Davina Thomas finds that inspiration for patchwork was under her feet all along.
At Quilt Expo VIII there was a marvellous display of wall quilts organised by Gloria Llopart with designs based on patterns from tiled floors. Striking ceramic mosaic floors are characteristic of homes in the Ensanche area of Barcelona. Some of the patterns date from 1859 and there are still examples to be found in private homes and public buildings today. Unfortunately, many traditional floors have been replaced rather than renovated, by residents and builders who have failed to appreciate their bold, geometric appeal. This exhibition was designed to celebrate the everyday art that is underfoot.
Tile makers tend to work with simple geometric shapes which lend themselves to patchwork. Many of these Ensanche quilts feature diamonds and intricate woven effect borders created with triangles. However, this style of ceramic tiling is not unique to Spain. Have a look around your local area; many Victorian houses had tiled entrance halls and doorsteps, crying out to be interpreted as patchwork designs. (In Glasgow the ceramic tiles from Wally Closes in tenement buildings often feature more naturalistic Art Nouveau designs - suitable for appliqué or quilting). Churches are also often a good source of more elaborate designs.
In the UK, tile patterns tend to use only triangles, squares and rectangles. The next question is how do I change this into a pattern I could use for patchwork?
TIP! For accurate adding of 1⁄4in seam allowances to templates, use a Quilter’s Quarter - a small acrylic rod of the correct dimensions
Two of the Spanish block patterns really caught my eye and I have worked out the block patterns for you. The first shown in Figure 1 uses clever pieced sashing strips to connect the sashing to the block. In Figure 2 accurate piecing will be needed to keep the sides square. All the Spanish examples have fantastic border designs too. It would be possible to take these and work the designs separately to make up strips for a border strippy quilt.
Each of the photos shows the blocks in a square arrangement with a border taken from the original tiled floors. These borders can be constructed very simply from half square triangles and squares. Joining the triangles together creates diamonds or zigzags. See Figure 3 for these patterns broken down into sections.
Inspired by these patterns? Photographer Robert Field has travelled far and wide looking for architectural patterns to be used as sources of design. His findings are published in a series of small 64 page Geometric Pattern books.
If you cannot find these titles in your local bookstore, you can order direct from Tarquin Publications.
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