Final 658 Project Proposal

I am planning to create a quilt that is essentially a second draft, or version, of the Runaway Quilt Project that I started last spring. This textile object / infographic will be a more thoughtful execution of research into Gracie Mitchell, where I am taking into account the best practices learned this semester in Information Visualization, and will once again archive the research that I have aggregated on my blog – an ephemeral digital product.. When I complete the quilt I am going to enter it, and the ‘first draft’ from last spring, into a quilt competition <>, part of the International Quilt Festival.

The elements that I am including in this visualization are:

  • An ego-centric network visualization – Gracie is the center of this, and the data is based on quilts made in the states that she lived in while she was there (Texas 37 yrs, Arkansas 25+8, Chicago 8 yrs). This shows the context in which she was quilting, and what patterns her contemporaries were making around her, which likely affected her pattern selection.
  • Icons that I researched using the Barbara Brackman Encyclopedia, this allowed me to find alternate names and recognize the patterns she created.
  • Small (multiple) maps showing some of the oldest instantiations of the pattern in America, this gives insight in to how the patterns made their way around the country during the period of American expansion, and before they were formally published.
  • A heat map with Gracie Mitchell’s 22 patterns on one axis, and  the years 1840-1940 on the other. This gives a larger context than the network, and shows how unique or traditional her pattern selection was during the 80 years that she lived prior to the interview. This might help to hypothesize about when she made each top, by examining when each pattern was particularly popular.
  • A word cloud of the text that I harvested from the WPA interviews about quilts will be in the backround, on grey scale, almost white-on-white.
  • Stylized versions of the patterns on the reverse of the quilt
  • QR code on both sides
  • Metadata, and suggested citation

data quilt 2 draft

Rather than cut all of these pieces like last year, I am going to upload this graphic file to Spoonflower and print out what us quilters refer to as a “cheater cloth”, or more politely as a “panel”. Uploading it to Spoonflower puts it squarely in the digital arena as far as quilting and crafting, and if there is an audience for it they can order the print and make an RQP quilt on their own, or modify it and do a “mash-up” by cutting up or re-purposing the visualizations. It will also be archived and/or promoted along with the work of other fabric designers. To this end, there are 4 fabric designs my Pratt Industrial Design alum and Dartmouth buddy Erica Schwartz designed for me reflecting these terms from the word cloud: make, woman, cotton, and warm. I am using them in the blocks on the reverse “traditional” side of the quilt.

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