Redefining Minimalism

Today I read farther down Barbara Brackman’s Historically Modern sidebar than I usually do and found an older post on modern minimalism.

Most of her examples fit what I had considered minimalism, which emphasized big, plain, and simple. However, I was surprised at the Kandinsky she included. Simple shapes, well yes, mostly squares and triangles. But what about those irregular shapes and curves? And it seemed so fussy, compared to the one above and below it.

Better to expand than constrict, perhaps.

I don’t have any photos today, but there are plenty if you follow the link to Brackman’s post.



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U.N. Reports on Climate Change Mitigation


Have you heard of Green Energy Victory Bonds? Listen up!

Originally posted on :

The latest installment of the U.N’s fifth Climate Assessment Report explores what we must do in order to lessen the negative impacts of a changing climate. 

As our understanding of climate change continues to develop, we hear more and more about a few particularly important numbers: to ensure that average global temperature increase does not exceed 2oC by the year 2100, we mustn’t allow the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide to exceed 350 ppm (parts per million). Currently, the atmospheric concentration of CO2 is about 400ppm, with an additional 2ppm emitted each year. Accounting for population and economic growth, CO2 concentrations are projected land between 750 and 1,300 ppm by the end of the century. To offset the emissions resulting from this growth, we need to substantially cut emissions by 2050 (by 40-70%), and to completely cease emissions by 2100.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC…

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A “Little Quilt” for Guild

Traingles #1

16 x 17

This is the color scheme I had in mind when making sketches for the masterclass (one of three sketches shown on previous post). The assignment included that we do three value possibilities. It is a good thing because I might have missed the one that reverses dark and light. But meanwhile, I needed to make a little quilt for the guild raffle by tonight. I’d been thinking ever since last year’s, but no ideas pleased me till this one. So without waiting for instructor comment, I made this one. I’ll still make another for class and block it out by the 20th (if I get all my bindings and hanging sleeves finished for the quilt show). And I’ll use the dark background.

At guild tonight the “little quilt” chair announced that we had had 42 to offer last year (where we made about $700.00). But this year she has 69.  I might not have rushed to finish if I had known how many quilts had been given already, but I’m not sorry to have finished.

I can’t wait to see them all.

The only rule for the Little Quilts is that they be less than 20 inches on any side. They can be true miniatures, patchwork, applique, traditional or modern.

It works like this: Each quilt has a number and there is a baggie with the same number. People buy tickets (Ours are $2.00 each with reductions for multiple purchases.) They put their tickets into the baggie that corresponds with the quilt they want. The drawing comes in the last hours of the quilt show–a number is drawn for each quilt.

Technical detailsl. I didn’t try slash and insert. Instead I made paper templates. Remembering the lost inches on the previous Bridge Line quilt, I added 7/8 inch to the side legs of the triangles. Some were perfect, but most were too large.  This time instead of losing inches, I gained them. The drawing for the templates was for 15 1/2 x 15 1/2. Nothing like overcompensating. In the absence of a math formula, it is trial and error. Quilting was done with a walking foot.

I don’t love the lower left–I’ll be playing more with positioning and sizing that triangle.



Filed under design, quilting

Minimalism’s Challenges

I really like minimalist abstract painting, and it seems it should readily translate into quilts. However, I’m puzzled by how to keep minimalism from being boring. And how to handle the empty space so that it looks intended and not just forgotten.

The starter for April’s Masterclass assignment seemed to suggest minimalism:one shape, another similar, another a little bit different, and some lines attaching them.

April's sketch

I liked this one best of the three I submitted, as did Elizabeth. (I’ve made enough instructor comments–not on art–to know that ‘best of three’ is not much praise for the whole set.)

After seeing everyone else’s sketches, I wondered if I had taken the instructions too literally. Almost everyone else had lines through shapes that broke them up into more shapes with shading. After I saw the first five, I almost redid mine, but didn’t really have time or another idea that didn’t feel like copying. So I left it. And I will tweak it according to most of the suggestions.  One I am not sure about: making the rectangle out of small pieces of the same value. I think that would contradict my attempt at minimalism. Or maybe this sketch already has too much to even think minimalist thoughts. I maybe shouldn’t have layered anything so as to keep it flat.

One of the recommended tweaks is to move the bottom triangle left; I can do that with no problem, but I was already concerned about the triangle’s unbalance. Maybe I’ll get an idea as I move pieces around.

I like the challenge of finding and solving design problems.


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Classic Meets Modern–April

Double X is the block Erin gave us for the Classic Meets Modern Block of the Month. It took a while to adapt it.  I could shift the halves for an asymmetrical look, but though that has been my favorite modern feature, it isn’t the only one, and I was ready for a change.

My first thought was to make the triangles irregular. (I refuse to use the word “womky.”) But as you can see from the instructions, this pattern needs the tips to meet to get the Z effect.  I considered making the 16 half-square-triangles and looking at them to see if it just might work, and if not using them elsewhere.

Meanwhile, a new idea was forming–this one had two sources. I was reading Vintage Quilt Revival Yes, they have a quilt made on this pattern, but I needed my own modification. I was intrigued by their “Dancing Squares” quilt and discussion where the modernization is to add negative space by alternating blocks made traditionally with blocks following the same pattern but substituting background color for pattern in a couple strategic places. As I was looking at the block, pondering what would be an effective place to substitute background for print, I remembered another BOM, the Vice Versa BOM. I had been intrigued as people posted their pairs of blocks with color reversals.

First try at Double Z block

So my negative space became the figure as I eliminated print in one of the “Zs” and made the background from a second print, the second print reflecting Erin’s two-print sample. My block does not follow either idea exactly, but you can see how it is related to both. I really enjoy tracing an idea backwards to its source(s) when possible.

For the second try, I experimented with using only two fabrics.

Second try

I haven’t decided which I like better or if one is more modern than the other.

You will find the book, Vintage Quilt Revival: 22 Modern Designs From Classic Blocks interesting if you like patterns, if you want to see samples of modernization(and ponder a set of features), and if you want a small taste of quilt history.

Not only am I linking with Classic Meets Modern, but also since it isn’t midnight yet, with Needle and Thread Thursday–button in the sidebar.


Filed under books, quilting

A Bit of Fiction

A Tale for the Time BeingA Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One of my favorite narrative structures is one that combines a past (through letters or journals) and a present story. And that is the basic structure of this novel. Ruth in the Pacific Northwest on a remote island finds a packet containing a journal and other objects washed up on shore, possibly from the earthquake and tsunami a couple years before, . The chapters alternate between Ruth, the finder and Nao, the writer. At first I wondered why Nao would have written a journal in English–it became clear when she revealed that she had spent her early life in California.

The pacing is interesting. Instead of racing through the journal, Ruth paces herself slowly to reflect the pace it was written. In addition there is a French journal and some letters in old Japanese–these do not get translated immediately, but add essential information when they do.

The characters are well drawn, sometimes interesting, sometimes ordinary. Sometimes likable sometimes less so–but as more is revealed, the major characters become more likable. The minor ones, the school contemporaries, not so much. At one point in the middle I found myself wondering about Ruth’s chapters. Would her story be worth a novel without having found the journal? What were the parallels that were going to pull the two narratives together? I may reread it and focus more on Ruth, though the natural focus is Nao.

Science, philosophy and religion were woven into the novel, generally not too heavily, though heavier at the end. The novel is a kind of exploration of time, of existences, of influence. How seriously are we to take the question of who is creating whom? I was intrigued by the moments of magical realism, though I have not yet decided if they were integral or an easy solutions to narrative problems. (view spoiler) And did I learn about Buddhism or New Age cooptations of Buddhism? I will ponder these when I reread also.

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Bridge Lines Completed

Lines instead of shapes was the March lesson. (Previous posts here and here) And after getting this one assembled, I can definitely see the construction value of shapes and the design value of lines.

Finished piece

The construction was a royal pain. There is a world of difference between slash-and-insert for improv and for a predetermined design.  I laid out the pieces, marked placement with pins, and carefully analyzed the design for order of slashing and sewing.  I didn’t quite use templates. I put pins along the edge of the piece to be inserted then used ruler and rotary cutter to cut 1/4 inch inside the line. I thought that would maintain the proportions and line ups. No.  Soon the pins marking various pieces’ placements became more and more approximate and the edge more and more raggedy. What started as 21 x 25 to allow leeway toward a goal of 18 x 24 ended up 17 x 22. (What math am I missing to explain this loss? It doesn’t seem like it should have happened.)

Next the quilting. I had planned to do only stitch in the ditch so used a batting that allowed for unquilted spaces up to 12 inches. But as I was stitching I got the idea of ghost ladders in the bigger spaces.  (I wonder if the idea was inspired by having browsed Leah Day’s filler designs and practicing “Josh’s Ladders” on a fire truck block? Or if it came from looking at the ladders and empty spaces. I’ll never know because I can’t go back and not know the Josh’s Ladders filler.  I wonder too if this in-process shift from plain to ladders is what people mean when they say “The quilt told me what it wanted.”)

I had a couple doubts about the quilting: should I add one more ladder in the upper left corner? Should I change the quilting in the white area? However, I got my comments from Elizabeth who approved the quilting as is. I am not one for ripping out quilting needlessly, so I’l be glad to take her word on it. She also approved the limited palette for such a complex design. I wish I could say that was exactly why I used it. :-)

Linking up with Nina-Marie’s Off the Wall Friday. Go visit!

4/13/14 Linking with  the monthly Sew Solid Sunday–button in the sidebar


Filed under design, quilting