On Saturday, May 6, we drove over to Madison to Cafe Zoma for the unveiling of the Tiptree quilt. Years in the making, the quilt is enormous, being about 12 feet on a side. The predominantly pink, purple, and green design has a bold sweep inspired by James Tiptree Jr.'s (Alice Sheldon's) story "Brightness Falls From The Air." The large overall design is made up of a strikingly complex structure of (approximately) two-inch pieces that were assembled by the sixty-five volunteers into three-by-three blocks, and then further assembled by the "lead" quilters into the final matrix. The quilt project may possibly be unique in the annals of quilting. The original design was created by Madison fan and artist Jeanne Gomoll on computer, followed by a reality screening by fan and seamster Tracy Benton and others. (Quote from the reception, "Blocks are not pixels!"). An international network of contributors (including Milwaukee fan Cicatrice Du Veritas) received a kit containing the necessary fabrics and detailed instructions as to layout and orientation of the pieces. This is what I think may possibly be unique: there have been lots of other communal quilts (the famous AIDS quilt comes to mind) but in those projects contributors were responsible for designing and creating their own blocks.
The quilt is an intricate and beautiful piece of work. It will be exhibited again at WisCon. Orginally it was intended as a fund-raising project, but the Tiptree Award doesn't really need the money at this point. The quilters also don't want to see the quilt folded away into someone's closet, so apparently a long-term exhibition at the Science Fiction Museum in Seattle is being negotiated.