I LOVE talking about blocks, studying blocks, and playing with them in Photoshop... I am always on a quest for great blocks and trying to figure out what makes them so great ... So I started this companion blog that will be devoted to this quest. But also check out my regular blog at http://olderrose.blogspot.com

Saturday, August 6, 2011

My two cents on Lorraine's Grey Challenge Block

I've had this in my file for a while because I knew I had a lot to say about it....  The Crazy Quilt International yahoo group recently had an "All About Grey" challenge.  Participants were to construct a 12x12 block in shades of grey (includes silver and pewter), use some glass, fiber and metal in the piece.     And Lorraine certainly rose to the challenge.  She talks about it from her view on her blog 

 First what I love about the block and that list is long... What I repeat often is what I learned at Sharon Boggon's knee (so to speak) is it's all about contrast.... but when you leave out other colors what do you contrast??? Well just what Lorraine did here with texture, value, and prints... especially prints.  That polka dotted sprint is inspired.. The regularity of the dots are the perfect contrast to the lace overlays.

Then there are all the scallops (#1 pink) repeated in various sizes.. Take a close look lower left where there are three little patches.  Rather than make 3 separate seam treatments she chose to unify the area with the two large scallops and they echo the two large scallops directly diagonally.  Scallops are echoed throughout the block. Nice!

There are lots of little directional elements going on that form a triangle that frames the focal points of the block... (#2 green)

She get an A++++++ for all the variety in her button feature with great diversity in material... ribbon, charms, beads and all kinds and sizes of buttons.
(#3 yellow)

Lorraine mentions on her blog that she is unsure about the web... Well she shouldn't be..  Webs are NEVER perfect which is why I love Helen Steven's webs in her books...  Lorraine chose the perfect location for this web... (#4 red)

It's a small but subtle touch the way she extended the beads from button feature out above it to add more texture to that area... You have to enlarge the photo to really see the effect..... (#5 blue)

I did contact Lorraine to get her permission to make just a few suggestions and she enthusiastically said go for it!!! So having said that....

First is the button feature...  I cannot rave enough about what is in it but it is sitting there shaped like a little sausage. I really love the term "button trail" because it implies movement and activity..  It needs to meander and have thick and thin areas...  So with photoshop magic I modified Lorraine's button feature.

Next is the poor little spider... Having a spider dangle out of the web is used often but it is only effective if it's leading your eye to something .... in this case it is lost..  It is a beautiful, glorious web...the focal point of the block and the spider needs to be in it.... Quite often the radial parts of a web are closer near the center... and it's not really necessary but it is a sure fire way to give a bull's eye effect and capture the eye..

Finally the seam below the web needed a treatment... It was a too large open area... So again I made these changes with photoshop and see if you agree...  I loved this block the minute I saw it and what grabbed me was the polka dots...aren't they the nicest touch...?  Thanks so much Lorraine for letting me "block talk" your work!!!!!   And that's


  1. I saw this block when Lorraine posted it. My comment to her was about the use of gold and silver buttons and how I thought that, added interest. Adding to that button trail does create more attention to it and the web. Once again, we learn from your knowledge!

  2. What a wonderful block. Thanks so much for giving us a closer view. Love the button cluster! Great blog Gerry!

  3. LOVE your critique Gerry! I really loved the polka dot fabric too and wish I had more to use in future projects - it looks as if it was part of a tie from Diane Matheson's stash. I NOW see what you mean about my "sausage" shaped cluster LOL. It looks far better more meandering. Once I learn how to stitch a spider properly I'm going to place it closer to the center of the web - I really was unsure where to put it. I see what you mean about both seam treatments and will pay attention to the larger seam lines in future blocks. Thank you block guru!!!!