of hearts

Page for Threads

Thinking of hearts this time of year, how we used them in the book and how this disarmingly simple shape can represent something far more complex or, simply be a picture of happiness in a Valentine’s Card.

Themes/ Symbols/Motifs… What’s the difference and how do they apply to our fibre art?

In literature, writing and film, these are some consderations:

Dorian Scott Cole, on his Visual Writer Site: Symbols are loaded (by making associations early on for the reader/viewer) to give a viewer cues to their meaning. Symbols and motifs enhance your story by establishing mood and conveying information so you can better utilize your hundred and twenty pages for plot, character and conflict.

With help from Literary Terms:

Themes– The fundemental concept of a work, the essential idea or philosophy. The proposition.

Motif– A recurring structure used to explore a theme

Symbols objects, characters, figures, or colors used to represent abstract ideas or concepts. An object that represents a very, very, very, very, very, very complex idea. The symbol transcends the object that it is to become the idea.

From WIKI, In creative work:

Motif (narrative), any recurring element in a story that has symbolic significance

Motif (textile arts), a recurring element or fragment that, when joined together, creates a larger work

Motif (visual arts), a repeating theme or pattern

Each of these can take on archetypal or iconic significance.

For me, symbols and motifs serve a theme. Symbols have a more weighty significance. They are more filled with intention, while motifs can be purely pictoral.

We stitched hearts in our first book together. When the time came to choose a motif, hearts won out .

Why hearts? After all, they are so “done.” 

Hearts are a universal shape. Anyone can draw them, and in doing so, they seem to take on a bit of the artists’ style: rounded, lean, crooked, primitive… Geometrically, they provide straight lines and curves to work in, so they are slightly more complex/interesting than circles. As symbols, they are inoffensive and seem to have positive associations for Aztecs, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, Christians and Celts. Hearts are a good teaching shape and they have the potential to take on a unique look. The jury was in; hearts would be a recurring motif in Thread Basics.

For me, if there was any symbolic meaning to be had in the hearts on the pages of the book, it was simply “joyful stitching.” But lately, the symbolism of the heart has been nagging to be given more attention, especially the tattered ones.

Must we work with themes and symbols in our work? At some point, don’t we have to look at “underlying meaning”? There is so much more to work through on this particular key to our creative selves, but enough for now. The holiday seemed a fitting jumping off point for such a ‘hearty’ discussion (sorry). : )

To see a wider perspective in hearts in fibre, be sure to visit Subversive Stitch. Try not to get lost in all of the delicious links and stories.

Love what you sew.


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