April 15, 2010

A New Rug Hooking Project: Red Curl

After doing the ruglet Blue Sweep, I thought I'd like to do more shaped works, which engage space differently than an image on a rectangle. I did lots of thumbnail sketches with a circular theme and kept coming back to the idea of an incomplete circle, so I did a watercolor sketch using a gradual color and value shift from one end to the other.

Richard Tuttle, Letters (The Twenty-Six Series), 1966, galvanized iron; 26 parts, each approximately 6 x 9 inches

When discussing Blue Sweep in comments, I thought of Richard Tuttle's piece Letters, a wacky take on the alphabet. Though I didn't use his shapes for this work, he continues as an inspiration (as I wrote about here). An aside: I recently watched Herb and Dorothy, a documentary about an unusual art collector-couple which included an interview with Tuttle. At one point he said, speaking of Herb "something goes from the eye to the soul without going through the brain", which is a lovely thought; even though I mull everything over, I love the idea of a mystery at the heart of the art enterprise.

Here is the wool for the project, which I dyed by dipping a long piece of fabric in a pot so that one end got much darker than the other. I added some blue to the red at the darkest end and some yellow at the light end; this increases the color change so that it's not only dark to light but also cool to warm. I hope this creates an illusion that the right end of the curl is moving forward in space. Below is the start of the project; I have to pay quite a bit of attention to my colors as I hook, to try to get smooth transitions of color: no auto-pilot on this one.


  1. Great springy tension! (Maybe also spring-like.) Interesting how one feels the bright/warm advancing over the larger form/cool/dull/ high contrast. Usually, greater size and high contrast trump color to advance. Also like the potential energy of the interior negative space - like a fiddle-head fern about to unwind. Then if one wants to, a reversal can occur by thinking of your stopping point as a horizon line and we're looking through a sort of oculus!

  2. Thanks for the thoughtful comment, Kim. I think that the large size of the left end of the piece might anchor it more, while the other end has more "spring". I worked on the shape of the interior space quite a lot, trying to get it to have a sense of movement, so I'm glad you noticed it.

  3. I will really enjoy watching the red circle come to life. Thanks for explaining your technique for graduating the dye colors on your wool. I also watched the film about Herb & Dorothy! What an amazing marriage, to each other, to their artists, to collecting. I couldn't help think about the fine line between collecting and hoarding as we saw their tiny apartment get filled to the ceiling with art because of their unquenchable passion. I ultimately decided that I need to go a little more crazy myself, yay for Herb & Dorothy!