June 17, 2010

A New Rug Hooking Project: Up Down, with Inspiration

Richard Tuttle, 60th Line Piece, 1990. 9 x 6 x 5/8 inch

Blinky Palermo, Blue Disk and Stick, 1968, 99 x 4 x 3 inches

Dan Flavin, Alternate Diagonals of March 2, 1964 (to Don Judd), 12 feet long on the diagonal

Here are works by three artists that I admire greatly which use the gravity of the floor as an essential structural element. Richard Tuttle, who has inspired another work of mine, which I wrote about here, is playfully resting tiny works on the floor which "hang" from a thin line penciled on the wall. Blinky Palermo, with a sly minimalist sensibility, rests two colored tape wrapped pieces of wood against the wall, confounding categories of painting and sculpture. And Dan Flavin worked with light itself, arranging fluorescent bulbs in geometric configurations that transform a space.

So why not use the floor for a hooked rug, but not lying on it as a carpet, which would be too traditional for me. I pulled out some sketches that used the floor or the edge of a wall or door as a balance point. Some of these thumbnails were done at Dia:Beacon, where a collection of Flavin's work gave me some compositional ideas. I played around for a while and came up with bars of equal width (they will be 4 inches wide) and different heights resting on and rising from the floor; the two outer bars will have their bottom edges touching the floor. Because I didn't want the work to be severely geometric, I softened the form by using a fluid range of colors for the study.

In order to get a watercolor effect with the wool, I placed it scrunched up in a wide pan and dropped the dye colors on it by large spoonsful. I used a couple of different yellows, a blue, a green. Below you see a photo of the wool as it looks dried. I love the effect of the color splashes, which will be subdued somewhat when hooked. I plan to do horizontal hooking to contrast with the vertical forms. As much as I may try to exercise control, the result will be a surprise, which is an aspect of rug hooking that I love.


  1. This is very exciting Altoon. Loved the whole thinking process!
    Particularly drawn to the Blinky Palermo work and as you say the use of gravity and the floor as a 'structural element'.
    Then you idea and the dying process... wonderful colours washing over the wool...really looking forward to seeing this!
    good working!

  2. Thanks so much for the comment, Sophie. It's good to know that my thoughts are interesting to someone other than myself. Isn't Palermo's work terrific! I named my male cat Blinky as an homage.

  3. I love the photo of the wool scrunched in the pan. Love the patterns in it, the folds. Nice job placing...so glad you took and posting the image.

  4. hi Maggie, I'm glad you like the image of this new project in its dyeing process. The spot dyeing in a pan is a lot of fun to do.