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Always Rising.

The phoenix image is just one that keeps coming back to me.  A few months ago, I sold the phoenix quilt I made last year and felt I was in a different place in my life and wouldn’t use that image again.  I thought about how I felt stronger and how maybe I was ready for imagery about power and already being strong, not still rising from the ashes.  And then, I was hit hard by a few things in my personal life.  Really hard.  I realized that this idea of rising is recurrent.  We don’t rise just once.  It is a constant journey.  A constant battle to leave behind the things, and sometimes the people, that pull us down and make us feel like we have no where to go, and that rising is not within our capabilities.  Some people make us feel that way deliberately. Others do it in much more subtle ways.  One of my biggest battles this year has been fighting the fear of insignificance.

We all want to matter.  I want to matter.  I want to feel like I’m worth a phone call, a kind word, a quick message to ask how I am or if I’d like to grab lunch and catch up.  Something.  Anything. And, don’t lecture me on how a healthy self-esteem would cure me of needing that reassurance from others and how I need to just know I am valuable deep within. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know all of that.  Sometimes, though….sometimes I want to FEEL it from another person.  And that made me realize that I am still in the process of rising.  Of peeling off whatever it is that holds my spirit down. I am still that phoenix looking up and lifting my wings and flying while part of me is still dripping flames and ash and all the things I’m trying to leave behind.

“My Unconquerable Soul”

And that led me to this latest phoenix design using a very different technique.  My first phoenix quilt, entitled “My Unconquerable Soul”, pictured on the left, was built entirely as appliqués. Every piece was cut and the edges were turned under and stitched down on top of a base batik.  In my newest design, the background is a piecing extravaganza! (which is code for nightmare…)  There is no way to cut out a bunch of one shape because the same shapes and sizes rarely exist in this piece.  Once I piece together the background, I will build the phoenix as I did before, through a series of appliquéd feathers and layers that make up her body.  And then the whole thing will be stitched, and most likely I won’t be able to resist adding lots and lots of Swarovski Crystals, though I’m not exactly sure where they will be placed just yet.  She’ll let me know, though. When she’s good and ready.

 

This is the line drawing I had printed full size for the pattern. I will work pieced by piece, cutting it out of vibrant patterned batiks and stitching as I go along. As tedious as that gets, I find it the least confusing way to approach the design.
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The Strong Will Remain

This year.  Ooooo boy. There have been some incredible highs and
lows.  I have become fascinated with what it means to be strong. I don’t think I’m alone in that fascination, because I’ve noticed that my biggest sellers are often images of strength.  The phoenix rising from the ashes, square-jawed mermaids with hair flowing in the water or withstanding a furious wind, tough women, wolves, bears, tigers and especially lions.  Lots of lions. Most of these pieces have lasted a day or two in the shop before they sold.  Some were sold while I was still working on them.  Why is that?  Why do these strong images resonate with all kinds of people? Is it because we are strong? Or because we want to be strong? Or both? Maybe we are strong already but need to be reminded.  Maybe we need to surround ourselves with these images so that on those days when we feel weak and wonder how we’re going to pay for car repairs or help our child with a learning disability or fight that ongoing battle with weight loss or rejection or abandonment, we can feel inspired. Strengthened. Emboldened. These images send us out into the world in the morning and are there for us when we return at night seeking refuge from the day, battered by life’s challenges, ready again to look at that reminder that we ourselves picked out and placed in our own home.  We secretly believe in ourselves enough to feel the connection with the tiger or the phoenix or the lion, but we also know ourselves well enough to understand that we still need their inspiration in these moments.  We understand, but also welcome the reminder that  “The weak fall, but the strong will remain and never go under!”  — Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl

More images of Strength.

“Mermaid Dreams”

 

“I Am Both”

 

“Lionhearted”

 

“Queen”

 

O tiger’s heart wrapped in a woman’s hide!” -William Shakespeare

 

“Aloha”

 

“Peace”

 

“Mama Bear”

 

“She-Wolf”

 

“Lion for a Day”