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

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Let's Talk Block

In Sharon Boggon's class last April she felt the key to what makes a successful block was contrast and we discussed it at length.  I had to think about that for a very long time and while contrast is vitally important, there is one more thing more important in my opinion....  "Harmony... a pleasing arrangement of parts to their whole and to each other..." After searching through the many blocks this summer I am even more convinced of this and you will hear it often from me and this block by Sharon Boggon is a perfect example.  Here are some of the reasons I chose it to be among the best of the best...
Look at all the parts of this block and how they relate to each other and how they combine to one complete whole... Nothing stands alone in this block... Every part is unique but complements every other part...

 Now about these parts!  The first thing that attracted my eye was the fabulous seam treatment upper left.. It alone is a work of art... Basically it is quite simple... chain scallops with stacked sequins and beads but the colors echo every single color in the block.. This simple seam adds immeasurably to this block.  Look at the block without it... The block feels incomplete without it... If you ever had any doubts about the importance of seams and what you can achieve with them...here it is..

Next is the rich surface texture of the flowers.  It also incorporates all the block's colors but for me the drama is in the size of it.  It anchors the block and frames the silkie.. It wouldn't be nearly as stunning if it were any smaller...

And of course there are all the  elements placed strategically  for your eye move smoothly around the block...

And finally one of the least  talked about design elements  in crazy quilting...quiet spots for the eye to pause.  There are three kinds in this block..  First is upper right.. It is not just a patch with a button stuck in the middle...  The buttons are complements to the seam but the patch is small but quiet.  The second  quiet spot is lower left..  Even though it is heavily embellished with a lace motif and beads, the dark color recedes and does not draw your eye at all...  The third and loveliest is the pink patch that is unembellished except for the seams..  The upper left seams and the flower treatment would all mesh together if it were not for that quiet pink patch between them... There is also the quiet but gorgeous beaded diagonal seam  lower left...  Lesson.... Not every thing has to stand up and shout to be an important part of the design of a block.


  1. I agree with your phrase about harmony. Your discussion of this block is very interesting.

  2. Gerry,
    I agree about the harmony in this block. The gold fans are somewhat duplicated in the gold flowers sprinkled throughout the flower treatment. It is in this harmony I find my eye moving around. I see a color repeated here and there and I find myself looking for it in other places. A "Where's Waldo" of color repetition so to speak.
    I like how you did the side by side photos to show how the balance of the block is different with elements removed.
    Thank you for sharing this example and giving us a different angle on contrast.
    A question for a future post...When you are stitching and you see a blank spot or something that is out of balance, how do you decide on a motif or treatment to fill that void? Is it based on the shape of the void? Or is it just a motif you like, kind of a random stick a butterfly in the space?
    That is always a stitcking point with me. What is the block asking me to place on it? Your blocks speak to you, don't they???

  3. Thanks Gerry this is lovely compliment - to think folks look so long at what I do!
    Great analysis too- well thought out