The Free Motion Quilting Project: Hot Cast Quilt Design

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Hot Cast Quilt Design

Today is What's Leah Working On Wednesday and I'm super happy to say that I'm working on a new goddess quilt design!

free motion quilting | Leah DayThis pretty girl is called Hot Cast. I saw the image of this quilt while in the trenches of Sinkhole and she has stayed on my mind constantly ever since. Note: This is a pretty rough, early drawing. Scroll down for the most current version.

This goddess embodies everything about how I feel right now: molten, freshly made, recast into a new skin and mental awareness, but also slightly unfinished (I haven't completely finished Sinkhole), not yet entirely whole.

So the inspiration for this piece is my current emotional state, which is pretty much the base of all of my goddesses, but this time the symbolism I'm using in this goddess is also based on a previous experience.

About 11 years ago, I worked at a bronze foundry casting clay sculptures into bronze using lost wax casting. I participated in many pours over those two years where we would pour molten bronze into a plaster cast which would harden into the pieces for a sculpture.

After the metal had been poured, the plaster would glow bright orange and my job was to blow pressurized air onto the plaster to try to cool it so the metal wouldn't blow out and ruin the piece (a very time consuming and costly mistake).

When thinking about Hot Cast, I remembered this experience and especially the excitement of seeing this hot, liquid metal flowing into these strange plaster shapes, only to harden into the metal pieces that would eventually become a sculpture.

Of course, after the metal had cooled, all of the pieces have to be sand blasted, ground smooth, then welded together, then ground smooth again. It's a labor intensive process to put a bronze sculpture together, but like the time it takes to make a quilt, it's absolutely worth every hour of work to produce something so beautiful.

So this goddess is really one of a pair because the same time I thought of Hot Cast, I also thought of Forged & Welded, a goddess who has been poured in pieces, but also forged and welded back together.

This second goddess will also carry a bit of my memories. As a little girl, my dad's blacksmith shop was my favorite place to hang out and even now, if I smell that right combination of coal, metal, dirt, and oil, I immediately get transported back to being 6 years old sitting on a stool watching my dad hammer metal in front of his hot forge.

This mental picture has stuck with me, and while working on Sinkhole I have literally felt some days that I have cast myself a new body and mind, but that it still needs to be welded, heated and hammered, and ultimately shaped into the form I want it to take.

You might be wondering why I've got such a focus on all this metal work jargon and memories?

I'm not really sure, but I think it has something to do with the malleability of metal. I can cut fabric once and if it's cut wrong, I will not be able to use it for what it was intended.

But metal is never a one-shot-deal. If you cast something wrong, metal can always be melted back down to cast a new piece. If a piece is slightly bent or warped, all you have to do is heat it and beat it back into shape to get it right.

This works really well with my line of thinking right now. I feel that I've taken a few bits of my original cast, chucked all the scrap and corroded crap into Sinkhole, and now I've been re-cast into a new form with a bigger heart and stronger spirit.

But this new cast is still hot, and this molten metal can still be shaped according to the choices I make and the habits I fall back into.

I realized just this weekend what a habit self hatred can be. It is a habit to cut yourself down on a daily basis, and just like brushing your teeth or combing your hair if you do it long enough, it starts to feel pretty comfortable.

So Hot Cast is really a quilt I need to make to get used to this open, molten feeling. I need to get used to not having a nasty INV bouncing around in my head and allow my heart to fill in and expand into this new body and mindset.

And after it is done, Forged & Welded will help me to seal this new cast into a solid foundation of self love and strength. What thoughts do I want to have dominate my mind? What habits do I need to form in order to make this happen? I'll hammer out those details in that quilt for sure!

free motion quilting | Leah DayAs you can see, I'm still tinkering around with the design of this goddess. Even as I wrote this blog post, I made the decision to add the heart into the center. I realized that it really has to be there because that is where all this molten new metal, and change, is flowing from.

Okay, that's enough metal analogies for the day!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day


  1. What a super post - inspiring and honest - well done on casting your broken remnants into the furnace and what a fantastic design that is emerging from those smelts

  2. Gorgeous design, flowing and very graceful. Have you considered giving her an asymmetrical hemline? Just a hunch, but it might be interesting to play around with.

  3. I really like your design, especially the second design with the free flowing hair. The center dividing line looks a little like a tail. That just may be me because I work with animals and often get a wagging tail in my face. I like the addition of the heart. It will be interesting to see your final design. Each time you tweek the design, it will be another step to retraining your mind to automatically think of a positive inner voice instead of negative.

  4. Wonderful post on much more than quilting. I learned a lot about metal casting, which I knew nothing about before.

    The design for your quilt is wonderful. Can't wait to see it filled out.

  5. Your Goddess quilts are inspiring.

  6. Fantastic design as is the metal molding analogy. Can't wait to watch her develop.

  7. I love the concept - I hope that you are planning on making her a whole figure - somehow it would make her seem much further in her developmental process

  8. We are all maliable and able to be reforged whenever we choose.
    Wonderful design and self awareness!

  9. I love your analogy. I think we all can be malleable, if we choose to be, but so many of us are choosing to feel completely forged and hard to change.
    I admire your ability to view yourself and see the changes you want to make, and its inspiring.
    Your second design reminds me of the insides of a human body. The "tail" as Roberta called it, to me looks like the main blood vessels (vena cava or aorta) and the connections that would be welded (in your world) look like nerves or blood vessels.

    You do good work Leah, both on your blog, in your store, on your quilts, but especially with your family.

  10. Your. Quilts are amazing and your gift of weaving the back-story to accompany each piece is inspiring. I am a beginner and I have a great deal to learn. Thankyou for sharing your art. They Are All Beautiful.


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