God-Mother from Nina Paley on Vimeo.

Here it is, the intro/prologue to Seder-Masochism. Uploaded at 1080p instead of 4K because I’m sure I’ll fuss with it still.

It is by far the slowest-paced thing I’ve ever animated. Be patient. Best at full screen.

Animated in Moho Pro.


Denkou_01-03_15 - Frame 1192_1920










More Single Line Art

I am a better line processor than any algorithm we currently have access to. Behold what I turned into a SINGLE LINE by hand:

Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair!

Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair!

Many people think we’re using Mathematica to do the drawings of our Quilt Money. We’re not! I am drawing all this stuff by hand. Theo uses Mathematica to route my drawings that contain T-intersections, but I’m learning to make my drawings single lines without T-intersections by hand, because they route much better that way. Everything below was drawn by me, by hand:


Only a few bits (the seals and part of the border) need to be routed in Mathematica. Everything else I drew as single paths. Which is quite a brain-hurter, lemme tell ya. Here’s a screen capture of me working on this same project last week:

I could do this much more efficiently now, using what I’ve learned since then. Which is good, because the better I get at this, the more I can help someone else create algorithms to automate this kind of work.

And yes, at some point we hope to offer an affordable $100 Quilt. But first I have to get the design right, and then our potential partner has to be able actually produce it without losing money. We’re working on it.

Our quilted money is one of the few things I don’t share source (in this case, vector) files for, because currency isn’t exactly like other culture, as I explain here.

The holy grail of quilting design


Single-line art is the holy grail of quilting design: the sewing machine head can stitch the entire design without starting, stopping, or breaking thread. To illustrate this for an upcoming talk I drew a holy grail as a single-line drawing. I did this by hand in Flash, and made this simulation of a simulator by deleting line segments one at a time.

I would love a program that intelligently automatically converts my line art into single-line art. Theo made something like that already, which preserves all the line segments and relies on back-tracking. But I’d also like something that replicates what I did here by hand: removing and adding small line segments so no back-tracking is needed. It would need to analyze which smaller line segments could be sacrificed, and which segments could be doubled (parallel lines can be easily added to a design like this).

You need single line art for automated quilting, and that’s what we do. But getting from regular line art to single-line art is currently no small task, for humans or computers.


Death Makes a Holiday

Death of Firstborn Egyptians

I’m currently animating the Death of the Firstborn Egyptians (Exodus 11:1-12:36) for Seder-Masochism. This is the miracle that started Passover! Hooray! I’m being sarcastic!

Water Wheel

water wheel5

click for animated gif

Back on the Quiltimation front, I was wondering if I could arrange animated frames on a quilt in a mandala/medallion pattern, rather than left-to-right cells. This would essentially be a quilted phenakistoscope, with the animation emerging as the whole thing is rotated (we’d keep the camera and lights stable, and rotate the quilt).

water wheel6

click for animated gif


The saturated colors here would be lost, although I could use a few colors of thread. The elements are early Leviathan designs, and Water from Chad Gadya which is still in (very slow) progress.


Work in Progress: the $1K Quilt


This is a TEST of the One Thousand Dollar Quilt, conceived as a more affordable version of my handmade Ten Thousand Dollar Quilt.


This is a test, it is only a test. We stitched out two versions to see how the quilt plotter would handle it, how the thread density would look, etc. There’s well over half a million stitches here, and it took the plotter about a day to stitch. Then I spent half a day cutting, sewing, and ironing binding, and binding it.


Rae Spooner of Bent Bean Chocolates (Urbana, IL) enjoys the cozy warmth of One Thousand Dollars.

It’s about 8 feet long. The front is high thread count unbleached cotton muslin, the back is regular thread count same. The batting is a mystery – either polyester or poly-cotton, not sure because it’s left over from another project Theo bought it for, and he doesn’t remember. The quilt is remarkably soft and flexible given all the dense stitching


Unlike the Ten Thousand Dollar Quilt, which uses reverse applique, this gets its color solely from the thread. The result is lower contrast, but I like all the stitch lines. Also there’s no way I could do a reverse applique version for under a thousand dollars.


The bright green thread is 30-weight, thicker than the 40-weight dark green and white. What a nice solid effect it gives.

The thread is polyester: the dark green and white are 40 weight, and the lighter green is 30 weight, which is significantly thicker. We may do another test using 30 weight dark green. Heavy thread works beautifully, but it’s very expensive. Then again for a Thousand Dollars we can use expensive thread.


Registration is off as expected, but could be worse. He have a strategy for improving registration in the next test.


Medallion background fill will be crosshatched in the next iteration.

The portrait medallion fill will be crosshatched in the next version. I didn’t like these curved shading lines at all, because the machine double-stitched some of them which ruined the gradient effect. The next version will also have fill lines on Cleveland’s face, along with a larger border with more of the swirly fill.


The back. We had a few thread nests but overall it’s pretty clean.


Rae helps me hold up the 8-foot comfy currency. Photo by anonymous friendly woman who was trying to buy chocolate at Rae’s shop.

OK I Lied

I found another way to make bicolor morphing tiles in Flash, that didn’t make it crash all the time. Plus it animates!

Here is the single tile it’s made from:

My Tile Obsession Will Taper Off Eventually

I can already feel it slowing down, which means I’ll have to find something useful to do soon. Meanwhile I wanted to see the morphing tiles as a 2-color map. Easier said than done: Flash crashes every time I try to convert the various symbols making up the outline into “shapes,” so I had to export a PNG and use the clunky old paint bucket in Photoshop. There’s an ugly thick outline I added to close gaps, in order to make said paint bucket work. But at least my 2-color curiosity is now satisfied.

It reminds me of the far-more-awesome M.C. Escher Metamorphosis poster I had in college. And although the thick outline and various other flaws make not-print-worthy, yesterday I made a color version that is:

I ordered a few yards of it from Spoonflower. I can’t wait – once I start quilting this stuff I might get re-obsessed for days!

More Tile Fun

morphing tiles colormorphing tiles black and whitemorphing tiles outline

With a few adjustments the tiles can morph vertically as well as horizontally. I might prefer the just-horizontal version, but I’m not sure.

In some ways I prefer the black and white to the color. When it’s just outlines your mind can interpret shapes any number of ways. When a fill color is added they get restricted a little. With additional colors they get more locked into regions.

This is such a good project to work on while I have insomnia. Or maybe it’s causing the insomnia.

Morphing Tiles

morphing islamic tiles

My animated tile experiments continue. Even though I’m designing in color, I had to make this animated gif small and black-and-white to fit within WordPress’s 2MB upload limit.

I am very pleased with how this is going.

Animating Islamic Tiles Turned Out To Be Easier Than I Thought

I had assumed animating Islamic tiles would be a big complicated endeavor but it only took a few hours of messing around in Flash to figure it out. I just made a half-equilateral-triangle mask and tiled it, then made a fairly simple animation underneath:

Single tile from the animation above. Red indicates mask.

Obviously all kinds of variations can be made from here. If only I had tried this earlier!

The reason this is a Big Deal for me, is I didn’t know how easy it would be to tile squares with hexagons. I thought if I made a hex-based system like this I’d just get hexagons and equilateral triangles, not squares. But look – there are squares all over the place!

see the squares?

more squares

Squares! Squares! Everywheres!

This Quilt Is Mine

My This Land Is Mine fabric (see this post) finally arrived from Spoonflower. I quilted it and hung it on the wall.

I ordered one version with a white background, and one with a dark background.

Spoonflower does a great job printing colors, but the darks get muddy. The navy/grey background was indistinguishable from the black details. Sewing outlines in white thread helped, but I still prefer the white background.

Canaan Quilt?

Months ago I had the idea to design some This Land Is Mine fabric, get it printed by Spoonflower, and quilt on it. But I never got around to the designing part until today. What do you think? Light background, or dark? The design of This Land Is Mine was inspired by Assyrian wall reliefs, and this expands on the style. I’ve never used Spoonflower before but it seems worth a try.

dark background


I just felt like making this font, so I did. I have no particular use for it. I guess making the hieroglyphs activated the font part of my brain, or something. It’s not a real font (I no longer have Fontographer software), just letter designs. If anyone wants to make a real, functional font out of this, lemme know and I’ll send you .ai or .eps files.

A Message from the Ancients

Hieroglyphs are an important design element in Egyptian painting. To make my Egypt scenes look right, I’ll need to include some as decoration. So today I made myself an abridged “alphabet” in Flash. What I didn’t expect was how much fun it is to make messages with them.

Guess what this says!