Tool Shed

These pieces are based on the household and garden tools from my Grandad’s shed. He was a professional gardener from the age of 14 and carried on growing his own vegetables until his death in 2012 at the age of 96. His numerous sheds contained years of carefully-maintained and well-used tools and the essence of him.

His second wife’s family ran a small laundry and their house was full of traditional linens, all bleached, starched and ironed. I have combined the linens and the tool sheds to create a series of pieces which are made from Grandad’s handkerchiefs. Techniques include trapunto quilting, shadow embroidery and reverse appliqué.

Unlike many textile artists, I did not learn my sewing skills at my mother’s or grandmother’s knee. I actually learned carpentry at my father’s knee aged 4! I came to textile crafts a little later and learned those skills from other members of my extended family. I do strongly believe that although I started my making using wood not fabric and fibre, I would not have eventually become an artist if I had not had that practical start. Textiles may be in my genes though, as my paternal grandmother had been a seamstress, but she died before I was born. Despite not having a direction connection to learning sewing through my family, I have a strong association with domestic heritage and sewing.

I originally trained as a textile historian and have long been fascinated by the techniques used to make textiles in the past and my work often reflects women’s lives and the hidden histories embedded in domestic textiles.

My grandad, Douglas Eaton, died aged 96 in December 2012. He left behind a vast collection of household linens, garden tools and a long lifetime’s worth of accumulated interesting old stuff. He also inspired my recent piece Metamorphosis. This collection uses outlines of his gardening and DIY tools stitched into his handkerchiefs, found neatly ironed and folded in the airing cupboard. I have also created a small embroidery on silk organza using the tool motifs and worked into an apron also found in the house.

2 thoughts on “Tool Shed

  1. Pingback: On My Mother’s Knee | Ruth Singer

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