Either I must be a glutton for punishment or I've finally given into my greatest desire through the summer - to quilt, quilt, quilt through the heat.
And just a disclaimer before I get going - this will be a personal post so if you'd rather not read it, click here to check out new designs on the project.
But it's more than just the urge to be quilting right now. This design has been working on me since the middle of Hot Cast. The two were really dreamed up around the same time and both embody the same theme: finding the ability to love myself.
Hot Cast was all about the transition and learning process. How to find that compassionate, loving voice and how to listen to it, rather than all the negative monsters in my head.
Through Hot Cast I've been working to believe the words "I Am Enough" and to live them. Maybe that quilt was too small, maybe the design was just not quite right, but I find myself still struggling to fully accept the fact that I am Enough, and more importantly - that I Am DOING Enough - that I don't have to work like a mad woman every day just to feel good about myself.
Forged & Welded takes on this second step with a study of strength, power, stability and endurance.
Sometimes it takes 80 inches of dense stitching to work something out. While I'd love to say that all my issues with my inner negative voice (INV) were worked out with Shadow Self, I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I still occasionally struggle with short bouts of depression and utter misery.
Maybe it's how my brain is wired. Maybe it is simply something I'm doomed to deal with for the rest of my life. Maybe I should stop bitching and go get a therapist to drug me up with Prozac. The thing is - I REFUSE to believe any of these "maybes."
I believe that it is possible to live a healthy, balanced life. I don't think this is something special or rare, only given to a chosen few. I HAVE to believe in my ability to resolve, heal, and grow beyond these issues.
So I refuse to believe that my brain chemistry or my dysfunctional childhood are marks on my soul that I will never recover from.
I also refuse to drug myself up, dope myself out, and ease away into a state of pharmaceutical oblivion. That is NOT my idea of a solution - that's simply a medicated band-aid that will cover and conceal these issues, but never make them permanently go away.
You can probably tell by now the emotion I'm mostly channeling right now - anger.
Red hot and fiery. I'm taking all my sad and I'm turning it into mad.
For once though, I'm not turning this anger outside to lash on the people around me, or turning it inside to burn my self esteem into ash once again.
Instead I'm turning this rage into pure fuel - hot and strong - with enough power to blast out this INV (inner negative voice) once and for all.
What I've found over the last year is that my INV hates it when I'm strong. It really can't stand it when I feel good, confident, and relaxed. It hates me to feel comfortable.
So what better way to totally and completely irradiate my inner negative voice than a quilt that channels all my strength, all my stability, all my emotion into one place?
A quilt that will not just symbolize power, but will also scream down in every stitch - I AM ENOUGH!
I'm done being a wimp about it. I'm done showing the dark and light sides of my mind together in some sick cohesive body. I'm done showing my body full of darkness with only a glimmer of light from my heart. I'm done allowing my INV even a toe hold in my brain. I won't give it an inch.
And it's high time I stop saying MY inner negative voices - the truth is these words were never, ever mine. They were the words of every abusive person I've allowed in my life. They were words designed to make me feel small, ugly, unwanted, stupid, and unworthy.
These words aren't true, were never true, so it's high time they stopped sounding off in my head!
There's a saying in business "Fake it until you make it."
While I don't really like this saying and it's potential implications, I do believe there's an element of truth - if you believe and act like something is going to happen, chances are it will.
I may not have all my issues sorted out, but I'm designing this quilt as though I do. I'm designing this goddess not as a symbol of how I feel right now (that is Hot Cast), but of how I WANT to feel right now.
I want to feel strong, stable, powerful, and beautiful. I want feel confident in my ability to provide for my family and to no longer stress and fret that I am not doing enough.
Quite simply - I want to be free from the INV for good.
So that is why this quilt is being made. Now let's talk about design, my favorite part of every quilt.
For this quilt, I had the flash of inspiration back in January to combine a goddess figure with a sword. I sketched this very rough drawing several months ago to nail down the general idea:
It's an interesting coincidence that both Hot Cast and Forged & Welded are largely inspired by my dad, someone I've become much closer to over the last several months.
My dad made me a small sword when I was pregnant with James. I've been into fantasy and science fiction since high school and always wanted a sword to wear to Renaissance Festival. I used a photo of this sword to serve as a template for the design:
So that is how the core goddess body was designed. I work with pencil and paper simply drawing the outline of the photograph, then simplifying it. I've come to respect my own need for simplicity - it is my style.
I probably will never include fingers or toes, eyes, mouth, nose, or ears to my goddesses. I tried incorporating a face with this one and I just couldn't get it right.
I find it difficult to not judge the face, and then loose connection with the goddess herself and what she represents. Better to leave those elements blank rather than put them in and struggle with them.
Now the goddess is nearly complete, but there's a few elements missing.
So learning from this experience, I know that something needs to go into the bottom of the quilt, something to frame the goddess/sword, maybe even tie in with the theme of elemental power and stability.
I've began researching different signs and symbols - what could go in this area and maybe even be a harness for the sword that will add to the overall design?
On Sunday I posted that question and had loads of fun reading through all the comments. Most people had the same thought I did straight off - a big rock.
But how do you quilt a rock? How do you get it to look right on a quilt without looking like a big, black blob?
I considered the issue for awhile, and knowing how the columns gave me fits in Hot Cast, I also ruled out any plinth, stone columns, or similar ideas. They're just too challenging to get perfect.
After ruling out the rock, I began thinking of the design more - what signs to I personally associate with strength and stability?
It didn't take me long to think of the sun. This is a symbol I've used before and will continue to use in my quilts. I love the sun and how light makes me feel more creative and awake.
So I started playing with sun designs at the bottom of the quilt design:
This worked okay, but it still wasn't perfect. While I like how the flames come up around the goddess, I still found the large amounts of open background space frustrating. There would need to be another layer or layers added to the design for it to be complete.
For the first time I decided to work on the computer to create this layer. Using a simple drawing program I created a sun and rays. This is just a placeholder that will allow me to design rays and flames to hit certain points:
No, it's still not quite right, and I'm enjoying fiddling with it so much I'll probably continue to work on it for the rest of the month.
A lot of planning and thinking still needs to happen in terms of how this quilt will be constructed and then quilted. If I decide to piece or quilt sections of the quilt top, it will take longer and be more time consuming.
Personally I'm leaning towards a simple wholecloth with no pieced or appliqued elements, but my mind tends to change whenever I wander into the studio and see all the beautiful fabrics hanging up begging to be cut up for this quilt. The jury is still out on that regard.
Overall it feels like this quilt is moving in the right direction, at the right time and I can't wait to get started!
Let's go quilt,