00 Web Of Guilt

Mom Guilt is Everywhere

One of the biggest challenges I’ve encountered in being a mother is guilt. It comes from so many different sources every day and it’s exhausting. When I thought about how to depict this ubiquitous, and sometimes conflicting guilt for my parenthood series, I kept coming back to the feeling of being pulled in different directions, which brought me to the image of being caught in a spider web.

The first thing I did was create a list of all the sources of guilt I feel and I came up with eight: my kids, my partner, my friends and family, my art, my office job, the house/housework, volunteer work (or current lack thereof), and societal expectations. Then I started writing down the inner monologue creating guilt for each category. Pretty quickly, I had enough to make a test strip in Photoshop. I started by printing the text on a strip of paper and taping it to my design wall to get a sense of the size and color (below left). Next, I tried printing a couple strips onto fabric: one with a yellow gradient that got darker as it moved outward (below middle) and another on white fabric which I painted white to yellow (below right). I created tubes from each and stuffed them with piping cord. The painted fabric was going to be too hard to keep consistent for all eight spokes, so I decided to go with the printed yellow/gold.

02 Paper Proof of Concept 07 Sew Strips 03 Test Printed text and gradient

I then went back to my lists and made sure each one was approximately the same length. Once I was happy with the lists and the way they were laid out on strips 18″ long, I had to convince my printer to print on the fabric roll through the back feeding slot. I almost gave up, but it finally worked and I could cut and sew the strips.

04 Print on Fabric Roll 05 Printed Strips 06 Cut strips

To turn the strips right side out, I put a safety pin on one end and fed it through the tube until it came out the other side and I could pull the tube right side out.

08 Safety Pin 09 Pulling strip through 10 Pulling strip through 11 Strip right side out

To get the piping cord through the tube, I put packing tape on one end of the cording so I would have something firm to feed through the fabric tube. It worked so well, I kept going and got all eight tubes on the cording.

12 Piping ready 13 Cording pulled through 14 Lots of strips on cording

I cut the pieces apart, stitched one end of each closed, fed wire through to give the piece structure, cut the wire the right length, and stitched the other end closed.

15 Sew end 16 Add wire 17 Cut End and FInish

I then arranged the spokes, pinned them to the design wall, and stitched them together.

18 Pin Spokes 32 Sew Center

Next, it was time to make a little person to show how I feel stuck in the middle of all this guilt – caught between the pieces of my life, just trying to hold on. I set my phone up to take a selfie and printed the picture out as a pattern. I sewed right through that paper printout and two layers of purple fabric. Once it was completely sewn (leaving a couple inches for turning), I cut it out and used fray block to keep the edges from fraying.

19 Selfie as pattern 20 Paper off 21 Cut and Fray Block

Once the Fray Block was dry, I used doll making tools (thank you to my mother for letting me borrow hers!) to turn and stuff the figure.

22 Turn Person 24 Pipe cleaners 23 Stuffing Fork 25 Stuffed

Once the figure was ready and hanging in the middle of the spokes, I needed to create the connecting pieces for the web. I decided to print matching yellow/gold strips, but I had to change the ink cartridge and the color changed dramatically (oops). So it was time to come up with another plan. Off to the fabric store to try to find a yellow that would work well. I found a couple possibilities and brought two home to sample them on the design wall (below right). After stepping back and staring at it for a while, changing my mind, and staring again, I decided to go with a yellow that had a subtle swirl print in it. Not only did the color work, but the swirl added to the feeling of chaos in this web of guilt.

26 Figure on web 27 Printer color change 28 Audition Fabrics

Once I made a couple pieces, however, I realized that the connecting pieces couldn’t be the same width as the spokes. I needed a smaller piping cord.

29 Test new fabric 30 test new fabirc 31 Connection too thick

I soon discovered that it was harder to get the piping cord and wire through the smaller tubes, so I decided to do both at the same time. I put packing tape on the end of the cording, put a hole in it with a seam ripper, used pliers to loop the wire through the hole, and stuffed the cording through the tube. Having the wire in the packing tape helped me push it through the tight tube.

35 Hole in Tape for Wire 36 Wire in Tape 37 Stuff Cross Pieces 33 Stuff Smaller Cording with Wire

Then I could sew the connecting pieces to the spokes to create a web.

38 Adding Connecting Pieces 41 Sew more connections 43 Sew Inner connetions

Once they were all in place, I stitched the purple figure in the middle.

44 Web Done no Climber 45 Attach Person

And the piece was then ready to hang! Come see it in person at the Harrison Library this May!

46 Web of Guilt 47 Detail

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