New Art Quilt: When Birds Sleep

When I first decided to make a quilt honoring the ospreys I'd been watching I had several ideas. I thought about the infrared camera that helped me see the birds at night and how our night vision is in black and white. I thought about how peaceful they looked. And when I realized they sleep while standing on one foot, it reminded me of a Talmudic story, Shabbat 31a, in which a man came to Hillel and asked to be told the whole Torah while standing on one leg. The triangles, top and bottom, represent an osprey's talons. The orange and yellow represent the light from the channel marker beacon. The embroidered poem, in metallic and plain threads:

the water flickers black
and white and gray like an
old movie but we know
color is there.
they balance on one
foot like hillel's student
the other pressed up for
warmth eyes closed.
words flash like the 
channel marker beacon
"what is hateful to you
do not do to another."
watching birds sleep i find
patience beneath the wings.

You can see a larger version here on my website.

This quilt contains all three of the original ideas. The third quilt will be primarily about the light on the water, memory, and our connections. As I mentioned for the "Sweet Osprey Dreams" quilt, I used sleeping Rosie, Richmond, and Rivet for the models, created drawings based on them, made photopolymer plates from the drawings, then printed on cloth. "When Birds Sleep" is really the first of the three, but was finished second, due to the labor intensive machine quilting of the wing, then all the hand embroidery of the text. Details, below.

If they sell, a portion of the proceeds from all three quilts will be donated to Golden Gate Audubon Society, which is responsible for the osprey cams. Looking forward to seeing "our birds" again in March. 


Meanwhile, we have been getting Western Bluebirds (small thrushes) in our trees and on our phone lines here in the bay area. Never seen them in the neighborhood before. The females are a soft dove gray with buff throat or chest; the males are incredibly blue, almost purpley. Five were in our Hawthorne tree the other day, eating the very last of the red berries. 

A little female with something in her beak. Cute profile, I think. Better photos at the Cornell link, above.


Aine Scannell said…
Wow Alisa.....blown away by this quilt and all the techniques and processes..........It must all be machine stitched............I couldn't even begin...........

seeing your post set off a connection in my mind about an artists book I made in an edition of 15.
"Where Sleeping Birds Lie" ....the poetic text is very much part of the work
Heres a link to it

Alisa said…
Thank you so much for writing. WOW! Your book is magnificent! Exquisite and moving. Thanks very much for the link.