I’m always surprised that I like to quilt. But I should clarify that it isn’t quilting that I like. It’s piecing–specifically, it’s the designing of the piecing. The rest is just gruntwork. Though there is something in gruntwork too, like working in the monastery gardens, sweeping the floor. It becomes meditative in its focus. In putting together corners, hold, sew, check, continue, no room for other thoughts or distractions, then suddenly realizing you’ve been sitting still for whole minutes, thinking about the piecing, doing the act in your head, seeing the unfolding design in your head while the swirl of cotton lays on the table beside you, forgotten.

But back to the designing of the piecing. I have to qualify something with quilting. I’m rather a quilting snob. I do some traditional designs–like here–the Trip Around The World quilt is one of my favorites. But, alas, Sunbonnet Sue gives me the creeps. And overwhelmingly, I’m not interested in other people’s designs or patterns. Unless I really love one (like the Trip Around the World) and can find a way to make it my own (like the one above).

Also? I dislike the actual quilting part. Oy. So not zen. Just me griping. But I try to find a way. Most of the time it’s me going, “Find a way to stick these layers together, I want it done, I’m excited the piecing’s over and it looks like I wanted, make it be stuck together now!” Because what I do like is the designing of the piecing.

I am amused, amazed, entranced by little tiny bits of color that become something larger than themselves.

It’s a little idea, but so huge! I’m thinking of a visit to Arles a few years ago. They had excavated and moved to a local museum some beautiful Roman floors. Moved them in whole. They were tile, little tile like 2″x2″ or 3″x3″. And they told a story. Trailing vines, human figures, vases, interaction. Visiting St. Mark’s basilica in Venice…

St. Mark\'s Basilica, Venice


The world breaks down into pieces. Anything can be rendered, recognizable, with small enough pieces in enough colors. And how large a piece can you go before they are no longer recognizable? The word “trippy” comes to mind.

Quilts become iterations. One square becomes four. Four becomes sixteen. And each of those can be its own color or a variation on one single color, so that from far enough away one sees a wash of blue or a face. Mary’s robe or her tender glance. All with little tiny squares.


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