When Pigs Fly

Thomas Atkins (American b.1944) “When Pigs Fly” 2006 quilted cotton, aluminum wire, glass beads, coral, glass, faux amber. 18 x 22 x 18" Photo: David H. Ramsey. 2007.124.2

Thomas Atkins (American b.1944) When Pigs Fly 2006 quilted cotton, aluminum wire, glass beads, coral, glass, faux amber. 18 x 22 x 18″ Photo: David H. Ramsey. 2007.124.2

This large teapot sculpture was created by the quilter and bead artist Thom Atkins, and takes the form of a pig riding a winged-dragon. In this sculpture, the spout of the teapot is formed from the open mouth of the dragon, while the handle is formed from the tail of the dragon, which curls upward to form a loop with the body. The pig is seated on top of a removable lid, with its snout triumphantly raised and holding a waving banner.

The surface of the dragon is composed of embroidered cloth, with appliquéd patches of additional colors, and embellished with beads across the surface and hanging off as fringe. The dragon’s claws are also composed of large coral beads, and the teeth from glass beads.

Thomas Atkins (American b.1944) “When Pigs Fly” 2006 quilted cotton, aluminum wire, glass beads, coral, glass, faux amber. 18 x 22 x 18" Photo: David H. Ramsey. 2007.124.2

Detail (click for larger image).

Thomas Atkins (American b.1944) “When Pigs Fly” 2006 quilted cotton, aluminum wire, glass beads, coral, glass, faux amber. 18 x 22 x 18" Photo: David H. Ramsey. 2007.124.2

Detail (click for larger image).

Atkins began his art career as a painter before switching to clay and metal sculpture, and then began making beaded quilts after an injury to his wrists and thumbs made him unable to work with clay. Much of his education in beading came from his sister and fellow artist, Robin Atkins. His quilts are typically highly textured with ornamental beading, and sometimes include high-relief forms. Other sculptural works by Atkins frequently incorporate human figures and themes in masculinity.

Atkins lives and works in Santa Cruz, CA, and has published one book on quilting and beading.

–Nora H. Weston

Further Reading

Thom Atkins’s official website.

Robin Atkins. “Thom’s Beaded Quilts – OMG!!!” rev. of “Ten Years of Beaded Quilts” show at the La Conner Quilt & Textile Museum. Beadlust January 13, 2012.

Christi Carter. “Thom Atkins, a man who beads…” rev. of “Ten Years of Beaded Quilts” show at the La Conner Quilt & Textile Museum. Sweetpea Path. January 1, 2012.

Beading Artistry for Quilts by Thom Atkins. C&T Publishing Inc., 2012.

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