C-STEM Quilts Workshop @ Northern Michigan University

June 23, 2017

Author: bbabbitt

C-STEM PI Dr. Ron Eglash, Co-PI Dr. Audrey Bennett, Postdoc Bill Babbitt, and RPI Grad student Michael Lachney conducted this two-day workshop, where students explored computational thinking concepts and algorithm design using the Quilting CSDT. Students designed quilts based on four distinct cultural designs that included Gees Bend quilts, Appalachian quilts, Anishinaabe quilts, and Lakota quilts. This workshop introduced basic computational thinking concepts in the aesthetics, design, and analyses of quilting from mathematical and cultural perspectives.

After learning about the history of these quilting traditions, students worked to simulate a quilting design of their own (pictured at top). Students explored the algorithmic structure and geometric patterns of African American, Appalachian, and Native American quilting traditions.

Student virtual designs

With a particular focus on the nonlinear natural shapes unique to Anishinaabe quilts, students then used software to design their own unique quilting patterns.

Students making quilt block

Once the virtual designs were complete, images of them were printed out and provided to students to use, as they physically rendered their designs as quilt blocks, using applique.

Student quilt blocks

The completed quilt blocks were then given to NMU's Center for Native American Studies, our hosts during this workshop.