Derbyshire. Jayne's work is currently on exhibit at the gallery at Buxton Gardens.

The main elements of her designs are produced in hand-dyed batiks, which are then richly embellished with multicolored embroidery, beads, and sequins. The final result is often reminiscent of filigree, rendered in fabric.

Maternal Heart, 2008

Landmark Patterns, 2007

Isabella's Heart, 2006

Detail of Isabella's Heart

Jayne notes that she does not always plan her work, preferring to let it grow and develop in a more organic way. "The style of my work is constantly changing... I have acquired a sewing machine as the hand embroidery took so long!" To see more of Jayne's embroidered batiks and other works, visit her website here.

Monday, February 15, 2010

heartfelt art

The mini-quilts we're featuring today are works of art - and heart. The delicate appliqued hearts and stitchery truly convey a feeling of love. We'd love to start our own collection (wouldn't you?)

My heart overflows, by Terri Stegmiller . This piece can be seen here.

Red felt love, by Nikki Wheeler. The beading and embellishments on this piece make it a standout. Also, see Nikki's shop here.

ArtFabrik has curated one of the best collections of mini-quilts we've seen. The Keiko & Friends exhibit, which was originally hosted by the Fine Line Creative Art Center in St. Charles, IL, featured small works by over 50 international quilt artists. Two of our favorites are shown below:

Pear of Hearts, by Dianne Vottero Dockery. In this gorgeous fabric collage, the artist has achieved a painterly effect.

Looking deep into your heart, by Linda McCurry. We particularly love the gold elements and the design of the quilting, which outlines the heart.

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