Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Sparrow Story

Warning:  this post is long and contains many photos - I hope you like my story, it's almost 20 years in the making.



It all started with a fat quarter pack that I picked up in 1996.  It was at the Indiana Heritage Quilt Show and I was with my dear friend, Mary B.  We were traveling and quilting together quite a bit at that time.  I'm not sure how she'll feel about these photos from 2009, but I like them.



Here are the blocks I made with the FQs after adding in some other fabrics.


There is an odd assortment, like this one with spiders.  Many have that weird gold embossing on them.


I was not sure what to do with the borders.  I had only been quilting about 5 years, but I had attended a Gwen Marston retreat, so I was already thinking about how to create my own personal quilts.

While driving along one day listening to my favorite musician, Paul Simon, I heard the song "Sparrow".  My mother, Cathy, had died in 1990 and was still grieving the loss of her.  The words spoke to me and I decided to design the borders based on the song.  (sorry the lighting isn't great on this)


I also like the Biblical references to the sparrow such as
Psalm 84:3
"Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine alters, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God"
and
Psalm 102:7
"I watch, and am as a sparrow alone upon the house top"

I've included the lyrics and psalm 84 on the back with the label.


I like the sparrow, she is humble and simple.  I wish I was more that way.


I researched the lettering in the library.  I sat on the floor and combed over many calligraphy and alphabet books.  This is in the days before "fonts" on my computer.  I settled on an 16th century Italian script alphabet.

I entered this quilt into the AQS show in Paducah and to my utter delight and surprise it was juried into the show in 1998.

I included the sparrow in a challenge for the Gwen Retreat the following year and my great friend, Mary, suggested that I include the sparrow in my quilts as a personal icon.  And since I do everything Mary says, I have included it in many (not all) of my quilts.

Here are the some of the quilts where I have appliqued them:


This is on the back with a label.












I can't wait to see this one settled in her quilted nest.


Here are some that are quilted-

This one is in a coffin in my Moby Dick quilt - it's Queque's coffin.  That quilt is another story...







Thank you to everyone that expressed their interest in this story, I hope you enjoyed it!

I'd also like to say a special thanks to coco, who watched all the quilt pulling and photography to make this post possible.  Good Pup!

54 comments:

Lori said...

Love the story Barb!! The little sparrow makes your quilts so personal. I think I can take home a lesson from that.
Coco is getting big!!

Annette said...

Such a beautiful story. And touching...I will never look at a simple little sparrow the same way again. Your quilt is gorgeous and so special.

Winona said...

Wonderful story and I love all the quilt pictures. Thank you for sharing with us.

be*mused jan said...

I love the idea of a personal icon. And I know Mary will love the post...and the pics!

Maureen said...

Thanks for telling your story - very sweet. I do like the idea of a pictorial signature.

Laurie in Iowa said...

Loved the story and like the way you've chosen to personalize your quilts.

beth said...

That was so nice to get to know you better! Your sparrow quilt sure deserved to be in the big show...I love it. What percentage of your quilts to you hand quilt? All those close ups of the sparrows made me want to see the whole quilt as well....maybe in a future post???

Cheryl said...

A wonderful story and very inspiring work!!

Riel Nason said...

The idea of a personal icon that shows up in each of your quilts is such a fabulous one. I only got through about half of the pictures before I was thinking, hmmm, I wonder if I should do this. The sparrow is so perfect too. It is almost like playing I Spy with your whole quilt collection -- looking for the bird. Thanks for sharing this!

Donna~~ said...

What a great idea--your personal icon! Very much enjoyed your story! (You've made an awful lot of lovely quilts!)

Nanci said...

I absolutely loved the stories and all the pictures and have always loved the references to sparrows. I loved the idea that you kept using the sparrow in most of your quilts and think it is something I would love to start doing. I'm not sure what but I'd love to come up with a signature item and add to each quilt in some way. Thanks for sharing all this history with us.

Jan said...

Such a wonderful story - how your quilts are so uniquely yours. The detail shots of other sparrows are a treat - I love the bright blue cat fabric that one of your sparrows is made of! And, I noticed machine appiqued stems - oh, yes, you've been to Gwens! I just hope that we weren't there at the same week. I would hate to have missed you there. Truly great post!

Me and My Stitches said...

What a great story and a wonderful idea! Thanks so much for sharing.

Sujata said...

Birds are my favorite things in any quilt. You have taken your sparrow and really made it personal. Enjoyed every single picture and reading the story behind the sparrow!
Quilted sparrow stole my heart!

Janet said...

Wow Barb! What a great post!! So many little glimpses of your beautiful quilts - I'm in awe of the lovely handquilting you've done.
I love the meaning behind the sparrow symbol for you. Thanks for sharing this special story :0)

Tonya Ricucci said...

Wonderful post. I feel like I have so much more insight into you and your quilts now. Gorgeous work and I love that you've added meaning to so many of your quilts. That first quilt is a beauty and definitely all your own.

libbyquilter said...

a great story and what fun to see the sparrow in it's different forms within your quilts.
i think you may have inspired flocks more sparrows to appear within quilts with this post ~lol~

your pup looks quite comfy there.

:-)
libbyQ

Nancy said...

I enjoyed your sparrow story... every word and picture! It's such a great idea to have a personal motif you can repeat in your quilts. I believe Coco is asking to be included in one or more, also.

Country Log Cabin Quilter said...

A very sweet story! I love the quilt and also the idea of having a personal icon to use on your quilts. I wonder if I can think of one. It's nice that you have a mascot in your pursuits also!

Kate said...

What an absolute treat to glimpse many of your beautiful quilts. No warning necessary - it was the best start to my day to read your sparrow story. Thanks Barb and Coco for sharing!

Karen said...

And a very interesting story indeed. Thank you for sharing and showing us so many examples where you have worked it into your quilts. Whether quilted in, appliqued, on the back, etc. What a lovely tribute.

Miriam said...

Wow, what a beautiful story!
I love how you now include a sparrow in most of your quilts. Thank you for explaining all the personal connections to the sparrow images.

I love birds on quilts too.
A beautiful post, Barb.

Christine said...

I love the story, love the quilts and have to say your blog would have to be my all time favourite.
Thank you for sharing all these wonderful stories and quilts.
Coco is very beautiful

cheers
Christine

Cathy said...

I love the story. Your sparrow is indeed delightfull. Hugs.

Barbara J said...

Love the story and the sparrow as you signature. Thank you for sharing.

Sherrill said...

I LOVE that that you have your own little personal 'symbol' that you put on most of your quilts. Very neat! Thanks for sharing.

Nifty Quilts said...

What a beautiful story. Every quilt is fabulous too! You are so very talented. And I love the idea of the sparrow as your mother, with you at all times.

Barb said...

Your first quilt is truly amazing....I just love the saying you put on there...

Vivian said...

I used to hide a little rainbow ribbon tag somewhere in every garment I sewed for people, back in my sewing-for-hire days.
Your sparrow story is wonderful, and thank you for sharing it with us.
Repeating the sparrow, no matter where, no matter how, is creating your quilting legacy. Our quilts will hopefully survive longer than we will, and yours will be unique, with the addition of your simple and humble little bird.

Quilts And Pieces said...

Barb, that is a beautiful and touching story. I"m so glad you shared it with us.

Sue said...

Great story Barb, From now on when I see a sparrow I will think of you.

Béa said...

Wonderful story and love the idea for personal icon. XO

QuiltSue said...

What a lovely story, thanks so much for sharing it. I think Coco is saying "you needn't think you're taking these quilts away from me too. They're MINE!"

Mayleen said...

Barb, thank you for sharing the sparrow story with us! It makes me want to think of my own special symbol to include on my quilts.

Crispy said...

I LOVED your story Barb!! How wonderful that you did as Mary told you and made it your own. Now I will be looking for this in all your quilts :0)

Sure makes me wish I had an icon to put in my quilts.

Crispy

Beth D said...

Thanks for posting all your sparrows, very cool. And it was really good to see Mary B. She was always one of the people I really looked forward to seeing at the Northern Quilters Getaway Retreats.

Pinkadot Quilts said...

What a great story! I love to hear those kinds of things, how very cool. I really like how you also added it into your quilting stitch as well. You are amazing!

Ann Champion said...

Thanks for sharing your story of the Sparrow. I love that you've made it your symbol and that you add it to your quilts. Anybody knowing the story will be on the lookout for future appearances of your sweet bird.
Thanks too, for getting out all of your quilts and giving us a peek. I really love the first one that started the tradition. It's gorgeous! :)

Sharon Lovejoy said...

This was wonderful and beautiful. As far as I am concerned it was NOT LONG ENOUGH!

All joys,

Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

OT Quilter said...

At the risk of repeating what everyone else wrote, thanks for such a lovely, personal post. A personal icon is such a great idea. I'm so impressed with all of your quilts....I need to get to work!
Did you know that your quilt "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" is currently in the iPad/iPod app Quilt Envi? Congratulations on all of your beautiful work.

Dixie said...

Love your story and trademark sparrow, Barb. You are so grounded and I always feel such comfort and peace when I read your blog. Thank you.

greg said...

I'm glad that we finally got to hear the story! It was worth the wait. I love the idea of including a personal icon on your quilts, especially one with as much significance as your sparrow. And I really like the red scissors chasing the sparrow.

Kathie said...

Always loved that quilt , what a touching story.
I love birds on quilts and love the idea of including your sparrow in so many of your quilts...
pictures of you and Mary are just so sweet.
kathie

Alice said...

Lovely story - and lovely quilts.

Thimbleanna said...

Oh Barb -- what an awesome story! I LOVE how you have a "signature". (And btw, that wasn't too long to read at all, and well worth every word!) Now....we have to talk about letting Coco lounge around on all those beautiful quilts....LOL!

Mary said...

I know you have a thing for birds but didn't know the whole story. I love seeing the sparrows in all your work.
Mary

Sandra Henderson said...

I really enjoyed your story Barb!~thank you for sharing...
If HE provides for the sparrows in the fields, then surely HE will provide for us...
Keep on quilting!

Shasta said...

This is a great story Barb. I enjoyed seeing how you incorporated the sparrow in so many quilts.

Dawn said...

I enjoyed the sparrow story. All great information and fun glimpses at part of your quilting journey.
Coco looks like a sweeetheart.

Una said...

Oh, how I love your sparrows! This is such a beautiful post. I am intrigued by the Moby Dick quilt, and would love to hear more. The eleven cherries quilt in your previous post is lovely - gorgeous quilting, as always:) Una

Rose Marie said...

A century from now, when a quilt historian is looking through a bunch of quilts, she will spot a sparrow and (before looking for a label) say: I bet this was made by Barb! Your trademark has been established.

Lovely story behind the sparrow and I look forward to seeing more of them in future quilts.

Taryn said...

Thanks for sharing the great story about the sparrows in your quilts. I am looking forward to seeing how you include them in your future projects. P.S. I love all your quilts.

Sheila said...

This is my first visit to your blog , I had seen that you had won some buttons on Sandra's blog so was investigating the winners :-0 Congrats on the win . Thanks for the wonderful story of the sparrow , I think it is a wonderful idea to add the sparrow to your quilts it has made your quilts unique . I also loved the challenge quilt in the previous post , very creative .

MEK said...

Thank you for your beautiful blog! Hmm, what should my signature be? I love your idea and will come up with my own! Thank you!