When I decided to create art about my life as a mother, the first thing that came to mind was the feeling of being torn between these two worlds. My first design for this piece (shown below) was two separate pieces. that would hang next to each other. One piece would represent my artist life and the other piece would represent my life as a parent. The edges facing each other would be completely torn to show how these two parts of myself felt pulled apart.
I started creating the art side of the piece in September when at a workshop with Sandra Sider and finished the art side of the top there (above right). The blue and purple batiks speak to the calm I feel when creating art and they are also the colors I gravitate to most in my work. Sandra asked me about the design and suggested that the two pieces be connected in some way since they represent two sides of one person and are not completely separate. At the time, I disagreed and felt that the two pieces of myself were so disparate there was no connection between them.
When I returned to the piece in December, I continued with my original plan and started creating the side about children. Instead of using images of toys as I first thought, I chose bright fabrics with different patterns to represent the fun, whimsical, and often crazy times with two small children. I even got to use some trigonometry to figure out the sizes of the triangles. Who said math isn’t used in the real world?
To make it more clear that the bright colored side was about children, I took a photo of my one- and three-year-olds holding hands and created a silhouette from one of the art fabrics to place in the center of that side.
The batik I chose didn’t feel quite right, though, so I tried a different one. I liked it better, but still wasn’t sure it worked in the piece, so I put it to the side and started the next step – quilting.
By now, I had been working on art about parenthood for a few months and creating these pieces was bringing together the two sides of my life. I no longer felt quite so torn apart by these two worlds. While the tension remains, there is at least some connection between my artist self and my parent self so I edited the design to connect the two halves by a united backing fabric.
So it was time to layer the quilt with batting and backing and then select thread and quilting patterns. To bring the two sides together a little more, I selected a blue/purple variegated thread for the colorful kids side and a bright yellow/orange thread for the blue art side.
Once the piece was completely quilted, I created a chalk line for the border and cut it about 1/4″ larger. Unfortunately, since there are no straight lines in the piece, it was hard to measure properly and I ended up with a piece that was not square. In the picture on the right below, you can see the two sides were about an inch different in size when I folded in in half. Oops.
After more measuring and more cutting, I finally squared the piece and added a facing (below left). Once that was done, I carefully cut away the center of the batting between the two sides of the quilt and used a pin to fray the edges of the batting.
I pinned it to the design wall and looked at it with and without the silhouette (see below). After going back and forth, I decided not to use the silhouette in this piece because it detracted from the design.
I also decided to increase the separation between the two sides a little bit to exaggerate the “torn” aspect of the piece.
Now it was close to done, but something didn’t feel quite right. Both sides of the quilt were the same size, but it felt unbalanced somehow so after some experimentation, I decided to cut about 6″ off the left side of the piece.
Doing this helped the balance of the piece, but I lost one of the small orange pieces. So I added a new one at the bottom, added some quilting lines through it, and tucked it into the facing.
Stepping back, the piece is now complete! I’m glad that I took the time to adjust the design as I created the piece and hope the finished piece conveys the “torn” feeling from the initial design. I’m excited to share the finished piece at my solo exhibition at the Harrison Public Library this May!