Looking for Light

Here in the Northern Hemisphere the days continue to grow shorter. With the sun going down before 5:00 PM any light is a welcome sight! At the same time the winter holidays are fast approaching, and it’s no wonder that for many holidays, no matter what time of year, light is a key part of the celebration. Candles, fires, strings of lights, fireworks, all of these things are considered celebratory no matter the season.

It’s gotten me thinking about what the light symbolizes. In a home or building it means warmth, comfort, safety, and camaraderie. Maybe that’s part of why I’ve become slightly (OK, very) obsessed with house shaped tealight lanterns, specifically those made of tin, like the ones below.

photo credit:http://interiorsoriginals.blogspot.com/

I haven’t been able to readily find any in the U.S., but this led me down the path of how might I make my own. It brought to mind the many lovely house quilts I’ve admired over the years with lights in the windows. We’ve all seen charming traditional versions, and house blocks are often one of the first blocks that beginners make. Art quilters have also taken on the challenge of capturing the magic of a lighted house, and Elizabeth Barton has mastered it. One example is her gorgeous work, Petergate, featured in our collection of cityscapes in our March/April 2014 issue .

Petergate ©Elizabeth Barton

I’m no Elizabeth Barton, but  thought I might be able to gin up a simpler, more traditional design that captures some of the most compelling features of those tin houses. I focused on including lots of windows, that they are often tall and skinny, and their tin color. Some red is included as I’m interested in making a quilt for the holiday season. Here are four variations of my initial idea.


Here’s a different color story with less red.


If I do make a quilt I’ll vary the size of the houses and the shades of gray, maybe throw in some star shaped windows especially up at the top, and the proportions aren’t quite right yet. Using mottled gray fabric, rather than a solid, might work well. I don’t know if I’ll manage to make a quilt out of this or not, but wouldn’t it be nice if I did? Part of why many of us make quilts is because of the comfort they bring, and combining the symbolism of the light in the windows with the physical comfort a quilt provides would be a satisfying combination.

If you’ve made a house quilt I’d love to see it! Just share a link in the comments so we can all enjoy your work.


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