Thursday, April 3, 2008

Journey to a Hexagon

Well I finished the last of the (114) hexagons late last night. I was so repeatedly struck by how beautiful they are, and what a surprise each one was, that I felt compelled to share that feeling with you, with one random hexagon from the pile.

Of course each hexagon begins with six triangles, each one exactly the same. From the initial triangle, you can try to get some idea of what the hexagon might look like, but of course there are many possibilities, since you could orient it three ways, i.e with the blue flowers toward the center, or the pink flowers, or the little rosehips. This would give three different hexagons, with varied looks. In the construction of this quilt, I've kept the fabric's straight of grain to the outside edge of the hexagon, which means each one can only be oriented in one way: this means that the blue flower must be toward the center. Even knowing that, you can't really picture the totality of how the elements of the image will play against one another (and against the repeats of themselves.)

When you sew the second triangle to the first, you can begin to get an inkling of what you will end up with. Because a couple of the raw edges are gone, you can see which parts of the image will be left once the triangles are sewn together. Sometimes the most dramatic elements of a triangle will disappear in the seam and you will end up with something very different than you imagined. It's still hard at this point, however, to imagine the total hexagon.

Finally, you sew the third triangle in, and pin the two halves together (since they won't be sewn together until after the arrangement of the hexagons in the quilt is finalized.) At this point, the gestalt of the hexagon is apparent. Now you can see what elements will draw the eye, and in what way. Some of them will appear to spiral outward, or inward. Some will be relegated to background, while others pop out at you. Some will make a star or a circle or a flower or a snowflake. Of course, things will still change a bit -- the outer quarter-inch of the hexagon will disappear into a seam when the quilt top is sewn together, and the center line will be trimmed down in the seam, as well. Sometimes, even this last little bit makes a block appear to change pretty dramatically. Certainly it refines and sharpens the design.

I hope you felt a little bit of surprise and pleasure with the development of this hexagon -- imagine getting to feel that more than 100 times! And that's just the beginning. Now I will slap them up on my "design wall" (which is merely a large piece of cheap fabric tacked to the wall) and start to rearrange. Stay tuned!

1 comment:

Brandi Beckett said...

Hi Rhonda,
I have to admit at first I couldn't understand what was so great about quilting but this last post gave me a bit of an idea of the creative joy that must be such a huge part of it. As well as the element of surprise!
Great photography and thanks for the insight.