Creating · Digital/Virtual World

Jack’s Chain Variations & AI Musings

Decided to pick this one up again. I don’t know why my mind will flit to an once-begun-left-unfinished quilt, but at least I am well ahead of Christmas.

I chose the red Sassaman print for the centers, and for the background, I knew I wanted to use the white-with-gold Heavy Metal fabric, so last time I was rummaging around in ETSY, I purchased a bit extra (it has disappeared from the marketplace).

My first block. The center was a challenge, so I kept trying. I had another reject, but then figured out three more that would work.

It’s a dot-to-dot sort of construction among the angles.

I press toward the colorful fabrics.

This photo is before I stitched in the white triangles in between everything.

In chatting on IG with Marla (@mingamonga on Instagram), she alerted me to the other name of this block.

I went over to the Quilt Index, and these were the two earliest quilts listed under Jack’s Chain. This block, shown below, had a Barbara Brackman number of 430, and was first published in late 1939 as Rosalia Flower Garden.

from BlockBase+

It’s drawn a bit wonky; the center is a true hexagon. But in the newest variation, the rings are pulled apart, set next to each other. That’s what allows that secondary pattern to emerge that we all love.

I did put this up on Instagram today (sorry for the redundancy) but still continue my plea for quilters to acknowledge the deep heritage they have from other quilters. I love stories where “old” blocks are given new life, but let’s not make their works anonymous.

Beignet Spot mural

After figuring this all out, my husband Dave took me down to the Beignet Spot, where we shared some small beignets and a Cajun Chicken sandwich. I like those kind of dinners. The temperatures are supposed to soar up into the 100+ next week, so since it was a mild evening, we opened all the windows to enjoy the fresh air. Then we promptly closed them again: smoke from a nearby fire was wafting into the house. One.More.Month. Hopefully by the end of September, we’ll be through the worst of it.

I can recommend this Cold Soup with Noodles & Tomatoes for supper, if you are having the same issues. We used somen noodles and added some poached shrimp. It was also great as leftovers.

And now for a giant leap from Jack’s Chain to AI, aka Artificial Intelligence:

I’ve become most interested in the part of AI that is text-to-image.

DALLE-E was the first one I’d read about, and I think it is one of the original AI text-to-image generators. The operator would type in something like “Teddy bears working on new AI research underwater with 1990s technology” and a the computer would scan gazillions of images, and generate a new image, using the parameters given:

It can generate different types of styles, and while I don’t know where this will eventually lead, neither did I understand where the iPod would go, or how it would be combined with the portable telephone. And so, ever since I read about the ability of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to be used with images, I’ve kind of kept my antenna up when I scroll Instagram. I’m going to throw in a bunch of links here, and just briefly mention some places where you might want to explore, then head back to quilting.

Andrew Kudless (@matstydesign) has some explorations in this text-to-image process, and this post and this post have quite the discussion. MidJourney is an AI Art Generator, and you can read more about it here. The Instagram hashtag #midjourney is also interesting, but I find that the heavy dependence on dystopian, creepy, and frankly evil-looking images get in my way. (Maybe that is the true hidden character of computers? Just Kidding.) If you have access to this software, and make something cool with this new medium, send me an image.

But mostly I’m interested in thinking about how quilters might use AI with say nine-patch blocks, or Jack’s Chain, given that AI imagery can think up this for a house:

from here

But maybe it’s not possible to break out of our grid. Maybe we as quilters are doomed to forever lifting patterns from those who have gone before, or subject the people in our IG feed to endless demonstrations of our improv or block-making techniques. [I could apologize, but it’s probably not going to stop.] However fascinating the exploration of improv, or AI, or geometric iterations may be to us, maybe we have to acknowledge that there might be an end point, although I won’t venture to say where that is. In looking at bunches of AI images for this post, I found they can sort of run together in concept, even if they are somewhat singular in design.

I’ve seen some pushing outward, some new quilting ideas, like we are all taking baby steps towards a new language of our own making. But we aren’t there, at least not yet. But it is this sort of challenge: beginning with hundreds of blocks, a full range of values and colors, and multiples of shapes, all being input into our brains as we try to become our own AI machines, combining and recombining. We are forever hoping from this process that a new quilt idea will burble up from the primordial ooze* of our sewing studios/rooms/spaces, and emerge into a full-blown fabulous new quilt. Aren’t we?

a potential AI space, from here
from here
This is definitely my sewing space. from here
Or maybe your sewing room looks more like this? From here

No answers from me about this. I imagine us exploring together, pushing outward here, and combining it with a new technique there and using yet-undiscovered tools to create new quilts. Maybe it’s all a bit too Brave New World-ish for you. Maybe for me, too. I love the grid, and I love standing on the shoulders of the women who have come before. I just don’t want to let them down, nor rob our evolving quilt world of potential new and exciting iterations.

NOTES:

*I was kidding about primordial muck on our sewing room floors. Sort of.

If you use an image from the Quilt Index, they like you to include the following info:

• for the white quilt:

• for the yellow/purple quilt:

8 thoughts on “Jack’s Chain Variations & AI Musings

  1. You sure have a way of getting my attention in a post and keeping me all the way to the end and then go back to the top to make sure I didn’t miss anything! I love Jack’s Variation. You are doing a fabulous job. It almost makes me want to stop and make it but I must keep on my UFO track for now! Thanks for the time it took to put this post together.

  2. I appreciate that you take the time to figure out the roots of a quilt block. The AI auto text-to-image generation is definitely interesting. It’s going to be really interesting to see where things continue to evolve from here.

  3. I made a Jack’s Chain quilt in 1999. It was for a guild challenge, to use their logo block, The Mayflower (a sailing ship). I used little 3” ships instead of nine-patches. I found Jack’s Chain in Marjorie Puckett’s Primarily Patchwork, published in 1978. I’ve also been upset with the recent BOM series, with old traditional blocks stripped of their names.

  4. Well! That was interesting all the way around. I love the text-to-image idea, but not going there! And I can use the hint on how to reference the quilt blocks. I just used the Brackman to look up a block to modify for a future project 🙂

  5. I love your variation of Ring Cycle/Jack’s Chain! My favorite part is the stars. That’s not part of the original pattern and it’s the part I like the best. Did you do those by paper piecing diamonds? Or is it a carefully cut Stack & Wack kind of thing. I tried searching on Instagram for your reference to Jack’s Chain on steroids, but I don’t really know how to do Instagram and came up blank. In the “on steroids” version are the nine patches bigger? Or does that phrase just refer to the more elaborate block centers?

  6. The whole history of quilts is fascinating and you, my dear friend Elizabeth, are a true detective in tracking these sorts of things down! I did a little of my own research and found that Lorena had written about her experience ten years ago here
    http://ikwilt.blogspot.com/2012/08/a-brilliant-weekend-and-tonight-gwsmqg.html

    I find it interesting too that little is known of Leesa both in her home country and overseas! I love you red star centres! They are a place for the eye to rest.

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