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

Friday, September 2, 2011

Susan's Asian Challenge Block.....My Two Cents.

Susan M from Australia did this block for the Asian Challenge on the CQ for Newbies Yahoo group.  She tied for 1st place and sent me her photo and the following message:

"I enjoy  your other blog where you “pull apart” a CQ block that you like, the elements in it and so forth.  I’d love for you to look at it and share any thoughts about it – positive or negative; things I could have done better; where I could add more or change things or whatever." 

I love getting emails like this.  It makes the time spent on a block worthwhile if I know someone else finds it useful.   So having said that............Susan's  embroidery skills are gorgeous and since this is only her third CQ block... she is indeed a CQ newbie.

Let me tell you first what I really like about this block.  Of course there's the needlework as for me  that is what it is all about .. She elegantly decorated the arch and columns in the focal patch and  her seams are very intricate.   

I love all the strong directional elements on the left and up over the corner... the straight back of the peacock, the bamboo that is surface texture for the odd shaped patch (a perfect solution), the heavily beaded print in the corner and best of all, the lovely wisteria hanging down into the patch below.  

On the upper right side  there are all kinds of curved elements to move the eye ... the stance of the maiden, the beaded spray and the beautifully done cherry tree. Lower right has a very original fan treatment and exqusite embroidered character..

Susan carefully chose her elements and they almost all make a strong  Asian statement....but for me (and it's only my opinion) the ribbon just doesn't fit. It's beautifully done but doesn't fit...so with the magic of photoshop I removed it.. In its place I rather see a dragonfly, a butterfly or even best of all, the wisteria carried even farther down into the patch. Adding some of the purple and blue beads to the motif on the upper right would add a little extra bling there.

Then I would suggest  the peacock's tail be lengthened.  It is a perfect opportunity to add a stong directional curve to the that area.  His tail is beautifully done but not long enough... For a while our neighbor raised peacocks and the male came to our house when he could get away and when he sat on the frame over the deck his tail was over 6' long.

The water lily is perfect although I did tint it a little pinker but the leaf needs to be larger and stronger to support it and add weight to that area... and she started with the ripples in the water around the leaf (a great idea)  but stopped too soon. .... more ripples add another strong curved element... and finally the lace motif detracts from the oriental character in the lower corner which holds its own beautifully without it.  A very small point but I REALLY like the character by itself ...

So here are the two blocks..The ribbon overwhelmed the block and  when it is removed the focus immediately becomes the lovely needlework  and with the blocks side by side I hope you can see the difference lengthening the tail and enlarging the leaf make.... 

 This is really an exceptional block and I'm delighted it received the recognition it deserved.. I shall certainly be watching for future work by Susan. 

If you have a block that you would like some direction or suggestion, do not hesitate to send it to me... I do get behind as these take time but I will get to them all... And so for Susan's block that's


  1. Susan stitched a great block. Your 2cents really added to it. It always helps me when you define things such as the curve element. It amazes me how simple things like removing the ribbon and lengthening the peacock's tail make a more elegant block.

  2. I so enjoy your 'Block Talk' posts! And I learn every time. Thank you.

  3. The needlework in the block is breatiful. The arches in the middle, (when you enlarge the photo) are covered in tiny flowers! Very Nice!
    The figure with the tree!!! Great Job!
    I am beginning to learn from you, as I looked at the block before I read your suggestions. The ribbon kept catching my eye, when there were so many other well stitched motifs that I would have liked to see at first glance. But I would not have thought of removing it.
    The additional length to the peacocks tail adds such elegence to that motif.(but I would not have thought of adding to it). I also missed the water lily leaf addition.... so I will have to remain in class and keep seeing through your eyes.
    Hopefully there will be many more blocks to learn from! This may take quite some time, I hope you are up to the challenge.
    Thank you again for your time and sharing your knowledge with us.

  4. Gerry, I really apreciated your helpful critique. I was surprised you didn't say anything about where my bloopers area were, so I must have made the right choices there!!!

    When I was working on the button "snail trail", I was doing it at our church ladies craft night. After I'd finished it, one of the ladies said "that looks like a peacocks tail, with the colours in it."

    About the pink ribbon, I put that in because I had this big space and didn't know what to do with it, but your suggestion of extending down the wisteria is a great idea.

    So I'll have a go at working on your suggestions and will show your when it's done.

    Sincere thanks,


  5. I loved Susan's block so much that I voted for hers over mine! I didn't think she could make it even better! I see now that she can.

    I am not sure how someone THINKS about such things while they stitch and makes conscious decisions to do certain things that will make blocks better. I can't do two things at once - think and stitch!

    Cathy L