Fascinating Fringed Paper Rugs by Candace Hicks

I could hardly believe my eyes when quiller Jennifer Stacey alerted me to artist Candace Hicks on Instagram, and I'm guessing you will have a similar reaction to the paper rugs she completes entirely with hand fringed strips. It's compelling work indeed, rich with meaning and created in an entirely different vein than Lisa Nilsson's series of quilled tapestries and Nava Lubelski's densely quilled statement piece, Tax Files.

ornate quilled paper oriental rug

An Associate Professor at Stephen F. Austin State University in Texas, Candace's artist statement indicates she creates interactive installations and artist’s books that examine gender, voice, and parallel universes through the analysis of fictional literature. Paper is a frequent material of choice as you can see in this example of a diorama in her recent series Many Mini Murder Scenes that allowed viewers the opportunity to play detective while searching for clues.

miniature furnished room filled with handmade objects

While the rug in the above photo is actually a non-handmade textile, there is nothing traditional about the subject matter or quilling style that Candace employs in the creation of her own finely fringed Oriental carpets. She cuts narrow strips of Canson sheet paper, fringes each one by hand, then firmly rolls it into a shape that plays a tiny part in filling in a drawn outline... note that while the coiled shapes are small, the finished carpets that have a true rug-like texture measure 22 x 30 inches!

detail of a fringed paper carpet in progress

Curious about Candace's work, I wrote to ask a few questions regarding her process in creating the designs and their meaning.

The first paper rugs I made were for the Many Mini Murders Scenes exhibition at Women and Their Work in Austin, Texas. [don't miss the descriptive video at the link] At that time I was using paper to make low-relief works depicting fictional crime victims. The latest rug patterns are derived from pulp novel covers. A surprising variety of dead woman illustrate crime fiction covers, and I started employing the figures of the women as part of the floral motif of the rugs. I find it both disturbing and baffling that dead women are used as decorative elements as easily as cut flowers. 

fringed paper oriental rug with blue background surrounding female figures

The modified quilling technique I developed is a testament to the versatility of paper. Paper can stand in for so many surfaces and textures. The limited color palette of a rug pattern offers a stimulating design challenge, and I enjoy studying antique rug designs. With a background in printmaking and book arts, I enthusiastically reach for paper as a material even when I’m making a painting or a sculpture. In several of the rug designs I include a blood stain on the rug as a reference to violence in the domestic sphere. 

framed fringed paper rug 

I also asked Candace about her introduction to quilling and due to the intensive nature of fringing and immense number of paper strips she cuts, how she is managing hand stress.

detail of fringed paper rug in progress showing a hand with tweezers placing a papercoil
My mother taught me quilling as a kid. She’s an artist and loves all kinds of craft. I fringe the strips by hand with scissors, and I haven’t developed an injury. I do try to change things up, so I have several bodies of work going at the same time.

 miniature folded paper ceiling light with hand to show size comparison

Candace's work has been displayed in many solo and group exhibitions worldwide. Represented by RO2 Gallery in Dallas, upcoming exhibitions will take place at Antenna in New Orleans and Blue Star Contemporary in San Antonio. She creates a wide variety of objects from paper and I encourage you to visit candacehicks.com to see more examples. Stay updated with her latest work via Instagram, @candacehicksart


2021 UPDATE: Candace has a new Etsy shop called One Made Goods.

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Ann Martin
Ann Martin

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  1. Oh my word. How fascinating. That must take a long time especially with fringing the paper by hand

    1. I know what you mean, Ann... totally remarkable and so much fringing.

  2. That is seriously intense! This brings the meaning of "patience" to a whole other level. The women really do seem like floral décor.

    1. Indeed, soooo many snips. And yes, the women do!


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