Friday, October 25, 2013

Bloggers Quilt Festival Autumn 2013: Bird Trap, the first

Ordinarily I try to put something not before posted in the Blogger's Quilt Festival but I am still in love Love LOVE with the Bird Trap Quilt.  So everyone who has had too much of this quilt, just scroll through & look at the pictures (they are mostly new, I promise) but for new-to-Bird-Trapers here is the short version:

I became enamored of an image of a quilt I saw in a book (Maude Wahlman's Signs & Symbols: African Images in African American Quilts), specifically Pecolia Warner's Bird Trap Quilt which I am pretty sure resides at The Belger Arts Center in Kansas City, Mississippi although I have never seen it in person. You can see a close up of the inspiration for my Bloggers Quilt Festival entry here, but if you are really interested there are more pictures in the book or even better you could call The Belger Arts Center (something I have never done) & ask them if you could see it in person.

& before I get even more distracted with the story of this quilt, let me give the vitals.  This quilt measures  56" wide by 60" tall more or less.  It was pieced & quilted on my home machine a Bernina 153.  Bird Trap was assembled this year (2013) using blocks that were also made in 2013 mostly although the first samples were made in late 2012.  I entered bird Trap in the Autumn 2013 Blogger's Quilt Festival scrappy quilts & home machine quilted quilts.  When I entered this quilt in a show earlier this year, I put it in art quilts, but only because it didn't really fall into the other categories, which were mostly variations on pieced.

The blocks came more or less right out of my head, after being kick started by the original, with the exception of the pieced birds.  Those birds are NOT foundation pieced, they came from a Block Lotto pattern earlier this year that I altered (big surprise).  The quilt top is all cotton....I think.  I spent some time rooting round in old remnant bins, scrap bags, etc. & the origin of that black & white gingham is a bit sketchy. 

The back of the quilt is a single piece of bleached muslin, with leftover bird trap parts making the label.  There really isn't much to see here except maybe the quilting, which is my lazy version of corner to corner (I neither mark the lines, nor do I always go all the way to the corner).

The arrangements of the blocks was even less organized.  I started with a center block, thinking it would be a 3x3 arrangement.  I picked my nine blocks.  They were, if you are curious the three blocks in the middle of the top row  & the two rows of three that kinda fall beneath them.  Then I got distracted making birds & sort of swung those in at the side & then the lower left birds became a panel & then it all went to hell.  When I said this all to my husband he said he could see it, the off-center center & the pushed out sides & maybe you can, too.

Now for the quilt story extended mix: I fell so immediately & completely for the elements of this block pattern that I have trouble seeing it today without wondering what is WRONG with people who are not similarly afflicted.  On the flip side my mother said she thought this was one of the ugliest things she had ever seen anyone do on purpose & label "art"*.  I like to think she has since changed her mind; she certainly came on board when I started putting up pictures of blocks based oh-so-loosely on the original.  I say oh-so-loosely because I more or less skipped over the historical references, meanings & went straight to listing the shapes & other varieties that most of the blocks had in common.  Yes, I am a philistine. 

So that it part one.  Part two is that the Facebook Quilt Block Swap group, while more popular every day had become a bit of a snooze for me.  I was sort of tired of thinking up limited feature blocks or themes or whatever & throwing them out there.  There has to be some unifying feature after all, a particular block or range of colors or whatever & it began to feel same-y  Don't get me wrong I enjoy it more than I don't (I wouldn't do it if I didn't, it's not like I get paid), it's just that by the time any swap actually happens I am sick of looking at it.

In my defense, I make several of every block whether I like it or not, in order to work out the written directions, etc. & I often get to the other end wishing I could start over with something just a bit further down the creative road.  I think I heard/read once that Alex Van Halen wished they could record the album at the end of the tour after they had really explored the music but of course, if you do that no one comes to the concert because they don't know what you are playing & that is just bad business.  Despite being a drummer, I suspect AVH might have more brains than a bag of hair-not that I think drummers are stoopid, my husband was a drummer & he is smarter than most people about most things. .

Where was I?  Oh right, Alex Van Halen if he ever said that & if he were a quilter syndrome.  So I was percolating a year-long, less guidance from me type swap (which became the Rainbow Connection & was hugely popular, if you are curious) & in the way these things happen -to me anyhow- instead of one idea I ended up with two & I couldn't really decide which was better.  So I floated them both.  As I said Rainbow Connection caught like a wildfire & I think I could run it another year, but I am not going to because even with minimal guidance from me I am a little burned out on ROYGBP.

Bird Trap has been so much slower & I don't much care because I LOVE it.  I am still loving it; yes I have enough for another 3x3 block arrangement & am still making more.  You could love it, too:  sign up is open until Hallowe'en & the blocks aren't due until the last Saturday in November.  To be fair, it took me more than a month to settle into the pattern- more like four, minimum- so I'm not sure jumping in now would be as much fun as jumping in ten months ago was.  Of course you can always join our 2014 swap What Burgoyne Begat.

*October 27, 2013: I should clarify, it was the inspiration quilt my mom spoke ill of, not my quilt.  She says nothing but nice things to me about my own quilts.


  1. I love your use of color and how you used the bird blocks. It's a fun quilt.

  2. Love the birds on the bottom and side.

  3. Too much fun! Great work - and it counts as "art" on purpose! :-)

  4. mb... Sometimes moms are wrong... I know, I know, it doesn't happen much but... Love the quilt. The birds are fantastic, the colors are fantastic too! Thanks for sharing... Karen

  5. What a fun scrappy quilt ... the birds block just adds that extra touch of whimsy. Great soft color palette. Wonderful!

  6. LOVe those little birds! You have my vote.