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Of Quilts and Art and Freedom

Assorted Parts of a Non-Integrated Whole.

That’s what I’ve named this quilt. That’s also what bipolar disorder feels like at times. At least it feels that way for me. Bipolar disorder, like an mental illness, is not the same for each person.

Version 2

It’s been ages since I hand quilted, but this quilt wouldn’t look good with free-motion quilting. I used a variegated metallic thread for quilting the little shodow leaves. and a thick variegated purple thread for around the big leaves.

I grabbed a piece of fabric that fit for the back and never realized that when I hang the quilt on the clothesline, the light makes the backing shine through. Inside the house, the quilt doesn’t look as if it were suffering from a bad dye job.

All I have left to do with this quilt is to attach a sleeve and a label.


I wanted different embellishments for each leaf. For this one, I unthreaded sequins from a string of sequins and attached them with beads.


I wanted a leaf to show depression. At first, I thought that I had picked the wrong fabric. Then I thought about how I feel when I’m depressed. There’s darkness and dullness but there’s also goofiness.


When I’m  above center – what a psychologist would call manic – the excess energy sometimes spills over into places it shouldn’t


Full blown, get out of my way, a hurricane is roaring through, manic event. Everything is out of control although there can be a few quiet spots. Medicated, my manic events usually involve cooking. When I did a ride along with a police officer a couple years ago, I was having a manic event. I handed the officer 6 dozen home made cookies and said, “This is for you.”  During another manic event, I had to buy yarn – at least it was on sale – to make a crocheted bedspread. I’m still working on the bedspread. TV writers like to portray bipolar people as spendthrifts. Some are. I’m extremely careful and the credit card bill is paid in full each month.


This is the dangerous one. I withdraw, and put up barriers – some physical, some emotional – to keep people away. I know it’s harmful for me to isolate, but many times, I just don’t want to be around anyone. Introverted below center, extroverted to the power of 5  when I’m above center.


For the quilted leaves, I hand drew each one. All of the leaves are a bit different because in nature, all of the leaves are a bit different. I used a variegated metallic thread. I like what I got, but metallic thread is a pain in the tush to use for hand quilting. Tangles. Snarls. Metallic stripping off from the thread. Breakage. Tying several knots in the end of the thread so when I pull it through the backing of the quilt, it doesn’t come out the front of the quilt.

I chose to use gingko leaves because gingko is an ancient tree. It’s in the same phylum as pine trees and it’s the only tree in that phylum that has leaves. The gingko doesn’t really fit in, but there is a place for it. I don’t really fit in, but there is a place for me.

I had problems embellishing this quilt because my beads kept hiding. I’d know that I had gotten out a container of a particular, special bead, but the container would disappear. I’ve been considering getting a tackle box to hold all the beads. This one is a dandy. Now, I can have all of my beads together. I’ve still got a small, shoebox size box full of watch maker tins for seed beads.

Now for the freedom part. I watched the Youtube video of Meryl Streep’s speech at the Golden Globe awards and thought about progress. Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger sang about unions, the dust bowl, war and other social issues. Both were blacklisted in the 1950’s. They were considered Communists because of their views. If you sang from your heart, you didn’t work.

The Smother’s Brothers had a comedy variety show in the 1960’s. They had an anti war routine, and the show was cancelled. If you spoke from your heart, you didn’t work. Many years later, the brothers received an award for speaking out.

The Dixie Chicks spoke out agains war in Iraq and Afghanistan. They got hate mail. They refused to back down. They got larger audiences and wrote a song about what they call The Controversy – Not Ready To Make Nice. I’m not ready to make nice. I’m not ready to back down.

I wrote a blog post about the anger and disbelief after a misogynous, arrogant, bigoted narcissist won – sort of, the people voted for Hillary – the presidential election. Almost as soon as I published that blog post, I got an e-mail from a former friend saying that my political views are a function of bipolar disorder. Imagine holding so tightly to a point of view that any dissenting voice can only come from mental illness.

Continuing the tradition, Meryl Streep spoke out so clearly no one could misinterpret her words. She spoke out against mocking people who have disabilities. She spoke out against hypocrisy in government. Her courage is remarkable and inspiring.

I speak out with my art. If I want my work juried into a show, I can’t submit the emotional art. Shows are for pretty. I know this because I have submitted some of my emotional art – and it got turned down. All of my pretty work was accepted.

I remember a poster from the 1960’s: You have not converted a man just because you have silenced him.

I am not silent. I don’t care if I’m the only one speaking. I’m out of the closet and I’m staying out of the closet.

I’m linking with Nina Marie. You can check out her blog and the blogs of some incredibly talented artists here.



I retired from the Public Defender Dept. November 12, 2015 after 16 health destroying years. Now, I'm a full time multi-media artist and writer on a new adventure. As an artist, I create with beads, fabric, fiber, and ceramic clay. Sometimes separately; sometimes in assorted combinations. You can find my on-line store at:

3 thoughts on “Of Quilts and Art and Freedom

  1. DEB. IT’S ALL LOVELY! Since it is the thinking thoughts gets you in trouble, why bother
    with explanations when you enter your quilt to a show. Save the good part, the thoughts,
    for us, your quilting buddies.


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