I was always drawn to ancient lands, and stones. My great grandmother came to the U.S. from Ireland in 1888, and my initial visit to Ireland in 1991 affirmed a deep connection with both ancient Irish landscapes and their many stones and ruins.
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 immediately sought them out 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).
Whenever I work on a new piece, I research its “documented” story only after my art work has 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 aggressive fabric folding – bunching – wrapping, and the application of sand, salt, sugar, dirt, etc., while drying.
In contrast to the realism of the stones, 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 and “seamless” 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.
As Labadie Fiber Art, I now focus more on commissions than on shows or competitions.