spotted by the entrance to Madison Wool, in Madison , Connecticut.
Handcrafted and monumental are not normally words that go together, but that's the combination that inescapably came to mind when I stepped into the main gallery of Labour and Wait, the new exhibit at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art that is a mind-boggling "must see" for anyone interested in craft, art, and contemporary ideas. (Actually, for anyone, whether they've got a DIY bone in their body or not.) For one thing there was the gigantic weaving called Mammoth and Poodle, by Daniel Dewar & Grégory Gicquel, a pair of collaborative artists who turned their Paris studio into an oversize loom to create the most wonderfully tactile rough-wool image of, yes, a mammoth and a poodle that covers most of a big, big wall.
In the center of the room was Allison Smith's towering Stockpile, in which colonial-style furniture, fabrics, and artifacts are layered and heaped onto crates till the assembled mountain of stuff approaches the ceiling.
Allison Smith, Stockpile, 2011-13. Unfinished wood and mixed media. Courtesy of the artist and Haines Gallery. Courtesy of the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco and John White/Phocasso.©Allison Smith
Is this a hoard against disaster? Material for a Williamsburg-like re-creation of craftier times? The installation is open to interpretation, but the fact that most of these objects are now manufactured abroad suggests some kind of artistic comment on our consumerist quest for everything artisanal.
In the next room, Tim Hawkinson's Orrery is not a model of a solar system but a larger-than-life-size representation of a woman spinning.
In this case there's a lot of spinning going on. The whole sculpture is on a turntable, and the lady's head is rotating as well. And while the image clearly evokes a cherished crafter's activity, the fact that the spinning wheel is constructed of plastic bottles puts a different spin on things entirely.
In another gallery, Andrea Bowers has drawn her Lady Liberty-like figure promoting One Big Union with black marker on a colossal expanse of flattened cardboard evoking a historic call to action with Occupy overtones.
Not everything in this thought-provoking exhibit is on that scale, but the ideas behind these works of fine art are clearly huge, addressing the use of traditional materials and methods like ceramics, wood-carving, tapestry weaving, quilting, lace-making, and glass-blowing combined with contemporary points of view and issues, from political action, feminism, and consumerism to urban planning and the value of labor, among others.
The title, "Labour and Wait" comes from a psalm by poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, urging readers, as SBMA curator Julie Joyce points out, to "be hardworking and to do one's best." I was fascinated, therefore, by one of the show's final installations, by video artist Mika Rottenburg and Jon Kessler. Entitled SEVEN (Cecil), it apparently depicts a rather surreal experiment about capturing and transforming sweat. To me, that seemed almost like a metaphor for turning the best hard work into art.
While Gale was out yarnbombing on WorldWide Knit in Public Day, I was in New York, sans needles, meandering along the High Line (an unparalleled achievement in urban life, imho).No wonder Gale chose the elevated park as a backdrop for the Craftitude Vest photo shoot. an out from the shoot above, and a little behind-the-scenes, below
There's always a wealth of sculpture tucked among the greenery along the way, but since April the works of art have featured a series called "Lilliput," which includes a lanky metallic creation by Alessandro Pessoli, entitled Old Singer with Blossoms,
And that – appropriately enough for my WWKIPD stroll – just happened to be festooned (by the sculptor himself) with a knitwear bonnet and streamers. Alas my iPhone photo makes the charming work look more like a giraffe in a mob cap, but you can get a better look at Scoboco's Flickr site or on the High Line's page about the Lilliput project.
And I can take inspiration for some future yarnbombing foray.
-posted by Joan
What a joy! Here's the yarn bombing at the Arkansas Literary Festival as part of the our book's inclusion, earlier this month. So many photos I want to share that I'm embedding a slideshow. I was so honored to be a guest author! Details of my adventures, and how we planned the yarnbombing, blogged here . Enjoy!
-posted by Gale
The Arkansas Literary Festival embraces Craft Activism this weekend, April 14th. You can join Gale for a slideshow at 11 am. Or be a craft activist yourself by yarnbombing at noon. Bring knitted/crocheted swatches to attach or just get your craft on with us . We'll be making flowers from recycled sweaters and afghans. See you?
Last month, after wrapping up in Los Angeles, I headed north to join Joan at her home in paradise. I mean, Santa Barbara. Same thing, really.
Joan met me for the end of a class at Loop & Leaf, lending a hand with a backdrop on a borrowed porch, followed by a Craft Activism booksigning. Thanks for having us, Celeste!
The next day, we traveled a bit south to Carpinteria, for a booksigning at Roxanne's, a quilting, crafting, knitting and all around colorful shop. I know I shot photos of this sprawling store with overall views of the many, many bolts of fabric, quilts on display, ginormous mosaic counter, yarn rooms, tempting projects everywhere, and all the color----but I cant find them. (for you Kaffe fans, they have all of his fabric. Let that sink in for a minute. ALL.) At least I have some details to share. Super lovely people, and so inspiring. Thanks for having us!
The day ended with some tourist-like behaviour, and a rare joint portrait (courtesy of a kid I grabbed on the wharf who did a nice job with my new phone).
What d'you think? New author photo? If so , then we're calling this 'Co-authors in Search of a New Book Project". Suggestions for topics, anyone? --posted by Gale 4/9/12
When indie knitwear designer Ann Weaver said she'd model her Lounge Act cardigan for the book, we decided to shoot outside an alt music venue, in keeping with her inspiration*. We hit Central Square in Cambrdge MA, for its murals and music act flyers plastered all over.
Not to mention the unpredictable. In this case, a beer soaked, shirtless Southie sure he was getting his break into modeling. **
Ann is am amazing talent: she's got tons of ideas and energy, two collections of knitwear designs in self-published books, mad knitting skills and a fabulous sense of color. You should meet her. OH WAIT! If you are anywhere near Connecticut this weekend you can, she and I will be at The Griswold Inn , in charming Essex CT for a special weekend event celebrating handmade in America. On Sunday Dec 11th we'll have our own showroom, with our books (I'll have both Craft Activism and the now out of print Shear Spirit), trunk shows, yarn, some framed photos of woolly creatures. Come sit, knit, chat & shop a little too.
I'll do a small talk about Craft Activism at noon and 3, but mostly its a casual gathering, so stop by, bring your knitting. And bring your cameras! Essex is uber-photogenic, especially this time of year.
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
* Ann designed this cardigan with her memory of seeing the Kurt Cobain video for Smells Like Teen Spirit in mind. In the book, we have this fitted version for women and a mens version, in dark green, for men.
**Yes, he signed a model release. No, we didn't use the photo in the book. Yes, we love it.
posted by Gale
New York City was a whirlwind for me, but what a great reception Gale and I got at Lion Brand Yarn Studio on Monday night.The yarn bombed door handles of the storefront entrance. Perfect for a Craft Activism event.
(Lion Brand's Patty Lyons introduced us wearing the Tongue-in-Chic skirt and the Lounge Act cardigan.) Our Seattle-based tech editor, Dorothy Orzel, was there, along with the PotterCraft crew. Nice, too, to know that Ruth Marshall's work will be featured there in November.
Posted by Joan
There's still room for our appearance tonight Thurs Oct 27th at the American Folk Art Museum for Make It Thursdays. Tickets here. Slide talk about Craft Activism, booksigning, wine and a recycled plastic craft project included.
And, sadly, tonight's the last in our Event-a-Palooza while Joan is on the east coast. I'll post about all of them one at a time. Each different, each fun, hate for the week to end.
We'll leave you with this, our WTNH appearance on the CT Style TV show. (Again, full blog post to come).
posted by Gale
In compiling ideas for the book, we kept bumping up against "the New Domesticity." It leaves us twitchy. But what we do feel at home with is the idea of crafters teaching, sharing inspiration, passing on skills, using them in ways you choose to enhance your life, and feeling more powerful because you CAN [insert word here: sew, stitch, repair, weld, invent, reverse engineer]. Catherine Clark and Katie Metzger and their shop, Brooklyn General embody this appproach. So is there any place more pefect to have a booksigning & crafting party, and trunk show? We think not!
When the idea came up for a crafting party, we couldn't decide which project from the book would be best. Sewing the Bella Brooklyn housedress (designed by Catherine & Katie) would be fabulous but too ambitious for a three-hour gathering. Maybe a granny square clinic would be fun? Then Catherine, who has sculpted window displays and more from old sweaters, got inspired by a photo in the book of animal heads by Crispina ffrench, profiled in our Crafting to Recycle, Renew & Reuse section. She thought they'd make great pin cushions, which would tie into the sewing that goes on around her shop. And just like that, she sent us a protoype for the party: Owly, above. Squishy heads in Crispina ffrench's studio in Pittsfield, MA.
If you can't make it Sunday, check out our right sidebar for upcoming events. Joan's heading East and we are ready to rolllll!
posted by Gale
I'm going through the 12,000+ images that didn't make it into the book, prepping our NY slide talks (see right sidebar for dates). Many favorites are glimpses that bring back a small moment. More of these to come, of your projects too please, on the new Craft Activism Flickr group. (thanks Maryse!)
In Ellen Bloom's guest room, the Casa de Crochet guest suite, two pillows & her granny square Babette in the LA sunshine. Love.
ps. Ellen is one of of our profiled Craft Activists, from the Recrafting the Past section of the book. She designed a wonderful project for us, a Granny Greenbags tote. Do not resist the granny.
posted by Gale