Archives for the month of: September, 2010

Recently I finally got around to watching the much discussed documentary Hand-Made Nation by Faith Levine.  And…I have to say I was super disappointed. To me the current rise of craft and the hand-made is fascinating and connected to some major cultural and lifestyle changes and trends and this documentary just seemed to me like a super slick and glossy advertisement.

Some folks have said they think this is because Faith is not a crafter and I think that has nothing to do with it. She is a documentary film maker and that is all she needed to be to make this film into a compelling story about the community and artists that she focused on. But perhaps that was the problem she focused on very little.  I personally know a number of the folks that she interviewed and they all have fascinating and interesting back stories and in the film they get a 3-5 minute blurp of how and why they do what they do- in other words not enough time to learn anything about them and their work.

image of Jenny Hart in the film.

When I was writing my thesis for my MFA I had to mention the cultural context of what I was doing and I found in fascinating how many women in their 20’s and 30’s are turning to crafts and a level of domesticity that their mothers rejected.  You also see the rise of the power house of Martha Stewart and the incredible popularity of stores like Anthropologie which cash in on this cultural trend.   To me this is a cultural shift of some sort- are we dealing with a new sense of femininity, are we being drawn to the tactile and hand-made because our lives are run by computers, are we choosing to reject that the idea of feminist means not feminine or domestic. I am not an academic on the subject but these are questions that are present in the ideas of the artists and entrepreneurs of hand-made nation. But what came out of the film is missing the depth of the subject matter and seems like a somewhat random group of people working within a current trend.  And I personally know that they are so much more and have such interesting and personal stories to tell.

I love what the film was trying to do but as someone who is so passionate about valuing  the hand-made it did not live up.  I wish the film had focused more on a select group of people who maybe are able to represent a larger group and truly research  why they have made the decisions they have made- leaving behind more conventional jobs and lives to pursue their craft and what drew them to craft in the first place. Also perhaps having some academics studying the popularity and change in our culture to see what they have to say.  That’s just my opinion.

I only wish there was someone else making a film with the same premise but a bit more heart.

Either way lets keep rocking our hand-made world!!!

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.


Let’s get back to the basics shall we?

Textile arts is all about using threads and bringing them together to make cloth, thus that thread ultimately becomes a part of a larger object.

I first saw a thread installation at my college, Skidmore, where a student went around campus threading beautiful, orange sculptures in the trees, on the buildings, and winding down stairwells.  Though most students probably just ignored the work that must have gone into imagining and producing that work, I found that my art friends had different opinions on the subject.  Either the work was immature and not worthy to be called art or it was ambitious and added to the aesthetic of the campus.  No matter how you interpreted it though, you could not ignore that it was there.  Thread, a seemingly easily overlooked object was right there, staring me in the face.

Sebastien Preschoux makes these larger threaded installations as well.  Just by threading around the natural surroundings his work begins to take form.  His thread installations are all completed by hand, his belief is that art done by hand is more valuable than work that is easily reproduced.  That the time and effort that goes into a beautifully hand-made object is a priceless quality.  Which, I think most would agree, is a correct statement.

Even though Sebastien describes his work as cocoon, and that he harnesses the essence of a spider when spinning his webs; I see these threads as interpretations of light refractions.

Beautiful illustrations of light.  Though he may not know it, he has a firm grasp of Newton’s most famous experiment to extract the spectrum of color.  Newton knew that he could see the entire spectrum of light by allowing the light to pass through a prism and hitting a screen.

Especially in Sebastien’s nature installations, one can easily picture these threads as bursts of light.  The origin of light at the point that all the threads cross, like a spotlight.

Though I am partial to Sebastien’s outdoor work, I find his concept takes on a different view indoors. The colors are not as distinct, melding together and creating an example of a primary color mixing pool.  Takes you back to kindergarten huh?

**Most of these photos were provided by

If you are interested in learning more about Newton and the Color Spectrum, click here.

Installation by Paul Cocksedge

Don’t go to the card store for that last minute birthday card! Come see us. In the Textile Arts Center’s 4-week course students will learn the basics of paper-making and how to do it from home.

Morris + Essex

There is a slow and steady movement towards green, and what is the most wasted commodity in the world?  Paper, especially around the holidays.  Thousands of holiday, thank you, and wish you were here cards go out in the next few months.  However, I have always been told that the best gifts are the ones you make yourself.  Putting all that time, effort, and love into the creation of a card makes it twice as special.

Pinecone + Chickadee

Avie Designs Holiday Cards

“Peppermint” by Tiny Prints

Pear Tree Greetings

Norie & Lee

Two Trick Pony

The simple design can say everything.  It is the greatest expression of love that we have to offer: to bring a new idea into the world all because of another.

Modern Printed Matter



Notice how all these cards have a simple design that is stamped or screen printed onto them. During the Textile Arts Center’s “Personal Stationary” class you will carve your own design to keep and make cards forever!  Sign up! Don’t let the opportunity blow away.

Installation by Paul Cocksedge

One wouldn’t think that knitting could be associated with a word such as guerilla.  Whenever I tell someone I knit the first thing that comes out of their mouth is, “Wow, are you an old lady?”  Though, many of my friends would rather be playing video games or drinking so they probably aren’t the best audience to share this talent.  Nonetheless, my favorite rainy day activity was to pop in a movie and knit with my roommate during my college years.

Then I came across this guerrilla urban knitting video from London.  This Yarn Corps is trying to make London a little brighter by decorating urban structures with wooly treats.

This is what their website says (the description is just too good to put into my own words):

Knit the City are a crack team of woolly warriors turning the city Knitwise since February 2009.  It is part of an ongoing campaign to guerrilla knit the city of London, and beyond that the world.  No part of the city is safe from Knit the City’s woolly war on the mundane, humdrum and expected. We will bring woolly sunshine to you where ever you dwell. We’re nice like that.

Each of the Yarn Corps‘ individuals have their own reasons for their knitty crimes.

Guerrilla knitting or ‘yarnstorming’ (or ‘yarn bombing‘ with a nod to our guerrilla knitting cousins across the pond and Knitta Please who inspired us to begin our yarnstorming campaign) is the art of covering part of the world in a knitted or crocheted fabric. It is a street art that harks back to woolly thoughts of grandmas and nice cups of tea by the fire, takes that stereotype by the blue rinse and drags it kicking and screaming into the street to wrap round a lamppost, blanket a bollard, or swathe a signpost.


Here are other photos of YarnCorps tyranny.

Twas the Night before Christmas in cold London Town,

Where a lone ballerina was cast with a frown,

Yet the girl was not long for her knitless despair,

For KTC’s Yarn Corps soon would be there.

The Yarn Corps is doing wonders to London.  Popping up where the English least expect it!

For all you textile artists that are itching for a cute video Owyn was sent, then this is the answer to your prayers!  Check this absolutely heart-warming textile video.  I couldn’t even believe it is a commercial for Nokia.

Nokia ‘Dot’ Video

Directed by Sumo Science

On another note, we had three video submissions to Cutting Edge.  They were all shown at our Opening Party but you may have missed them from the crowds of people pouring into the space and crowding around the projector.  I will be attempting to put the videos up on the Textile Arts Center’s website soon.  (Wish me luck.)  Though, I think it is important that you learn a little about these artists as they are an integral part of the show.

Video 1: Metamorphosis by Heidi Field-Alvarez

Is an interesting work in which a white dress seems to constantly be changing its shape to the point where the viewer questions what the white mass even is.  Randomly you will see bursts of human ligaments and you are reminded of the dress.

Additional text was added into the end of the video, putting into perspective what the metamorphosis means.


The metamorphosis of

marriage can feel like

being trapped,

stretching and

transforming a traditional


The wedding dress is a

fixation on the past.


I haven’t decided yet whether or not this video celebrates the change marriage brings to a person or criticizes it.  I feel it is a personal struggle, whether or not you can accept that change will come or if you fight it all the way.

Video 2: On her Birthday, Give her  Drum by Sarah Bahr

Is a beautiful video of the artist embroidering a white dress she is wearing in the park.  The viewer watches and waits as the plain dress is morphed into an extraordinary wearable.  For me it comments on how easily you can change your life to become something beautiful and completely your own.  Taking something as simple as a dress and creating something new.  Which comes to the title, that confused me at first but after viewing the video resonates with the idea of pure creation.   A drum is the perfect instrument, you don’t “have” to take lessons to learn it and there are a million different beats you can create with it.  For me, the celebration is in true creation.

Video 3: The Invisible Woman by Lou Trigg

A movie and work of literature, the Invisible Woman is one woman’s story and how she became invisible.  The movie is a series of illustrations and text done in stitches, which makes the work raw and simple.  The simple stitching whispers the quiet invisibility of the main character drawing the viewer into the story.  You are able to purchase one of these books at the Textile Arts Center or you may read one of them and admire the exquisite work of Lou.

Look for these videos on the website coming to you in the next week.  (Once I work out the kinks!)

Till next week, come in and enjoy the entire Cutting Edge show, and keep on creating.

Today I wanted to share an obsession that started when my cousin began to make kooky looking stuffed creatures during Thanksgivings up in Michigan. Though she is constantly expanding her brain with information of the ages, she still manages to find time to create these odd creatures.

Zen Monster

Big Heart Big Teeth Monster

Sarah Palin Voo Doo Doll

For more of Margaret’s creations you can visit her site  She has bags, shirts, drawings of law school, and definitely more creatures!

Another creature artist I like is Donna Wilson, a London-based textile designer.  Donna Wilson set up her company in 2003 after making odd knitted creatures for her final show at the Royal College of art. The creatures sold out and since then she has built her business designing and making a collection of curious cushions, luxurious lambswool blankets, and variety of products for you and your home.  Her look is cartoonish and teetering on crazy, but they are plush, adorable, and I just want to hug them all.



Ed Red Head

Harry Hairy Head


Peeping Tom





Lightning Cloud Pillow

Rain Cloud Pillow

To see more of her designs visit

–Light and air are invisible existences–

Asako Ishizaki‘s inspiration comes from the drama created by nature’s ecosystem, which penetrates every facet of our lives.  Her work offers to simulate the senses and imagination of invisibility and visibility.  “Therefore the form of my work should devote itself to become minimalist, as if by natural selection, and should catch air and light to make it possible to sneak in the natural beauty.” — Asako’s Artist Statement

Thus all of her works are transparent and airy to allow the light and air to intertwine with the structure.

From the Earth

Field – SUI

Drawing of Light

Field- Crossing

Asako creates three-dimensional, free-standing sculptures created out of silk and linen.  She is a highly skilled weaver and in 1969 created her own way of weaving. This is a mixture of plain weave and allowing the weft threads to cross freely without warp threads at various points. The cloth is then oversewn to increase its density, or pleated to give a further dimension.  The piece ´Drawn From Light´ is woven from linen and silver yarn but involves the use of the light as a key component. The work is lit from above so that the pattern of the threads cast shadows, drawing from the light. In the catalogue accompanying the exhibition, curator Lesley Millar describes the delicate nature of the work: “the horizontal ´weft´ threads have been tie-dyed giving a variation of colour and texture which add to the visual sensation that the work is floating in the air´.

I think it’s incredible that Asako captures the beauty of light and air so perfectly. When I think of beautiful light and air I think of sheer white curtains blowing in the morning wind, and that feeling of peace and awe are reflected in her pieces.  I imagine that her work would perfectly coincide with the quiet sounds of nature that lull adults to sleep.

Beyond the Season

Beyond the Season 2003


SOUKEI – Wrapping


It was another successful party at the Textile Arts Center September 17th.  So successful that the guests began to encircle the Raya Brass Band so that they couldn’t leave the venue and stop playing their feet-stepping music.

The exhibition is beautiful, and if you were unable to view all the pieces you should stop by anytime between Mon-Fri from 10am-6pm to walk around and take all the art in.

left: “Creatures- Strength, Wisdom, Trust” — Virginia Fitzgerald

middle: “Nobody” — Sierra Furtwangler (Mixed Media)

right: “RB Dress” — Margarita Mileva (Rubber Bands)

“The Weavers Bench” — Andrea Donnelly (Warp Painted, Hand-Woven Cotton)

“Chlorobionta” — Lucia Lavilla Havelins (Needlepoint and Beading)

“(Untitled) rocks” — Emily Barletta (Embroidery, Felting)

“Plastic in Trees” — Julia Kornblum (Weaving)

left: “Dream Home Sweet Home (Mature Landscape)” — Jennifer Hunold (Hand Embroidered)

right: “Bill Cosby” — Amanda Tiller (Embroidery)

“Cover” — Luke Haynes (Quilting)

“Seven Houses Never At Home” — Mallory Feltz (Hand -Warped Yarn)

“Conciliate” — Janice Jakielski (Porcelain and Mixed Media)

Title Unknown — Suyeon Na

“Creatures – Strength, Wisdom, Trust” — Virginia Fitzgerald (Organic Crochet)

“Self Portrait with Son” — Leslie Schomp (Hand-stitched with Hair, Nylon and Thread)

“Martina” — Cayce Zavaglia (Hand Embroidery)

“Beer Pong” — Erin M. Riley (Hand Woven Tapestry with Hand Dyed Wool)

“(Untitled)” — Tod Hensley (Hand Embroidery)

“Knit together in that Secret Place” — Meredith Re Grimsley (Hand Embroidery and Beading)

“Sewn Home” — Alisha McCurdy (Hand Embroidery and Color Photograph)

“Bounty” — Rebecca Ringquist (Machine and Hand Stitching on Found Cloth)

**Pictures provided by Roland Kielman

Cutting Edge has many more artists being shown and other works done by some of the artists you see here.  Stop by any time between Monday-Friday from 10:00am-6:00pm to see all the art in person.  It really is quite an experience.

Cutting Edge (Showing until October 11)

Curated by: Joetta Maue

Artist Talk on October 8th at 7pm (must RSVP at with subject “Artist Talk” to reserve a seat)

I know what you are thinking.  How gross!  But I wanted to start this new week off with a bang. I want to introduce you an artist who has two hobbies that give me the heebie-geebies, hunting and taxidermy.

David R. Harper specializes in sculpture, drawing, and embroidery and combines them with the unappealing, self-taught hobby of taxidermy.  At 26 years old, is finishing up his Masters in Fine Arts at the Art Institute of Chicago and his works are currently being shown at the Textile Museum of Canada. My question is: When will he show in an American museum?

His painstaking work takes a lot of time to perfect and complete.  One of his larger works includes a life-size horse which is made entirely out of cow hides with a Victorian woman delicately embroidered into the rear of the animal.

The Last to Win (2008)

His pelts are intricately embroidered and deliberate in their message.  They give a new spin on a luxury, giving it a rough edge with a little dab of mortality.  I love that he embroiders pictures of long-past persons on these pelts that belong to a long-past animal.  To me it is a unification of man and animal, blurring the lines that define humans from other mammals.  It’s as he is saying that we shouldn’t care about defining ourselves from our animal friends, for in the end it doesn’t matter.

Then there are David’s sculptures which echo the themes of his pelts.  However, I feel that these pieces are like a car crash: you are revolted by the sight but find it so interesting that you are unable to look away.  His sculptures are not the most beautiful by traditional standards, but definitely are stunning in their own right.

Guild (2007)

Title Unknown

Bear Skin Rug (2008)

Fox 39 (2008)

Graze (2005)

A Tribute to Canadian Rock and Roll (2005)

Wikipedia says:

Clothing and textiles have been enormously important throughout human history—so have their materials, production tools and techniques, cultural influences, and social significance.

Textiles, defined as felt or spun fibers made into yarn and subsequently netted, looped, knit or woven to make fabrics, appeared in the Middle East during the late stone age. From ancient times to the present day, methods of textile production have continually evolved, and the choices of textiles available have influenced how people carried their possessions, clothed themselves, and decorated their surroundings.


Historically, textiles began as any other means of expressing stories and present experiences. Today, we see textiles as a way of expressing our personalities, of reserving a place in history specifically for ourselves.  Not really much different from what has happened for centuries, so our perceptions of its techniques should not be so different.  This is where you would be wrong. Now-a-days we are not so concerned with how our products are made, just that we have them and as many of them as possible.  We have lost the joys that a process brings, and that is what textile artists, slow fashion, and centers are bringing back.

The techniques have changed significantly, but the ideals remain the same.



Screen Printing



And these are just a few examples.  There is still quilting, crocheting, lace making, sewing, macrame, batik, tie dyeing, cross stitching, embroidery, not to mention the possibilities of combining all of these techniques.

What my anger issue is about is that such a small group of people really appreciate the work that goes into a hand-crafted textile.  It is such a shame that everyone does not have appreciation for something that is a part of their everyday life.

This is what the Textile Arts Center is helping to rectify.  By educating we can help the public gain more smarts, appreciation, and overall experience in a field that affects their lives immensely.

Happy Grand Opening, and I promise that next week we get back to our regularly scheduled program!