Work In Progress: Bear Paw


Last fall, a colleague asked me if I could make him a black bear quilt. At those words, my mind started to fill with visions of rustic cabins, burgundy and foresty green fabric with silhouettes of bears and leaping fishes in black…and I thought, no, no I can’t

It’s not that I hate that kind of thing, it’s just that I don’t have any fabric like that. But I do have a lot of fabric, so I’d rather use what I have.

But then he told me that he is colorblind, and he doesn’t see red or green. And poof! The burgundy fabric disappeared! A freed-up interpretation of a black bear quilt? Well then, why not?

You know, pondering the concept of color blindness sent me down something of an existential rabbit hole. I’d never thought about it before, but suddenly, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Color is so important to my life, that I think if I were color blind, I would not be the same person. What does it really feel like not to see all the colors? Maybe it just feels normal. Like how maybe a fast runner would miss it if she couldn’t run fast anymore, but I’ve never been able to run fast and I don’t mind at all. Well, it’s interesting to think about anyway.IMG_0667After chasing that rabbit, I thought maybe yellow and blue would be colors that would be more fun for my friend. (I really don’t know…it kind of sounds like color is not that important to him.) I immediately pulled these fabrics, which are quite outside what I so often use, and yet, I really like them together!IMG_1807I planned to do a bear paw blocks, set on point in these fabrics, and paper piece some smaller bears as part of the backing (I couldn’t find any really big bear patterns).

Now I’ve made the bear paws. Aaaannnnddd…..I’m stuck.

IMG_1821I’m not sure about the background fabric yet, but regardless, this quilt is going to be very bold. I don’t know if you’d call it modern or traditional, but either way, it is not a mild-mannered quilt.

And I think this is totally WRONG for this person. I visited the family’s home this winter, and their decor is much more traditional, kind of an older academic’s home, antiques and a lot of books, and the color is more muted. This seems like the kind of home where a traditional style quilt would be right at home.

So. I think I’m going back to the drawing board, finding a more traditional color scheme, and maybe some more literal bears for the design. And possibly get some more info from the recipient.

Let me know if you have any thoughts on these matters!

12 thoughts on “Work In Progress: Bear Paw

  1. I think that pattern of bear paws looks traditional. The color scheme doesn’t seem to bright and modern to me, but maybe I look at too many modern quilts to be a good judge. 🙂 If you did a light gray or muted sashing it would keep toning down the quilt. But if you’re worried it’s not the recipients style, then you should probably check with them.

    1. Yes, I had thought the bear paw block would take us down a traditional path, but maybe it’s that the colors are just not good for this person. But I will see how it is with the gray, maybe that will help! Thanks Michelle.

  2. I think it is a lovely quilt! I love the use of muted prints in both the paw and background. That may be a modern touch. It is neither too traditional or very modern. I think if you sashed it with the lighter tones with just a bit of darks (gray or black) if could be appropriate to your friend. b You might consider a diagonal piano keys for an outer border, in very subtle tones. Not every quilt one cozies up with has to match anything. Did you notice the “flying fish” in the medium blue background? That may be your ‘rustic limit’.

  3. I actually think this looks perfect for a traditional “academic” setting, and I’ll bet the recipient will love it. Try it with gray smashing, as suggested, or maybe a gray with a touch of black. I just think it’s lovely as is!

  4. I absolutely love this color combo so much! I can’t even imagine it not being well received – especially given how much personal thought you put into the palette. Can’t wait to see what you end up going with for the background!

  5. I too think the blocks are wonderful the way you made them. They are not overwhelming in the least and have good contrast. I hope that you will not give up on them. =)

  6. Try Lorna at Sew Fresh Quilts; she does lots of animals and I wouldn’t be surprised if she has a bear you can put together! Good luck!

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