Stephen Sollins: From Envelopes to Quilts

The routine of opening the morning post generally involves frantically ripping apart the envelope (I don’t usually receive post so it’s always exciting when I do) and quickly casting aside the torn remnants. For me the importance lies more in what’s inside rather than what envelops it. The American artist Stephen Sollins seems to think otherwise.

Sollins’s most recent series of works brings together old, used envelopes and transforms them into beautiful, traditional quilts. As part of the creative process, Sollins utilises the various shapes and patterns lining these recycled paper envelopes and reconstructs them to suit his own geometric designs. The resulting pieces present a kaleidoscope of eye-catching colours and carefully laid out motifs. It’s the small details hidden within these stunning large-scale works that I find the most interesting – the cut-off lines of cursive handwriting and the ghostly remnants of old addresses. I can’t help but be amazed at the sheer amount of patience and time Sollins must have had to dedicate in creating these artworks – his commitment definitely paid off!!

Mailing envelopes exist at the unavoidable intersection of communication and privacy. Their contents are banal yet guarded: private thoughts mingle with business records and utility bills. The patterns sometimes used to hide the contents bear a surprising similarity to those found on vintage fabrics. The bright colors and security tints of those envelopes, as they are gradually replaced by digital transactions, belie their guarded contents while evoking thoughts of a comforting domestic past.” – Stephen Sollins


‘Untitled (Correspondence)’, 2014, Used envelopes (printed paper), 60 3/8″ x 59″ x 1/4″


Detail of ‘Untitled (Correspondence)’.


‘Untitled (Double Archive with Rotation)’, 2013, Used envelopes (printed paper), 42 1/2″ x 24 5/8″ x 1/4″


Detail from ‘Untitled (Double Archive with Rotation)’.



‘Untitled (Grandfather’s Garden)’, 2013, Used envelopes (printed paper, Tyvek, acetate), 86 1/2″ x 66″ x 1/4″



Detail of ‘Untitled (Grandfather’s Garden)’.


‘Untitled (Afterthought)’, 2010, Used envelopes (printed paper, ink, pencil, acetate, stamps), 41 3/8″ x 31 1/8″ x 1/4″


‘Untitled (Postscript)’, 2009, Used envelopes (printed paper, ink, pencil, acetate, foil), 76 1/2″ x 60″ x 1/4″



Detail of ‘Untitled (Postscript)’.


‘Untitled (Return to Sender, after Mary Jane Smith, 1865)’, 2010, Used envelopes (printed paper, Tyvek, ink, acetate), 78 5/8″ x 72″ x 1/4″



Detail of ‘Untitled (Return to Sender, after Mary Jane Smith, 1865)’.


Detail from ‘Untitled (Delivery)’, 2011, Used envelopes (printed paper, acetate), 71 3/5″ x 43 1/2″ x 1/4″

All these images were taken from

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