SUNSHINE AND SHADOW
("Log Cabin" Diamond Set)
(Taoist Yin & Yang)
SUNSHINE AND SHADOW is a variation on a "Log Cabin" block (each patch pieced as illustrated left) and here set on the diagonal. The design dates back to the Nashville Banner, 1933 (Beyer, p.155-2). In black and white it is a very beautiful and powerful OP ART coverlet pattern of the type done in modern times and as far back as the 19th c. It also inadvertently provides a playful humor, due to its having a vague sense of the eyes and beak of a bird with the lower diamonds acting as feet (see the same sort of bird abstraction in FEATHER STAR). The colors here in fact were inspired by a Chinese brush painting of a small bird hopping on the ground and with similar, wide-open eyes and big feet.
The name, SUNSHINE AND SHADOW brings to mind the ultimate archetype of harmonizing polarity in the Taoist symbol of Yin and Yang, and therefore the black and white colors were chosen for the optical rendering (see the tiling pattern below). Sunshine in this case might indicate Clarity or Wisdom and Shadow the depth of Mysticism or the hidden Unity and deeper meaning of our lives. The symbol of a Christian cross carries the same interactive duality — instead of light and dark, the rising vertical indicates clarity and enlightenment, whilst simutaneously the breadth, or horizontal, embraces all with compassion.
Jinny Beyer's QUILTER'S ALBUM OF PATCHWORK PATTERNS has a special section on Log Cabin type designs, with 40 thumbnails of examples (p.88), and where Beyer introduces the motif as follows:
"The Log Cabin quilt design has been a long time favorite of quilters. Log cabins were a part of the lives of early settlers who became part of the westward experience. It is no wonder that the Log Cabin would be depicted in a quilt. Even though the basic design had been made in Europe earlier and has been found on ancient artifacts, its popularity in the United States came in the second half of the 1800s."
For a playful departure by Maggie Malone on the title, compare at this site with SUNSHINE AND STAINED GLASS. See also the simplicity of the diamonds in ARROWHEAD, and the beautiful, diagonal intersections in TOWERS OF CAMELOT.