May 9, 2013

A New Textile: "Sixteen Circles"

Sixteen Circles, hand dyed wool on linen, 12 x 12 in.

I think that the idea for this piece came from safety treads on stairs or on the edges of train platforms, but it was an oblique or unconscious influence; after doing the piece and then standing on a subway platform, I thought "ah yes, this must be the origin". I had sketched out various patterns of circles, then had the idea to work with the same wool for the entire piece and cut some of the loops to differentiate the shapes. 

Tantric Painting, Anonymous, 2003, Udaipur, India; 13 5/8 x 9 7/8 in. 

I do know where my idea for the colors of the wool came from: the variously colored backgrounds of Tantric paintings. I thought to have a basic warm color, yellowish in hue, and to add other colors to it. 

The easiest way to dye wool to achieve my color aim wa to scrunch it up in a wide pan and then drop different colors here and there on top of it. This way the colors show up in a random fashion.

Here is what the dyed wool looked like when it was dry.

Sixteen Circles, detail

This detail shot will give you a better idea of the effect of the cut loops. Not only does it make the piece into a kind of low relief, it also creates different textures on the surface. It's a really interesting technique that I've used before––see this for instance, and this––and think I should use more often; as a matter of fact, I'm working on a four part piece right now that uses this technique. And, in case you're interested, I did think of the song Sixteen Candles when titling this work.