After Ellsworth Kelly

You might have noticed I’ve been gone. Which is to say, there’s much to get caught up on, including a process post for this most recent trial …

Fortunately, I’ve been well-occupied, what with birthday celebrating …

tower building …

spelunking in the Meramec Caverns

and lots of driving, fortunately with a stop at the Philbrook in Tulsa along the way. While there, we were awed by this Red Dirt Rug 

Literally red dirt …

stamped with sneaker soles …

to form patterns …

Then it was back on the road. But all the while I was thinking of the Ellsworth Kelly exhibit at the Blanton, 
and of this study in particular …

While driving, I considered how it might go in cloth. Thus it was I was well primed once we had settled back in at home.


I cut pieces of thrifted linen cloth about 2″ to a side, then finger-pressed them around a 1″ strip of cover stock …

turned each resulting strip 90 degrees and finger-pressed again …

Before invisibly basting each patch a la Jude Hill, I made sure to trim the interior edges so they just touched …

in order to make the resulting patch a uniform thickness (something I neglected to do with the Peace Pin Project). 
Then I tried something that I thought up in the car: glue. Not just any glue though … washable glue. Because I wanted the patches to stay as straight as possible on the base cloth and I knew pins wouldn’t cut it. 
So I borrowed some from G, and made sure to keep the glue within the line of invisible baste to avoid having to stitch through it later  …

attached all the patches within a grid …

drawn with water-erasable marker that began to vanish as I attached the patches …

Then I waited impatiently for the glue to be (almost) dry …

and stitched them all down (by which time the glue was actually dry). Both the white and the clear glue ended up working equally well holding the patches in place …

The end result from the front wasn’t perfectly square …

but then again, Kelly’s also wasn’t without its imperfections. As a study, it accomplished my objective of seeing whether the techniques I envisioned over the course of driving 1800 miles would actually work in practice. I was especially skeptical about whether the glue would actually wash out and am happy to report that it did. 
Next up: a roadside reverie inspired by Helio Oiticica.

16 thoughts on “After Ellsworth Kelly

  1. love that Oklahoma red dust and re the grid translation to cloth, perhaps working the same idea on a pre-stretched linen square on a frame would be easier to get the grid aligned?

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  2. Mo – you were absolutely on my mind when we were in Tulsa … as for alignment, I’m about to leave that in the dust …

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  3. I would love to have seen the Red Dirt Rug…thanks for sharing! I also love seeing your experiments in regularity. Its something I struggle with all the time. Glue is an interesting possibility which I have never thought of.

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  4. Dana – I confess I originally planned to buy some basting glue on Amazon (at $10 for a tiny bottle), then decided to see if Google had any DIY suggestions. Elmer’s washable glue kept popping up as a way to baste quilt layers so I figured it was worth a try.

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  5. I may be using that glue idea sometime, I love clever solutions to problems like this, its fun to see how they work out!Its really interesting to see the same work in 3 different mediagouache, glass, and now fabriceach gives me a different response

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  6. Anna Lisa – I’ll look forward to seeing how you might use washable glue over at Also KaizenMo – I’m speculating here, but I’m thinking the reasons are similar to quilters and embroiders who prefer not to use a hoop … what you lose in precision you gain in a deeper connection to the cloth

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  7. ah that makes sense and it also helps me understand how the precise embroidery & fine laces of ecclesiatical & ceremonial robes can be fabulously beautiful yet lifeless

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  8. Mo – Again speaking for myself, the eye quickly tires of predictability after sensing the overall structure of a uniformly worked piece

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  9. Patch play, grand kid play, a big delicious birthday cake for Parker- this is a post filled with joy and color and such a cozy feel. Your patch play cloth gives such a strong sense of touchstones, I want to feel each colored square.

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  10. I so admire your process, piecework (& Peace Work!), and patience. Straight lines & I don't seem to cross paths much. & smiling at how the children's building toy reflects your making.

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  11. Marti – your words always make me smile … thank you for that. And I am indeed liking the feel of squares appliquéd with space between themSusan – you are so right … there is no cover in this arrangement, but I’m okay with its deviationsHazel – my former attraction to cross stitch was all about straight lines … I much prefer crooked paths these days. And the Picasso tiles … I’m not sure who had more fun, the kids or me!

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  12. Hi Liz, one of those moments when I could have sworn I had commented but no! I love the grid and I am so excited to learn about that glue – how brilliant! Time away looks like it has been grand and got you all revved up again which is exciting. But oh my, that red dust carpet. Love it big time – it feels so so right. Thank you for sharing

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  13. Fiona – Thanks for taking the time to comment twice … as I too have experienced missing comments, particularly on Blogger blogs. The glue has been an interesting experience as it is near impossible to stitch through, so it must be carefully applied. But it is incredibly durable, and equally dissolvable (a word the spell check does not approve). And the rug … amazing. I went to the thrift store to buy some shoe soles, thinking I might use them as stand-ins (ha!) for rubber stamps to apply dye to cloth.

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