COLUMBIAN CHAIN is as simple as you can get for a highly complex block. The complexity of the 44 x 44 grid results from the larger size squares in the center, which are each 3 x 3, as compared to the smaller squares in the corners, which measure 2 x 2. We added some more complexity (top right) with what is sometimes called trompe-l'œil, or "fool the eye," (see at Wikipedia) with wrinkles and some 3D in the small squares. The technique was used humorously along with rips and stains, etc., in American Folk Art, sometimes pretending, for example, to add a piece of newspaper stuck on the painting, but it was all painted on.
The design debuted, as illustrated left, in Nancy Cabot's column in the Chicago Tribune on May 27, 1935. It is illustrated in Jinny Beyer's QUILTER'S ALBUM OF PATCHWORK PATTERNS, p.173-13. Nancy Cabot's notes state the following:
"Among the old and extremely simple pieced blocks is the beautiful "Columbian Chain." It was pieced in a small town in Delaware. The original quilt was made from old scraps in a variety of colors.
The pattern is a classic nine-patch block with the sash built in, although when it tiles a whole new pattern emerges, (see below). Compare at this site with another fascinating, built-in sash design block called THE ORIGINAL. Generally, variations on the name, COLUMBIA, in traditional quilt designs, simply mean "American," derived from Christopher Columbus. See THE COLUMBIA and the amazingly eagle-like COLUMBIAN STAR.
More nine patch blocks would include, for example:
PUSS IN THE CORNER
COLORWHEEL & CARD TRICKS