Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Guerrillas and Knitting

Artist Denise Lichfield aka grrl+dog is a 'guerrilla knitter'. For those not familiar with this term, The Sydney Morning Herald did a feature story on Denise earlier this month and it gives some good background information on this form of street art.

Denise is encouraging other crafters to join a global knit up project to culminate on 23 February. Visit her blog post and show your interest if you want to join in.

The good news is that even if you don’t knit but do other craft work you can also take part. Here’s a little piece that showed up mysteriously this morning in Oxford Street Bulimba Brisbane just around the corner from me. A few leather punched butterflies sit on this light pole in front of the ferry terminal.

If you’re wanting to do a bit of street art in camouflage consider this hat from Shazzas Knits.

Or if you prefer get some of these eye catching custom made stripey socks from Space Frog another knitting addict. "My kids have been known to ask what I'm knitting for dinner" says Space Frog.

And why not do your knitting in style with these hand cast resin needles from On The Needle. They’re a little heavier than plastic needles so they could come in handy for any necessary self protection.

Add a bit more bling with trinket from Liana Kabel. Liana explains her preferred art medium, "..with a Tupperware Lady mother and a Jeweller father what else was I going to be but a jeweller obsessed with plastic!"

And if you've had problems with your knitting in the past, take heart from this video; you're not alone.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Look It's Moving!

As a child I loved these little pinwheels. Running outside, holding my treasure up to the breeze, those few still seconds of anticipation before the wheel started to spin, and then, wonder. My first experiences with this kinetic piece ensured a lifelong fascination with inanimate objects that move.

Kinetic art explores how things look when they move and refers mostly to sculptured works. The movement is not virtual or illusory, but a real movement that might be created by a motor, water, wind or even a button pushed by the viewer.

We don't usually associate the online handmade store, Etsy, with huge pieces. But Jason Stillman of Grace Gallery has listed The Evolution of Flora, a large steel fabricated, kinetic sculpture. It measures approximately 10-11 ft tall, by about 6 -7 feet at its most wide. The piece has multiple parts that move; the flower petals spin, and the leaves flutter in the breeze. For those living in the US this piece is mighty tempting. If you go to Jason's website you can see it moving!

I'm a real fan of Sydney artist Don Pezzano's mixed media pieces and Fantasy Orrery (solar system model) doesn't disappoint. Made from junk, scrap metal, buttons, wire, typewriter parts, sewing machine parts, brass spheres, coin, paper, timber, seed pod and paint, it has a real steampunk flavor. Don has just started selling on Etsy so check out his Store.

There are some art galleries that focus solely on kinetic art. A Google search will find these. Most though seem to show the occasional piece. Place Gallery in Melbourne has allowed Australian artist, Cameron Robbins, to install his kinetic sculpture Within Without . On the rooftop, a 'wind monitor' responds to the elements, and transfers kinetic energy through axles into the gallery two floors below. There the energy operates a drawing machine, marking time and wind energy to create a series of site-specific works.

Some artists work only in this genre. Check out this whimsical Brass Dragon by the UK's Keith Newstead. And visit his website for more enchanting pieces.

Something a bit more achievable for most of us are air generated mobiles.

If you enjoy sewing you might like to attempt the bird mobile from Spool Sewing. A pattern is available for download here. If wood or paper work is more your style, Instructables have a few mobile patterns with varying degrees of difficulty.

Or maybe just whip out some paper, a split pin and a straw and make yourself a pinwheel!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Renewing the Creative Fire

WoolFelt Lampshade byNahoko Koyama and Alexander Garnett of Mixko.

Once, when it was deepest, darkest night, the kind of night when the land is black and the trees look like gnarled hand and the sky is dark midnight-blue, an old man staggered through the forest, half-blinded by the limbs of trees. The boughs scratched his face, and he held out a tiny lantern in one hand. The candle inside the lantern was burning lower and lower. The man had long yellow hair, cracked yellow teeth, and curved yellow fingernails. He was hunched over and his back was rounded like a bag of flour. He was so furrowed his skin hung in furbelows from his chin and armpits and from his hips. He held on to a tree and pulled himself forward, and then grasped another tree and pulled himself forward, and with this rowing motion and his hard breathing he made his way through the forest. Every bone in his feet painted like fire. The owls in the trees screeched right along with his joints as he propelled himself forward in the dark. Way off in the distance, there was a tiny flickering light, a cottage, a fire, a home, a place of rest, and he laboured toward that little light. Just as he reached the door, he was so tired, so exhausted, the tiny light in his little lantern died, and the old man fell through the door and collapsed. Inside was an old woman sitting before a beautiful roaring fire, and now she hurried to his side, gathered him into her arms, and carried him to the fire. She held him in her arms as a mother holds her child. She sat and rocked him in her rocking chair. There they were, the poor frail old man, just a sack of bones, and the strong old woman rocking him back and forth saying, “There, there. There, there. There, there.” And she rocked him all through the night, and by the time it was not yet morning but almost, he had grown much younger, he was now a beautiful young man with golden hair and long strong limbs. And she rocked him. “There, there, There, there. There, there.” And as morning approached even more closely, the young man had turned into a very small and very beautiful child with golden hair plaited like wheat. Just at the moment of dawn, the old woman plucked three hairs very quickly from the child’s beautiful head and threw them to the tiles. They sound like this: Tiiiiiiig! Tiiiiiiig! Tiiiiiiig! And the little child in her arms crawled down from her lap and ran to the door. Looking back at the old woman for a moment, he gave her a dazzling smile, then turned and flew up into the sky to become the brilliant morning sun.*

Post It Notes Lamp by Aaron Rutledge
Estes says that focus is composed of sensing, hearing, and following the directions of the soul voice.

Plastic Bottle Lamp by Reta & Vana Howell

And that to lose focus is to lose energy.

Crocheted Doiley Lamp by Ceylan Sahin

But there is no need to panic when we lose our momentum or focus…..we must calmly hold the idea and be with it a while. The absolutely wrong thing to do when we’ve lost focus is to rush about struggling to pack it all back together again.

Microfilm Lamp by 2nddraft

Rushing is not the thing to do….sitting and rocking is the thing to do.

Polymer Clay Candle Holders by Amanda Hunt at Polyclarific

Patience, peace, and rocking renew ideas.

Wood Sconce by Roy Gumpel from Woodstock Lamps

So…just sit down and be still. Take the idea and rock it to and fro.

Photograph and Ceramic Lamp by Donna Brady of Resurface

Keep some of it and throw some away, and it will renew itself.

Jeeves by Jake Phipps at Hidden Art Shop

You need do no more. Toaster Lamp from Metalight

*Rumanian folk tale The Three Gold Hairs as recounted in Women Who Run With The Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Decorating With Altered Books

Just imagine a shelf in your home with this unique altered book displayed on it! Julie Kim’s 'Book Marks' is a mixed media piece featuring a vintage book folded to create a unique paper sculpture. Embellished with silver thread, copper wire, glass beads and retro images this altered book would look fabulous in any decor.

Or this sculptural mobile hanging from the corner of a room in your home would continually uplift spirits as well as being a great talking point. Mixed media artist Lisa Occhipinti creates these mobiles and sell them through The Shop House.

Some artists alter a book to make a statement about the original work. Laura Prentice has converted an old medical textbook ‘Radiographic Positioning and Related Anatomy’ into ‘Attack of the Octopus’ which she describes as ‘nonsensical, sci-fi alterations pertaining to octopuses, aliens and the exploration of human anatomy’. Laura also sells on etsy. Check out her original Chicago Houses Series for original works at extremely low prices.

If you displayed an altered book such as Andrew Sty’s ‘Velvet Revolution’ you could flip a page daily to have an ever changing stimulating environment.

Short of cash? No problem! These artists provide inspiration to us to make our own altered books. For further inspiration maybe download a free copy of Art Trader Magazine a web based publication focused on altered books, artist trading cards and art journals. And don’t forget to become a follower of this blog to be in the running to win one of Susan Ure’s publications on altering books.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Thread + Brooch = Art

1. brooch - black thread, 2. Embellishing and Stitch, 3. gocco printed/hand embroidered linen brooches, 4. tree brooch, 5. brooches, 6. Kitty Feltidermy Brooch On White, 7. brooch love, 8. Seascape brooches, 9. The Noble Gnatcatcher (original brooch pin), 10. my mums a hippie brooch, 11. starry-starry-night, 12. pie02

Embroidered brooches can be exquisite tiny works of art. The use of embroidery to decorate clothing has been around since people began wearing clothes. This ‘painting by needle’ has a fascinating history. Unfortunately I haven't been able to find information about the use of embroidery in jewellery prior to the Victorian era. However I’m sure it did exist. Evidence of the existence brooches dates back to the Bronze Age so there is no reason why the innovative would not have incorporated embroidery into these decorations.

The mosiac above of flickr photos shows the diversity of brooches being made by some of today’s artists. If you click on each one and go exploring I think you’ll enjoy it as much as I did. Cathy Cullis really does paint with her needle! Paperiaarre’s marrying of gocco prints with embroidery is innovative, and oh, what about that Feltidermy!

And of course, Etsy has a plethora of artists working in the embroidered brooch area. To me, though, a few really stand out. In the mosaic below, working left to right, we have Wiccked, Lilla Jizo, Crewelworled, Wearablesok, Blue Whimsy, Polyclarific, and WhimsiGals.

Melanie Cook of Wiccked describes the process of creating her piece, ‘Cocoon’ - 'Based on a piece of ivory felt, than a piece of muslin, frayed around the edges, embellished with seed beads, hex beads, glass beads, bugle beads in shades of white, pearl, cream, gold, and even copper, with soft white Australian merino wool fleece, gold organza ribbon, ivory cotton thread and gold metallic thread this design evolved as I stitched. I didn't really have an idea of what the finished design would be when I started. At some point I realised there was to be a cocoon inside the gold ribbon so I added more of the merino, and stitched it in with gold thread. Some of the frayed out threads from the muslin have also been stitched back on and couched, as more embellishment.'

Melanie's art work can be adapted to be used as a brooch, or even as a wall hanging. Similarly Lilla Jizo’s White Linen Jellyfish can really be anything you want it to be - a toy, a hanging, a pincushion, a brooch. Made from a vintage linen fabric and other recycled textiles, it has been embroidered and threaded with wooden beads.

Crewelworled, like most of these artists, uses no glue but sews all parts including the pin ‘I want it to last long enough for you to give it to your ornithologist grand daughter one day’, she says.

Wearablesok has a new ‘Victoria’ series of brooches that includes patchwork piecing, embroidery, and the addition of trinkets. Also using some quilting techniques is BlueWhimsy with her Finding My Way brooch. ‘Narrow strips of green and salmon silk were folded and woven together to form the foundation for this 3" x 3" pin - it is attached to a wool blend felt. The silk strips are embroidered with variegated silk thread and green yarn is couched to the silk.’

And there’s no end to the creativity of these artists. Amanda Hunt from Poly Clarific has firstly drawn a design and then had this carved into a stamp by fellow Etsy seller Tamptation. The hand stamped design has then been worked back into with hand embroidery before being backed and slightly filled with acrylic stuffing.

Kathleen from WhimsiGals took inspiration from the figurine discovered by Josef Szombathy near Willendorf in 1908 to create her Woman of Willendorf brooch. Embroidered on tan salt washed fabric, this goddess wears a headdress of beads.

Although not an Etsy seller, the last space is reserved for Debbie Bryan, a UK artist. Debbie places vintage textiles and hand embroidery under resin in her latest collection of brooches. Bryan’s pieces may be just tiny works but she’s big business in the world of art jewellery.

I don’t wear a lot of jewellery, but I’d love to fill a wall with these tiny treasures!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Paper Models n Pop Up Books...or....Playing

Let’s face it, it’s good to remain a child at heart – to be able to play as a child, to potter, to create, to be ‘in the moment’. As children most of us had some contact with paper dolls, models and pop up books. To me they were intriguing, consuming and magical. So in this post I’ll share some favourites being made by big people - paper artists and engineers - in the hope that they will inspire each of us to keep playing in our own way in 2009.

New Year Cat Cube – download free here.

If you’d prefer your model printed, precut and prescored drop by Canadian artist Gabe Wong’s store and pick up some of his Blockheads.

Maybe you’re drawn to a different type of model. How about a geisha doll kit from Melbourne artist Dust of Enchantment.

Or, you might like a model already made up and just waiting to be played with! Visit Sharlz N Dollz for original paper dolls handmade in Brisbane, Australia.

Pick up another premade model at Coffee Monkey where playing cards and other ephemera are incorporated into art dolls.

Sydney based artist Anna-Wili Highfield makes intricate paper models on commission having spent time working for Opera Australia as a Scenic Artist.

If you like pop up books with a difference Thomas Allen inspires by playing with vintage pulp fiction books, cutting, arranging, lighting and photographing.

And Danish artist Peter Callesen certainly knows how to wield a pair of scissors.
Looking Back

Want to try making some pop ups of your own? Carol Barton from Popular Kinetics Press has published numerous artist book editions of her own and shares her skills in workbooks available for purchase.
Five Luminous Towers, A Book to be Read in the Dark by Carol Barton
Offset printing, laser-cut pop-ups, light and batteries, edition of 50

When you’ve engineered your paper you can take it to great heights by using your work as the basis for animated videos. Katy Davis from Gobblynne Animation has utilised books, paper and digital manipulation to produce this beautiful artwork, Stay In My Memory.

Another Australian artist, Andrew Buchanan of Outhouse Animations, has created this complex piece, Looking For Joe.

Think that this is all a bit too difficult? Feeling overwhelmed? Then North Queensland artist Blossomnbird has kindly posted details on her blog showing us step by step how she turns her cute paper dolls into movie stars.

Away With Doris and Boris

So my News Years' Wish for you is that you will spend your year as the happy, carefree, inspired cherished child that you are. Happy Playin!