Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Bird trap swap, not for the faint of heart

I have had my heart set on making a birdtrap quilt like the one at the Belger Art Center since I first saw it in Maude Wahlman's book Signs & symbols : African images in African-American quiltsI have even made a few passes & I think I have come up with a very broad set of guidelines that will work well for a swap.

Before we begin however, I would encourage everyone who thinks they might be interested to take a look at the quilt I am talking about.   The bird trap quilt was made by Pecolia Warner in the 20th century, but it looks like it could have been in use a hundred years or more ago.  The design is simple, sort of, but there is a lot going on, & not just because it is made of leftovers & scraps.

The basic design is a center piece of some kind & then four sides "built up" in either the traditional log cabin style or courthouse steps style or some combination of the two, made either by wrapping the planks around the center or building out from the center by adding a border to two opposite sides & then the other two sides.  If this is hard to  follow, I think a quick look at the links will clear this up.  Mixed in with the solid planks are pieced planks, most often strips of 1/2-square triangles.  & last but not least, not one of these blocks is perfectly square.

To make our bird trap swap blocks you will need a minimum of four fabrics (& very likely more-remember use those scraps up!) :  one fabric must be an actual solid, one fabric must be a large scale print, one fabric most be a small scale print & the fourth is your choice.  The fifth, sixth, seventh, etc. are also all your choice as well.

You will begin with a center block of not less than 2" square & not more than 4.5" square.  If the center is less than 3", it can be a single solid piece, but if it is 3" or more, it should be pieced.

Next you will add your "planks" to all four sides in whatever order pleases you.  You must have at least two planks on each side, but you may have more.  At least one plank in the completed block should be partially or wholly made of 1/2- square triangle pieces.  Lastly, at least one plank in the completed block should be a different width than the others.  They can all be different, actually, but only one must be.

Finally, your block should be between 10.5"-12.5" by 10.5"-12.5" when finished.  It is entirely possible your block will not be square & that is just fine-neither were any in the inspiration quilt.  The swapped blocks you get back will also be of different shapes & sizes (well not too different, the blocks are that are not square, will certainly be rectangle).  As in the inspiration quilt, you can use your sashing to unify them & pull the whole thing together.

Right now, sign-up is open to as many as want to participate.  Each person should make nine (9) bird trap blocks, keep one & send eight.  If we have nine or more participants, everyone will get a block from a different person.  If we have fewer, the blocks will be shuffled between everyone.  You will certainly get more than one from some people BUT as the block itself is so scrappy this should not be an issue.

Blocks are due the last Saturday in November, November 30, 2013.  You can sign up either in the comments here or in the Facebook Quilt Block Swap group.

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