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Art Craft History

Textile Artists File Their Nails in Tiny Grooves for Traditional Japanese Weaving Technique

August 25, 2020

Grace Ebert

Image courtesy of Kiyohara Seiji

Along with a comb and shuttle, textile artists crafting “tsumekaki hon tsuzure ori,” the intricate and durable brocades that are part of Japanese traditions, employ the jagged tips of their fingernails. Common in the Shiga prefecture, the ancient technique utilizes the weaver’s grooved nails to guide the threads down the loom, ensuring they’re placed tightly together. The “tsuzure ori,” or tapestry weave, has roots in the Muromachi period (1336 to 1573), while this specific method has been in Japan for at least 1,000 years, according to Kiyohara Seiji, a representative of Kiyohara Textile Co., Ltd.

To see how the comb-shaped nails work and the ornate textiles they’re used to produce, watch the video below. (via Laughing Squid)

 

 

 



Craft

Derpy Animals by Ceramicist Nastia Calaca Channel Peculiar Storybook Characters

August 13, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Nastia Calaca, shared with permission

As a child, Nastia Calaca dreamed of illustrating the magical stories she devoured. Five years ago, she tried her hand at ceramics and soon was sculpting physical iterations of the anthropomorphized characters she loved. Her current collection of handmade creatures includes dopey pups and startled anteaters that are crafted with distinct personas in mind. Calaca paints the whimsical pieces in a tight color palette and opts for textured surfaces by adding bumpy patches to match a chameleon’s scales or tiny curves for a moose’s fur. To give one of the quirky creatures a new home, check out the ceramicist’s Etsy shop and see how the playful pieces are made on Instagram.

 

 

 



Craft

Ravenous Frogs and Surprised Bears Form an Adorably Expressive Ensemble of Ceramic Creatures

August 6, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Helen Burgess, shared with permission

Helen Burgess, who works under the moniker nosey mungo, crafts a playful troupe of characters with endlessly diverse expressions: there’s a flock of startled chickens, a bulging rain frog sporting a dramatic frown, and a whale duo grinning with contentment. Imbued with a bit of whimsy, Burgess’s clay creatures are derived from their real-life counterparts. The ceramicist skims encyclopedias to find lesser-known animals to sculpt, sometimes focusing on endangered species in order to raise awareness. Living and working near Brighton, Burgess creates the adorable critters in small batches, which she shares on Instagram.

 

 

 



Craft Illustration

Dark Backgrounds Dramatize Colorful Portraits of Quilled Paper by Yulia Brodskaya

August 2, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Yulia Brodskaya, shared with permission

For years Yulia Brodskaya (previously) has gravitated toward light backdrops for her densely quilled paper portraits. “It rarely even crossed my mind that I should choose any colour other than white. White allows all wonderful colour reflections and blended inter-reflections from paper strips to be visible and showcased at their fullest potential,” she tells Colossal.

In recent months, though, the United Kingdom-based artist has started to utilize dark canvases, which poses new challenges as some of her standard techniques, like composing portraits with thin strips, don’t translate well. “Black color is dense, dominating, it absorbs all reflections and most of the shadows; only top edges of paper strips are left to see,” she says.

Instead, Brodskaya has focused on thicker rolls and larger bends to create necessary contrast. Many of the vibrant portraits feature larger, three-dimensional swaths similar to brushstrokes, a nod to the artist’s method of “painting with paper,” that help to highlight distinct features. “I chose to leave plenty of empty dark space and blend in colored parts to gradually transition them into the black nothingness, so the background plays a crucial role in these new artworks,” she says.

To see Brodskaya’s paper-based works in progress, check out the video below and follow her on Instagram.

 

 

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Art Craft

Myriad Layers of Intricately Cut Paper Construct Architectural Sculptures by Artist Michael Velliquette

July 30, 2020

Grace Ebert

“My looking ripens things and they come toward me, to meet and be met” (2020), paper sculpture, 12 x 12 x 6 inches. All images © Michael Velliquette by Jim Escalante, shared with permission

Despite being built with a pliable, degradable material, Michael Velliquette’s paper sculptures exude strength and durability. Densley layered walls fortify the borders of his architectural works, and three-dimensional elements evoke mechanical gadgets like gears and other hardware. The incredibly intricate structures also have more delicate features, like the tiny dots and curved flourishes decorating the small pieces.

Based in Madison, Wisconsin, the artist hand-cuts each shape with straight-edge scissors or an Exacto knife, utilizing templates, mechanical punches, rulers, and compasses. Requiring between 300 and 500 hours to complete, each monochromatic sculpture begins at the center, and Velliquette expands outward. He shares with Colossal that he “aspire(s) for balance and symmetry in the overall design, but they are not perfectly symmetrical.” Acid-free PVA glue and hot adhesives hold the layers together.

Velliquette first started utilizing the accessible material as a way to model larger installations before it quickly became central to his practice. “Paper comes in endless forms. It can be used in multiple dimensions. It is easy to handle and manipulate, and it is available anywhere. It is inherently ephemeral, but given the right conditions, it can last for centuries,” he says.

The work I am now creating is non-pictorial, non-objective, and non-representational in nature. The perspective of these pieces is left intentionally ambiguous: they can be read hung on the wall like bas-relief sculptures or mounted horizontally like architectural studies. There are new issues around engineering and construction that I have had to tackle as my work has evolved in this direction. The broad aim of this investigation is to use three-dimensional structure and intricate detailing to push the boundaries of paper art literally into a new dimension.

The artist’s work will be on view at David Shelton Gallery in Houston this fall, and he is a 2021 resident at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft. Until then, follow Velliquette on Instagram for glimpses into his process and studio and to follow his upcoming projects. (via Dovetail)

 

“The love that would soak down into the center of being” (2020), paper sculpture, 20 x 20 x 8 inches

“Let your hand rest on the rim of heaven” (2019), paper sculpture, 20 x 20 x 6 inches

Left: “Our newly awakened powers cry out for unlimited fulfillment” (2020), paper sculpture, 30 x 8 x 8 inches. Right: “All seeming things shine with the light of pure knowledge” (2019), paper sculpture, 18 x 8 x 8 inches

“Let your hand rest on the rim of heaven” (2019), paper sculpture, 20 x 20 x 6 inches

Left: “Then the knowing comes: I can open to another life that’s wide and timeless” (2017), paper sculpture
25 x 25 x 5 inches. Right: “Then in one vast thousandfold thought I could think you up to where thinking ends” (2017), paper sculpture, 20 x 20 x 6 inches

“My looking ripens things and they come toward me, to meet and be met” (2020), paper sculpture, 12 x 12 x 6 inches

“When awareness encounters eternity it creates time” (2018), paper sculpture, 12 x 12 x 6 inches

 

 



Art Craft Photography

Embroidered Patches Redefine Vintage Postcards and Photographs by Fiber Artist Han Cao

July 24, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Nice hair.” All images © Han Cao, shared with permission

Through densely laid cross-stitches and whorls of thread, Han Cao revitalizes discarded photographs and postcards. Similar to the artist’s previous projects, her latest series New Nostalgia strikes a balance between the original subjects and the fiber-based additions. Sometimes covering faces with sparse dandelion puffs or confetti-like burst, Cao redefines the vintage pieces and explores how narratives linger as she stitches plumes of train steam that trail beyond the initial photograph’s edges.

Based in Palm Springs, the artist shares glimpses into her process on Instagram, and if you’re in Philadelphia, check out her embroidered pieces that are on view through August 22 at Paradigm Gallery. Cao also sells some of her mixed-media works in her shop.

 

Left: “Golden Conjurer.” Right: “Wallflower-Yellow Pansy”

“Mt Rainier”

“Runaway train”

“Runaway train”

“Generations”

Left: “A steady dissolution.” Right: “Sisters”

“Plume”

“Sister, sister”

 

 

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