When the prompt for PQ 14.3 came out on Sunday (54-40 or Fight), I was putting the finishing touches on a quilt that I will share with you next week. I wasn’t sure I’d have time to participate, and the prompt’s reference of the traditional 54-40 or Fight quilt block didn’t immediately spark anything for me. But it was Trish’s closing comments about the block that really stuck with me:
This week, I want you to be inspired by and use the traditional 54-40 or Fight block. Twist and edit it as you wish. Add to it. Use it to explore your feelings about land acquisition by non-indigenous peoples (or not). But spend some time with this classic and see where it takes you.
I just couldn’t get her comment about land acquisition out of my head and before I knew it, I was researching the triangle in a square block to see if I could fit a four patch inside of one. Once I realized it was possible, I stopped working on the quilt I was trying to finish up and instead prioritized seeing this quilt through in time for the challenge this week.
I acknowledge that I am on the traditional territory of the Kawaiisu and Kitanemuk. I offer my gratitude to the First Nations for their care for, and teachings about, our earth and our relations. May I honor those teachings.
I used the Triangle in a Square quilt block templates from Generations Quilt Patterns. I particularly appreciated the side setting triangle templates they provide so that I could keep the edges of the blocks on the straight of grain. In order to inset the four patch blocks into the triangle, I marked a 2″ square inside the triangle on the template / sewing side that I used to sew the seams between the four patch blocks and the rest of the triangle or ship. Then, on the back (fabric) side of the template, I marked the center line of the four patch to use as a reference to glue baste a four patch blocks in place. From there, I simply used standard paper piecing practices to sew the block.
To turn the triangle in a square blocks into the ships that are sailing away, I set them on point by cutting 4 1/8″ squares. I cut the squares in half on the diagonal once and sewed the diagonal edge of each triangle to a side of a triangle in a square block. I trimmed the final blocks to 6 1/2″ unfinished. The bottom of the mini quilt, which finishes at 24″ square, are (4) 6″ finished / 6 1/2″ unfinished 54-40 or Fight quilt blocks with the triangle in a square portions removed.
As you can see from the Instagram stop motion reel that I made late on Sunday night (above), the general premise I am working with is that the triangle in a square blocks represent ships and colonialism. Colonialism built up and shaped massive industries and processes that have revolutionized the planet. Trade in raw commodities under colonial rule saw the export of natural resources (minerals, timber, etc.) expand exponentially and created unprecedented strain on regions. Today, despite the fact that these natural resources generated billions of dollars in revenue, those exploited regions are often some of the poorest in the world, are home to widespread human rights abuses, and are facing environmental disasters.
To try and depict the damage to local environments that the natural resource extraction creates, I fussy cut a gray print to create an “X” shape once pieced into the double four patch portion of the 54-40 or Fight block. Then, I layered the areas that were “mined” or stripped of the natural resources in various ways to depict different extraction techniques and I tried to quilt beyond the borders of each square to show the ripple effect of the extraction to the land and communities that surround the area.
This quilt has given me a lot to sit with and think about this week, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to reflect and learn about not only the history of the land that I live on, but also the geopolitical trends that continue to shape the world we live in.
- Earth Day: Colonialism’s role in the overexploitation of natural resources [theconversation.com]
- Environmental Colonialism [scholarblogs.emory.edu]
- The harmful legacy of colonialism in natural hazard risk [nature.com]
- Native Land Digital
Linking up with Project Quilting 14.3.