Sunday, November 30, 2008

Losing Count

I've lost count of the number of mathematics-themed quilts I have at least started, if not finished. Maybe I should have kept a tally...

In this case, I made a couple of trial blocks to try to get the scale right and then did a mock-up on the computer before moving to another idea.

I am very curious to see what everyone comes up as the quilts start to appear online in 24 hours or so.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Quilters Companion Profile

Issue 34 of Quilters Companion is on sale now and features an article (including some great images!) about the Twelve by Twelve collaborative art quilt project.
Quilters Companion Issue 34
PS: Serendipitiously or otherwise, the article appears on page TWELVE!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I haven't started. I have only five days. Yikes.

I got side tracked by other projects and my lack of ability to say "no." Today I am finishing filling 25 bags of goodies for the much-beloved Advent Tree that will be put up in our entryway this weekend. (Advent actually starts on November 30, so the deadline is technically sooner than our 12x12 deadline, though the first goodie bag will be marked December 1.)

I've got ideas and high hopes for effective execution -- and for some peace and quiet for study time. (Hmmmm. House guests and a huge holiday meal? Peace and quiet? Seems unlikely.)

Hey, I just realized it's my turn to pick the next theme. I'm all set for that! I've had it settled in my mind for months.

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Math Challenge!

My husband and I had a lot of fun Saturday afternoon researching different math concepts and ideas. I learned about quite a few different ideas including transidental mathamatics and the non-Newtonian nature of ketchup. My husband challenged me to create a quilt from this mathematical formula:

Actually I think it will be easier than it looks. The hardest part is finding the uninterupted time.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I'm done

And I feel like I am back on track again! That is, I had the idea early on and it came together pretty much as I had hoped. No false starts or do-overs this time. I also was able to accomplish a goal that I have been working on that has just not worked out for me previously. I incorporated words into this piece, using my rubber stamps that I had planned to use for the shelter piece. Here's a little preview.

I was also able to use a piece of fabric that I stamped and painted awhile back and it worked very well, I think.

I am so looking forward to seeing what everyone did for this theme, as it has so many possibilities!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Our Blog Type

ESTP - The Doers

The active and play-ful type. They are especially attuned to people and things around them and often full of energy, talking, joking and engaging in physical out-door activities.

The Doers are happiest with action-filled work which craves their full attention and focus. They might be very impulsive and more keen on starting something new than following it through. They might have a problem with sitting still or remaining inactive for any period of time.

You can go to Typealyzer and have your blog analyzed.

Work(s) in progress

I'm working on two quilts this time. Same idea for both, but as I was getting nervous about the first try, I started a second one...
Now, I have two pieces in progress and I am still struggling.
Here are a few scraps from the first piece...
 And for the second one, I printed fabric using just one screen.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Fabric Printing Time

I thought I would try my hand at printing some number related fabric. I found some stencils and stamps and got to work with techniques I learned at Art Fiber Fest. I used the stencils and sprayed watered down paint from cheap Walmart spray bottles. The paint had a littel too much water so the stencils didn't come out very crisp. I then over stamped with iridescent inks. I think I captured the anxiety many people face when they think about math. I'm not sure if this is the direction I'm going to take, but I had fun in the process.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Counting down the days

Much of the advanced elements of maths pass me by and I don' think many people would think me stupid for that. However, recently it appeared that a far simpler aspect of numbers also passed me by and I still don't comprehend it.

I finished my maths quilt a good few days ago. I posted it in a draft to Blogger and postdated it to 1st December. Only, I didn't. Because our blog is American not English (bah!) and so to it 1/12/08 became a post for 12th January ( or should I say January twelfth.... what is it with you Americans and your hatred of the definate article?.... ahem...). Fortunately Brenda who is smarter than me (but then she has an unfair advantage being married to an American) spotted it and altered it - but some people may have seen it because the RSS feeds picked it up. Certainly it was on my Google Reader list.

If you did see it you are sworn to secrecy. But in any event. I don't understand. If I posted it erroneously days ago why did it only hit the feeds today? All I can say is that the confusion caused by Trans Atlantic lingusitics makes this post on Rayela's blog all the more supprted by me.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Six Degrees & the Mathematics of Networks

I don't know about the other Twelves but, after a theme announced, I find myself identifying references to that theme left, right and centre! I noticed the same thing in my law practice. While working on a mobile telephone tower acquisition, my heightened awareness meant that I could spot a transmission tower or antennae at 1000 paces; almost two decades after working on the sale and lease back of banks, I still pinpoint former bank premises in rural centres across the state of New South Wales; I can recite the path of high voltage transmission lines associated with the Snowy Mountains Hydro Electric Scheme; and don't get me started on railway lines that criss cross the State or the placement of grain silos in country New South Wales. The common theme of all of these legal transactions that I was involved with, is that they concern infrastructure hubs and networks.

The power of the networks, and the underlying mathematics of networks, was the subject of a fascinating documentary How Kevin Bacon Cured Cancer (available for viewing). The idea that everyone on the planet can be connected within "six degrees of separation" was thought to be an urban myth but is at the heart of a scientific breakthrough. When mathematicians plotted out the mathematical theories behind the game, they found an equation that could be applied to any kind of network and developed a new field of science. When network science is applied to genetics and DNA mapping, some diseases are found to be key hubs - if you can cure those, networked diseases may be banished. So, all in all, mathematics is a very useful thing!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Fibonacci numbers

Let's face it, I'm nowhere with my Mathematics quilt... But I've been thinking a lot...
About Fibonacci numbers, spirals, and golden ratio. About Escher, tilings and tesselations. About numeral systems, and also writing systems... 
But now, I have another, much simpler, idea in my head. Hopefully, I'll be able to work on this one tomorrow.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Language of Maths

Zero, zip, zilch, nought, nil, nothing. These are all words that could describe the progress (or lack thereof) I have made on my maths quilt so far.

I rather rashly thought I might do some more shibori and resist dyeing for the maths challenge. I like to experiment before getting into the real thing. This photo demonstrates my pathetic results. For the top piece, I applied a commercial resist medium to form various mathematical symbols - not that you can decipher anything. For the bottom piece, I tied up some pebbles tightly in cloth - really. Plan B beckons.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


This photo that I found by Googling made me laugh. I think I am going punnish or silly with my piece.

My other idea involves political polling. I have been consumed by it for months and months. Now that it is behind me, I think turning polling into art would be fun.

The grands have gone home with mom and dad. I am feeling a sense of freedom, but also lots of joy for the opportunity to have the past few days of quality time with them.

Penny for your thoughts?

As I sit and watch the Remembrance Day parade I have been stitching the final touches on to my maths quilt. One thing I have tried to do with all my quilts is, not only to out some symbolism into them, but also to learn a new technique. Because I was not really an 'art quilter' or indeed, a particularly experienced quilter when we started it has not been hard to find something new to have a go at. But today I surprised even myself in what I had to learn for this quilt.............. did you know that if you put tarnished pennies into a ramekin dish with a good slug of salt and an inch of malt vinegar in just a minute they come out all shiny?

What on earth have I been up to? Well, you will have to wait until 1st December. But here is a sneak preview....

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Process

One of the things we talked about sharing here on this blog was our inspiration and our processes so that we all learn from each other. I mentioned before that our current challenge has me working more like it's a research project than quilt art.

Usually, I start a challenge writing words, free-association like, in my sketchbook. Then I draw cryptic doodles, or gather appropriate supplies and see what happens.

This time, I felt like I needed to work not in vague or universal concepts, but real data. I've written a rather lengthy post on my blog of all the reading I've done and interesting facts I've gathered in the last week or two since I decided on a direction. It can be a laborious way to prepare for art-making, but I actually like the opportunity to learn more, and I think in the end, it helps me make better art. I don't do this much traditional research on all (or even most of) my quilts, but I do think that taking the time to think out what and why one is doing is valuable.

Now that the research is done, it's off to the fun part of sewing (with some technical help from my Excel savvy husband).

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Friends and Followers of Twelve by Twelve

As we Twelves get cracking on mathematics-themed quilts (if I say it, will it happen?), you might like to check out the blogs of the Friends of Twelve by Twelve:
  • Lindi was the lucky winner of a set of Twelve by Twelve notecards as part of our midpoint celebrations last month;
  • Art for 12 are Dutch quiltmakers who were inspired by our challenge and are undertaking a similar challenge with different themes. "Portrait" is their current theme and some striking works are emerging. Don't worry if you don't speak Dutch, there is a translation button at the top of their side bar;
  • Around the World in 20 Quilts is another group inspired by Twelve by Twelve. They are working to a quarterly timetable and their current theme is "stellar";
  • Joan and her Gang of Four are following the 12x12 in format with a view to creating a body of work suitable for a possible exhibition;
  • Lisa Flowers Ross has been playing along with our challenge. Check out her shelter-themed quilt!
  • Similarly Joanne at Wednesday's Child has been playing along as a friend of Twelve by Twelve; and
  • 12 Square is a new group planning to make twelve quilts in twelve months in a virtual quilting bee.
As Diane says:
"In case you're wishing that you could do something like that too, let me tell you how easy it was to start! I was wishing I had a journal quilt group with artist whose work inspired and stimulated me and would push me to make my own work better, and I started cruising blogs via the Artful Quilters blog ring, noticing whose work I just adored. I summoned up a bit of courage and emailed the artists whose work I admired, and proposed a group challenge.

Once I had some willing participants, we agreed on a format, set up a group blog so we could chat together and post our thoughts, and voila. Look what happened! So if you're thinking that you'd like to give something like this a try, I'd encourage you to think about what sort of challenge you'd like to be in, and then just invite others to join you."

If you've been inspired and have started or start a similar challenge, let us know and we will add you to our "Friends of Twelve by Twelve" blogroll. If you are just happy to enjoy our art quilts, you are welcome to join up as a "follower" by adding your details to the new widget in the sidebar.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

String Theory

I studied politics and law at university but I shared a house with pure maths/computer science and chemistry/physics students and we often compared notes over cooking and cleaning up. It is testament to the teaching skills of my flatmates that, by the time I dried the last dish for the evening, I could give a passable impression that I actually understood the complex theories and principles they were expounding.

I'm sure that string theory (a scientific theory that uses mathematics and physics to try to explain how the universe works) came up in discussion at some stage. Here in my studio, I have come up with a much more simple illustration drawn from my scrap bag. Here's a "before" shot (approx 15x15 inches):

This is how it might look if I cut my piece into quarters:

Hmm, I'm still not sure what I am going to make for my next challenge piece...Perhaps I should call my flatmates for ideas. After all, one of them is a maths teacher now.