Kezar Triangle Gopher Blankets - Leafcutter Designs


Kezar Triangle Gopher Blankets

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Last weekend, I joined Friends of the Kezar Triangle for a picnic in San Francisco. The lovely Sam and Carla invited me to contribute a participatory art project to the event, and I came up with a set of modular picnic blankets that can be easily re-configured for different size groups. In this post, I’ll share a few sneak-peeks at the design process and share some photos of the finished blanket system. Oh, and one other important detail–this little park doubles as a gopher field!

The Design Concept

A rough sketch showing various blanket configurations and colors. Hundreds of different shapes are possible!

A rough sketch showing various blanket configurations and colors. Hundreds of different shapes are possible!

What might that hole be for? Perhaps a visitor...

What might that hole be for? Perhaps a visitor…

This system of small triangle shaped blankets allows for flexibility in terms of how many people want to sit together. It is also, of course, fun to arrange and re-arrange them into crazy shapes! It’s sort of like tangrams in kindergarten (remember those?), but giant sized.

Field Testing (pun intended)
It worked! There’s still some finishing to do on the blankets, but I was able to get all the triangles cut in time for a first test at the November 6 picnic.

The bright colors turned out to work really well against the grassy background.

I think the bright colors work really well against the grassy background.

Is that a wormhole to another world?

Is that a wormhole to another world?

And here’s the very best part: one of every three triangles in the blanket set (24 total) have holes the same size as the real gopher holes that are all over the park. They serve as a standing invitation for the gophers to “join” us at our picnic. And truly, not just the gophers, but the trees and the insects and the birds and all the creatures that share this park. Worms too. It’s a peaceful gesture that embodies a compassionate and playful relationship with nature.


Here I am embroidering the edge of a gopher hole with dirt-colored thread.

To emphasize this gesture, everyone gets to join in (at future events as well) and embroider designs around the holes in the blankets (in soil-colored thread). The embroidery work is sort of like a tiny welcome mat – a design that marks the meeting of two worlds. Of course, a real gopher is unlikely to use one of these holes, but it’s the gesture that we love and the many peaceful practices that such a gesture encourages and inspires. Nevertheless, we thought it was fun to line up the blanket holes with the real gopher holes in the grassy field just in case.

And then…


No way!

For real?!

A visitor...

Well, hello there.

Yes! A real live gopher suddenly poked its little head up through one of the blanket holes! Carla and I were sitting on the blanket next to this red one and I practically jumped to the moon and back with joy and excitement. And of course, I’m ecstatic that Carla caught the little visitor with her camera. Note: This hole still needs embroidery – maybe you’ll join us at the next picnic and add some?

The gopher must have seen one of Sam’s sweet hand-drawn event posters, as he popped up right about 3pm, more promptly than most of the humans.

The on time gopher gets the... cheese!? What do gophers eat?

The on time gopher gets the… cheese!? What do gophers eat?

You’ll find plenty more examples of our custom work here, and you can keep up with Friends of the Kezar Triangle on their Facebook page. Thanks Carla & Sam for the chance to be creative and playful with you!

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Lea Redmond is always looking for the poem hiding inside things: a salt shaker, a clothes tag, a hand gesture, a cloud. She is infinitely intrigued by the way experiences can slip from the ordinary to the extraordinary and she endeavors to design things that hold this possibility. Leafcutter Designs, her creative studio in Berkeley, CA, makes the world more playful and peaceful one little experience at a time.


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    July 14, 2012 at 12:33 pm

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  2. Sarah's Silks

    November 22, 2011 at 9:25 am

    This is so amazing! Love the gopher holes and can hardly believe a gopher actually came!!!

  3. Gwen

    November 19, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    You weren’t fooling, Lea! Love the gopher shot. 😀

  4. Kimberly

    November 17, 2011 at 11:03 pm

    That’s brilliant! I love the idea of being able to put the triangles together in different configurations depending on seating arrangements. And the gopher sounds like she made the whole day!!

  5. Amy

    November 15, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    Wow, that little gopher did not know he would be a part of ART that day. 🙂

  6. Sam

    November 15, 2011 at 8:38 am

    Yipee!! Thanks for sharing.

  7. Alma

    November 14, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    Oh, I love this! I can’t believe a gopher actually used one of the holes! This will have me delighted all day long.

  8. Lisa Coughlin

    November 12, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    Lea, This is SO awesome on so many levels!!!
    Love the design, the ideas surrounding it, and the fact that a gopher actually showed up in the hole!! How delightful!

    You have such a gift, such talent.

    P.S. Sorry I haven’t been turning in my pencil project writing for some time now…Been thinking about ways I can catch-up on all my past pencils–any fun ideas/suggestions for my make-up work?
    P.P.S. Congratulations on your Kickstarter success! Looking forward to receiving one of your punchboxes in 2012.

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