March 7, 2011

A New Textile: "Zippity Blue"

Zippity Blue, hand dyed wool on linen, 9 x 23 1/2 inches.

I had fun with the title of this textile, which I think of as a tutti frutti version, in wool, of Jackson Pollock's drips; it references Barnett Newman's "zips", Pollock's Blue Poles, and a favorite childhood song, "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah". I wasn't at all sure I'd like the piece when I started it, but I think it's not bad. The change of color from right to left, from lighter to more saturated, was not something I had planned, but that's okay too. I like the tension between the two thick dark blue zips.

Barnett Newman, Canto II from 18 Cantos, 1964; lithograph, 14 5/16 x 12 5/8 inches.

My favorite Newmans in the MoMA show of abstract expressionism were his prints, a nice surprise for me. This one wasn't in the show, but it's very beautiful, and's a blue zip!

Jackson Pollock, Blue Poles: Number 11, 1952; oil on canvas; 83 x 192 inches.

For many years I had no way into a Pollock painting, feeling locked out of its meaning. Then one day at the Museum of Modern Art several years ago, I walked into the Pollock room and I can only describe my feeling as a revelation: the paintings were finally transparent to me, and I was stunned by their deep beauty. The webs of paint became metaphors for the universe.

To dye the wool for this piece, I crowded it in a shallow pan and dripped and splashed the colors in spots from a spoon (not a stick) onto it. The result was irregular blotches of color mixing and mingling, with an overall pinkish tone. When the wool strips are hooked, the colors pop up in ways I can't order, so it's all a surprise, resulting in a lighthearted homage.


  1. Oooooh! Zippety Blue is very special! If you'd like it too Altoon, I'd love to see I series of these! :-)

  2. thanks so much, Mona. As of now I'm not inclined to make more of these; I don't see varied possibilities in it, but you never know...

  3. I like your art references but what it looks like to me are two dirty tracks across a clean carpet. very funny and zippity.

  4. well, rappel, as long as the dirty tracks are funny that's fine with me.

  5. yummy.... sprinkles

  6. Maybe I'll throw some Japanese papers into an enamel pan then drip color here and there, cut them up and reconfigure them onto canvas
    or panel before I paint some geometric forms on top. I think your
    idea is full of potential---to drip then reconstruct. Chance with a
    few rules. Sounds a bit like John Cage.

    Thanks. Myrna

  7. yes, tutti frutti candy or sprinkles, A. Fun stuff.

    Myrna, this technique is a fairly standard one in dyeing wool for rug hooking, not something I thought up. But your idea for paper and paint is a really interesting one. Be sure to show me what results!

  8. Your posts conjure so many memories, Altoon.
    About 1975 I spent a couple of hours in MOMA's print study room with the Cantos series. Always favorites of light and line.
    About the same time, while visiting a good friend north of Chicago, she said, "My next-door neighbors own Pollock's Blue Poles. I was too shy to knock on their door.
    Your Blue Pole is truly a dyed-in-the-wool homage to Messrs. P and N. I like it.

  9. Thanks so much, Richard, for sharing your memories of Newman and Pollock. And I'm pleased you like my piece.

  10. This post is like a very satisfying meal to me. You present so many different levels and the shapes/textures/concepts really engage. I like this hooking too for its clearly handmade quality...but then I am probably influenced by very recent trip to Guatemala where the women weave such magic. Did you know the Mayan Goddess of Weaving, Ixchel, also oversees childbirth?

  11. Thank you, Julie. I had no idea that weaving and childbirth were associated through the Mayan Goddess of Weaving; how very interesting!