Friday, October 21, 2011

My Tools of the Trade

Tools of the Trade
16' x 16"
Rusted and Hand Dyed fabric, paint, acrylic medium, paintstiks

Perhaps advancing age has made me more aware of how much I have taken my hands and their uses for granted.  I am feeling them more and more, and not always in a good way!  I really do see my hands and eyes as my most important tools- the tools I buy would be useless without them!  So I chose my hands as the tool I wanted to portray in my piece.

I also wanted to experiment with something I saw in a recent issue of Quilting Arts, using mixed media materials that I have, but never done much with.  And I wanted to find a way to use my rusted material without making me or my sewing machine crazy!

My rusted fabric has always reminded me of the rock art that is so prevalent in the American Southwest.  I wanted to create a piece that referenced the art of those ancient peoples without duplicating it.  

I used black felt as my base, and fused torn strips of rusted and hand dyed fabric.  After a coat of matte gel medium, I stitched, then added paint and torn pieces from a dictionary page.  I just continued to add paint, stamps, and fabric strips until I was happy with the look.  The last touch was the large image of the hand, which I did with a freezer paper stencil and Shiva paintstiks.  I then gave it a last coat of gel medium.

I really debated how to finish the edge.  I didn't want to have a hard edge with stitching or binding.  I finally figured out how to stitch on a doubled piece of tulle in a greeny-turquoise that works fantastically with the rust tones. It gives the piece the soft shadowy edge I was looking for.

It was a strange experience making this piece.  It is so different than my previous work- at times I would look at it and wonder 'Where did this come from?'  As I have lived with it hanging on my studio wall, however, I've come to love it and claim it as mine.  I will definitely be playing more with mixed media in the future.


  1. This is gorgeous, with such wonderful depth! Your rust dyed fabric is so fitting with all you've used in this quilt and I think the tulle is the perfect finish.

  2. wow! A wonderful piece of art. I love its texture.

  3. This a true work of art!! The layers, the colors, and the textures all work together to make an amazing piece.

  4. It's always interesting when experimenting takes you in new direactions... I really like the depth of this -- the layers give it a lot of interest plus a sense of mystery, or age... I can't articulate it but this has the sense of old, well- used tools and I love that ultimately you used your hands in so many ways to make this piece about your hands!

  5. This is wonderful! I love all the layers and textures and images that you've used. There is such depth to it, and you are right, are hands are a very valuable tool!

  6. This piece has such a lot of atmosphere. I think that you have captured the rock art aura and made it part of a really meaningful piece of art about who we are as people

  7. You have managed to create a truly "aged" piece. I really like the composition of this piece. Where did you find the tiny hand prints?

  8. Love the layered and rusty (aged) look of the quilt and the depth. Really beautiful!
    I’m curious about the gel medium you used to finish the quilt.