Beth’s Garden (Dragon)

A dragon in the style of a crop circle in a garden.

A dragon in the style of a crop circle in a garden.

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.

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.  

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.

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.

6 thoughts on “Beth’s Garden (Dragon)

  1. While I like this dragon and think it’s beautiful work I was a bit surprised about the background fabric you chose. I just saw the end product but had no idea about all the personal details that went into the design. It’s nice to know a bit more about it and I’m sure Juan and his kids will love it even more because of it.

    • Thank you! The background was chosen specifically because Beth loved to garden. Otherwise, I’m not sure I’d have chosen that theme. I’m glad you enjoyed the story behind it. I found it very compelling myself.

  2. What an extraordinary project. I love how the background flips for me visually between liminal seashore and layers of the earth strata (if I’m focusing hard on the dragon and letting the patterns blur into impressions), and food patterns with their own depths, like suddenly finding myself up in the sky looking down into abundance upon abundance. I love how much meaning you’ve encoded in (it reminds me very much of an engineering friend of mine who embroiders the most beautiful infographics) and how the meaning is sure and lovely even without knowing the code. Richard Hugo writes of poets finding ways to possess certain key words as their own, such that “Your words used your way will generate your meanings”. I sense you’ve started doing this with your quilting, the way certain stitches and shapes and combinations of patterns have that resonance, gravity even, of private meanings that draw the viewer in.

    This project is one of shared meanings, one that brings a rightness and a richness to all involved. Well done. Thank you for letting us in to share some of the journey.

    • I am overwhelmed at this comment. Truly, that someone outside the story can glean some resonance and meaning from this makes me so happy. I feel that I am starting to be able to express what is in my head and this is an awesome validation. Thank you. ❤

  3. I loved reading your project synopsis. I cried. Really wonderful work, Joni! Loving other’s comments as well! Very moving. ❤

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