Friday, June 29, 2007

Body & Spirit: Helpmates

I have just finished sewing the binding and the sleeve on my third journal quilt. Hooray! Technically I only had one day to spare to get this done by deadline. {whew!} Not that anyone would have done anything had I not finished it on time. I just need that deadline and the feeling of impending doom to get me going sometimes!

This one is very simply pieced as you can see. Just four fabrics. The story and meaning behind this quilt is all carried by the embellishments. If you recall, I was struggling with the nearly constant battle between my logical, analytical side and my creative, emotional side. Then I realized that they were meant to work in tandem, not separately. That's when I found the center panel in my stash. The male figure represents "Body," the logical, analytical side. The female figure, "Spirit," represents the creative, emotional side. Body also represents the physical nature of my being, the part that is controlled by time and will eventually die and decompose (the clock and the skeletal fish). Body wants to always be in control (the ship's wheel). Spirit, on the other hand, is eternal (the bird on her shoulder). She is also nurturing and creative (the flowers at her feet and the heart on her bodice). [You may have to click on the picture to get a larger image so you can see some of these elements. The fabrics are all pretty dark, as are a lot of the embellishments, and I'm not the world's greatest photographer yet.] I used the fabric with the squares on it - at Body's back - to further illustrate the logical, analytical aspect of that part of me. To balance that I have the spiral print on Spirit's side of the picture. At their feet is a print that I thought expressed the ethereal nature of the whole concept.

The clincher for this composition is the lock Body is offering to Spirit and the key she holds in her hand. He can do nothing without her input. It takes both of them, working together, to get the job done.

I took my cue for the flowers at Spirit's feet from the images that were already on the fabric. The colors too, that's why they are so dark. In fact, in order to comply with the guidelines I'd set for myself for this challenge, I had to work hard to find a way to include some of my favorite green in the piece. There's green in the print but it's not my favorite shade of green! I thought about just using a backing fabric featuring my green but that felt like cheating. I found this Fossil Fern in my stash that I really liked with the browns and olive green of the quilt. It's not exactly the lime green I love but it's as close as I could get away with. I think it holds the whole composition together in a vibrant way!

It was quite a struggle to come up with a way to "quilt" this piece. I started with the random straight stitches in the background around the two figures. Then I decided to put tiny beads in the centers of the spirals. I used triangle beads in the squares on the opposite side of the quilt. The bottom border was the worst. I fretted over that for days. Finally I bought some black delica beads and sprinkled them in and around the swirls. I didn't want to do anything that would compete with or cover up those lovely curves and colors.

Now I can move forward and start thinking about how to incorporate some of those sequins I bought (see previous post) in my next journal quilt!


  1. It's absolutely wonderful!
    Wish I could do something like that.

    have a good weekend.

  2. It's lovely and the symbolism works so well.

  3. Wow, very impressive Sue! The depth you go into the 'process' is just amazing and wonderful. The stuggle between the 'sides' of us, isn't something I've given alot of thought least not in those terms.
    My conflict seems to lie between the physical and the mental.I've been told I 'live in my head' and after much thought I realized it's true. I have little or no regard for my body. It's as if everything that needs to be ends at my throat. Kinda weird. It's quite a task to begin to care for and look after the housing unit which supports what my head wants to do...LOL
    I'm working on it. A really lovely and thought provoking journal quilt. Thanks for sharing, Hugs, Finn

  4. Ditto Finn about this being really lovely and thought-provoking! And I loved what you wrote about it. Sadly the image doesn't enlarge when I click on it... maybe you could post a detail shot of just the center portion? please!

  5. And yet another wonderful beginning to the bjp year....I just keep getting blown away by all the unique directions people are going in!

  6. It looks very nice except I couldn't enlarge it to see the detail. You wrote a fantastic piece about it. You write as well as you quilt! We all seem torn somehow- I am like finn, only my head seemed to matter until I found I was aching so badly, mostly in my back, that I couldn't sit or stand for more than a few minutes at a time and could not pick up my grandchildren anymore. I tried, at my son's urging and for fear of doctor's, a diet super low in protein and fat and within one month,as promised by the book, I was sooo much better. Now I pay more attention to both sides of my being.

    Your piece, I am sure, is going to resonate with many of your fellow beaders and quilters.

  7. Okay, only my body must matter and my mind must be very very shallow because, wow Sue, I would never have thought of all that. I'm impressed. I would have looked at the fabric and just thought "pretty" but you have got me looking deeper now and hopefully thinking deeper too. LOL!


Due to my health issues I am frequently unable to respond to your comments but please know that I appreciate your thoughtful responses. I cannot respond to 'no-reply' bloggers either, much to my frustration.