Sara Kelly did some quick and wonderful work this afternoon. She fit the words I stitched on a separate piece of fabric onto a photo of my Shield Of Words fabric painting. Then she found just the right color for the border.
I’ll be sending this off to our local printers to have 11×17″ posters and 4×6″ postcards made. Then I’ll send the image off to Sticker Mule to make magnets. I hope to have them all in the next couple of weeks.
My first try wasn’t quite right. I didn’t like the “of”, it wasn’t strong enough. But I did like the capital “D” in the word Shield, because it looks like a shield, and wanted to put the same “D” on the “Words”.
So I redid it.
I was hoping to make the lettering expressive. To give them that feeling of someone sitting down and quickly writing the words in pencil then going over them again and again. Which is just what I do with my sewing machine. I also thickened up their bottoms, just a bit, to give them weight and grounding.
Then I send a photo of my Shield of Words fabric painting and the words to Sara. She’ll work her magic and put them together, making them just the right size for posters, postcards and magnets.
I was sitting in the car, waiting for Jon to get his blood drawn when the image came to me.
I saw her very clearly. She was holding a long shield covering the left side of her body. Her right hand was up and a moth was flying from it. The shield was made of words.
I had just become aware of how powerful my words really are. How they protected me. They weren’t harsh words, or particularly smart or cunning words.
They were just the truth.
It was during an email with my brother I experienced this. At the time I was in therapy working on my fear of being drawn into my family’s dynamic, a system that no longer worked for me. I was having an email conversation with my brother, who I have very little contact with, when I felt the old fear rising up.
I knew how I was supposed to respond, the family script is deeply ingrained. But instead of doing what was expected, I responded in a way that was best for me. It was also during this time that I saw just how deep my fear was. That even though I didn’t understand it all, I felt it. And instead of making excuses for my brother and the way things were usuallyd done, or blaming myself, I trusted that feeling.
That’s when I knew that my words, my truth, could protect me.
So when I saw the image of the woman and the shield of words, I got it immediately. But I still wasn’t certain about the meaning of the moth.
Moths have recently visited me in my dreams, a few times in my studio this summer and had manifested in my art. So I knew it was an important part of the image. But no matter how many times I searched its meaning in books and online, the symbolism was still elusive to me.
Then my cousin, who I haven’t seen in years, but am in touch with on Facebook sent me a message she found about the meaning of moth. The next day, Donna, who reads my blog, sent me a link to the same site…
“Moth medicine’s meaning is resurrection and transformation. A moth represents tremendous change, but it also seeks the light. Thus, moth spiritual meaning is to trust the changes that are happening and that freedom and liberation are around the corner.”
For the first time, the moth made sense to me. Then I read further on World Birds and found….”The cocoon of a moth represents bindings and trap, but once it emerges, the adult moth seeks light and liberation. This is very much symbolic of a soul of man that is drawn to Knowledge and Ultimate Truth.”
If my words were my shield, my protection, the moth was my means of moving on. Moth represented letting go of the fear and moving into my new life more fully and the freedom that comes with that.
When I began making this piece my first idea was that it would be about 20×24 inches. But as I brought it into the real world, it needed to be bigger and bigger. And it was only after I stitched the woman’s face that I realized she resembled me.
Today I sewed a backing onto”Shield Of Words” with my signature stitched on it. I believe it’s sold, but if that doesn’t work out, I will be selling her and will let you all know.
You can see my whole process of making Shield of Words from the beginning here.
I tea stained the face and hand of the woman on my Shield of Words yesterday but didn’t get to post it before going to Bellydancing.
And when I get home from Bellydancing I’m always too tired to do much of anything besides eat dinner and fall into bed.
I gave her two coats of tea staining and I’m very happy with how it turned out. I had to be careful to apply the tea in thin lines to make sure it didn’t bleed outside the stitching. But I played around with it enough to get it right.
Now that it’s dry I’ll be able to sew the backing on and then it will be done.
It’s time to finish my Shield of Words fabric painting. It no longer feels like I’m waiting to find out what I need to do, it now feels like I need to make the decisions that will complete it.
I’m going to focus on it, give it the attention it needs to finish it.
For a week or so I’ve been experimenting with ways to deal with the background. Today I mixed some fabric painting, coming up with blues and greens, and testing them scraps of fabric. And although the colors were right, and I liked the way I had watered them down and applied them, when I looked at the test scraps pinned to the fabric painting, I don’t feel like they added anything.
They almost seem a distraction.
I beginning to think the background needs to stay the natural color of the original quilt. Complete with its hand-stitching and minor staining, which speaks to the history and age of the quilt.
There was one thing that I knew I wanted to do. That was to somehow outline the dress. I decided on using green embroidery thread and hand stitching around the dress.
Now I’m experimenting with filling in the hands and face of the woman, using tea staining. I thought that instead of manipulating the background, that I’d give her skin some color, which is really deathly white.
I like the idea of using tea instead of paint because I’ve used tea staining before in my pieces and I like that continuity between my art. But I was also thinking of how her dress is made of fabric that represents vegetation and I’m thinking of the tannin that comes from leaves and colors water. It seems natural that she be the color of tannin.
I see that a lot of tannins colored mud puddles in the woods and even in the chicken’s water bowl, especially this time of year.
I keep looking up the meaning and symbolism of the moth and it keeps eluding me. I am certain that the moth has relevance in this piece beyond my understanding. Maybe as I finish the piece it will become clear to me.
I sewed the moth onto the fabric painting this morning. I had the idea to have it pop off the surface more, but when I started sewing it, it didn’t feel right. It actually made the moth feel less substantial, almost decorative. Like one of those giant butterflies, people put on the side of their house.
Now I’m thinking about the background.
I feel like I want to accentuate the hand stitching on the quilt, but I’m not sure how to do that yet. I know better than to try and force or rush my decision. So I’ll just wait until it comes to me.
My Words, My Truth, My Thinking, Seeing with my own eyes, My Song, My Beliefs, My knowing, My Decisions, My Choices, My Mistakes, My Dance, My Responsibility.
Those were the words I wrote over and over again on my Shield of Words. Not in that order, but those words. Writing them, again and again, made me feel like I was taking ownership of them. And that doing that gave me a feeling of security and well being.
Protection and comfort as Donna Marie commented on my blog.
After filling in my Shield of Words with these words, I hemmed the edge with yellow thread. Then I sewed it onto the background using red embroidery thread and making small knots to attach it.
I always have a very specific feeling about how the parts of a piece are to be attached. Some machine stitched, some hand-sewn and now some adhered with Matte medium. Sometimes I can clearly see in my mind what it will look like or feel like. Sometimes I need to try different techniques to actually see what works.
The little red dots holding down the shield, and the edge of the shield popping up from the ground was something I could clearly “see” without having to literally see it.
When I finished sewing the shield down, I sewed on the red, rock beads in the center of the pinwheels. This helped attach the shield as well as working aesthetically.
I read that the pinwheel quilt design was created by women during the War of 1812 when the men were at war.
I didn’t know that when I chose the pinwheels for the shield. I liked the sense of movement they created, but knowing about the warrior connection I like that too.