Well. My partner says, “Oh… it’s … rustic.” She’s right. There’s something odd that happens to quilt panels. You assemble a bunch of very precisely cut pieces, all very carefully. Every square in this quilt was exactly 2″ square; every strip in this quilt was either 1″ or 2 1/2″ wide. As I assembled it, I tried to get all the seams the scant 1/4″ which is pretty common in quilting. But somehow in the course of assembly… it turns into a floppy inside-out geometry thing, as Erik Arneson calls it (I sort of wish we’d discussed this project on his podcast a bit, when I was a guest.) I wrote about this earlier here and here, where I geeked out a bit about color and the design process for future iterations of this quilting project.
And in retrospect, the bands between the squares should have been a red-dirt brown, rather than a green. Green seemed appropriate for an Earth-based divination system. In practice, the elemental green of the panels gets lost in the sea of green bordering, even when the black, gray and white circle patterns at the corners of the grid.
No matter. Sometimes we make a thing, in order to understand how to make a thing. And I now have a variety of ways that I can make this better — a lot better. A darker, browner, earthier border. Wider strips for the elemental colors and the mobile/stable stripe. Trimming the grid panel representing the sixteen figures of geomancy before assembling the strips around it. Adding strips of the background color into and around the grid, so the dots are more pronounced (or maybe not). Adding a strip of white to each block, so I can embroider the name of each figure under it, maybe (or maybe not).
Some mathiness is in order. Overall, it’s quite large. It’s 43″ long by 37.5″ wide, or 1612.5 square inches. This makes it smaller than my initial estimate of 1725 square inches, which I can attribute to forgetting the inclusion of those 1/4″ seams on each and every piece of fabric in the panel — those extra 1/4″ sections turn into a loss of 1/2″ per seam ,or a quarter square-inch on each panel, just on the gridded sections. An average of 24 pieces per panel and 16 panels = 384 pieces…. 384 x 1/4 is 96 square inches… plus the gridding around it adding another 65 pieces… which is 16 1/4 square inches. 384+65 = 449. I think I have accounted, Archimedes-like, for a missing 112.25 square inches. We can chalk up the missing 1/4 square-inch to user error, in this case mine. The quilt is more than a 1/4 square-inch off, though.
All in all, I’m pretty sure I can make this, or a variant of this, again.
Some learning about Geomancy from this endeavor. I think I understand the difference between Inner Element and Outer Element more effectively as a result of this work. For example, the character of Acquisitio, meaning “Gain” or “Holding in” or “Gathering Up” has Fire as its outer element, but Air as its inner element. To the external viewer, material gain or success in financial matters looks a lot like a hot-headed passionate avariciousness. But to the successful financier, the act of gaining financially involves a great deal of cool-headed calculation and attention to detail .
Another example comes in the form of the character of Puella, meaning “Girl” or “Receptivity” or “Purity”. Its outer element is Air — just talking, making a lot of noise, saying whatever comes into her head. However, its inner element is Water — water with both depth and clarity, because the inner landscape is held and contained within a strong vessel that travels and has its own agency.
All in all, I think this was a successful prototyping process. The next step is to get some backing cloth (probably black), sew the loops for the top, and then sew and turn the bag to turn it into a rectangular wall-hanging. Once that’s done, I’ll have to decide whether (and where) to embroider the names of the figures, and maybe their planetary and Zodiacal relationships somewhere. After that, there will be some ‘stitch in the ditch’ work either by hand or machine to bind the front and back parts together.
A long way to go yet, but the big parts are done.