Archives for the month of: July, 2010

It has come to the end of the week and the Textile Arts Center is hosting its first Free Friday After-Work-Shop.  The activity for tonight is screen printing on your old tee-shirts.

This got me to thinking about patterns and how I, personally, don’t take enough risk in mixing radically different patterns together.  My wardrobe leaves something to be desired on the risk front.  But now that I have graduated from various uniforms, from navy jumpers to jeans, tank, and a cardigan to a more sophisticated palette.  New York City is pretty intimidating on the fashion front.  There are a million different styles to choose from, each one more bizarre than the last, but I guess it’s what keeps New York so interesting.

My biggest problem is that I always feel like I am making a fashion faux pas. However, what I am noticing more and more is that fashion mistakes are really just an illusion.   What may feel good to one individual isn’t necessarily right on others.

So I just wanted to provide you with where I find my inspiration.  I have been fascinated with the color wheel ever since I can remember, and patterns is a great way to mix and match colors.

Thanks for the images from, and


So indulge me if you will on a little detour we are going to take.  Personally, my accessory of choice has always been jewelry, and with the ladies of TAC embarking on the 6 Items or Less Challenge it has been on my mind lately.  I have a fairly large collection since I worked at a jewelry store, Pennyweights, for many years throughout high school and part of college…and I have kept every piece.  So I am always interested in what new paths jewelry makers are taking.  It is safe to say that jewelry, like clothing, will be around as long as fashion is around.  It is impossible to separate the two.  

So when I came across this amazing series of jewelry photographed by Patrizio di Renzo I was hooked.   Majo Fruithof’s jewelry collections are symmetrical in nature but is certainly not for squares. 

Her 2008 collection is almost complete done in black with the intentional splash of color or integration of white. All her pieces are exquisitely simple and easy to integrate into any fashion closet, but every single piece is a work of art in itself.  And in this world of Silly Bandz and multiple piercings, it is refreshing to see solidarity genius.

I know that jewelry of this kind is more of a metal works craft rather than a textile art, but metal works is also an age-old craft.  So thank you for letting me side-track just for a moment while accessorizing is consuming my mind.  And check out the TAC ladies on their 6 Items Challenge.

I feel like I have been neglecting the amazing male textile enthusiasts.  Like Luke Haynes, whose quilts look more like paintings than textile.  Luke is more interested in the choices we make to express ourselves to the world, which is most apparent in our clothing.  How we dress informs others how we desire to be perceived and treated.  For instance when have we ever seen President Obama in anything other than a suit?  A suit tells the world that Obama is a powerful man, dignified, and means business (the business of running America).

Born and raised in the American South, Luke formally trained in art and architecture at Cooper Union, NY.  However, a magical box of scrap fabric crossed his path and he was forever chained to the possibilities and wonders of quilt experimentation.  ” I can work with disparate pieces of fabric and create a cohesive final product that is greater than the sum of its parts.” – Luke

“Within contemporary quilt making people are exploring ways of using fabric as a medium for both functional quilts as well as wall hangings. The resultant dialogue between quilting as a pastime of assembling purchased fabrics and quilting as a skill of constructing usable objects from unusable cloth reflects a current societal tension.” – Luke

 His most recent works investigate nostalgia and function.  Most of the works are portraits of popular leaders who changed the face of that it means to be an American in some way or another.  Not all of these leaders are President’s as you may think.  Yes, President’s do make public changes to America, but there are really only a handful of Presidents I can even recall doing something truly great for America.  Luke focuses on all aspects of American culture to find it’s really great leaders.  For government isn’t America’s only great achievement. 

Frankie Manning – American choreographer, dancer, and instructor.  Considered to be one of the founders of the Lindy Hop.

Abraham Lincoln – the 16th President of the United States.

Micheal Jackson – The King of Pop.  Guinness World Record’s Most Successful Entertainer of All Time.

I find this series of works interesting because its message correlates with Luke’s objective: to change people’s views on quilting as an art form and as functional material.  Not only is it a commentary on quilting but of textile arts itself.  Textile arts are endangered of becoming a lost art, which is exactly what these contemporary artists are directly addressing.

Luke and his Self Portrait

You can follow Luke on his quilting adventures on his blog.  He is doing amazing things with his craft.  Definitely should be checked out!

Cultural Definition (from If we don’t waste what we have, we’ll still have it in the future and will not lack (want) it.

Wikipedia Definition: If one is not wasteful then one will not be needy.

Two definitions obviously saying the same thing, don’t waste perfectly good materials.

Let me introduce you to the revolutionary vision, Waste Not Want Not, located in Providence, RI; a radical movement in recycling, re-making, and reusing materials.  Specifically, they work to help support and promote truly inspiring local artists who look to use what others might throw away to create remarkable fine art as well as unique and practical apparel.  By utilizing basic textile skills and their unbounded creativity Waste Not Want Not is beginning to build a brand of clothing and accessories all of which are materials to be sold worldwide.

The dream turn reality was first envisioned by Laura “London” Shirreff, who was inspired by the local “charity shops” in the U.K. where she originates.  She began this collective of entrepreneurs and artists alike in a quest for sustainability and the ability to teach simple craft skills in order to give new life to otherwise discarded items.

They provide textile classes,

do community outreach programs,

Like this program with Triple R Craft Lab which helps young adults from low-income communities learn how to be more self sufficient…by dyeing with Kool Aid!

fashion shows,

Clothing: “Jolie” by Joeseph Aaron Segal and Julie Miller     Jewelry: “Thunderwing” by Nikki Nadeau

Clothing: Alley Dennig

and they are only in their second year.

The Textile Arts Center had the great fortune of meeting London and her mother last week in a very exciting beginning of a great relationship.  We hope to collaborate in the fight against wasteful consumerism and in the education of creating textiles.

Sandra Backlund

Knitwear genius extraordinaire.  Hailing from Stockholm, Sweden this talented knitwear designer has grown from single inventor to working with a team of experts.  Each of her collections have life of its own while maintaining the skill of the simple knit and pearl.

It was incredibly difficult for me to choose just one collection to highlight so I want to take a walk through them all.

Body Skin and Hair. Yes that would be hair that you are seeing, this collection highlights the proportions of the body and flesh colored tones, and actual human hair.

Blank Page is a collection done entirely with white thread.  Here we get a sense of wintery wonderland-ness with puffy looking snowball experiments.

In Perfect Hurts we see Sandra dabble in crochet and the delicate silk lining only accentuates her beautiful designs.

Diamond Cut Diamond style is harsh yet stunningly beautiful.  The model completely terrifies me, but OH do i want those awesome grey leg warmers!

Don’t Walk…you guessed it, the entire collection is done in a deep, rich, red.

Ink Blot Test. Tell me doctor, what do you see in this black and white confection?

In No Time

“My work is very personal to me.  I improvise and allow myself to loose control and see what happens if I do not think too much about practical things.  The human body is always the starting point.  I am really fascinated by all the ways you can highlight, distort, and transform the natural silhouette with clothes and accessories. I build garments from a couple of basic bricks which I multiply and attach in different ways to discover the shape that I want.” – Sandra

These next three collections speak clearly to this point.

Last Breath Bruises

Pool Positions

“I am interested in almost every traditional handicraft method and I do experiment a lot with different materials and techniques, but it is my three-deimentional collage knitting that is most significant.”

Control C

Sandra’s current collection for Spring/Summer 2010 is her first collaboration with a team of expert knitwear designers.  The knit wears carry less volume and are more consumer friendly.   Though they still maintain the same principles and techniques as Sandra’s solo collections.  You can still see her uniqueness shine through in these more conventional shapes.

Hello stitching, weaving, and creating friends!

Welcome to the new bi-monthly post,  Thread Reviews,  by me, Joetta Maue.  I am excited to join the awesome and amazing team at the Textile Arts Center in spreading the love and passion for all things fiber.  Thread Reviews will focus on bringing artist, books, and exhibits about fiber to your attention all surrounded by my opinions and experience of them.

new cover.

When deciding what to focus on for my posts for the Textile Arts Center Blog I was inspired to do Thread Reviews mainly by my desire to write a post about the book The Subversive Stitch by Rozsika Parker. The Sub Stich was originally published in 1984 and has been re-published a few times over the years but it has been a long time coming  and has been a book impossible to find and when found premium money was needed to purchase. So when I found out that the book was being republished with a new introduction I was beyond excited.  I first found out about The Sub Stitch when reading a friends thesis and she quoted from  it – I immediately was like what? I NEED to read this book, but it was nowhere to be found.  So know it is found and being thumbed by my needle calloused hands.

original cover.

In The Subversive Stitch Rozsika writes about the relationship between women and embroidery in the context of history, feminism, and art.

I have to be honest, I literally just started the  book – I am only on page 3 of the original book and have read the introduction- but in short it is amazing.  As an artist working in embroidery who had to write a thesis about why I was doing what I was doing and why it was relevent and then defend this work and thesis, I am ecstatic to find an intellectual book about this subject that delves into the contradictory and complicated relationship that women have to embroidery and how this affects us in our making and not making.  I have been disappointed by most books that say they do this as they have not been written intellectually and are more fluff and amusement, which has its place. But The Sub Stitch seems to me to be a theoretically and critically well written book about the women andher needle.

work by Louise Bourgeois.

So just to give you a taste and encourage you to go out and buy this book, read it, and then meet me over a cup of coffee to discuss.

The forward begins with this amazing quote by Olive Schreiner:

Has the pen or pencil dipped so deep in the blood of the human race as the needle?

In Rozsika and my opinions- NO.  And that is why it is so exciting, complicated, and inspiring to look at the history of the needle and the thread.

Quilt by Tracey Emin.

In the Introduction Rozsika brings her thoughts up to speed in the fact that things have changed a lot since 1984, artists have changed how fiber work is being done and what it’s role is.  She specifically mentions Louise Bourgeois’ recent works in fiber and the seminal work of Tracy Emin.  She also talks quite a bit about how the attitude towards feminism and femininity has changed which has affected our, women’s, relationship to embroidery and cloth.  I will not go on and on but just to encourage you and inspire you I will end with a few selected quotes from the book.

Roszika quotes the artists Kate Walker as she discussed her “Wife is a Four Letter Word’ Sampler. Kate states:

I have never worried that embroidery’s association with femininity, sweetness, passivity, and obedience may subvert my work’s feminist intentions. Femininity and sweetness are part of women’s strengths… Quiet Strength need not be mistaken for useless vulnerability.

Later Roszika discusses the role and power of the creative object and in this she says:

The process of creativity -the finding of form for thought- have a transformative impact on the sense of self.  The embroider holds in her hands a coherent object which exists both outside in the world and inside her head… Embroidery promotes and reflects a richer, more meaningful internal world, which is in turn substantiated by the reception of the work in the outside world.

All I can say is my mind is being blown,  I am underlining like crazy, and am just really excited to be being forced to think hard about the choices I make as an embroider and why I make them. I am not promising that this subject will not re-appear in these blog pages. But for now I am back to stitching and reading.

Until next time keep your needle threaded!

Joetta Maue is a full time artist primarily using photography and fibers. Her most recent work is a series of embroideries and images exploring intimacy. Joetta exhibits her work throughout the United States and internationally, and authors the art and craft blog Little Yellowbird as well as regularly contributes to Mr. X Stitch. Joetta lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her husband, baby son, two cats, a goldfish.

The Textile Art Center’s adult weaving class is well underway.  The looms are almost completely dressed and we are ready to begin weaving our samplers.  Which got me to thinking how different each weaver’s cloth is going to look.  Each of us have unique styles and are inspired by different aspects of life.

One weaver, Stine Linnemann, who studied at the Danish School of Design got inspired by photos he had taken by his surrounding worn down environment.

Thus most of the colors he chose for his cloths are muted and mostly gray.

What is your inspiration?  Bring it here to the Textile Arts Center and turn your inspiration into a piece of art.

Reminder:  We are hosting an exciting event for Bags for the People tomorrow July 22nd from 6pm-9pm.  Bring your old, worn clothing and turn them into a reusable tote bag!

Today I am going to talk a little bit about these beautiful sculpture tapestries created by the genius El Anatsui. Every tapestry is made from tops of evaporated milk tins, rusty metal graters and old printing plates, liquor bottle caps, all gathered in and around Nsukka, Nigeria, where the artist has lived and worked for the last 28 years. All of the cutting, manipulating, and reattaching of these different metals culminate into stunning, visual feasts.  The tapestries’ aesthetics are inspired by traditions of Ghana and Nigeria.

Though his work is based in West African societies and practices the commentary of his work transcends to any society.   “Through their associations, his humble metal fragments provide a commentary on globalization, consumerism, waste and the transience of people’s lives in West Africa and beyond. Their re-creation as powerful and transcendent works of art–many of which recall traditional practices and art forms–suggests as well the power of human agency to alter such harmful patterns.” (from National Museum of African Art)

El Anatsui will be hosting a North American Tour beginning this October.  The show When I Last Wrote To You About Africa will consist of 60 El Anastui’s sculptures which were pulled from public and private collections, and will cover over 40 years of El Anastui’s work.

Tour Dates:

October 2, 2010 to January 2, 2011 – Institute for Contemporary Culture at the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto

Winter 2011 – Museum for African Art, in New York

November 12, 2011 – February 5, 2012 – The University of Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor

March 8 – June 17, 2012 – The North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh

September 2 – December 1, 2012 – The Denver Art Museum

It’s Monday again, and it’s raining…what a combination.  However, this only means that my post needs to be extra-stimulation in order to get your day going right.  So let me tell you a little story about me:

When I was 6 years old I went though a “grape phase”.  Any grapes that went into the fridge were out and devoured within minutes.  Grapes were the bees knees then, peeled, squished, popped, sliced, anyway you can possible eat a grape that is how I ate it.  I don’t believe my parents ever understood my grand obsession with this magical fruit, but I couldn’t be bothered; I was having a love affair with grapes.  So in art class I made it my mission to accurately depict grapes in “what can only be described as” my self-proclaimed masterpiece.  See, back then I was an undiscovered drawing master and had only to find my muse and I would surely become famous.  My muse was the grape.  Over and over I tried to draw the perfect grape, only finding that my illustrations were lacking in depth, color, and deliciousness.

What I should have learned then is that fruit is not a food to be drawn, it just has too many wonderful facets: its luster, deep natural color, mouth-watering texture…well you get it.  Which is why I got so excited when I came across Fulvio Bonavia’s A Matter of Taste, a collection of sense-tingling photographs of couture items made out of all natural, edible things.

Something else to look forward to this week:  Joetta Maue, celebrated fiber artist, is going to guest blog every other Thursday’s for TAC!  We are so excited to have Joetta be a part of this new facet of the Textile Arts Center.  Now, you can tune in 4 days a week for new posts.

Tonight, after work, I start my beginner weaving class at the Textile Arts Center!  I have never woven anything before but have always been told it is as addicting as chocolate (and I am a woman who loves her chocolate!)  So, today I want to highlight a very talented weaver and knitter.

Machiko Agano, a Japanese master weaver artist, is widely known for her intricate textural structures.  Each structure is tailored to the specific space in which it is exhibited.  The majority of her works use fishing line or natural colored silk and steel wire to allow the space to become part of the exhibit itself.  It gives the installations a light feeling, almost as if they aren’t even there.

Here is Machiko installing another one of her amazing pieces.