The Origins of Unicorn8

The Origins of Unicorn8

Unicorn8 began as a short story about a weaver who used her craft to shield her from her anxieties and preserve her sanity. The tactile nature of weaving helped keep her mind off her worsening mental health. I enjoyed researching the process of weaving and began researching types of dyes and how they are made.

Eventually the character in the short story loses her sanity, but I thought there was more to the story. When I went back to school and earned a master’s degree in English (creative writing), Unicorn8 became my thesis.

The Hunt for the Unicorn series, being one of the finest examples of Renaissance tapestries, was an obvious choice to begin my tale. I’ve always loved this lovely image of the contented unicorn in a corral surrounded by exquisite flowers and greenery.

I loved it until I looked closer at the details. The unicorn is actually tied to the pomegranate tree and not relaxing under it. There’s a woman’s belt cinched tightly around its neck and a gold chain that secures him to the tree. The corral is hardly big enough to turn around in.

The image is thought to be an allegory of love, with the unicorn standing in for bridegrooms everywhere. It’s supposed to convey the overwhelming strength of love and attachment and gives a nod to the value of women during a time when women were thought to be less valuable than cows.


I became less fond of the image after my research so I decided to create another tapestry in the series and call it Unicorn Freed. The subject of this tapestry isn’t love, it’s self-empowerment. The maiden regretted her role in the capture of the unicorn, so she snuck out of the castle, where she lived, freed the unicorn, and ran away with it. She runs without concern for her looks or what others might think of her. She appears determined and focused as she and the unicorn race toward a cliff and the night sky beyond.

Alas, I have yet to produce this particular image. But I continue to work on it. I hope to have it ready before the book is published.

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