I’ve been obsessed with Harriet Tubman lately. I love tough girls, and she had to have been one of the toughest. I love Susan B. Anthony, Joan of Arc, Princess Diana, Queen Elizabeth I and Sacajawea. I listen to Janis Joplin, Stevie Nicks, Bonnie Raitt, Miranda Lambert and Pink. And of course my mother…my biggest influence, and my sister and other amazing women in my family. I saw a girl on a motorcycle today waiting at a stop light in her sleek leather pants. Red helmet, sweet black ride. I wanted to be her. Badly. Learning to ride a motorcycle has always been on my bucket list. I think it’s because the last few years have had me questioning what it means to be a strong woman. A feminist. Which is a word I haven’t always related to because where I grew up, it often had a negative connotation. A femi-nazi. As if all women really wanted to just be men and/or wanted to live in a world without men. And being a feminist must mean you don’t want be with a man or have one hold a door open for you and your days were spent bashing them. As a mom of two young boys, it worries me that they will be seen as the bad guys for just being men. I don’t think turning the tide the opposite direction is equality. I have come to understand that the true definition of feminism is that I have the right to think and feel and pursue whatever I want. And if that means I want to cook pastries and raise babies, I can do that. And if I want to be a CEO or play hockey, I can do that, too.
When I started making quilts as a business, it was really important to me that my more feminine quilts be just as bold and strong as the more masculine ones. It also became important to me to bridge that gap and use such interesting combinations of colors and prints that both men and women would be drawn to just about any of my pieces. Since I started out making surf-themed crib quilts, I made a point of keeping the surfboard themes in both my girls’ and boys’ quilts, just making minor changes in the fabric choices…mainly adding more fuchsia to the girls’ quilts. I looked at what was already available out there and the boy decor was surfboards and vintage cars, strong prints and bold colors and the girl decor was inevitably flowers and bikinis. No, thank you. I love flowers, don’t get me wrong, but I felt it was time to portray those cool surfer and skater girls that I had seen ripping up the waves and tearing up the skate park. Despite me not being great surfer and a worse skateboarder, as a more athletic person, those are the girls I could relate to more. Nothing against Disney princesses, but there was plenty of that. I wanted to bring a different powerful dynamic to my work.
I sketched a lot and worked hard to create feminine designs the rivaled they boy stuff in the cool factor. Yes, I still use mermaids and flowers and feminine things. But, I try to create powerful designs with those images. As women, we are both feminine and strong. Soft and tough. Bold yet compassionate. That’s what I want you to see when you see my work. I want you to see life and movement and passion and struggles and darkness and despair and triumph. That’s what I see in myself. All those things rolled into one person. And many many people.
I started out with the surf quilts, and that led to creating other ocean-inspired designs. I’ve since branched out into desert landscapes and mountains and wildlife and so many other things. Even when I’m designing a basic flower, I want that flower to embody how I feel about other women and about being a woman myself. So, even down to the simplest notecard, my designs are full of strength. You may never know the thought behind each of my pieces or who may have inspired them, even in some small way, but know this…behind each work of art that I create, there is ALWAYS the influence of some badass woman who kept going.
“If you hear the dogs, keep going. If you see the torches in the woods, keep going. If there’s shouting after you, keep going. Don’t ever stop. Keep going. If you want a taste of freedom, keep going.” –Harriet Tubman
More of my strong feminine designs: