Wednesday 1 February 2017

Four in Art: Light - "Shimmer"

This year's Four-in-Art challenge theme is Light, which is really exciting and full of inspiration.  The sub-theme for this quarter is 'Shimmer' and this was my choice.

I chose 'Shimmer' because it's such an evocative and beautiful word, and while it's not onomatopoeic there's something about the word that really does sound like what it represents - to me at least.  I was curious about this so I went off and read up a bit on phonosemantics which is about the idea that there's a relationship between sounds and meaning - that particular sounds convey a particular idea by themselves; there's a connection between them. There are various ideas about what the connection is - you can read more here.

 'Shimmer' means 'shine with a soft, slightly wavering light'.    (Shine, soft, slightly - lots of sh and s sounds in that definition.)  Some of the shimmery things I thought of are moonlight on water, or silk or sequins (more s sounds) on a moving body.  It's a much softer effect and quieter than 'Glitter' - and does it fit halfway between that and a 'Glimmer'?  I wonder.

Anyway, enough rambling.   This is "Shimmer".

The inspiration behind this quilt was the facets of the cut glass doorknobs in my living room which fascinate me every time I go past them.  What I wanted to capture is the effect of the light bouncing off the individual facets - how when you look at them they keep the integrity of their individual shapes, but that these shapes are still broken up by reflections from within the room and also by reflections bouncing between them.

For something to shimmer, for it to have that wavering quality, there needs to be some movement involved.   Like the doorknobs, my quilt is static, and the reflected light doesn't softly waver as it does on water - unless it's hanging up in the breeze... The shimmering happens when the person looking at it moves, so although you can see some of the effect in a photograph you'll have to take my word for the rest.

Actually, it was fairly breezy, and I need to take some pictures on a less overcast and windy day - we ran out between showers.  Here's my lovely assistant, stopping the quilt from blowing away between shots.

I'll write about the practical details of the quilt in a separate post.


36" x 32"
Gold silk dupion, gold metallic silk, Oakshott and Kona cotton
Aurifil 50wt

Please do visit the other four-in-arters and see how they interpreted the theme.


Instagram #fourinart



  1. This is just beautiful Catherine. Really want to work with some shiny fabric now! I wonder how tricky it was?

  2. Really beautiful, and I like how it looks good from every direction. I too wonder about the silk - did it fray a lot?

  3. You chose the best fabrics for this piece! So neat that your glass door knobs were a part of the inspiration here. I, too, have a number of them in the house, but rarely do I see a good reflection or dimension, clearly they are not getting the right light! I love your observation that the shimmering happens when the person looking at it moves. Love this piece!!

  4. This is wonderful, Catherine. I feel there's something subtle about 'shimmer' (I imagine it half way between 'glimmer' and 'shine'!) and the combination of your gold with those soft colours conveys the way cut glass reflects beautifully. I also love the way it actually shimmers even on a computer screen :)

  5. I just wanted to say that your color combination is magical! I LOVED the graphic quality of the shapes with the melting shimmer of the silk. (I didn't like how my quilt was turning out the other day so I got out my silk fabrics to start on a backup plan, then decided to just finish regardless.) I really like how subtle the shimmer is in your quilt.

  6. I definitely think you've captured the integrity of the individual shapes being broken up and an inspired colour choice for glass. Really beautiful! Looking forward to the practical details post!

  7. So, so pretty! I was enjoying watching this quilt come together over instagram. I totally understand about trying to capture the shimmer of a static object - we all need to take movies of our quilts!

  8. Since I have been watching this quilt come together in stages over on Instagram, I was quite eager to see the finished product. Wow! It is so beautiful, with its facets and shimmery fabrics (and yes, I loved the etymology section) and execution. I've noticed that many of us observed that movement is required for shimmering, but I think you've really captured this in your beautiful quilt! Bravo!

  9. You have given us a wonderful lesson in shimmer. I enjoyed reading about words and such. The quilt is lovely. I see the cut glass of the doorknobs in it. I had seen a number of cut gemstones and thought of interpreting those at one point. But your quilt is marvelous. I like that I can see the shimmer (even though it is not moving).


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