What an excellent theme! As I am sure we all discovered, you can go any direction at all with the concept of "mathematics." There is math everywhere. (At least that's what I keep telling my kids when they are complaining about homework.)I decided to focus on fractals. A fractal is generally a rough or fragmented geometric shape that can be split into parts, each of which is (at least approximately) a reduced-size copy of the whole (according to wikipedia). I looked at some images of fractal trees and felt like I was going in the right direction. Trees appear regularly in my work, so that brought me closer to my comfort zone. Math is not anywhere near my comfort zone.
I started by picking a background fabric that made me think of a brisk winter day, a good setting for a tree full of bare branches. I stamped some brownish blackish yellowish shapes on the green fabric to represent all the leaves that might have fallen off the tree. I free motioned quilted leaf shapes on the hillside and swirly windy motifs in the sky area.
I cut the basic fractal shape for the trunk and large limbs, fused and then started stitching. Tons and tons of Y stitches. It's not an exact fractal since some limbs go off in just one direction. But I was amazed by the lovely fan shape that developed just by following the repetitive pattern. I started with three strands of floss just off the fused branches and switched to just one strand for the outer twigs.
After all that stitching, I thought it might need something more. I posted my in progress quilt on my blog and asked for opinions. Usually we don't post our work until our big "reveal" date, but it was really interesting to read what people thought. Some said, "It's done!" Some thought it needed a little something. I thought it needed something too. I suppose that's why I didn't yet feel content with it. I appreciated the validation from my artist friends.
I decided to add a small Asian-style chop. Others had suggested a small bird, a single leaf or a snowflake, but I really wanted something unexpected. And the traditional red color of the chop seemed like just the right complement. Now what to put on the chop?! I searched for mathematical symbols meaning fractal or repeat, but I couldn't find anything. I suppose I could have looked for a Chinese translation, but I didn't want my chop to be too literally Chinese, nor did I want to stray that far from the math theme.
With my daughter's help, we remembered the musical symbol for "repeat," a colon followed by two parallel lines. I added the Y stitch followed by the repeat symbol. So, that seemed appropriate and emphasized the theme. Don't you think?