It was while planning a second visit to Ireland that I first saw a picture of the Piper Stones, a stone circle in Co. Wicklow, that sent shivers through me. I sought them out immediately upon my return. These stones – and later, many others, in many different locations – “talk to me”, and I’ve focused ever since on finding new stones and using my art to convey the essence of these continuing communications. I have since come to similarly revere more recent monastic ruins (especially portals).
Hugging the Piper Stones
Whenever I work on a new piece, I research its “documented” story only after my works have been completed. The stones themselves – even their photographs – tell me how they want to be portrayed. I’ve met numerous similarly afflicted people.
I use a wide variety of colors, fabrics, threads, and yarns in my work. I hand paint my own fabric and then – for all my quilts other than my stone megaliths – work the same way as a stone mason, individually cutting out, piecing, and appliquéing each stone, one by one, working from the bottom up.
The realistic appearance and textures of my stone fabric is achieved through hand painting multiple layers of sun-reactive transparent Seta color paints, along with the aggressive use and application of sand, salt, sugar, dirt, etc., during drying cycles.
In contrast to the realism of the stones, any skies and landscapes – which are central to the context of place and the timelessness of these sacred sites – are far more abstract. I use a relatively unique stripping technique for my landscapes, integrating thin horizontal pieces of (my hand painted) fabric, trims, and yarns into a story-telling abstract of colors and textures.
Completed fabric tops are then heavily machine stitched to add even more texture and shadowing.