Celebrating Personal Symbols in my Fiber Art

Personal Symbols Series, each finishes 5" x 7"

Now that my 2022 teaching schedule has concluded, I am revisiting a few of my WIPs/UFOs with a renewed hope to finish a few before the end of the year. This first finish is actually 6 small finishes, These layered and stitched compositions were all inspired by Deborah Boschert's Personal Symbols class offered online through the Sisters Show in July 2021. I absolutely loved the 8 small compositions I made in her Captivating Compositions workshop and was excited to revisit these ideas while exploring symbols that were special to me. Join me as I share my progress of creating and finishing these small pieces, along with a bit of insights as to why these symbols are so personal for me.

Here is my fabric palette which includes a blend of commercial prints, solids, and some of my own mark-making fabrics

During the workshop, I was too busy taking in design inspiration that I didn't make much progress on creating my small compositions. Thankfully Deborah's handouts provided several layout diagrams as starting points, plus I incorporated several of the starting guides outlined in her Art Quilt Collage book and Captivating Compositions class. A few of my personal symbols involved a bit of refining of fabric selections and/or cut out shapes before I was ready to fuse them into place--all part of the design process.

In the photos below, the double arcs remained fairly constant, but as you look closer, you'll see some of the finetuning in the placement and fabrics of the background, spool, needle, and thread.

When the double arcs were discarded from the above composition, I tried using them with some flowers. They too were set aside for a different backdrop for my duo of flowers.

I really liked these spirals for raindrops, but found they didn't stand out enough. So I used the print to  create a rain cloud and used more solid-like fabric with a bit of metallic accents for the individual drops.

These compositions required a bit of time to come together before I was ready to fuse them into place. All and any unused bits were saved and often incorporated into another composition, yielding very little wasted fabric. I'm quite pleased with how the metallic fabric provided a little pop of interest to a few of the compositions.

Next up was using a variety of WonderFil Eleganza Perle Cotton threads to add lots of hand-embroidered texture to each piece. Again, it was Deborah who introduced me to the joy of adding hand-embroidered details to my quilts so I did not want to rush this step of the design process. Over the course of a year or so, I made little bursts of stitched progress on my small pieces. 

In January and February 2022, these Personal Symbols compositions were included in my 24 Days of UFOs/WIPs where I rolled the dice to determine which project to work on for 15 or more minutes each day. 

Here are a few progress photos from those dice rolls...

As I was preparing for my trip to visit family in Florida, I knew these would be the perfect portable project for my travel days. Not only did I complete the bulk of the hand-embroidery during my travel days, but several of my fellow passengers were quite intrigued by these little pieces. While waiting for my flight to board here in San Jose, CA, one woman came up behind me and couldn't resist asking me what I was making--so I explained they were small art quilts. And then during my layover, there was a grandmother traveling with her 2 granddaughters sitting nearby waiting for their flight to board. I could overhear the two young girls asking their grandmother about what I was doing, so I invited them over to have a closer look. I carefully removed the needles and passed the entire stack over to one of the girls for them to see up close, and was pleased to see they recognized my personal symbols in each small piece.

Earlier this month I completed the last bit of hand-embroidery, along with adding labels before each piece was trimmed with the edges finished with Puffy Paint. While I love each of these finished compositions, I especially enjoyed reflecting on each personal symbol as it relates to my own personal journey...

Flower Power

My love affair with flowers began as a young child where my my mother tells me my first word was "fleur," french for flower. I've had a few brief stints with gardening, but have probably created more flowers through my art in various forms: doodles, photographs, mark-making, stamping, and making quilts!


Leaves represent nature as well as growth and life cycle changes. Growing up without tv and the internet, I spent lots of time playing and discovering the great outdoors. As a Girl Scout and camper, I learned more about nature's many wonders and continue to take delight during my neighborhood walkabouts. In high school and college, I loved studying biology. The photo below was taken just a few days before graduating from Siena College and celebrates all the growth gained through my academic studies, activities, and friendships.


With my last name of Beach and born an aquarius, it's no wonder that I love being in and near water! Fun fact: my mother was training to become a lifeguard while she was pregnant with me. Despite a near-drowing experience as a child, my affinity for water grew to include swimming, paddlesports, canoe racing, lifeuarding, and being a swimming/boating instructor. Even today, being near water brings me a sense of calm and peace.   

Let's Sew

Both of my grandmothers introduced me to the joy of needlepoint and hand sewing. During my final year of grad school I made my very first quilt using a stack of old t-shirts from high school, camp, and college. My love of quilting has expanded to include many quilt finishes, quilt challenges, and teaching.


The sun represents energy both in the global sense, as well as how a beautiful sunny day recharges my own creative spirit. While growing up in New York, sun-filled days were to be celebrated. Of course now that I am living in sunny California, I am incredibly thankful for the gorgeous weather we experience year-round and find myself spending more time outdoors as I recharge through walking and relaxing outdoors, and sunny days provide the perfect opportunity for making messes (dyeing/painting) to incorporate into my fiber art!


The moon represents the awe and wonderment of looking up at the celestial skies while recognizing just how expansive the universe truly is. As a child, I dreamed about becoming an astronaut. Some of my favorite night-time memories involve stargazing including experiencing the most incredible meteor shower while taking an evening ferry ride across Lake Champlain. 

Many thanks to Deborah for inspiring me to celebrate these personal symbols through my fiber art.