Phoebe Dreaming Withdrawal

I finished Phoebe Dreaming yesterday. Now I face that slow-down time between creative powered projects that soaks into my skin, my sleep, my mind during a time of gestation before the next project tickles my creative juices.

I realized how much a part of me these little birds have become. The babies hatched on our front porch about May 17th. I took regular photographs through June 10th when a Cooper’s Hawk flyover scared them all back into the nest. I drew a series of images for my Spoonflower.com surface designs and uploaded them on a variety of background colors under “designs by dulciart,llc.” I finished my first thread painting of Mom on the nest on June 19th. I finished August 26th, 2019.

While falling asleep these past four months, thinking about the next step, the next phase to complete, working and re-working a plan that would ultimately disappear as I sat down to sew. My idea of spiral lines flew off the sewing machine as the impossibility of making smooth, rounded lines with my machine and work space proved unrealistic after about 5 inches of sewing. Instead, I used loopy lines, representing the bugs needed to feed a growing family of bug-eating babies. The loopy lines increased in density as the babies hatched and needed an ever increasing number of bug feedings. The loopy lines are dense around the flowers where the bugs were collected by both parents as they performed a relay-for-life to feed their young. The parents often played with each other, and twittered with joy in their task, as they passed one another to and from the nest. The loopy lines diminish as the young birds learn to fly and feed themselves. I used a variegated thread to emphasize how hard it is to see these fleeting insects, and even harder to catch them mid flight as the Phoebes do so well.

While completing Phoebe Dreaming, I paid extra attention to cutting the finished piece. Unlike past personal projects, this time I made sure the corners were square, the edges nicely secured, the mitered corners carefully hand-stitched. I took delight in putting on the finishing edge and felt the red leaf-filled fabric echoed the inner circle of life’s root. That energy-filled life force that heats a luminescent, center where Mom sits still on her eggs, where life begins, and returns to begin again. The echoing of color indicates that the babies will go off and start families of their own in time. The final inspiration was using a leaf-patterned stitch to hold the “frame” to the work. That last bit was almost like the Phoebes telling me how they wanted to be presented. There was a kind of rush to the finish line as it all came together.

This morning, I almost feel a sense of loss that Phoebe Dreaming is finished. It’s not like I don’t have more projects lined up. The next several things are really just fillers till the next inspiration. They are lap quilts and bags of a sort I’ve done before. It’s just that the sense of adventure isn’t in those next projects. Is this what a mountain climber feels after reaching the peak?There’s also a feeling of quietude. A feeling of a job well done. I like how Phoebe Dreaming came out. My husband likes it too. He’s willing to see it hang in our hall way where he can see it from his chair in the living room, or as he walks around the house.

Like so many of my “portrait” thread paintings, I feel these birds remain with me in spirit. I anticipate their return next spring, and hope for further inspiration from them. I also hope they are successful in hatching more Say’s Phoebes. This world needs more fierce little life forms who take so much joy in their destinies.

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