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Bottled: Suppressing The Self In Motherhood

Bottled: Suppressing the Self in Motherhood

BottledI don’t think I’m alone in feeling like I have put much of myself aside when I became a mother. At first, it was natural. Of course my child (and then children) were the center of my world. Everything else seemed so trivial – and much of it still does. But as time went on, I started to miss some things about my pre-mom life. I started to miss myself. This piece expresses those feelings of bottling up ones self in motherhood. Stuffed into the bottle are scraps of fabric to represent my fiber art, tzitzit to represent my spirituality and prayer, and images of other parts of my old life including volunteer work, gymnastics, reading, and exercise.

Below are pictures showing the making of this piece.

The first step was to create a template for the bottle. I used an empty bottle of cleaner and taped tracing paper to it. Once I had a template, I taped it to the clear vinyl that would be used for the bottle.

Template Template for Bottled Template on Vinyl

Next, it was time to sew the edges to create the tapered top of the bottle. The full seam top to bottom would end up in the back. Once it was sewn, I turned the piece right side out.

sewing bottle Sewn Bottle

In thinking through how the piece would come together, I wanted clear plastic on the back and bottom to support the contents. So I ordered craft plastic and put the piece aside until it arrived. Then I carefully cut pieces that would fit in the back and bottom of the bottle. Of course, I then stitched the bottom panel of vinyl in place … inside out and forgot that there would then be no way to get the plastic supports in. Oops. But I liked the way the bottle looked and thought it would work without the craft plastic so I put it aside and kept moving forward.

Bottom Support Sewing Bottom Oops - Bottom not in

I started filling the bottle with scraps from my other pieces in the Parenthood series and then thought about all the things besides art I have put aside while focusing on parenting. Volunteering with Special Olympics is on the list along with gymnastics, exercise, reading, relaxing, and prayer/spirituality. Images for most of these items were printed on fabric and placed inside the bottle. And I used tzitzit to represent prayer and spirituality.

Filling Bottle Images for Bottle Tzitzit

The bottle needed more scraps to fill it up, so I pulled out my big box of fabric scraps for workshops and went to town filling the bottle.

scrap box 14 Filling Bottle Full bottle

Once the bottle was full, I stitched the top closed with clear thread and chose a plaid fabric for the cap. The plaid fabric brings in the colors from Torn and The Joy of Parenthood which represent the bright colors of childhood. Since it’s the kids who put a lid on my bottle, it seemed fitting to use those colors for the cap. And yes, the engineer in me was super excited to bring out my old high school compass for the cap template.

close top compass cap Making Lid

Once the cap was cut out and pinned in place, I stitched it on with clear thread and then hot glued a strip around the bottle to cover the edges and finish it off.

Making Cap Cap on bottle Cap Complete

Below are pictures of the finished piece! You can see it in person at the Harrison Library in May 2017!

BottledComplete Detail


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