Monday, December 1, 2008

Counting on my fingers



At first the mathematics theme sounded so cold and unartistic to me that I confess I was a little put off. Like many people I can think of the "laws of mathematics" being unyielding things, insistently logical, to the annoyance of those of us who like to believe that everything has a little give, a little room for ambiguity. So I went looking for the human side of math and didn't have to look far. Right there at the end of my arm was the basis of the number system we use. The base 10 or decimal system evolved because human hands have ten fingers (digits) and so we build all our numbers from the basic 10 numerals, also called digits. Once you understand that, it is easier to think of mathematics as simply the system we have devised to make sense of and keep track of our world.

One of the more fascinating uses of a mathematical value is Φ (Phi) also known as the Golden Ratio. In mathematics and the arts, two quantities are in the golden ratio if the ratio between the sum of those quantities and the larger one is the same as the ratio between the larger one and the smaller. The golden ratio is a mathematical constant, approximately 1.6180339887. At least since the Renaissance, many artists and architects have proportioned their works to approximate the golden ratio—especially in the form of the golden rectangle, in which the ratio of the longer side to the shorter is the golden ratio—believing this proportion to be aesthetically pleasing. Mathematicians have studied the golden ratio because of its unique and interesting properties.* The golden ratio shows up in nature repeatedly, and the bones in the fingers of the human hand illustrate a nearly perfect progression of the golden ratio.
Imagine—finding all that mathematical information just by looking at my hand! My title is, of course, a pun. Of all the tools I use for my work, I rely most on my hands and count on my fingers.
I was pleased that I was finally able to use my rubber stamps and add words to my quilt. The fabric for the hand was fabric I stamped and painted. If you click for the larger view you may be able to see more clearly that I added some hand-stitched Xes, following the pattern of the background fabric. It wasn't until I was well into the stitching that I realized that X is also the Roman numeral for 10.
*Information about the golden ratio taken from Wikipedia.

13 comments:

Gerrie said...

I have been lucky enough to see this in person. It is much richer in color and texture in person. I love the stamped fabrics used in the hand, the hand stitching, the text. It is very Terry and very well executed.

Karen said...

Terry, you're hands are amazing! I love both of them, and it seems to me they could be repeated in future work. I like all the detail in this piece, you've given us lots to look at.

Nikki said...

Wow! Your hands are amazing. The stamped fabric is perfect. The stitching and shading add so much depth--so full of creative power.

Kristin L said...

This is wonderful and rich in every way. You've packed it full of symbolism and pulled everything together plus tied it all up in a beautiful package. I think you've outdone yourself on this one!

Diane said...

Yes! I agree with what everyone has said. It's an excellent combination of a great concept with great design and execution. I love the detail on both hands, and the lovely shadowy effect you've added. I could look at this a long time!

Deborah Boschert said...

There are so many elements in this quilt and they are all so beautifully balanced. The hand is amazing and I love the parallel sketched hand in the background. The hand stitching is such a wonderfully subtle detail. I also love the slight asymmetry of the red borders and the way the hand extends past the borders.

Helen Conway said...

I cannot believe how realistic that hand is! I am fascinated by that golden ratio idea and shall follow that up for my own satisfaction later. Thanks for the lesson

kirsty said...

Look at that beautiful hennaed hand!
As always, you have made a very very beautiful quilt, Terry.

StegArt said...

Wow, that hand is fabulous! And the fabric you chose for it is perfect. I really like your idea and how you executed it.

Brenda said...

I suspect that many of us gave Wikipedia a real workout for this theme. All the homework paid off!

Your quilt is rich in imagery. The hands pull you in and there is much to encourage the viewer to linger. Thank goodness for hands.

Françoise said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Françoise said...

I like the contrast between the two hands, the "Indian" hand and the "classical" one. Did you use wooden blocks to print the first one?
Love the red border too. Very rich colour.

corryna said...

I think this is one of the best quilts of this theme! I really like it!

Corryna