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Messenger #2
Printable version

  • Copyright © 1996 Caryl Bryer Fallert
  • Size:  51.5 x 67
  • Techniques: Hand dyed, , machine pieced, appliqued, and quilted
  • Materials: fabric: 100% cotton  / batting: 80% cotton / 20% polyester
  • Private collection: Chicago, IL
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Design Concept

This is one of a series of quilts about birds of the imagination. Seeing birds often launches my mind into thoughts about the meaning of various life events. The birds in my quilts are metaphoric birds, and therefore do not represent any particular avian species.
When I am designing, I usually just make pictures from the visions in my imagination, or from an amalgam of images that have captured my attention. I don't necessarily understand the meaning of the images, while the design is emerging, but I often come to understand the meaning as the quilt is being constructed. I try to let my designs teach me something about my life.

This quilt was begun on the last day of a year of great highs and lows in my life. I had won best of show at the AQS show in Paducah, I wrote my first book, and I prepared for a big national traveling solo exhibition. During the same time, my mother died, and my husband almost died.

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I believe that the images in Messenger #2 are about making peace with duality in all it's forms. The hot fiery oranges of the bird are juxtaposed against a grid of icy blue and white, quilted in the patterns of ice crystals. Just as the passing of the seasons are often a metaphor for changes and cycles in our lives, these colors represent to me the juxtaposition of many dramatic changes in my life, sometimes coming in cycles, and sometimes occurring at the same time. Joy and sadness, warmth, and cold, passion and fear, death and new life,love and anger, freedom and restriction, etc. The bird represents the need to make peace with these complex and divergent realities. The sweeping curves, with their transparencies and intertwining lines represent the interconnectedness of the realities we often perceive as being contradictory.


The design for this quilt began with a very simple abstract silhouette of a bird, which caught my imagination. I scanned the bird silhouette into my computer and outlined it in a program called Streamline, which converted it to a vector drawing. The drawing was imported into Corel Draw!, my computer assisted drawing program where it could be manipulated. I began playing with the lines of the silhouette, adding lines, changing lines, and subtracting lines. As I manipulated the drawing, every line of the original silhouette was changed, and the bird took on a life of it's own. Several hours later, the lines extending from the bird began to suggest a human form, and I added the faces. I tried hundreds of different variations on the arrangement of the lines in the design, then tried dozens of different color combinations. Twelve hours later, the final design for this quilt emerged.
To make the templates for this quilt, the design was printed from my computer onto transparency film, and projected full size onto paper. The individual templates were cut out, and fused together. Each of the raw edges was finished with a narrow satin stitch in matching thread.
The 100% cotton fabrics in this quilt were hand painted with fiber reactive dyes. During the summer, I paint hundreds of yards of fabric in many different colors and patterns. When I am ready to make a quilt I look through my painted fabrics to find the exact piece that will express the vision I have for my design.
Heavy cotton top-stitching thread in many different colors was used for the machine quilting. All of the quilting was done freehand, with no marking of the quilt top. This method of quilting is like "doodling" with thread. It's patterns are as distinct to the individual quilter as handwriting or a signature.


  • SPECTRUM: THE TEXTILE ART OF CARYL BRYER FALLERT, Traveling Solo Exhibition, 1996-1997 Illinois Art Gallery, State of Illinois Center, Chicago, IL, Illinois State Museum Gallery, Lockport, IL, Illinois State Museum, Springfield, IL


  • QUILTS JAPAN, July 1996, p 112
    American Quilter, Spring 2001, p. 27
  • Windhover: A Journal of Christian Literature, Baylor University Press, 2007, Cover & page 181
Web Site Design by Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry 1997-2022 All Rights Reserved
Bryerpatch Studio • 10 Baycliff Place • Port Townsend, WA • 98368 • USA
360-385-2568 • caryl@bryerpatch.com

Updated 1/7/17