About the Project

Material Interactions: Data-Driven Community Quilting draws on the communal traditions of quilting to create interactive data-driven patchwork quilts at community events throughout New York state.

Through the selection of specific fabrics, colors, and shapes to represent various data points, attendees and I co-construct patchwork pieces on site. Depending on the nature of the event, data may indicate geographic origins, distance traveled to the event, years participating the event and its community, or other relevant information that captures an interesting aspect of that event.  These selections are pieced into a quilt on the spot, by me or by participants who want to try their hand at textile work.

After each event, the patchwork piece is quilted and finished, resulting in a unique collaborative snapshot of the event’s community that bridges folk arts—a traditional form of slow, small, community-based creation–with data reflective of our contemporary information society rooted in rapid technological changes and the capitalization of mass communication and manufacture. Completed quilts from prior events will be displayed at subsequent events, offering an increasing visual and tactile comparison between various events and their communities. Ultimately the resulting quilts from all of the 2023 events will be displayed together in a traveling exhibit included in various quilt shows and other venues across the state and possibly nationwide.

Quilt Gallery

  • Syracuse Maker Faire

    Syracuse Maker Faire

    In the first quilt of the series, color represents direction traveled & fabric length indicates distance. The result was a 30’ long quilt demonstrating the importance of piloting your data scale! Unable to quilt an area map as planned, the quilting represents the local temperature on the date. This quilt won First Place in the group quilt category at the 2023 New York State Fair.
  • Western New York Maker Faire

    Western New York Maker Faire

    quilt an area map as planned, the quilting represents the local temperature on the date. This quilt was co-created with event attendees at the 2023 Western New York Maker Faire. In this revised approach, color still represents direction traveled, but strips of fabric are cut to length indicating distance, arranged to evoke the shoreline of Lake Erie, and quilted with its outline. Hand quilting in pearl cotton denotes the border between the US and Canada.
  • Hudson Valley Maker Faire

    Hudson Valley Maker Faire

    This quilt diptych was co-created with event attendees over both days of the 2023 Hudson Valley Maker Faire. Color represents direction traveled and size indicates distance. The arrangement reflects the course of the Hudson River, and the outline of its shores has been quilted on each half.
  • Long Island Maker Faire

    Long Island Maker Faire

    This quilt was co-created with the attendees of the 2023 Long Island Maker Faire. Color represents direction traveled and size indicates distance. The strips are arranged to evoke the shape and length of Long Island, which is reinforced through the custom digital quilting.
  •  Buzzing Along the Towpath

    Buzzing Along the Towpath

    This quilt diptych was co-created with event attendees over both days of the 2023 Buzzing Along the Towpath quilt show hosted by the Towpath Quilt Guild in Onondaga, New York. Color represents direction traveled and size indicates distance. Given the guild's namesake inspiration, the patchwork arrangement reflects the course of the historic Erie Canal as it traveled through the local area, and the outline of its shores has been quilted on each half.
  • Data Key

    Data Key

    What is the difference between data and information? Data is recorded signs and symbols, and only becomes information When we think of data, we typically think of spreadsheets and computers. But data is any collection of discrete values that convey information, describing quantity, quality, fact, statistics, or other basic units of meaning. Data is usually organized into structures, such as tables, that provide additional context and meaning--this is what transitions mere data into useful information. Here, this quilt offers a key to the colors and scale used in the quilt series to facilitate viewers' ability to parse the information.

See additional photos of works-in-progress and competed quilts on Instagram @rachelivyclarke

Upcoming Events

Material Interactions will appear at the following events:

Subscribe for future updates!

Previous Events

Patchwork Tutorials

Lost your DIY Data Square instructions or need another copy? Download the instructions as a PDF here.

Want more information about how to sew a quilt block? Here are a couple videos that can help:

How to hand sew 2 fabric squares together


How to add a fabric square to make a row


How to sew 2 rows together


Quilting Demos

What happens to the patchwork quilts after they’re pieced together? What is a robotic longarm quilting machine? Here are a couple of video examples of designing, programming, and quilting.


Using ProStitcher Designer software to plan and program quilting designs


Quilting out a design using a robotic longarm sewing machine

Material Interactions: Data-Driven Community Quilting is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.