After several restless nights, I was looking for a way to express my feelings about the tension within our political climate. A voice within screamed "make a quilt." The 2017 QuiltCon East deadline was one week away and I wondered whether it would even be possible to design and finish a quilt that would 1. express my feelings, 2. be strong enough to be juried into QuiltCon and 3. simply be done in time for the deadline.
I began to write down my thoughts and sketch out a few possible quilt designs. I must confess that both the writing and the accompanying images were equally dark and grim, and I wondered if I would have the strength to work through the darkness.
I dug deep to find the peace within and reached for a roll of blue tape to outline a large Peace sign on my design wall. Almost immediately, I felt a sense of hope: hope that I would be able to have a quilt ready to enter, and hope for our nation's future.
To symbolize the diversity of our country, I wanted to improvisationally piece a color wheel out of scraps. Just as I was about to raid my scrap bin, I remembered the stash of 5" charms from participating in two charm swaps back in 2012. More than 70 quilters from across the country participated in these charm swaps, adding a rich variety of colors, pattern and texture to my quilt. As you can imagine, I had so much fun going through this stack and sorting them by color family. I could feel the stress just melt away as I absorbed myself in all this glorious color!
|Little Pieces of Fabric From Across the Country|
For each of the 12 sections of my color wheel, I would start with 10-12 charms and cut them into different sized shapes/strips ranging from 1" to 3". I would incorporate a few strips from my own scrap bin as needed. For my first few fabric slabs, I just assembled them with no real plan or intention.
|Piece of Peace|
|Working Towards Peace|
Early into my designing process, I wanted to incorporate words and messages. In my darker stages, I had considered incorporating fear, hate and harm. But as I found peace, I chose to focus on the positive messages which I would free motion stitch into the background. Doug and I brainstormed 40 or so uplifting words of peace, respect and passsion, but I feared this would not be enough to fill in the background area. So I put a call out to family & friends via facebook:
Dear facebook friends & family...I need your input!! I am looking for words of hope, peace, love and inspiration to stitch into a top secret quilt that I am making in response to the current state of our nation/world. I welcome all and any suggestions that are positive and hopeful for a more peaceful/compassionate world."
I was delighted to see 25+ of my friends & family (many of which are not quilters) respond and contribute more messages of peace. I was just thrilled that so many embraced the challenge and more than tripled my list of words!! Not only that, but reading all these messages of peace gave me the energy to endure two marathon days of intense quilting (10+ hours/day). Last but not least, one participant even shared that "just this exercise offers healing of its own." Many thanks to all who participated in this exercise and I hope you too experienced peace within.
As I prepared to start free motion stitching the words, I turned to my trusted blue painter's tape to establish lines to keep my words straight. Since many of the words included j's, p's, q's, y's and z's, I chose to work my way from bottom to top in order to avoid stitching into the taped lines. I found that I had to retrain my brain to free motion quilt all the words in cursive. Part of it was remembering to take the time to cross my t's and dot my i's with hearts as I stitched along. But I also had to figure out how to start new words without breaking thread. When I first started out, I practiced writing each word using a dry erase marker onto my acrylic board. Over time, I became more comfortable with cursive writing and no longer needed to sketch out each word.
|Pieces of Blue Tape to the Rescue!|
In total, I believe there are almost 100 words of hope and love stitched into the background including: Advocate, Aloha, Community, Compromise, Convergence, Dignity, Empower, Engage, Faith, Honor, Integrity, Listen, Mercy, Reflect, Respect, Support, Tolerance, Understanding and Unite. Within the peace sign itself, I chose to stitch in 30 translations of Peace including Amani (Swahili), Fred (Danish, Norwegian, Swedish), HePing (Chinese) Pace (Italian), Paix (French) and Pokoj (Polish). I found the quilting process to be very meditative as I reflected on each word as I stitched them out.
|Messages of Hope & Peace Stitched into Background|
|Pieces of Rainbow From My Stash|
With less than 24 hours until the entry deadline, I managed to stitch on the label and binding. Mother nature was on my side as I woke up early to capture photographs to complete my online entry. A few hours later, I drafted my Artist Statement which had to be under 100 words:
In the wake of the 2016 Presidential Election, we are left with a fractured nation in which respectful dialogue has been replaced with fear, hatred, and violence. It is my hope that “Peace of Mind” will serve as an example of how we can pick up the pieces and come together to restore peace and compassion. The Peace sign and surrounding fractures are improvisationally pieced with charms exchanged with 60+ quilters from across the country. Over 100 messages of love and hope (from Facebook friends & family) are stitched into the background (including 30 translations of Peace). Peace to all!I am so incredibly proud of this quilt! I truly hope it will be considered by the QuiltCon jury. But regardless of the jury's decision, I found the entire process to be incredibly therapeutic, meditative and much needed for my own well being. Despite the fact that I was literally racing the clock to finish in time, I felt so incredibly happy and at peace as I worked on this quilt. I hope you too will celebrate its joy and peace.
|"Peace of Mind," 53" x 53"|