With the arrival at the museum of all the finished blocks, 48 story blocks in total excluding the very many (!) English paper-pieced squares, Liz and I were left with a significant challenge... in what order should the blocks feature in the finished quilt? Do we try to create symmetry from left to right? Should we be telling a story chronologically? This is a decision we couldn’t make until the squares had arrived as we simply had no idea what they would look like!
The advantage from my perspective of being a non-quilter, means that I have no preconceived ideas of how the quilt should be or knowledge of any ‘rules.’ I was quite happy to break them all! Liz and I quickly agreed that as long as the quilt felt balanced, without all the dark blue blocks in one corner but evenly distributed throughout the quilt, it would work.
Having recently moved to St Leonards-On-Sea, described by many as the same as nearby liberal Brighton twenty years ago, Liz saw the opportunity for a trip along the coast, and it was here in my new flat that we played around with the quilt layout. No shoes, clean socks, tip toeing around the various squares, standing back, squinting, laying out strips of blue fabric due to become the sashing and taking black and white photos on our iPhones in order to figure out the final combination.
The best part of working alongside Liz is we seem to agree on creative decisions most of the time, or if not, one of us is willing to accommodate the other. By the end of the day, we had agreed the layout for the quilt, taking hundreds of photographs to remind ourselves for when we come to stitching together. We even had some time to sit and read through the wonderful sketchbooks we have received from participants.
Then it was off to the photographers! I took all the blocks to artist and photographer Callum Richards, who has his own studio (imagine a copper and black interior design Pinterest page). It was a delightful morning with the blocks receiving the photographic treatment they deserve. The most significant challenge from a photographic perspective is maintaining the colour balance, not losing vibrancy or indeed becoming too bright! We worked hard to tweak and colour match blocks to their equivalents on the computer screen.
At the end of the day, I felt a real sense of amazement at the progression of the project since I began at the museum in January, but we are not done yet. Next up, the team begins stitching!