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

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

My two cents worth for Sandi

Hi Gerry 
It's my turn to work on this block.  If you have time, what do you think I might do?  I thought perhaps an African Tree in the right corner over the lion?  Not much color in the block.  Maybe some large and bright bead work? It's a large block...16x16"
This poor block has been in circulation for over a year due to various reasons. It's owner has been ill  and I would like to have her block go home to her all decked out.  There is one more stop  before the block goes home.    Thank you!   Sandi M.    
Well I had some fun with this one as I've never done an African theme... The lion print is gorgeous and if you look closely, a previous stitcher has put stitching and beads on the foliage which is great...  Next to it is a fine spider web...

16"x16" is a very large block and this one is pretty much open for Sandi..So I decided we needed to think big and bold to fill it..  If it were my block to work on I'd use masks, lots of texture, lots of black, and geometric or linear seams ...lots of seam works in oranges, rusts and black... seams such as the ones on the left...

Look for trims with a linen or rustic look, some linen DMC thread, and not only glass beads but wood or clay ones as well.....and a few little bells.

Then get on Google images and type in "African masks" and they are so awesome and an endless source of inspiration...  My first thought was to stitch them on black felt and cut them out, but the more I thought about it, I decided I would paint them on a smooth black fabric such as poplin (backed with fusible interfacing before painting) and then cut them out, applique them on the block and embellish them.... And then add texture to them as hair, beads or as a neck ruff.   I especially loved the mask with bells...  I have a love affair with little bells . I have used them on many blocks.

I really liked Sandi's idea of the flat top tree you see silhouetted in so many photos.  I would start it right behind the lion and use it as a frame... What would be really fun is to layer black venice lace for the foliage.  How cool is that..?.

Just another very  little touch that I would like is to use the beige linen thread to highlight the grass by the lion and extend the grass into the next block..

Then once the masks are on,  the fun of embellishing them...  I chose the most colorful one to be the largest and the focal one and on it I would add layers and layers of bright beads as hair.  The other masks would have more subdued trim...

As you can see there is now a very strong path for the eye to travel.. and doesn't the leg and haunch of the lion make a wonderful directional element. I chose the position of the primary mask so it is in a direct line of sight of the lion... he knows they're out there...  Even though the black tree is a quiet area, it's heavily textured and there's a nice quiet area between the mask and the lion... and there is the spiderweb and stitching a the shrub there.. 
I did not add anything lower right as Sandi has to pass this block on... I would have probably added spears and a shield there... If you use lace for the tree top and paint the masks, it should all move along pretty quickly....

Now if you want even more eye candy and inspiration go over to Cathy Kizerian's blog as she has done an entire African quilt and has blogged about each block...  My favorite is the giraffe nibbling on leaves...

Now I am really taking a break to get ready and packed for Wichita.....and that's


  1. What fabulous African ideas! You could make a fortune if we could figure out how to rent out your mind. Maybe you could sell "custom block plans" .... $$$ for ideas .... it might work!??!
    PS Have fun in Wichita

  2. As always, wonderful suggestions. Really interesting selection of fabrics that enhance the African theme. Enjoy Wichita but will miss your posts.

  3. Wonderful suggestions! I'd love the see the block when Sandi has finished her part!

  4. The mask idea....genius! What an interesting block and such fun things to add!

  5. I hope you have a great time in Wichita. Bet any of the teachers there could learn a thing or two from you!

  6. When I saw that you were posting about an African block, I got excited to see your suggestions. And then when you linked to Images of Africa, I was flattered. :-) Thanks, Ger! I LOVED working the African theme, and would love to do it again - so many more ideas, and I would use more color. They love their color in Africa, even if the landscape is rather dry. See you in a few days! Hugs, Cathy

  7. The masks were a great idea! I would never have thought of that. I also love the tree framing the lion. As you mentioned, those are in almost every photo of Africa. You always have such creative ideas. Have fun in Witchita.

  8. Gerry! You area a wonder!! I love waht you have done with this block and how you have drawn in the path for the eye to follow to get to the lion!! fabulous!! my brother and his girls and wife have spent many years living in Africa and love it there. They will be leaving soon to places unknown- perhaps India- I think that I might make a block for each girl for their fav animal and lots of African personal favorites!! Thanks for the inspiration!!