About The Project

On display at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, ND during Quilting on the Red, October, 2013

On display at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, ND during Quilting on the Red, October, 2013

Project curator Kim Baird talks about how this project came to be.

Most people are at least a bit familiar with the periodic table. It was hanging on the wall in high school chemistry class. For me, that was in 1970, and I remember it as a sort of telephone directory of the chemical elements.

When my art quilt group decided to portray some of the elements in fabric, and arrange them in our own version of the PT, we were attracted by the shape of it. Like patchwork quilts, it’s made up of squares joined together.

We didn’t realize what an adventure this project would become. We started reading about the table and the elements to get inspiration for our designs. What we found was wonderful stories about people, cultures, history, art and politics. Oh, and science. With each new element we made, we became more creative in our interpretations. At our monthly meetings, we shared our progress and amazed each other with scientific knowledge and creative and colorful ways to represent yet another silvery-white metallic element.

Fairly early in the project, we realized we wanted to make all 118 elements and exhibit a complete Periodic Table. The size of the undertaking was a bit daunting: could we really make so many 11-inch quilts? About the time we had completed 50 or so, we started wishing there were more. The combination of science, art, learning and working together has become so fascinating and absorbing that we are already wondering what to do next, to keep this momentum going.

The Designing Quilters group was formed to encourage its members, all traditional quilters, to explore the possibilities of original design. We are located in the Red River Valley of the North, a place as flat as any quilt.

Joining us in this project are the DIVAS, a similar group from Alexandria, MN.

NEW! large posterof the whole project in PDF format

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