Dragon’s Horde 056: Woodland Fairy

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Mostly finished WIP

This is the second cross stitch I have completed since mom died. I cried a lot throughout its progress, but most especially in the beginning. Holding the fabric was heaving. Pulling the thread was a monumental task that I couldn’t do for very long.

I was always emotionally and physically exhausted after the brief time I spent working on it and Ox was always there to hold me while I cried after what felt like an insignificant, laughable amount of time.

Unfeeling Logical Lef Brain: It’s fabric. It’s a needle. How are those things, which weigh less than a pound combined, heavy? How can you be physically exhausted when you go to the gym and lift weights and run and row and do jiujitsu and spare with black belts? How is this task in any way hard? Why are you being such a baby about this?

And yet, those objects were heavy and no amount of bashing myself changed the fact that stitching still made me cry and miss mom.

Like my last project, I thought about giving up on this one more than once and even though it’s a fairly easy project, it took me almost a year to complete.

I started this project shortly after my move to Nebraska. Ox went with me to a local stitching store and I found the pattern in the clearance section. It was a simple pattern. A single color. A happy little woodland fairy with a pretty little butterfly. I could do this project…

No…

I WOULD do this project.

I would do this project and I would figure out my emotions and grief associated with stitching while I did it.

I WOULD NOT give up my craft. I WOULD NOT let the universe take away a skill my mom had taught me no matter how much I had to cry and sob and scream and rage and cry again to figure it out and get it back.

This was the project that brought Lil’ Ox and me together. She saw me stitching one night and thought it was pretty and wanted to try stitching something herself. We went online and found patterns she wanted to do. I showed her how to pick out the threads she needs for her projects. I showed her how to cut her threads and thread her needles. I showed her how to count stitches and mark her pattern to keep track of her progress.

So far she has stitched a cat and a heart and is in the process of stitching a rainbow unicorn while we’ve sat next to each other listening to music or talking. She gave the heart she made to Papa Ox as a Christmas present. It was amazing to see his face light up when he opened his gift and how big Lil’ Ox smiled and to sit knowing I played a role in making that interaction happen.

This fairy will eventually be Lil’ Ox’s birthday gift. I want her to have it since she admired it so much and because I think of it as ours; her’s and mine. I still need to wash out the pencil lines and stitch her name, but overall the project is done and I’m content with it.

I wasn’t as good as I meant to be about taking progress pictures, and with how much space lapsed between the start and the end of the project I’m sort of surprised I have as many pictures as I do.

I’m glad I did this one. I’m glad I have a lot of positive memories associated with it. I’m glad I worked through as much as I did emotionally with it. I no longer cry every time I stitch. In fact, I haven’t cried while stitching or after stitching in months now. I’ve completed two other projects since this one and am already in the process of working on another.

I’m glad my fairy will eventually have a home where she will be cherished and loved and valued. I’m glad that holding this project actually makes me feel warmth and love and… happiness? I think maybe that’s the right word. I’m happy I have someone to give it to. I’m happy someone will be able to enjoy it.

I’m sorry this piece took me so long to do, mom, but I didn’t quit or give up on it. I didn’t throw it away. Every time I stitch I still think of you teaching me on my first project and all of the projects I made for you after it. I still think of you and miss you and I don’t mean for those thoughts to be as painful as they are, but I’m adjusting to them and because I worked through them I’m able to pass on your teachings to others. You’re still alive and affecting and influencing the world because you influenced me and I haven’t given up.

I love you, mom, for ever and for always.

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Dragon’s Horde 055: Home

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Photo Apr 16, 8 15 39 PM

The last cross stitch I count as actually being completed was January of last year. It was a pattern I adapted as a gift for my mom.

I have stitched, off and on, since then. I stitched a bit while I was in Vegas during her hospital stay. I tried to maintain my hobby while my life shifted around me.

Shortly after returning back to Orlando, after her death, I threw all of my projects away.

They hurt. They reminded me that things were different. That they would always be different. They were from a different time, a life time ago, a life I would never, could never, go back to.

I couldn’t finish those projects and I placed them into a trash bag without feeling. There was no sense of loss. There was no anger or injustice.

There was nothing.

For a really long time there was nothing aside from existing. Sometimes my days are still like that. My biggest accomplishment is waking up. Breathing. Sometimes I still need those things to count as being successful. I still need those things, those simple, unconscious things, to count towards something because if they don’t then what’s the point in doing them?

I saw this pattern one day while I was in Jo-Ann Fabrics.

I realized, standing in the aisle of a fairly mundane store, what it was that I had truly lost when my mom died. Why I hurt so much. Why I felt so lost. So alone. So vulnerable and exposed.

I no longer had a feeling of “home”.

I bought the pattern, I can’t remember exactly when, but most likely around the end of July.

I’ve had this pattern for almost a year.

It’s fairly simple; only three colors. It’s stitched on 14 count fabric, which for me is huge. I tend to gravitate towards 28 and 32 counts. There’s nothing hard or challenging about this piece. In fact, it’s pretty mindless and uninvolved.

And yet, it has taken me almost a year to complete.

Most of the time it would sit, a reminder that I had a project I “wanted” to complete, a hobby I used to enjoy, and yet it would go unattended.

One thread, a handful of stitches, I was lucky if I could get so much done in a single sitting. I have every cross stitch I ever made for my mother packed away in a “box of memories” in what is now my china hutch. I can remember holding those fabrics, threading those needles. I can remember her smiles when she opened her gifts. I can remember seeing them on the fire mantle when I would visit home.

I would remember all those things, feel all those feelings while holding this new project in my hands, the words reminding me that my home used to be two eyes and a heartbeat. Reminding me that “home” wasn’t here anymore and would never be the same even if I found another.

This is the first project in a very long time that I have completed for myself.

It’s important to me. I know it is even though right now I hurt from its completion. I know I’ll value it later but right now all I can feel is the hole in my chest where I wish so desperately there wasn’t what feels like ruin.

I thought so many times about throwing this project away. Of burning it. Destroying it. I thought so often, seeing it sitting on my table or in the corner of my living room, that it would be easier to give up on it, abandon it, rather than to work through all of the memories and emotions.

Right now it sucks. Right now it hurts. Right now I’m angry and sad and all of these fucking emotions that I’m so tired of feeling everytime my grief feels this uncontrollable need to remind me that it’s still there, that it will always be there, that it will never ebb or fade or ease. I’ll simply, at some point, become better at coping.

I had thought after a year I would be better. I had thought I would cry less. I had thought I would find some inspiration or meaning. I had thought I would find home, or some shattered pieces of happiness. I thought I would find something.

And maybe I have.

I’ve learned how to define myself to myself by myself.

I’ve learned that I’m not defined by my job. I’m not defined by my relationships. I’m not defined by people or by their expectations of me.

I’ve learned to have discipline instead of motivation.

I’ve learned to say, “Go fuck yourself.” I’ve said it to Life and all of its continued petty bullshit. I’ve said it to other people. To society. To myself. To the emotions I feel and rage and struggle against only to accept at the end of an exhausting and futile battle.

I’ve learned to be angry. I’ve learned to be sad. I’ve learned to keep going even when it feels like I’m at the end of myself and have nothing left to give.

27 years cannot be replaced. It cannot be erased or forgotten. It cannot be eased or soothed or medicated.

This project hurt, like so many other things in my life this past year. In a way maybe that’s fitting. Maybe one day it will make me smile. Even if it doesn’t, I’m glad I finished it. There’s something about it that’s solemnly appropriate.

I hurt, but I am content, and right now, that’s enough for me.

Dragon’s Horde 0054: Kiss

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Title: Kiss
Stitched by: Jennifer Conley
Completed: January 1, 2016

 

I honestly don’t remember exactly when I completed this cross-stitch. We’ll say that I finished it at the beginning of this month. This is the project I kept complaining writing about. The one I was trying to use as a country keeper topper, only to discover the company who used to sell the jars the size the pattern called for doesn’t┬ámake the jars anymore, and standard mason┬ájars are too small to use the 5×5 design…

 

So right now I plan to frame this guy for mom. Hopefully she’s not one of the secret people following my blog under some weird alias. I haven’t had anyone called “crazy cat lady” follow me so I think I’m good. : 3

 

If you are reading this mom, I love you! Act surprised when you get this. And I don’t really think you’re crazy… ok… I don’t really think you’re that crazy… >.>;

 

Overall this design wasn’t too bad. I changed the original color of the kisses to the silver thread. I also changed the backstitched words to the blackish-brown color instead of the blue the pattern wanted to use. The blue didn’t pop enough against the lighter silver in my opinion.

 

I might do this one again just to see the original project to fruition, but if I do it won’t be for a while. This one did nothing but fight me every step of the way so taking a break from it for a while would most likely be for the best. It was cute. It’s done. I’ve already moved on to my Spring cross-stitch. Let’s label this as a success and keep on going.

Dragon’s Horde 0053: Karma

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Title: Karma
Artist: Jennifer Conley
Medium: News Paper / Magazine Cut Up

 

This was the final project I created for my History of Visual Communications class. The objective was to create a poster around an inspirational quote. I was at a lost as to what to do at first to be honest. I didn’t want to do anything overly organic and creative. I didn’t want something super touchy feely. I seemed stuck in left brained mode and the thought of having to make pretty, flowy lines around something super sentimental didn’t seem all that appealing.

 

I was at the laundromat trying to ignore the news that was on since it was all about people getting shot, or beat up, or any number of other depressing things reaffirming the fact of why I avoid the news when I can.

 

It made me think about karma and how those people would reap what they sow eventually, but also that the people who are being forces of good would also reap what they sow. Karma isn’t a purely negative force even though the only time we really hear about it is when we are trying to comfort people who have been wronged. Karma rewards those people who go out of their way to make the world a better place.

 

To show that karma can be inspiring, I used a cute, sort of sarcastic quote that I enjoy.

 

“I saw that…”

~ Karma

 

I didn’t know which art style to go with until I started thinking about karma and life in general. Life is messy and chaotic. It doesn’t pull from only one area or facet. It’s not a “style” like art deco, or post modern. It’s everything. It’s every color, every style, and so I decided to do a cut up composition from news paper and magazine clippings.

 

It was actually an amazingly fun experience. This is my first cut up and it forced me to analyze the ads and articles I was looking at. What was the color choice, the font? What was the purpose of the text? Did I feel it could be improved on or was the ad successful in my opinion?

 

It really made me stop and think about all of the concepts I have been learning in my classes, reinforcing them.

 

It also helped that this style dealt more with straight lines and geometric objects. I got to arrange them how I wanted to tell a story. It wasn’t until I had already started gluing words down that I realized I could make phrases which emphasized the original quote. Sort of like subliminal messages. I got to pick through all of the words I had cut out through over 300 pages of print. There were duplicate words, words I loved, words I didn’t remember cutting out, words I couldn’t believe I had cut out because I wouldn’t use them in a million years. There were different colors, different fonts, different sizes. There were missing words, lost words, words I wish I had found or realized I would have wanted.

 

It was great taking what I had before me and making something from essentially junk clippings that most people would trow away.

 

It was a fantastic learning experience, and a great craft type project where I actually got to get my hands dirty rather than keeping everything clean with digital art. I can honestly say even if it’s not “original” or whatever negative things people may say about cut up art, this has been one of my favorite projects for school so far.

Dragon’s Horde 0052: December 2015

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Title: December 2015 Holiday Treat
Stitched by: Jennifer Conley
Designed by: Jennifer Aikman-Smith
Completed: December 31, 2015

I honestly do not remember the exact day I completed this cross-stitch. I suppose I could go back through my posts, pinning down the day, but I’m fine with the date I picked. I started this Christmas day, right after completing the commissioned piece for Marcus, and I finished it before the New Year.

It was nice to go back to working with bright colors, and working on something small. An instant gratification project really since it took pretty much no time, especially in comparison to the 8 or more hours a day I as putting into The Hobbit.

Dragon’s Horde 0051: Winter

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Title: Winter
Stitched by: Jennifer Conley
Designed by: Gancedo.eu
Completed: January 19th, 2016

 

This is my most recent completed cross stitch. I’ve enjoyed working on it. I think it has helped me be reflective and calm through these past few weeks. I feel like it’s helped me with the “downness” I usually experience with winter and being constantly cold.

I’m happy with the way it came out and with my color choice and I’m looking forward to framing it. Onward to Spring and new green things.

Dragon’s Horde 0050: The Jack of Hearts

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This is the first half of my homework for my History of Visual Communications class. We had to create a playing card which was decided by our birth date. I happened to get the Jack of Hearts.

 

Completed in roughly 3 hours using Photoshop and a Wacom tablet. It was a lot of fun and I loved working on it. Now to create the back of the playing card before the assignment is due. : )