200 Quilts · Four-in-Art · Quilts

Six Ways to Blue, a Four-in-Art quilt for November 2016


Six Ways to Blue
Quilt #169, November 2016
19 1/2″ high by 21″ wide
#4 in the Color Series: I’ve Got the Blues

Blues can mean too many things, all at once.  Peacefulness, depression, sadness, the thrill of a line of music (a wailing saxophone), my favorite crayon in the box and the color of my husband’s eyes.  I could think of references to blues six ways to Sunday and never run out of things to link that color to: ocean, sky, geysers, crystals, ice, flowers.


Blue also has a powerful connotation to mood.  The other day when I was feeling a bit blue, my blue-eyed son surprised me with a FaceTime call from London, just before he was calling it a day (having traveled through the blue skies and over the big blue ocean to get there). We chatted about his recent travels to Madrid, our travels to Lisbon last year, where we together with my blue-eyed husband saw the azulejos (blue and white tiles) of that country.  It lifted my spirits, and I was thankful for his true-blue devotion and caring.

The only ancient people who had the word blue in their vocabulary were the Egyptians, largely because they had developed a blue dye.  In 1858 a scholar named William Gladstone, who later became the prime minister of Great Britain studied Icelandic sagas, the Koran, ancient Chinese stories, and an ancient Hebrew version of the Bible. Of Hindu Vedic hymns, he wrote: “These hymns, of more than ten thousand lines, are brimming with descriptions of the heavens. Scarcely any subject is evoked more frequently. The sun and reddening dawn’s play of color, day and night, cloud and lightning, the air and ether, all these are unfolded before us, again and again … but there is one thing no one would ever learn from these ancient songs … and that is that the sky is blue.” (from here)


Wikipedia notes that the clear sky and the deep sea appear blue because of an optical effect known as Rayleigh scattering. When sunlight passes through the atmosphere, the blue wavelengths are scattered more widely by the oxygen and nitrogen molecules, and more blue comes to our eyes. Rayleigh scattering also explains blue eyes; there is no blue pigment in blue eyes.


We’re not the only artists inspired by the blues.

Untitled Blue Monochrome (1960)

Yves Klein (1928-1962) was a French artist who worked with a chemist to create a startling Ultramarine Blue when he mixed powder with synthetic resin.  He patented this as IKB: International Klein Blue, and became known for his use of this color.


When Klein came to California to work as a visiting artist, Edward Kienholz “gave him this kit as a welcome gift, providing Klein with tools to create…while away from his home studio.”  The valise, which has a tag that reads “resident of the universe,” includes “such things as a spray can of IKB paint, a page of instructions, [and] a jar labeled GRIT” (text taken from National Gallery of Art label next to painting).

“Klein’s attraction to blue was rooted in his belief that it was the least material color: ‘All colors bring forth associations of concrete ideas, while blue evokes all the more the sea and the sky, which are what is most abstract in tangible and visible nature.”

I love blue in all its variants, and enjoyed bringing the abstract to the tangible in cloth and thread.

tiny nine patches

We will begin again next year with a new challenge, going on our fifth year.  We have people who join us, leave us, but a few of us keep going on.  Please visit the other members of our group and see how they interpreted this challenge:

Betty         on Flickr

Camilla         faffling.blogspot.co.nz

Catherine       www.knottedcotton.com

Janine      www.rainbowhare.com

Nancy         patchworkbreeze.blogspot.com

Rachel         rachel-thelifeofriley.blogspot.com

Simone         quiltalicious.blogspot.com

Susan         patchworknplay.blogspot.com

We also have a blog, Four-in-Art Quilts, where you can find us all.

FYI: The next post talks about the construction, the pattern I used, and the next challenges,
and why I want to make this all over again (because some parts really bug me).

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14 thoughts on “Six Ways to Blue, a Four-in-Art quilt for November 2016

  1. I love reading your thoughtful posts! This is a fascinating quilt to look at – my eye keeps being drawn to the single white hexagon (like a pupil, but white), and my mind wants to read all sorts of shapes into the arrangement of hexagons.

  2. I love reading your posts. They are always filled with information that I am fascinated by. You are a wonderful writer and I’m sure you are a wonderful teacher!

    1. Alrighty….your collection of blue hexies is oh so graphic and stunning. I love how simple the design is, regardless of how many different shades of blue you included. The quilting is equally simple and draws out a nicely balanced triangle shape that when it’s grouped in sets of 6 it recreates hexie shape too.

  3. I, too, am eager to read your posts about your worksite. You connect so many aspects of our world through your art. Thank you for the information AND anews amazing quilt.

  4. Always a teacher . . . as many have already mentioned, you provide a broader perspective for your work through all the connects you make to the world at large. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I love how I always learn something reading your blog posts! This is probably one of my favorite quilts you’ve done, but I love blue and hexies, so this is right up my alley. I really like the modern way that you did the layout. It was fun to see glimpses of this in some of your IG posts previously. Looking forward to hearing some details.

  6. I really like this quilt. Even though I wouldn’t consider myself a blue person as far as color goes, this is really lovely. And I have always wanted to make some of the modern hexies, one of the very few original ideas that I feel has come out of the modern quilt movement.

  7. That looks fabulous. It is a design that I have wanted to do for a long time so am looking forward to the next posts. I can’t imagine what bugs you about this one.

  8. So much to think about, as usual Elizabeth! You are so well-read and learned….it makes my simple thoughts seem so naive! Love your mini!! Can you see the similarities between yours and mine?

  9. This is a fascinating post. So much interesting information. I’m amazed I have no blue pigment in my eyes (which until just now I thought were blue!) and even more amazed at how all those generations of ancient civilizations (except the Egyptians) managed without a word for blue. And I love your quilt – perfect in every way 🙂

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