Taiwanese woodworker Jui-Lin Yen (previously) creates charming sculptural characters using traditional techniques. Silky-smooth finishes, expert inlay, and careful joinery are used to create cartoonish figures. Yen’s initial foray into woodworking resulted in fully-formed characters with distinct heads, torsos, and limbs. His recent projects have been more abstract, focusing on facial expressions.
Though many of his initial creations were gifts for his children, due to interest in his work Yen has also started offering some of his pieces for sale online. Alongside the whimsy and charm of his creations, Yen also incorporates functionality: ducks double as serving platters, freestanding birds hold air plants, and many of the works shown here are meant to be installed on walls and used as hooks for clothing or keys. Peek into Yen’s studio via Instagram and keep up with new projects on Facebook.
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Sci-Fi Inspired Cardboard Sculptures by Greg Olijnyk Feature Fully Articulated Limbs and Working Motors
To balance out his working life as a graphic designer focused on 2-D digital projects, Greg Olijnyk creates cardboard sculptures in his free time. The remarkably refined artworks are made with packaging-grade cardboard and tracing paper, and finishing touches added with LED lighting and glass accessories.
Cardboard’s affordability and malleability, as well as its surprisingly pleasing surface texture and color, have made it the medium of choice for Olijnyk. The designer tells Colossal that each piece comes together organically, and he draws inspiration from sci-fi books and things he finds on Pinterest as he evolves each concept. “Every piece has the limitations and advantages of the cardboard material in mind, how it bends, how strong it will be, etc.,” Olijnyk explains. “The sailing boat sculpture started with the desire to use a pleated, folding effect to simulate water and the rest of the form evolved over the course of a few months.”
As part of his engineering efforts, Olijnyk incorporates movement and articulation. His robot limbs are movable, and wheels rotate. In some of his works, the designer even incorporates solar panels and small motors to activate various components. “Even if, once behind glass, they remain frozen in a pose, I like to know that the capacity is there to bring them to life,” Olijnyk tells Colossal.
Olijnyk notes that he admires fellow Melbourne-based sculptor Daniel Agdag, who creates similarly fanciful worlds using precisely manipulated cardboard. See more from Olijnyk’s studio as he starts new projects and shares the process on Instagram.
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In celebration of Día de Muertos on November 1, Raymundo Medina built a massive skeleton that appears to be lurching out of the pavement on a street in Santa Cecilia Tláhuac, Mexico. Piles of crumbled concrete at the places where the skeleton is connected to the street create the illusion that it is bursting through the asphalt. Medina created the sculpture in the traditional aesthetic of the important Mexican holiday that celebrates deceased loved ones and ancestors. According to Mexican news site Miguel Ángel Luna, Medina is a member of the Jaén Cartonería collective and collaborates with Yaocalli Indians in his work. Built with papier-mâché and painted with starkly delineated black and white areas, the skeleton seems to be almost smiling; Día de Muertos is more celebratory than mournful. (via @losalananaya)
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Over 100 Stitchers are Collaborating Across the U.S. to Complete an Unfinished Embroidered Quilt by Late Crafter Rita Smith
Chicago-based fiber artist and activist Shannon Downey has a particular affinity for unfinished projects. She seeks them out at estate sales, helping women who’ve passed complete their work. Although this has long been an area of interest for Downey, one recent discovery has catapulted to the front page of news sites around the world.
On a visit this September to a Chicagoland estate sale sale, Downey happened upon a framed embroidery (pictured above) that maps out the United States and illustrates all fifty state flowers. A casual conversation with the cashier at the sale led to Downey finding a large-scale project related to the framed work. An unfinished queen-sized quilt was meant to incorporate another U.S. map along with hexagons featuring each state’s bird and flower along with the year they entered the union.
Rita Smith of Mount Prospect, Illinois, had begun the project a few decades ago, according to her son, whom Downey subsequently connected with. Smith, who was a nurse, passed away recently at the age of 99. “I have an annoying habit of having to purchase and finish unfinished projects if I think that the person has passed on … but usually I’m just buying a half-done pillow that needs half an hour’s worth of stitching and then it’s done,” Downey told Block Club Chicago. “But this one was massive and it just felt really significant for some reason. And so I bought it.”
Downey has a substantial following thanks to her work as a community organizer and resource for people looking for an alternative to digital distractions. The self-described ‘craftivist’ tells Colossal that after running a digital marketing company for a decade, she was burned out and needed a break from technology.
I started stitching to find some digital/analog balance. I was hooked. I am an activist and I quickly fused the two. At first, it was about creating space for myself to think substantively and reflect on various issues and topics. As I started to share my work and thoughts, I found a community of folks on Instagram who were engaged and engaging. I have found ways to move those communities offline and into real life communities through my stitch-ups. Those communities are what inspire me to keep going, level up, find new ways of building and connecting, having hard conversations and tackling challenging topics.
Once Downey shared her unexpected find on Twitter, inquiries from potential collaborators began flooding in. Now she is coordinating between dozens of stitchers across the country who are volunteering their time to complete Rita’s masterpiece. Downey describes the effort as a strongly feminist project. “It is an opportunity for folks to consider how we define and assign value and meaning to craft,” she tells Colossal. “So many of the stories that people are sharing with me on twitter after reading about #RitasQuilt are about memories and connections that they have to the women in their lives who are/were makers and the significance that their art has come to have for them.”
The National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Kentucky will be displaying the completed quilt, and Downey hopes that it will be able to come with her for a planned 2020 craftivist tour around the U.S. Keep up with Downey on Twitter and Instagram to see how you can get involved in craftivism in your community, and follow along with the #RitasQuilt hashtag.
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A tram stop at Dabrowskiego Square in Łódź, Poland is blossoming with dried flowers, giving pedestrians and commuters a fresh view on the intersection of their natural and built environments. The project, titled “Nostalgia”, was designed by local art student Dominika Cebula, and pays homage to the long tradition of flower selling at Dabrowskiego Square. To create the floating floral installation, the shelter’s walls were replaced by resin-covered flowers embedded in 36 different clear panels.
“The idea of flowery bus stop came from willingness to be closer to nature and to juxtapose the colors of flowers with the grayness seeping out of concrete city,” Cebula explained. She notes that many of the flowers used in the project were from bouquets received by her friends and family. Installed this summer, Cebula’s project was selected as part of an initiative by Łódźkie Centrum Wydarzen and will be on view at least until the end of October, 2019. (via I Support Street Art)
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Birthday presents, apparel decoration, hair-do accessories: this is what comes to mind when most people think of ribbons. But for Japanese duo Baku Maeda and Toru Yoshikawa of Ribbonesia, the ubiquitous material is fodder for multi-part sculptures. Ranging from colorful cactus gardens and floral landscapes to freestanding foxes and ceremonial dragons, Ribbonesia’s creations blur the lines between art and craft. In their artist statement, the duo explains their approach to the unusual material: “Just as a painter would use hundreds of brush strokes, ribbon forms can also be made from a variety of twists, bends and folds. They become paintings as much as they are sculptures.”
Working in tandem since 2010 as Ribbonesia, Maeda is the artist of the pair, and Yoshikawa the creative director developing the theme and concept. You can explore more of their in-progress and completed projects on Instagram and Facebook.
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Winged elephants, multi-eared rabbits, and carrot-legged babies ready to be dipped in hummus: recent sculptures by Debra Broz (previously) continue to expand her collection of odd mashups formed from found ceramics. By carefully sourcing, separating, and re-fusing juxtaposed components of otherwise unremarkable ceramic knick-knacks, Broz forms entirely new creatures that are equal parts bizarre and humorous. The Los Angeles-based artist tells Colossal that she finds inspiration in absurdity:
I think a lot of us are frequently telling ourselves that the world is this very serious place, and that our lives as adults require careful consideration—and to a degree that’s true—but we also need to take time to realize that the world is also wildly full of nonsense, and that aspects of our lives are incredibly ridiculous. And I think it’s completely fair for us to recognize that, and laugh about it.
Broz also sees surprise as an important element in her work. Creating the opportunity for viewers’ expectations to be upended and their planned narrative disrupted makes her small sculptures uniquely memorable. She tells Colossal that acquiring a prank wooden outhouse built by her grandfather (not life-size) that explodes when a quarter is dropped in helped her articulate the importance of the unexpected in her practice. “For me, that object—the exploding outhouse—is weirdly inspirational in the way it takes something unassuming and makes it into something that surprises or bewilders people,” Broz explains. “It’s funny how that theme is so prevalent in my sculpture, but I had never thought about it in the context of my grandpa’s exploding outhouse until recently.”
In addition to adding to her ceramic-centric body of work, Broz has been experimenting recently with stuffed animals and balloons. The malleable materials make it easier to stretch her imagination and try out new ideas. She’s also been working in multiples, creating different variations on the same animal: the two white rabbits shown here were a part of that series. “It was a really interesting process to see how many ideas I could think of to alter that one particular form. That also got me interested in the idea of how much you can change a form before it stops being what it was and becomes something else,” Broz explains.
On November 16, 2019, you can see some of Broz’s iterative rabbits at the Track 16 Gallery Anniversary Show, and will have a piece up for auction in a fundraiser supporting Monte Vista Projects, an artist space and curatorial collective of which Broz is a part. Follow along with the artist’s latest creative endeavors on Instagram.
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Editor's Picks: Craft
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.