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Craft

Interview: A Conversation with Social Justice Sewing Academy Explores Community Activism and the Power of Remembering Through Quilts

March 11, 2022

Gabrielle Lawrence

All images courtesy of SJSA, shared with permission

When witnessing inequity is like digging into an already numb wound and participating in surface-level social justice is as easy as recycling digital shares, the Social Justice Sewing Academy offers the power of touch. The organization works with kids and teens to make quilt blocks that express injustices in their lives, and Colossal contributor Gabrielle Lawrence recently sat down with program director Stephanie Valencia to discuss the project’s mission in a new interview supported by Colossal Members.

They speak about the work of honoring the victims of violence and their families through community art, supporting young entrepreneurs with creative or social justice-oriented businesses, and most importantly, giving people something to hold on to.

So often, when someone loses a loved one, you cherish their items for a while. And then eventually, their items end up in a box, in the back of a closet, or in an attic somewhere. This really does give the family something to hold on to and use every day. Beyond comfort, it’s reflection, as well as memory. Every time they see or touch that quilt, they can remember the good times.

Ultimately, SJSA empowers youth to use their voices and requires tactile processing of issues that often seem bigger than all of us. Every stitch is felt, and it is not a practice that participants must endure alone. From design to completion, each person is required to spend time sitting with these stories in a physical way, which creates room for grief, remembrance, education, and critique.

 

 

 



Art Craft

Vibrant Embroideries by Hillary Waters Fayle Enhance the Natural Beauty of Preserved Leaves

March 9, 2022

Grace Ebert

Photos by David Hunter Hale, © Hillary Waters Fayle, shared with permission

Favoring thread and found materials, Richmond-based artist Hillary Waters Fayle (previously) works at the intersection of textile traditions and botany. “Stitching, like horticulture, can be functional,” she says, “a technical solution to join materials/a means of survival. Or, both can be done purely in service of the soul, lifting the spirit through beauty and wonder.”

Fayle’s practice embodies this sentiment with elaborate and colorful embroideries applied to dried leaves. Lined with brown edges, the perfectly preserved surfaces become more fragile as they age, and the threaded embellishments enhance the relationship between the natural and fabricated. “There is a sense of magic in being able to work with such an unexpected and exquisite material,” the artist says. “The tension in the thread, the type of stitching, the needle, the species, and the season are just some of the factors that may influence what happens.” Recent pieces include ornate networks in blue on ginkgo, floral motifs on eucalyptus, and red dots on golden leaves.

This summer, Fayle’s works will be on view at Quirk Gallery in Charlottesville, Virginia, and this fall at Asheville’s Momentum Gallery. Until then, explore more of her stitched works, in addition to leafy cutouts and large-scale murals, on Instagram.

 

 

 



Art Craft

Evoking Micro Life, Porcelain Sculptures by Shiyuan Xu Swell in Intricate Shapes

March 9, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Hybrid #1” (2021), colored porcelain paperclay and glaze, 20 × 7 × 18.5 inches. Photo by Guy Nicol

At once rigidly skeletal and imbued with rhythmic movement, the porcelain sculptures that comprise Shiyuan Xu’s Growth series are intricate recreations of single-celled organisms, molecules, and other micro lifeforms. The Chinese artist hand-builds delicate ceramic works of three-dimensional webbing that swell and surges into amorphous shapes mimicking a range of living creatures. Stretching up to two feet, the enlarged, abstract sculptures incorporate both the universal nature of evolution and change, while directly tying to Xu’s background. “My attempt of using the classical Chinese blue and white and celadon color palette in a contemporary way reflects my own narratives, life experience, and cultural heritage” she shares, explaining further:

The regular and irregular structures and layers of my piece blend in with the memory of my sensations and personal experience. The repetitive and labor-intensive process seems to be a therapy to ease my anxiety and sense of uncertainty while facing constant challenges in the intersections of two cultures.

To create each piece, Xu undertakes a laborious process that involves applying a heavy glaze and then using a knife to scratch the edges away. The removal leaves a line of raw clay coursing through the middle of each segment, and works like “Blue Vein #4” and “Hybrid #1” emphasize that central element with color. “After the piece is fired, I repeat the same process many times, to spray, scrape, and fire again, until the surface texture is accumulating to a very obvious degree,” she tells Colossal, noting that she sometimes replicates these steps ten times—check out the artist’s Instagram for a detailed look at her process.

Xu is currently an artist-in-residence at Chicago’s Lillstreet Art Center, and if you’re in London, you can see her work from May 10 to 15 with Ting-Ying Gallery at Design Center Chelsea Harbour.

 

“Vena #4” (2020), porcelain paperclay and glaze, 23 × 10 ×17 inches. Photo by Guy Nicol

“Vena #9” (2021), porcelain paperclay and glaze, 24 × 8 × 18 inches. Photo by Jeanne Donegan

“Vena Celadon #2” (2021), porcelain paperclay and glaze, 20.5 × 13 × 12 inches. Photo by Guy Nicol

“Blue Vein #14” (2021), colored porcelain paperclay and glaze, 14 × 6.25 × 20 inches. Photo by Jeanne Donegan

Detail of “Blue Vein #14” (2021), colored porcelain paperclay and glaze, 14 × 6.25 × 20 inches. Photo by Jeanne Donegan

“Vena #4” (2021), colored porcelain paperclay and glaze, 19.5 × 8 × 19 inches. Photo by Guy Nicol

Detail of “Vena #9” (2021), porcelain paperclay and glaze, 24 × 8 × 18 inches. Photo by Jeanne Donegan

“Vena #3” (2019), porcelain paperclay and glaze, 19.5 × 11 ×10.5 inches. Photo by Guy Nicol

 

 



Craft Design

Geometric Patterns Form DIY Animal Sculptures Designed by Paperwolf

March 7, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images courtesy of Paperwolf, shared with permission

Wolfram Kampffmeyer (previously) crafts vibrant, geometric snakes and jaguars that appear to plunge from the wall. The German designer has spent the better part of a decade prototyping digital renderings of polygon sculptures and taxidermy-style busts that he then translates to DIY kits sold under the Paperwolf brand. Minimal and playfully colored, Kapffmeyer’s menagerie includes a seated koala, multiple birds in flight, and of course, the original majestic wolf. In addition to patterning pieces for his Etsy shop, the designer also works on a variety of commissions and collaborations, which result in large-scale sculptures in steel and wood.

 

 

 



Craft Science

Hand-Blown Glass Vessels by Kiva Ford Are Exacting Miniatures of Scientific and Household Goods

March 3, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Kiva Ford, shared with permission

Artist Kiva Ford (previously) spends his days shaping minuscule vessels for chemists, engineers, and physicists. He manages the custom scientific glass shop at the University of Notre Dame, where he’s tasked with creating unique instruments designed for specific research projects. The exacting quality of these pieces is reflected in all of his hand-blown works, which range from Klein bottles and flasks to vases, pitchers, and jars holding anatomical sculptures in miniature.

COVID-19 increased the demand for his wares, Ford tells Colossal, and he currently has a number of colorful pieces available on Etsy. On March 19, he’ll be hosting a demonstration of nesting a small vessel inside a larger, identical work at the International Flameworking Conference in New Jersey. You can also find videos and images documenting his process on Instagram.

 

 

 



Animation Craft Food

Diced Wool Vegetables and Spools of Sauce Layer Onto Andrea Love's Fibrous Pizza

March 2, 2022

Grace Ebert

The miniature woolen oven mitt that Andrea Love (previously) uses to pull her handmade pizza from the oven is the only item in her stop-motion tutorial that’s true to form. An addition to the Washington-based animator’s quirky fare, the short film shows a flattened crust whirling in the air before landing on the tabletop and being topped with fiber-rich ingredients like spools of sauce, mushrooms, black olives, and cheese produced from diced yarn. Dive into Love’s world of felt-fueled cooking above, and watch her making-of video to go behind the scenes of her fleece kitchen. (via The Kids Should See This)

 

 

 

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