When Juan first approached me about the dragon quilt I finally finished this year, I was surprised that someone was interested in such a highly personal piece for themself. In fact, I asked him what it was he was interested in. He told me that dragons were really significant for him and his wife, who died two years ago. He was also interested in the spirals.
So, I told him that I could probably modify the design and put it in an affordable price range and off we went! This was truly a co-mission. Juan gave me lots of personal details and I tried to weave them into this piece.
At the beginning, I was thinking of this as Beth’s dragon, but as time went on, I realized it was Beth’s garden. Beth was a gardener (and quilter), and I wanted the base to be produce prints. I checked with Juan to make sure there were none she hated or if there were any that needed to be included. Beth loved potatoes (and Juan still does), so I had to include those. I didn’t have any in my stash, but when I asked around in the quilting community, someone generously sent me more than I needed so I was able to make the back with potatoes too.
— Dragon Smith (@artcollisions) June 15, 2015
I used the same stencil for the dragon, but arranged it differently. You can see that I started with a more similar layout in the first tweet, but felt the second layout was much better. Juan’s dragon is in a garden, not a field. It’s much more intimate than mine.
— Dragon Smith (@artcollisions) June 18, 2015
— Dragon Smith (@artcollisions) June 29, 2015
I am pretty sure the dragon comprises both Juan and Beth. It is gold for the sun because Beth was Juan’s sun, but the tail is all Juan, with the sharp, glittery black band and dots. The head is Beth, with the circlet of stars and all the bejeweled flowers (that she probably grew in her garden). Also, Juan told me they met because she lived across a field from him. There is already wheat and flowers in the background, but I wanted to bring the feeling of the field more to the forefront.
— Dragon Smith (@artcollisions) July 16, 2015
— Dragon Smith (@artcollisions) July 15, 2015
I wanted to include a yin yang in this dragon and when I went to put it together, I placed the two pieces separated. To me, they represent Juan’s broken heart. He carries her in his belly. But also, I think she’s in his throat (the bejeweled flowered piece).
Although there are many spirals in this quilt, the three central spirals represent their children. The youngest is the shiny spiral at the bottom and the two on top of that are his sons.
I feel honored to have been chosen to bring this dragon to life. It was pure joy to work on and helped me find my mojo again.