Thursday, July 14, 2011

Yeah, about that...

When I was in China, I took a lot of pictures that I hope to use for quilt inspiration.

Pictures like this.

Those green square posts could make kind of a cool block, but...

And this is kind of a cool repeating pattern, but...

And this could be an interesting quilting pattern, but...

And I like this style of woodwork, it could translate into a block, but...

I like the colors here, but...

I mean, it's obvious at this point. They all have swastikas in them. Some are more apparent than others, but they are all there.

Now, I know that the symbol of the swastika has been around for a long time. For thousands of years, it was a symbol of good luck, and change, especially in Asia. It's not unusual to see a lot of swastikas in motifs around China.

It would be really poor taste for me to put these patterns in a quilt though. When your first introduction to the swastika is through Hitler, it's sort of over. I don't think I could ever be comfortable showing a quilt with anything resembling a swastika, no matter what my inspiration was. I don't know if there would be a point in the European/American future that it would be acceptable. I'm guessing it's not in my lifetime.

When you are working with geometric shapes, the swastika, or the shadow of it comes up more than I thought it would. I never knew that I would have a hobby where I would have to be vigilant that my own work didn't have swastikas in it.

For example, when I was brainstorming ideas for my sampler quilt, I showed a sketch for a block to my old roommate.

It looked like this:

The conversation went something like this:

Me: Hey Corky, when you look at this, what do you see?
Corky: Um, I dunno, a pinwheel?
Me: (excited, thinking that I can get away with it) Oh really!? Just a pinwheel?
Corky: No. It's obviously a swastika.

I did a lot of research for that sampler quilt, and ran across that type of block again. It's called the "Crazy Ann". It looks like this.

And people still make quilts with this block! I mean, if you don't do it in black, it's not so obvious, and the block's origins are pre-WWII, but still, to me, it's an obvious swastika no matter what color it is.

Fortunately, I did get a lot of photos in China that I found inspiring that were swastika free.

And, at a flea market, I saw this guy.

Too bad I didn't have room in my suitcase!


2ndAvenueStudio-Rachel said...

I'm so tempted to comment about an overarching scheme to prevent us from true design freedom. A conspiracy if you will... :D but not everybody thinks jokes are appropriate.

Glad you had fun!

Four dogs and one quilter said...

Glad you had a great time. Can't wait to see the rest of your photos. Agree with you about the swastikas, when I was living in Japan, found it disconcerting that my guidebook maps were full of them. Marked a location of a temple, if I recall correctly. Think I will stick with regular pinwheels.