Theme and variation is the heart of improvisation in most art forms. The members of a jazz trio can riff off a tune because they are completely familiar with it. Knowing that tune in its “standard” form both forward and backward, frees them to be in the moment, listening and responding in real time to the other musicians. Likewise, stage actors can only be truly present – responding with authenticity to their fellow players – if they aren’t thinking about what line comes next. A quilt top is a perfect platform for exploring improvisation in the same manner. Once we understand the essential structure of a traditional block pattern – the elemental composition of its parts – we can then experiment with variations that both push the limits of what defines the theme, as well as subtler intonations that together create an exciting whole. Through this process of repetition and exploration, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of structure and composition; and build confidence to create improvisational quilt tops that reflect your unique voice. Bring a favorite traditional or original block pattern to work with.