The Reveal: Flights of Fancy

Color Theory was the prompt for the latest Endeavourers art quilt challenge. It's a rather broad topic, and I went all different directions with it. I searched for inspiration on Pinterest, and something triggered a memory of a mixed flight of finches we kept some many years ago. This was pre-digital camera days, and so I didn't have any pictures of our birds. However, I was able to find all the images I needed on Creative Commons, where images are available for use free of charge with proper attribution. Any images used from the site have been attributed to the original photographer in keeping with the requirements of Creative Commons. 

Our flight included a pair of Owl finches. They have the sweetest owl-like faces. 

Image source: "Owl Finch" by guppiecat is licensed with CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

Also in our flight were a pair of Strawberry finches. They have the most beautiful song.

Image credit: "A Strawberry Finch in the evening's golden light" by Hari K Patibanda is licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

For purposes of this challenge, however, I wanted to talk about the pair of Gouldian Finches we kept in our mixed flight. These are the most beautiful birds. They come in all colors. Our pair consisted of a red-headed male, and a black-headed female.

Image source: "Mareeba. A pair of Gouldian Finches. They are on the endangered list and almost extinct. Mareeba has a breeding program." by denisbin is licensed with CC BY-ND 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

They were a breeding pair. We often found their little eggs in the bottom of the cage. The eggs were approximately the size of a peanut M&M. Consulting with our friends in the Rose City Exotic Bird Club, it was suggested we provide them with a nesting basket like the one pictured below.

Image source: "Gouldian Finch" by Peter Radunzel is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

After several tries, they successfully raised a brood of three chicks. It takes several weeks for the chicks to "color up," and they start with fairly uniform gray feathers. 

Image source: "Lady Gouldian Finch - Baby" by Geek2Nurse is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

As they matured, we wondered what colors we would end up with. Surprisingly, they raised a red-headed female. We called her Lucille (after that famous red-head, Lucille Ball).

Image Credit: "Gouldian Finch" by Bernard Spragg is marked under CC0 1.0. To view the terms, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/cc0/1.0/

There was also a black-headed male. There was something wrong with his feet, and he couldn't sit on a perch. We called him "Tiny Tim."

Image Credit: "Gouldian Finch" by mtsn is licensed with CC BY-NC 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/

The third was an orange-headed female. We called her "Penny," for the copper pennies of American coins.

Image Credit: 
"Gouldian Finch @ Jurong Bird Park" by _paVan_ is licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

So when the Gouldian finches came into my mind, I realized they included all of the colors of the color wheel, and I endeavored to make a little "mixed flight" quilt of the birds in our flight. 

To do this, I first created a composite of all three birds, and then traced out a transparency to use for creating applique pieces. The individual birds were first constructed on a pressing sheet.

When each bird was complete, I peeled it off the pressing sheet and fused them to a background. Also, I had to bring their individual perches together on a single branch. It was hard selecting a background piece that wouldn't be too busy to show off their colors.

From there I added two borders...

and my quilt top was complete.

Each bird was given a little seed bead "eye spot," which brings more life to the eyes. Their beaks were shaded with crayon.

The edges of the applique were stitched down with invisible thread. I do this after adding the batting, but before adding the quilt back. The stitching holds the batting in place, and then I do more quilting after the back is added.

I quilted a sort of leafy meander in the background.

More leafy motifs were added in the two borders.

From there, it was ready for binding, and my quilt was complete. I call this quilt "Flights of Fancy." It ends up at 24 x 28 inches.

Here's how it looks from the back:

I had great fun making this quilt, and the trip down memory lane was well worth it. Our sons were young when our birds were raising their chicks, and so it was a fun process to witness along with our boys.

I hope you like my quilt! To see more "Color Theory" quilts, check out all the quilts at The Endeavourers blog.


Barbara said...

No bird soars to high if he soars with his own wings. ~ William Blake

Julierose said...

Oh now this is so lovely, Barbara!! Beautiful work--what gorgeous birds. We have only purple finches so far at our feeder...but we got a pair of towhees yesterday and our ruby throated hummers have arrived on their feeder...they are
such fun to watch and so relaxing...

[also sighted: cowbirds, grackles, robins, cardinals, sparrows, nuthatches, chickadees, Baltimore orioles, tufted titmice, downy and hairy woodpeckers--quite a flurry of feathered guests]. Not to mention the occasional red-tailed hawks looking on and smacking their beaks hahaha
Hugs julierose

Frog Quilter said...

Love the birds, so colorful and beautiful. Nature is full of beauty!

Sharon said...

I've followed and thoroughly enjoyed your blog for years, but never commented until now. I just want to thank you for your 'friendship' and remark on how much I admire your quilts and the way you explain the process of each one. Maybe someday I will pick up quilting again...you do inspire me.

Elaine530 said...

Love, love, love this quilt. Thanks for sharing with your followers. Would you be willing to share what that background fabric is? It is very pretty and unusual. The only things missing in the post were the cats😀.


you did an awesome job on your birds and their coloring and then finishing it--and glad it brings you lots of happy memories!
luv, di

Quilting Babcia said...

I've read and reread this post several times today. Your composition and execution of this little quilt is simply amazing. You did a wonderful job capturing the spirit of these beautiful birds. The batik border adds such a tropical feel to the quilt, and the background fabric is so perfect. You mentioned your sons were quite young when you raised your little brood of these finches, are you planning to create a second version so both boys can have one? I expect this will be in demand!

Shasta Matova said...

Oh wow this is great. Love the bright colors and you did such a great job with the birds!

Cathy said...

Wow. Flights of Fancy is so beautiful! You did an amazing job from the original idea through every step of construction. Be still my heart!

Mary said...

I, also, have followed (stalked) you for several years but don't often comment, sorry! I love your travels and your wonderful kitties and your embroidery and quilts! This one, Flights of Fancy is truly an award winner! I don't have those beautiful birds but I do have a flock of Peachy Face Lovebirds, and they are very close to little parrots here in Arizona.

Christine said...

What beautiful birds! I have only ever seen a Greenfinch in my garden, never ever any of the ones you've shown here. The caged finch story was interesting and I loved the quilt. Well done.

Diane Wild said...

Very beautiful. I had no idea there were finches this colorful. Thank you for the lesson.

MissPat said...

Flights of Fancy is truly spectacular and the backstory a pleasure to read. Wish I was better at both applique and bird identification. Every summer I think I should get a bird guidebook out of the library and spend some time learning about the birds who inhabit our neighborhood. Is there somewhere all the challenges are posted?

djquilting said...

Wow! Love this one. The colors are great and thanks for showing the beautiful finch pictures and explaining your process. Enjoyed the story too. I'm sure your boys will like the trip down memory lane too.

SJSM said...

Beautiful! Loved the story about raising finches, too.

Magpie's Mumblings said...

Oh wow - I've never seen an owl finch before - amazing. And the incredible colours on the other birds is spectacular. Your quilt really did them justice too. Even better is the story that goes along with the quilt. Love it!

heartsease54 said...

What a wonderful mini quilt and the meaning was so interesting to read about. You met the challenge to a wonderful degree.

Vicki W said...

Oh wow, that's fantastic!