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!)

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