Maths, Beats and Quilts

Anni Albers Sonia Delaunay Vintage Fabric Vintage Quilt

My partner is studying Engineering and often we have mentally taxing discussions that involve maths. I was never very good at the whole Maths thing when I was at school and it was a bit of a nuisance, but I do find now how it does in a way rule our world. Grids, roads, curves, circuits, houses, tables...it can all be put down to numbers.

I am a graphic designer. I have spent a lot of time working with grids. Not only for layout but for the design of type. Many a day has been spent thrashing out the perfect balance of height v's width and again, its all math, or the golden mean. When I started designing textiles, it was all still a grid but the maths became more important as I had to design within the constraints of the machinery or the size of the screens the fabric was being printed with. Fabric repeats have a formula...again...its numbers.

Often when I am fiddling with things when I am off in quilt play land, that little bit of luxury time when you can just fiddle and play and think about all the possibilities that the fabrics and scraps can have. Because I work with what I find, I often have other peoples blocks and cuts that I try to work that into a design.

I often go back to basics when laying something out. A simple layout of a block that uses what I have. Usually loads of squares and half square triangles. Some of the layout revolves around some pretty simple mathematical symmetry. A bit like this. All of these can be laid with HST's. Flip, turn, align, repeat.

I have a bit of a thing about repetition. Taking one simple shape and using it over and over again and building up the noise with print and colour. It's a bit like a beat, 4/4 time. I play the drums and I count the beats like I count the patterns and shapes. When I drum, I see geometric patterns in my head when I visualise what I am playing. The work of Anni Albers is like a drum beat to me, but she lashes out and does amazing fills. I look at this and I can count the pattern, you can tap it out as sound. Again, HST's! Flip, turn, align, repeat.

Anni Albers 1969 - Print.

Here are some other artists and designers from modern movements that I find inspirational.
Mondrian, his use of the primary colour scheme and the reliance of the grid, create strong bold movement and interest. There is a balance in the volume of colour and negative space.

Piet Mondrian - Boogie Woogie Broadway - 1943
Sonia Delaunay created this quilt in 1911 for her son. It led led her to a life in textiles, fashion and design. She was credited at the first woman to work with abstract expressionism. 
Sonia Delaunay -Quilt 1911.
Sonia Delauany in her studio designing textiles

Another inspirational lady from the Bauhaus is Gunta Stolzl. A weaver, the colour and composition of her works are beautiful.

Gunta Stolzl. Preliminary sketch for a tapestry.
Gunta Stolzl. Jaquard (woven) wall hanging - 5 choirs - 1928
And in isolation to all of this are the quilt makers of Gees Bend. Perhaps one of the most interesting to me as these quilts were made in isolation to what was going on. These quilts came from necessity and were made without any design training. I love these quilts, they are so free, the colours and composition so bold.
House Top - 1920s - Creola Pettway.
Annie Bendeloph - Thousand Pyramids 1930

But in all this, its still math. It's still 1, 2, 3, 4. It's taking a geometric shape, putting it on a grid and letting the form take on the pattern. It's a visual beat. and I hate it when the other half is right...yes honey, its all maths...

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