Update: I was very excited to learn my quilt ‘8 of Cups’ won a blue ribbon for Best Use of Color at Pacific International Quilt Festival while I was at Arrowmont! 🙂
Believe it or not, ‘Discovering the Hidden Perks of a Truckload of Dung’ is the title of the quilt I just sent off to PIQF for the show on October 16th -19th.
I originally started this quilt for the Dinner@8 exhibit called Reflections, but I was so busy this spring that I forgot the deadline and missed the entry.
It’s the 5th in a series of catharsis quilts that I’ve made since my 20 year marriage broke up in 2009. Compared to my first quilt in the series, the 3 of Swords,
this one is a far happier reflection of my present state of mind.
I’m sure you’re wondering about the name of this quilt, it actually refers to a chapter in a book on finding happiness amongst life’s difficulties, written by Buddhist monk Ajahn Brahm, called Opening the Door of Your Heart. I listened to this audiobook for almost a full year every night to help me fall asleep in those early days when basic things like eating and sleeping seemed so hard to do. Each night I just started the audio book in a different place, so eventually I made it through the whole thing, but the book also ran all night while I slept and I think subconsciously it really helped me find forgiveness, and peace of mind.
The chapter in the book this quilt was inspired by is called ‘Who ordered this truckload of dung?’ You can read the story here and you’ll start to understand why I named the quilt what I did, especially after what happened following my break up.
Long story short, the year after my marriage ended, and the recession was at its peak, my ex was living across the country trying to find work and the banks wouldn’t process loans, so selling our loft in Chicago was out of the question. I actively pursued getting a loan modification to no avail, while the bank insisted the only way to qualify was to keep paying the mortgage, so I did, and ran through our life savings, naively thinking B of A would do everything their reps assured me would happen.
At the beginning of the next year, our place slid into foreclosure, I put it on the market for a short sale and went to court every other month to fight the foreclosure. I got a contract to sell our place in June of 2012 and managed to get the foreclosure dismissed by July. Five months later, and 24 hours after flying back from a week of teaching in Houston, we closed on the sale and drove west on a cold and rainy November night.
I planted lots of sunflowers and bought a pretty pink bougainvillea. I listened to the birds chirp, felt the warm sun on my back and cried tears of joy. I had made it through what seemed an endless nightmare, and I was so grateful to have such difficult years behind me.
My garden flourished, I admired its beauty and finally felt truly happy.
I started with a big piece of white cotton fabric and sketched several big sunflowers and the bougainvillea on it. Using acrylic inks, I added broad brushstrokes of green and began painting the flowers.
Next I stamped the fabric with hand carved rubber stamps
and wood block stamps. I like how the stamps show through the layers of acrylic ink, sometimes clearly and sometimes just ghosting if the ink color has more opacity.
I had a hard time seeing past that truckload of $#*t dumped on my life almost 6 years ago, it was truly overwhelming at times and felt so unfair, but bit by bit I shoveled my way through it and am far happier now, than I was before it all happened.
Now, I’m off to Arrowmont to spend a week immersed in acrylic inks in the foothills of the great Smoky mountains with a group of kindred creative spirits. Life is good, keep creating!