Materials and Methods: Blackwork with thread on square weave fabric
Designer & Artist: Rachel Braun
Bamidbar, the central word stitched into the artwork, can be translated as "in the wilderness." It is the Hebrew name for the Biblical book sometimes referred to as Numbers, which chronicles the desert stops visited by the nomadic Israelites. The place names include both known locations in the Sinai Desert and destinations unbeknownst to us. All of the names are stitched in Hebrew script around the edge of the piece, starting with Egyptian Ramses, in the upper right corner, and reading right to left, ending with Jericho, the last stop listed in the Biblical narrative.
The desert-toned blocks of counted cross stitch 'blackwork' patterns (here, 'tan-work') are meant to convey the movement and variety of landscape around the desert. The choice of pattern for each block conveys movement, unevenness, and variations of order and disarray---much like the journey described in Numbers. Toward that end, the blocks match others 180 degrees around the piece, so the eye starts in one corner and rolls clockwise around the work, rather than viewing it left to right. Hence, the blocks marked B and F in the schematic match in color and in sense of the pattern, along with E and J, C and I, and so on.
The following schematic shows the symmetry patterns by code, based on the presentation in Mary Shepherd's chapter in Making Mathematics with Needlework.