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Experiments or Sometimes Clay Doesn’t Translate

Recently, I read an article about tile found at an archeological dig in Israel. Assorted tiles, dating from the Second Temple period, were found. When the tiles were fitted together, seven different patterns were made. Each looked like a quilt block. I decided to take the one that was easiest to make a pattern for and do a test quilt tile. I think the title given to this quilt block is Square in a Square. Draw a square, put a square on point inside of that, put another square inside of that, put another square on point inside of that. How hard could this be?

Harder than I though.

First, I drew out how the block would look.


Squares are easy. The hypotenuse isn’t. Not a problem, I’ll just measure each side of the right triangle.

That worked, but I hand to add 1/4″ all around for a seam allowance. So, I used my quilter’s ruler to mark a 1/4″ seam.


More measuring, and I was ready to cut out squares and triangles. I started with the innermost square and added the triangles to form a larger square. Everything fit. I added the next triangles to make the next larger square. Everything fit. I added the final triangles and swore a lot. Nothing fit. I remeasured. I recut. Nothing fit. I pressed. Nothing fit.


I did not make any more quilt blocks. But…. I’m rolling around ideas in my head for making this into what it originally was – a square tile. I’ll play around with ideas for texture and then figure out which glaze goes where. A ceramic tile should be easier than a fabric tile. At least clay doesn’t need seam allowances.

Not having success with the quilt block, I worked on the experimental quilt. If I were making a sculpture, this would be a maquette. If I were going to do a painting, this would be a study. I’ve no idea what an experimental quilt is called. Probably an experimental quilt.


Here’s where I started yesterday. You can’t see in this photo, but I did a stem stitch all around the tree. I used some silk thread I have. Good thing I got the thread on sale for half price. It’s normally $16 a spool. Sure is nice thread, though. I did the stem stitch because I don’t trust Wonder Under to hold the tree for long and I didn’t want to do a blanket stitch.

The leaves on top were done with Inktense water color pencils. The leaves on the tree  and underground were done with Sennelier artist oil sticks. I had to wait a few days before setting the paint with a hot iron. Some of the oil in the oil stick bled out. I’m not sure how I feel about that. The water color pencils bled a whole lot and I’m  not sure how I feel about that, either.


I used some Razzle Dazzle to outline the tree. I used embroidery floss to outline the leaves on the tree and to form the stems.


I used a silver metallic thread to outline the leaves above the tree and used a holographic thread to make the veins in the leaves.


I originally planned on purple Razzle Dazzle for the veins in the leaves on the trees, but I’m now thinking another holographic thread would work better.

Eventually, I’ll get to the leaves under the trees. I won’t use holographic thread on those leaves because I want the  dead leaves to look dead.

I’ve been thinking about how to quilt the background, but I’m not coming up with anything spectacular.

When I get done with this one, I hope to have all the flaws corrected. I’m considering making the final quilt the same size as this, but I now have different ideas for the leaves.

One quilt at a time.



I retired from the Public Defender Dept. November 12, 2015 after 21+ years as a criminal defense attorney. Now, I'm a full time multi-media artist and writer starting on a new adventure. As an artist, I create with beads, fabric, fiber, and ceramic clay. Sometimes separately; sometimes in assorted combinations. You can find my on-line store at: