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Happy Birthday, Rodin!

Monday, November 12th, 2012
By Twistie

Today marks the one hundred seventy-second birthday of Auguste Rodin, the great sculptor. In his honor, I thought it might be fun to see some of the unusual and crafty ways his most famous sculpture, The Thinker, has been interpreted over the years.

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Whole Lotta Natural Beauty

Monday, October 1st, 2012
By Twistie

The instant I saw this piece, I needed to know more. I wanted to know more about the artist, the technique, the materials, the inspiration. I wanted to see more of the work.

The artist is Lotta Helleberg. She was born in Sweden and relocated to Virginia in the 80′s. She now lives with her husband and children in Charlottesville, making art and loving nature.

The art and the nature go hand in hand at all times. Whether she’s creating wall hangings, pillows, handmade artist’s books, table runners, or sachets filled with organic lavender, Helleberg’s work combines a spare elegance with a profound respect for nature. The result, as you can see, is tremendously beautiful.

The materials she works in most include: antique/vintage linen fabric, natural dyes created from local plants, recycled/handmade paper, and silk. Her dye processes are eco-friendly, and many of the motifs are created with the help of local flora.

If you’re in the Virginia area, you’ll be able to see Helleberg’s work up close and personal from October 12 – December 5 at Over the Moon Bookstore in Crozet, VA and in the Artisans Studio Tour in Charlottesville, VA on November 10&11. Helleberg is studio #8.

Or, if you’re up in the Ontario, Canada area (As opposed to Ontario, California), Helleberg’s work will be on display at the Joshua Creek Heritage Art Center in Oakville, Ontario from November 2 – 18 as part of the show De rerum natura (On the Nature of Things).

As for the rest of us, well, we’ll just have to get by on browsing her website and her online store.

You know, I really could use a spiffy new purse….


It’s Only a Paper World

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012
By Twistie

Don’t sit on those chairs! I mean it!

Why not?

Why, because they’re made of nothing but tracing paper and tape, that’s why.

They’re the work of Natasha Frisch, an artist who works exclusively in the medium of tracing paper. Her designs are precise replications of everyday items, only in a far more fragile form and white in color.

Frankly, I’m blown away.


The Joy of Public Crafts

Monday, April 16th, 2012
By Twistie

(Illustration via Yarnbombing where you can see this amazing Olympics-themed installation in all its glory)

A couple weeks ago, Mr. Twistie and I were hurrying to a nightclub in Oakland to see a band we know and love perform. We were looking forward to an evening of good music, good fun, and all kinds of happy times. But since we were running late, I was also feeling a little stressed. After all, I learned at my mother’s knee that if you aren’t early by a goodly margin, then you’re late. It’s made me a little neurotic about time management ever since and then I went and married the guy who I fully expect to be at least an hour late to his own funeral.

Yeah. Issues. I’ve got them, too.

So there I was a little stressed and trying to hurry through an unfamiliar neighborhood (we’d never been to this club before) in the gathering dark, and have I mentioned I have night blindness? Because I do. So the sun setting rapidly in the West was definitely not helping my anxiety, and I was worried I was going to trip over some oddity in the pavement and fall flat on my face, which is not my favorite way to spend even a nanosecond, when suddenly I saw it: yarnbombing!

Someone had knitted a brightly colored striped cosy for the traffic light on one corner. More than that, someone had festooned the streetlamp next to it with a frilly knitted garter.

The light was still fading. In a few minutes, I wouldn’t be able to see anything at all. The neighborhood was still unfamiliar. The sidewalk was still in need of repair. We were still running late.

But you know what? I suddenly didn’t care so much about any of those things. Someone had made a frilly garter for a streetlamp and that made me happy in ways I cannot even begin to describe. I relaxed.

For some reason, seeing people do crafts in public, or seeing their crafts displayed out in the open gives me a peaceful feeling. It grounds and enchants me. It reminds me that there’s value to doing things simply because they add to the beauty or the whimsey of the world.

And that’s not at all a bad reminder to get when running late in the dark in an unfamiliar place.

Oh, by the way, the concert rocked!


Stick To It, and See What Happens

Monday, March 26th, 2012
By Twistie

Most of us wind up at some point with a roll or two of packing tape in our homes. We’re mailing holiday gifts or care packages to kids at college, whatever. We need a few strips to seal up a package, and then we put it away in the closet or garage or junk drawer and wait to need it again… most likely not until the next year or so by which time we’ve often forgotten where it went.

Street artist Mark Jenkins, though, did something else. He decided to put that oft-forgotten tape to use in his installations. The result? Dramatic and often deliciously humorous pieces of street art created by sculpting a neglected household item.

From the drama of carousel horses in the woods to the humor of ducks in gutter water to the poignancy of huddled sculptures of homeless people in corners of fine art galleries, Jenkins has a way of using the easily ignored to make us think.

But thanks to the good people at Tape Sculpture.org, you, too can join the movement and learn to sculpt packing tape.

Who knows? One day I might be sharing your fabulous work… just like this amazing piece by Katya in Moscow:


Taking Apart Craft to Make Art

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011
By Twistie

This installation art piece by Jean Shin is titled Unraveling. Actually, it’s one of several installation pieces of the same title by Shin. Its composition intrigues me as someone deeply interested in crafts and what they say about us as individuals and as cultures.

You see, this concept has been played out in a number of cities. Washington DC, Berkeley, Houston, New York, and Honolulu have all hosted versions of this piece. In each city, it has been a new piece, unique to that place, yet universal in its intent.

As Shin took the concept from place to place, she gathered up sweaters in each of the host cities from Asian women in that community. She then silkscreened a label with the donator’s name and attached it to each sweater. Then the unraveling began. All of the sweaters remain partially intact, but the threads of them interweave to create a colorful web that binds them all together, as well. It’s meant to represent the interconnections in Asian art communities, but I think it goes beyond one culture, or even one life pursuit.

We are all individuals, and yet we are also part of a whole, no matter where we are, no matter how we choose to live our lives. It’s nice once in a while to reflect on our place as individuals, and also on our part of the whole. In a funny way, I find myself quite moved by this illustration of that universal truth.

And it couldn’t have been done without a lot of people knitting sweaters in the first place.


Be an Evil Mad Scientist… Or Just Visit One

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011
By Twistie

Have you ever wondered what sort of crafts an evil mad scientist might do? Well, they might do the deadly champagne cork pictured above (extremely tongue in cheek instructions here), or he might create something less obviously dangerous and less obviously evil, such as this nifty LED Menorah:

But whether your taste runs more to deadly champagne corks, kits for electronic Menorahs, or the infamous eggbot which can print on real eggshells (comes in both standard hen and ostrich), it’s exciting to know that Evil Mad Science is having an open house this coming sunday, December fourth, from five to nine pm.

So if you’re slightly crafty, slightly geeky, fond of great silliness, or just wanting to meet the store cat, Zener, and you’re in the Sunnvale, CA. area (note to Buffy fans: that’s SunnyVale, not SunnyDale) then come on out and see what evil lurks in the hearts of men. The place to go is:

Evil Mad Science

175 San Lazaro Ave, suite 150

Sunnyvale, CA.

BTW, about that champagne cork? I wouldn’t advise trying it at home. I’m just sayin’, m’kay?


Call For Entries: Smithsonian Craft Show

Thursday, July 14th, 2011
By Twistie

This amazing basket by Christine Adcock was shown in this year’s Smithsonian Craft Show in April. Adcock’s brilliant basketry skills won her the Best of Show award. You can see more of her work (including details of materials used) here.

Wow.

Every year the Smithsonian Craft Show showcases the best of the best of American fine craft. Ceramics, glass, embroidery, beadwork, leather, woodwork, furniture, mixed media… if it’s considered a craft, it will probably be represented among the 120 artists hand-picked by a three-member committee.

That committee changes members every year and no artist is grandfathered in… not even Ms. Adcock.

What does that have to do with you? I’m so glad you asked!

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All He Was Saying Was Give Peace a Chance

Thursday, March 10th, 2011
By Twistie

via IDSA Philly

This gentleman is American craft artist George Nakashima. The young lady sitting on the table is his daughter, Mira. Nakashima was a visionary artist, and today Mira continues and expands his legacy of exquisite furniture.

via Modern Design

As you can see, the philosophy behind the work was always one of respect for the material. The shape and grain of the wood are left intact on top, while being supported by architectural bases. The combination of minimal interference and thoughtful construction creates a harmonious and entirely practical result.

But Nakashima was also a dreamer.

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Robert Arneson VS Public Art

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011
By Twistie

all images via

The gentleman above surrounded by whimsical and slightly surreal ceramic self-portraits is Robert Arneson (1930 – 1992). He’s one of my favorite artists.

I saw my first Arneson at the tender age of nine. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a picture of it online, but it was entitled Man Losing His Marbles. It was a self-portrait bust with the skull split open and spilling  - you guessed it! – marbles. I fell in love.

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