Cosmatesque #1

OK, the name needs a bit of explanation.

According to Wikipedia:

Cosmatesque, or Cosmati, is a style of geometric decorative inlay stonework typical of the architecture of Medieval Italy, and especially of Rome and its surroundings, and derived from that of the Byzantine Empire. It was used most extensively for the decoration of church floors, but was also used to decorate church walls, pulpits, and bishop’s thrones. The name derives from the Cosmati, the leading family workshop of marble craftsmen in Rome who created such geometrical decorations.

You’ll recall my post of a couple of days ago, talking about how today we are using the same patterns in patchwork as the Romans and Byzantines used in their mosaic floors. It seems Italy’s medieval craftsmen had the same idea for their own floors, and the style they developed has attained its own name. And I’m hijacking it.

If you Google the name Cosmatesque, you’ll be rewarded with multiple gorgeous images of fabulous geometric floors. I spent hours searching, clicking, pinning and printing. OK, I admit it. There’s another quilt in the pipeline.

cosmatesque planIt’s going to be fiendishly tricky; all those wedges, circles, intersecting lines and teeny weeny blocks are not my normal comfort zone, but it’s going to be a tremendous challenge. I need to find out how to do this stuff without the ease of copying someone else’s pattern, or using multiple expensive specialist rulers, or geometric formulae. Subject to the approval of its intended new owner, my colour palette will be simple: deep warm red, dark cobalt blue, granite grey, limestone beige, on a white background. I’m echoing the palette of the original floors. My fabric choices will be marbled batiks and textured solids; there’s not much room for patterns here.

cosmatesque design pageAnd it’s going to be small – for me, that is – at 48 inches square. It’s intended to be a piece of wall art to remind its owner of her ‘specialist subject’. It’s for my eldest niece, Lecturer in Medieval Studies at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. For many years, she’s spent months every summer rootling around in archaeological digs, and has seen and uncovered more mosaic floors than you’d believe. It’s rare that our spheres of activity collide, and now that I have found a point of common interest, I intend to play with it!

So as usual, I’ll be recording my discoveries, my decisions and my progress as this quilt grows. I have a LOT to learn, and will have to attain a much more stringent level of accuracy than I normally get away with. I’ll have to decide on a section-by-section basis how I’m going to make each part (hand stitched, machine sewn, EPP, foundation paper piecing and appliqué are all possible/probable). Fortunately, due to its relatively small size, it’s not going to take me a tremendously long time, but I’m not going to skimp on attention to detail and accuracy. And then of course, there’s the decision on how to quilt it. Machine, or by hand? Invisible or feature? Dense or light? Well, you get the idea.

I think there’s another Book of the Quilt coming on…