Quilts in Common Gallery


Mark / Line

Shape / Color

Technique / Symbolism

Identity / Origin

The Individual Mark

Part 2: The Individual Mark

Like many individual brush marks that create a magnificent landscape painting, the basic "mark" in quiltmaking - the quilting stitch - combine to create an image or concept that is greater than the sum of each individual stitch.

Rich cotton sateen is characteristic of early twentieth-century quilts and preferred by many Welsh quiltmakers for its ability to highlight the frame center format and the traditional motifs of spirals, leaves, trefoils and the "Welsh pears" (paisleys) that are typical elements of Welsh quilts. Across the globe in the eastern Indian states of Bihar and West Bengal, women used carefully planned quilting stitches to sew together layers of old cotton sari and dhoti (women's and men's wrapped garments) to create their kantha bedcoverings. Contemporary Canadian artist Dorothy Caldwell has been inspired by kantha techniques and aesthetic. Her marks on Four Fields Meet combine to depict how humans, especially North Americans, have attempted to bring order to the landscape by imposing a grid of fences and roads.

Dynamic Lines

Part 3: Dynamic Lines

The zig zag is a universal decorative motif that has appeared on everything from African basketry to Charlie Brown's sweater in the Peanuts comic strip. A zig zag turns a simple line into something that is alive with movement. Quiltmakers often create patterns that make a jagged path across their quilts by placing light and dark fabric side by side.

The lines in the Streak of Lightning Log Cabin quilt are clear and bold as they tilt back and forth. The chevron stripes in the zig zag quilt are impossible to follow because the light and dark fabrics are randomly arranged and the strip of crazy quilt style patchwork in the center interrupts. Artist Michael James also used contrasts between dark and light fabrics and complex color-gradations to create a multitude of irregular lines in Bias Cut. His lines break, dead-end and reconnect, but their sense of movement is relentless.

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