Beth Markel

Designing Chaos

Posted on June 18, 2021 by Beth Markel

I clearly have a love of this crazy, tedious, colorful piece I’m working on, but I also have a love of design. The question, daily, is how to design and construct a work that must appear completely random?

So far, I believe it means making 1,001 design decisions a day.

Principles of Design are pattern, rhythm, proportion, balance, unity. You can expand the number of principles to include color, line, shape, negative space, etc. depending on what medium you are talking about, but these 5 basic principles are pretty universal. Even though I have chosen the size of each block, and decided early on that each tiny block would have 3 different fabrics, I did not decide, and do not decide, how to sew them together until I see how they all begin to play together.

Currently the 2 most critical principles for me in this work are proportion and balance. There is sort of an ebb and flow between principles when you’re working in what I’m going to call ‘structured improv’ but the bottom line is simple: make each & every decision like it’s the most critical decision of the day. Even though they are a mere 3/4″ finished, each individual block should be beautiful, dynamic, and vibrant! Proportions must change from block to block.

It’s easier to see changes in proportions using a B/W filter, as well as to gage whether or not you’re using values in different proportions. This art would be very dull indeed if all the proportions were the same:

Proportions within each block should be dynamic & diverse

The colors and size of the blocks will convey the idea of ‘Chaos’ as your eye zips over the top with no place to rest. Balance comes primarily in color for this buzzy, busy top. Color and value (light to dark), repeated again and again in similar sizes of the same block creates both balance and pattern/rhythm.

Ready to be sewn into larger “blocks” of 6 strips x 6 blocks per strip
Strip sets of 4, ready for last pair on each strip
New pairs completed 6/12/21 and ready for their haircuts

Yes, I’ve been busy sewing, and will post an update of the quilt itself in the next blog. I’m digging it!

Cheers, Beth



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