This too shall pass is a series of hundreds of 6” tiles, each mounted on industrial felt.
Ancient knowledge was preserved on clay tablets. As we progress from punched cards to zip drives, what information will be readable to future generations? Like rotary phones and typewriters (once cutting-edge communication) all equipment becomes obsolete. By disassembling technological devices and sewing the parts tightly under vintage cloth, I am ‘fossilizing’ them – preserving their forms, not in the permanence of clay or stone, but in relatively fragile textiles.
I gather TV remotes, computer keyboards, cassette players and every sort of slightly out of date technology at garage sales. Most can still be disassembled with a screwdriver, then carefully sawed down to a useable thickness. The remaining sections are glued to half-inch thick industrial felt. Sharp edges are sanded down - some are intricately padded so they don't rip through the top layer. Damask napkins and tablecloths (also from garage sales) are washed and dyed and handsewn over the glued materials. Damask has a slight stretch, which allows it to 'give' a bit as I stretch it over and sew it down.
The sewing is really a variation of trapunto (sewing thick cords between 2 layers of cloth to create a raised surface). I always liked trapunto, and figured, hey, if you can sew cord between 2 layers, why not buttons? and safety pins? and even darning eggs, after I saw them in half....
in some cases, I dig out a bit of the industrial felt, creating a concave surface, to allow for a greater density of materials, especially with connectors.
As I made these tiles, I researched ancient forms of communication, and played with my findings in my work. For example, the Aztecs developed a form of accounting that used a variety of wool and cotton strings. Their different knots and colors formed the only known Pre-Columbian writing system in South America, called quipu.
I did 2 tiles with cords (one embedded under a top layer of cloth) then made another 2 with computer connecting cords...a modern quipu.