Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Lock Down 2020

 (Lock Down 2020, detail.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

All of Columbia, South Carolina's non-essential businesses are under lock-down due to the spreading COVID-19 virus.  For me, these days are very much like an unintentional, at-home art residency.  There is no custom picture framing for me to do, no clients, and no interruptions.  There is, however, EVERYTHING in my studio, shop, and garage.  I didn't have to pack a limited selection of art objects for a specific residency proposal.  I can stitch anything ... any hair-brained idea, any project that was otherwise pushed to the recesses of my mind, or any chance opportunity that magically appears.

 (Above:  Lock Down 2020, (framed) 39" x 27". Found keys, lock, and hinge hand stitched onto vintage brocade.)

Lock Down 2020 happens to be the result of a chance opportunity!  By chance, my friend Dolly came upon three, small fabric bank bags filled with old keys.  They'd been in her late mother's house.  She gave them to me last week (when we were practicing social distancing but not totally under the city's lock down which advises residents NOT to congregate at all, regardless of keeping six feet apart.)  KEYS!  I love keys.  I've always loved keys.  I have an entire Wall of Keys hanging here at Mouse House. These keys, however triggered another idea!

(Above:  Lock Down 2020, detail.)

Instantly, the phrase "under lock and key" came to mind.  We are "under lock and key" now.  These keys had to be used to illustrate the current situation.  I knew just what to do!  Below are in-progress photos and several additional detail shots of the finished artwork.

There were so many keys in these fabric bank bags that I thought I wouldn't have to use any from my own stash.  In the end, the keys from Dolly made up about forty percent of those used.  Thankfully, I have lots and lots of old keys!


I knew just what fabric I wanted to use too!  I'd been saving this piece of vintage brocade for at least two decades.  It's been used only once for an installation.


I love the texture, pattern, and the color.  The keys look great on it too.


Carefully, the fabric's pattern was measured and a stretcher bar cut accordingly.  Acid-free foam-centered board was placed on the stretcher bars, just under the fabric ... which was pulled and stapled to the reverse side of the wood.


I knew every stitch would have to go through the foam-centered board.  This stiff layer is  necessary to hold the weight of so many keys.  In the workshops I conduct, participants often have trouble pushing through foam-centered board, but I've been doing it for years. This is how custom picture framers generally mount sports jerseys, christening gown, and other artifacts in a shadow-box presentation ... stitching! The work was stitched in my living room atop two work horses.

I used a strong, linen thread for all the stitching ... laying out keys as I went.


The most interesting keys were the hinged ones.  They were placed first ... along with an old, locked hinge.

It took three evenings to stitch all these keys down.  The end threads weren't actually knotted because I couldn't turn the piece over.  Keys that weren't stitched down would have fallen off.  After finishing, all the thread ends were hot glued to the back of the foam-centered board.  Below are more detail photos.



Meanqueen said...

Fascinating, it looks great. I love your work. ilona

Catherine - Mixed Media Artist said...

wow, and of course awesome - another set of objects with a story to tell..

Ann Scott said...

This is wonderful. I love the texture of the fabric under the hard keys. I love keys too. Up until about a month ago I was buying some at the swap meet, but good grief, one guy wanted $5 for one little, old key! I did get some for cheap and because I put them on altered bottle/jars (Gesso and paint over them) I can make molds and recreate the keys in paper(and other)clay. But nothing beats seeing them on authentic display as you have done. Stay safe.