Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Indie Craft

…the fantastic art and craft work being produced by artists and makers using traditional craft techniques but with a completely modern, alternative and subversive style, context and subject matter.
The alternative craft scene is thriving and flourishing, especially since the advent of the internet…
Its roots are in the DIY punk scenes that came out of the United States in the early 1990s. Hence, alternative craft is often called DIY Craft, also to distinguish it from its traditional and twee-er forebear. Other names for DIY and Indie Craft are New Wave Craft, Subversive Craft and Craftivism (Craft + Activism- usually when the work contains more political or socially conscious subject matter).
…artists who have taken craft techniques to a new level and have blurred or completely broken through the line between art and craft.
Indie/DIY craft can be viewed as a response to the homogenous mass production and mass consumption that is synonymous with the modern world. The scene’s continued rise in popularity can also be attributed to the current economic and environmental crises we face. As Magda Sayeg of Knitta Please puts it:
I’m part of the DIY craft movement that emphasises handmade artistry as a reaction to the mass-produced culture we’re immersed in.
If you make handmade items, whether for practical reasons (clothing or home wares) for decorative reasons, or as gifts, you are turning your back on the mass-produced items found on most high streets or in shopping malls. You are creating something unique, personal and special. A lot of indie crafters/artists use recycled or vintage materials, and making something yourself by hand from recycled materials obviously has less impact on the environment.
Textile-based crafting has traditionally been seen as a domestic, female-dominated (if not exclusively female) hobby or pastime and usually not as an art form in its own right. Several Indie Crafts artists are striving to change that perception. As embroidery artist Jenny Hart explains:
Embroidery serves no function, and is almost always secondary to a functional object (a pillowcase; a tea cosy). As an artist, one of my considerations is to make this type of needlework embellishment the substance of the subject and the object itself.
Any feminists who have bemoaned the current rise of craft shouldn’t worry, as both men and women are partaking in the new wave. Indie Craft isn’t about keeping women busy, as it may have been in previous centuries, and it isn’t purely decorative art. Today’s craft is also about empowerment: feeling a sense of achievement when making something with your own hands. It’s about taking a stand or making a statement against this modern, digital, disposable age of mass production and consumption that is leading the world into environmental and economical ruin. It’s about creating something you might not have ‘needed’ to make yourself- you could have gone to any shop and bought, for instance, an (unfeasibly, unsustainably) cheap, mass-machine-made scarf or jumper- but that gave you the sense of achievement and empowerment that comes from learning and perfecting a skill, making a unique item by yourself, for yourself or for a gift, and in many cases making a small, independent business out of your creations.
-extracts from the introduction to 'Indie Craft' by Jo Waterhouse, 2010. 

Monty the cat (below) was created based on photos and videos sent to me by his owner.

Apparently Piglet was feeling left out...

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Side Project: Animal 'Cuddlies'

I very much enjoyed an exercise we did earlier this year where we were asked to bring in various bits and bobs (recylcling, textiles, random useful found materials) and were then given a short time to make animals out of them.

First I made my crocodile. For the structure of his body and jaw i used pieces of a plastic bottle, joining them together with wire. The tail is made from pieces of egg box which i sewed loosely together so it can move around. I wrapped wool around the body and attached split pins for the lumpy scales. The jaw is covered in scraps of green fabric. The eyes are made from a piece of egg box, glued on with a glue gun. The teeth are made from a beer can, also attached with a glue gun. The legs were made from the same wire i used for the structuring. We were advised to use as little glue as possible, instead relying on wrapping/tying/stitching/fastening in other ways, but it became necessary because of the time constraint.

I posted this on my facebook and was particularly flattered when a fellow student on my course compared it to a Quentin Blake illustration!

For my reindeer I relied more on the textiles. I used a plastic bottle again for the main body, but i detached the narrow end of the bottle and tilted it downwards so that the head of the deer dips forward (secured with wire). I wrapped bits of canvas material around the body to conceal the plastic, followed by some brown wool which i wrapped around to help tuck in the fabric and maintain the shape. I added a piece of texted knitting on the top for the thicker coat of the reindeer. His antlers and legs are made from my favourite trusty wire. I cut out thin strips of brown fabric and glued them to the bottle head one by one to keep the shape, and attached a piece of egg box for the muzzle with split pins, which became the eyes. I glued on a piece of scrunched up red fabric for the 'rudolf the red-nosed reindeer' nose. The ears are just cut out pieces of brown fabric, along with the lacy piece around the head (I'm not sure why i needed this bit, it could be a lighter piece of the reindeer's coat or just decoration). And I finished him off with a scarf.

Since then I've been happy to carry on making similar creations in my spare time.
At the moment I am making friends and family their favourite animals. 

Taz the turtle
I made this for a friend for their birthday. This one took me about a day to finish.

Monty the moggie cat.
Currently working on this. It has taken me a few weeks of on/off work, as there has been a lot of knitting and sewing involved to get the pattern and features as accurate as i can.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Arthur Rackham

Here is an illustration that has clearly been influenced by the painting 'Hylas and the Nymphs' by Waterhouse.

The suggestion of water is simplistic- there is minimal use of line here that is very effective and looks elegant. Like in Waterhouse's pencil study (see earlier post), the wavy lines of the water link visually to the women's hair; the hair flows seamlessly into the ripples of the water, like they are a part of it.

Stylistically it is very reminiscent of Japanese illustration and ink drawings (before modern manga/anime etc); it brought the work of Katsushika Hokusai to mind.

Katsushika Hokusai’s 'The Great Wave Off Kanagawa', circa 1831, Hakone Museum (Japan).

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Dirty Car Art

Stumbled across this today when I was browsing illustrations inspired by 'Hylas and the Nymphs'.
'Meet Scott Wade – a talented artist, who like every creative  and curious person can’t resist a dirty rear car window. We suspect that Scott started off with clever sayings, like, “wash me”, however his later works became much more sophisticated.
He lives on a mile and a half of dirt road – caliche, as the locals call it, road-base: a blend of limestone and gravel clay. Driving over this surface results in a fine, white dust that billows up behind any vehicle driven faster than a galloping turtle, coating the rear window. Being an experienced artist it wasn’t long before Scott started experimenting with techniques to achieve these amazingly detailed and shaded drawings.'
More examples can be found on his website: http://www.dirtycarart.com/