Irish Bear Paw Puzzle

Irish Bear Paw Puzzle

I love quilts with striking color and strong visual impact and found my inspiration quilt, “Solid Geometric Quilt: circa 1920, Pennsylvania” on Stella Rubin’s website. I was intrigued by the optical illusion created by the small blocks set side by side using this color palette. The blocks appear misaligned but are not. The triangle border with the separate lavender binding adds a clever and interesting finish to the quilt.

I became interested in identifying the name of the block and searching for other quilts using a triangle, separately bound border. I found two versions of the block in the 1928 edition of Ladies Art Company; one named Irish Puzzle and the other named Bear’s Paw. Next, an internet search of Irish Puzzle produced an article by Beth Donaldson giving the history of the Irish Puzzle block. Beth indicated she found both versions in the 1895 edition of Ladies Art Company. In addition, Beth stated Ruth Finley gave Irish Puzzle 13 other names in 1929 and The Kansas City Star published it 5 times in 1931 under 5 of the names published by Finley.

A search for quilts made with a triangle, separately bound border revealed a number of quilts finished with a prairie point border but I was unable to find one with a separate bound triangle border. Clearly the maker of my inspiration quilt was a creative woman.

From my research I concluded my inspiration quilt reflects the 20th century Colonial Revival trend of “taking the old and making the new” with new names and updated color schemes. My reproduction was machine pieced and hand quilted.