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“My Unconquerable Soul”, 48″x68″

This quilt is immensely personal.  It was conceived, constructed and stitched during a year that was perhaps the most difficult of my life. The imagery was inspired by the William Ernest Henley poem, “Invictus” which brought to my mind the phoenix rising from the ashes.

Invictus

Out of the night that covers me,

Black as the pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.

 

In the fell clutch of circumstance

I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

My head is bloody, but unbowed.

 

Beyond this place of wrath and tears

Looms but the Horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years

Finds and shall find me unafraid.

 

It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll,

I am the master of my fate,

I am the captain of my soul.

 

I think most of us are familiar with the last line, but a few of the other phrases are what struck me the most. “Out of the night that covers me”, “my unconquerable soul”, “unbowed”, “unafraid”.  I wanted to mesh the image of the phoenix with a very recognizable human female form. She is rising out of the ashes and flames and she is looking upwards, unbowed and unconquered and unafraid. I used bold warm colors for the sun and flames and cool blues and greens for the phoenix.  I wanted the contrast of the warm and cool colors so she would stand out and be a strong image, but I also sprinkled in a few warm colored feathers to represent the fire, especially in her heart. She is beautiful and strong, bold and colorful. I stitched her in orange thread to bring a little of the warmth to her body.  The sun is stitched in gold metallic thread and the flames have regular red thread and also red metallic thread. Lots and lots of details in the free motion quilting give her added depth and spark.  The quilt is finished with about 1000 Swarovski crystals in the sun and two larger ones in her eyes.  She is definitely an autobiographical statement that I hope inspires others to also rise up from whatever it is that is holding them down and be what they want to be.

(Follow me on Instagram @crystalpiertextilearts or Facebook at Crystal Pier Textile Arts for daily updates and process shots)

I added two crystals to her eyes and they sparkle so much as she looks upwards as she rises.
Each feather has been stitched with such fine detail, giving beautiful life to her wings.
A thousand Swarovski crystals make the sun behind her wings just shine. I love the feminine touch of the pick hibiscus flower around the outside of the sun.
The tail feathers are the last to pull out of the flames and ashes. Each made of a different bold print. The last trailing splash of color as she rises.
This pieces is just so bold and beautiful! I’m so happy with out it turned out.
I wish you could see just how much the sun sparkles! Nothing shines like the Swarovski crystals and there are around 1000 on this quilt.

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“I Am Both”, self-portrait, 18”x24”

A couple of years ago I came across this Rumi quote and it really affected me.  I’ve been going through a period of rediscovery and have been trying to define who I was. Sometimes we want to put everything and everyone, including ourselves, into a category. But, we are so often many contrasting things at the same time.  I love that we can be peaceful and wild, and so many other opposing things all at the same time.  There are perfect times for all parts of us and we don’t have to choose just one thing to be.

I layered the batiks for the background and then built up the design until I had her just right.  Lots and lots of free motion quilting in many different colors of thread came next.  The final touch was to add all the bling.  Fifteen hours worth of hand beading, rivets and Swarovski crystals. The photos don’t do justice to the way that it sparkles.  All those ideas and thoughts and dreams and emotions either bursting out of her head, or being poured in.  You decide.  Or maybe it’s both.

I tried to capture the contrast of peaceful and wild in many ways. Her eyes, the contrasting colors, the juxtaposed stitching and the softness of the fabrics with the sparkle of the hard, shiny beads and crystal.
Love, love, love all the embellishments. Gotta love a little bling!
Layers and layers of bold Indonesian batiks. At least three layers of stitching on those lashes.
Gotta love some bling! So many hours, so much shine.

 

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