Transfer Darcy Cat onto my navy shirt.

Mr. Darcy on the front; scripted logo on the back...

A few weeks ago, Lily from TwoStrayCats introduced a line of printed pillows that got my mind whirring… I approached her about the possibility of collaborating with me on a series of pillows featuring my artwork, because I’d like to expand myself but can’t sew a lick.
Wait, that didn’t make sense… can anyone sew a lick? If there was a way to sew your tongue to the fabric, I would probably find it. 😛  

Anyway… instead of jumping at the chance to make extra work for herself, she suggested that I use heat transfer paper with my fancy printer to create my own fabric line. It sounded like a wonderful idea… except that I would still need to purchase pillows ready-made for the experiment, and it felt like cheating. Well, to me it does. 
It got me thinking about my old idea to add my artwork to T-shirts, whether to sell or simply to wear around the neighborhood as a form of quiet self-promotion. Lord knows I need some help in that department; I have a tendency to shoot myself in the feet every time the opportunity arises to market myself.  

A couple of weeks ago, I was out in public.. (yes really, I was OUT in public!).. and I had a handmade notebook with me to jot down some notes for my last blog about picture-hoarding. I had designed the notebook cover to display a print of my work, and was feeling pleased with myself for the shameless plug. 

 So an older gentleman approaches me and inquires whether I’m a writer.
Immediately, my mouth opens and I say,
“No, I’m just making a few notes in my journal.”
And he shrugs and walks away. *kick, curse, kick* 

 It would’ve been the perfect opportunity to say,
“Why yes, I do write. I’m currently adapting Jane Austen and I also chronicle the experience of owning my own business and selling my artwork… see this journal cover? That’s an original of mine.”
Why is it that we always think of the appropriate thing to say 15 minutes after the moment passes?  

I got back in the car, and headed for home… driving is an excellent activity for brainstorming, although the state troopers would probably reprimand me for saying that, as it is technically distracted driving, and I’ve missed turns on more than one occasion when my mind was elsewhere engaged. 

 I began mulling over why I tend to unconsciously sabotage my own efforts. And I came to this realization… I must hate myself. No, seriously. I must have some deep self-loathing that seeks to punish itself for an imaginary offense. There is no other way to explain the situations I’ve found myself involved with, the bad relationships, the dead-end jobs, the constant put-downs… I tell myself I can’t sew. Have I ever really tried? Other than to mend a button or ripped sleeve, I haven’t attempted to follow a pattern since grade school, when I created Frankenstein’s nightgown and swore off sewing forever.  

 I should treat myself with respect, look after my best interests, and supportively work with myself as a team … all those management seminars and motivational speeches that retail associates are forced to endure came back to haunt me, and what I saw in the rearview mirror was a terrible employee. In fact, I wanted to fire myself, and hire someone with a Can-Do attitude. 

  I could very easily travel back in time and point the blame at my father, mother, teacher, or religious leader… somewhere along the line, someone probably failed to
respond to my emotional needs, and instilled this self-depreciating behaviour within me. However, “the devil made me do it” has never been in my repertoire, and neither
has “I had a rough childhood” or “everybody picked on me”. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether we’re dealt a crappy hand, we still need to play them to our advantage
and make our lives work for us. I’m not a victim of circumstance; the only person holding me down is myself.  

 I dug into my closet the other day, and realized I didn’t own any plain cotton T-shirts for practicing with heat transfers. Everything was patterned, printed, ruffled,
and textured. So on my next grocery trip, I made a stop at the evil super center’s apparel dept. for some clearance love, and found a few plain tees marked down to $3 a piece… the perfect price for my experiment.
Of course, each time I walk through the automatic doors, I’m bombarded by well-meaning co-workers who inquire after my children’s growth and how I’m acclimating to “being a stay-at-home mom”. I’m sure that I’ve mentioned my art business to a few of them, but everyone seems to have forgotten that I do much more with my newfound “free time” than change diapers and watch cartoons.
The company would have sucked my soul and creative passion if I had continued down their “Pathway To Success”, and by no means did I regret the decision to align my career goals with my personal vision. So why did I keep an armful of old work uniforms hanging in the closet? Is it merely a visual reminder of where I came from, to keep me motivated, or is that self-destructive mentality taunting me… “You’ll need those uniforms eventually, when you FAIL.”
…Those navy blue, cotton T-shirts… hanging like lynched corpses… the wearers of whom have watched their dreams being executed for the sake of a steady-but-barely-scraping paycheck and group health insurance.  

 Plain navy. 

You know, my Darcy Cat would look awesome against a navy background. You take the cards you are dealt and make them work for you… including the remnants of a job that couldn’t confine my individuality. My inner voice was right – I will be wearing those old uniforms again. This time, however, when a shirt defines who I am, it will be a reflection of pride. 

Artist TaraFly wearing her custom Mr Darcy Cat t-shirt

Click to view the work-in-progress pics on Flickr! 🙂