Friday, October 23, 2015

Grounded Like a Turtle

Detail, Turtle Spirit, ca. 1995
I mentioned in my last post that I was finishing up some odds and ends around my studio. One of those pieces is a Turtle Spirit quilt. I had made one as a commission for a wedding 20 years ago, and a detail of it is shown at left. Turtle is a symbol of mother earth, fertility and feminine wisdom. You can see on the detail shot that I included embellishments representing rabbits as a wish for the new couple to produce the children they desired. Sure enough, two beauties came from the union!

In our family, we have long enjoyed Sams and Carson's Medicine Card deck. At our get-togethers, the spiritually inclined women gather around a spread, and take turns reading the interpretation to the seeker, spending hours discussing the wisdom uncovered to guide our paths. Since turtle is considered to be the personification of goddess energy, I find her to be a powerful symbol. She protects and invites us to go inside ourselves to connect and be grounded. I wanted my own Turtle Spirit quilt. After I finished the commission, I started one for myself and never got around to finishing it. Ah, but Turtle has reappeared in my life this year, and I am driven to finish the new piece and hang it on my wall.
Turtle Spirit by Gayle Pritchard
ca. 1995. This is the original
commissioned artwork.

For my Turtle Spirit, I began with essentially the same central panel, a turtle form cut from hand made shibori fabric, hand appliqued in place on a remnant of one of my favorite African fabrics. I then cut and pinned additional design elements in place on my studio wall until I was pleased with what was happening. If you look closely, you will see cut-out snippets of fabric as well as border strips used to make the design larger. 

The central portion of the new Turtle Spirit, shown above left, measures about 25" wide x 30" high, to give you an idea of the scale. If you examine the edges, you will notice the tear-away backing showing. I create all of my fiber collages on top of a non-fusible medium weight tear-away backing. It not only provides body while sewing, it also allows me to create shaped pieces that fit together like a jig-saw puzzle without making any patterns.

In my next post, I will show you how I built my final composition, beginning with this little panel. The piece is almost finished now, and I can't wait for you to see it! I can't wait to hang it up on the wall.