Thursday, 27 October 2011

Knit your own skeleton for Halloween

If you find ghosts and vampires a bit on the spooky side what about a knitted skeleton to demonstrate Halloween's softer side?

To be honest, this intricate knitted skeleton wasn't created to scare people but as part of “Transcending the Material” installation by artist Ben Cuevas, which was exhibited in New York.

We caught up with Ben and asked him a few questions about knitted art...

Any tips for people who want to use knitting as a material for art? 
Don't be afraid to explore and experiment. Get yourself outside the pattern-box. Patterns can be useful for understanding how to create shapes, but when making knit-art, most of the time you just have to wing it.

And were you a knitter beforehand? Who taught you?
I've been knitting since I was 20, so that's about 4+ years. My friend Jessica Charlene Ruvalcaba taught me how to knit. We used to hang out at my apartment in Hollywood and just knit and chat and watch TV... it was quite a lovely way to learn.
»  The art of Ben Cuevas

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

The Power of Making

This morning I went to the exhibition, The Power of Making, at the V&A. I kind of felt I had to - being part of Make it and Mend it. The four of us often bang on about the philosophy and psychology of making: why we feel compelled to do it and why we think it benefits us. In the words of Daniel Charney who curated the exhibition:
"For many people, making is critical for survival. For others, it is a chosen vocation: a way of thinking, inventing and innovating. And for some it is simply a delight to be able to shape a material and say 'I made that'. The power of making is that it fulfills each of these human needs and desires."
It's a small exhibition - everything's crammed into one big room and it's an eclectic mix. Shoes, cameras, saddles, musical instruments, coffins, animals, marzipan babies,  Lady GaGa's lippy headdress, wooden bicycles, surgical instruments. There's stuff that showcases incredible craftsmanship, stuff that represents the passions and dedication of the probably slightly bonkers and stuff that's a testimony to human ingenuity.

What it isn't, is universally beautiful. Some of the stuff here could best be described as kitsch or eccentric. As the museum describes it - it's like a cabinet of curiosities.

As well as the exhibits, there are films demonstrating how the things were made, with creators talking about their craft. This one shows the working lives of four of them - shoe designer Marloes ten Bhomer, crochetdermist Shauna Richardson (responsible for a giant crocheted bear), artist, curator and glass designer Matt Durran and flute-maker Stephen Wessel. 

Power of Making from Victoria and Albert Museum on Vimeo.

The first thing you see as you enter the space is a giant gorilla, sculpted out of wires that resemble coathangers. Inside there's another enormous object - this time made from wood and steel - A Prosthetic Suit for Stephen Hawking (see left)

 Yet for me the most interesting things were not the spectacular. It was the real evidence of craftsmanship, born from years of practice. This was highlighted for me in one of the film clips - half a dozen men from Bangladesh sitting together beside a fire hammering out a metal pot. This required the most incredible coordination and synchronsiation. The rythym of the fast perfectly timed hammer blows was like music. They made it look easy - yet a fraction of a second delay and one or all could have had a smashed wrist. This long term traditional craftsmanship was also evident in the beauty of  the dry stone wall and the polished perfection of the dressage saddle.

The show is not devoid of quirky pieces - I liked this little sculpture - made from used pencils - the tips of the pencils are carved by hand into the letters of the alphabet.

The Power of Making is on at the V&A until 2nd January 2012. entry is free. More information

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

First attempt at an ipad cover

I love my ipad - but I hated the red faux leather case I had for it. I've been meaning to make myself one and today had a go. I'm not entirely happy with the results as the fit's a little too snug - but it will do until I get around to making another. When I crack the design and get a better fit I'll post instructions on the main MIAMI website.

The other project on the go is a quilt for my little god daughter. It's another first attempt - this time at quilting by machine rather than by hand. I've done the top and once the batting arrives I'm going to have a go a quilting using a walking foot - scary!

The quilt design is from a book called Layer Cake, Jelly Roll and Charm Quilts  by Pam & Nicky Lintott. I used a mix of fabrics in my stash plus some Amy Butler fabric - which cost £2.60 per quarter metre at time of writing this.