Whether a corded rotary phone or humble water pitcher, Sue Trevor’s household objects are all made from the same materials. The artist meticulously stitches ornamental sculptures that resemble common domestic items and vintage electronics. Covered in crisscrossed seams and textured rows, each piece is a product of combining embroidery, appliqué, and quilting techniques, and the resulting jewel-toned works are heavily adorned with flowers and other organic forms, shapes she derives directly from her garden in Loughborough, Leicestershire.
Prior to sewing the objects from hand-dyed Egyptian cottons and silks, Trevor studies the film camera or teacup and saucer she’s replicating and creates a pattern. She then “manipulates my heavily embroidered 2D pieces of fabric into sculptural 3D works of art, testing and trialing until I have the desired shape I want. I love the challenge of trying to dissect the structure of an object and translating it into one of my textile pieces.”
Peruse Trevor’s available sculptures on Etsy and Folksy, and see more of her work, which includes an array of functional and decorative pieces, on Instagram. You also might enjoy Ulla Stina-Wikander’s needlepoint tools and devices.
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Hessa Al Ajmani (previously) carefully imprints single flowers, leaves, and fronds into her ceramic dinnerware. After hand-building a piece, the artist assembles bunches of small plants native to the United Arab Emirates and presses them into layered bouquets on mugs, plates, and serving dishes. Al Ajmani then paints the impressions to mimic the original florals that she sources from the nearby desert and occasionally from her mother’s garden, a practice dictated by the climate and time of year. “My work naturally takes a whole season to prepare and/or relies on the occasional winter rainfall,” she says. “I allow it to grow organically and see it as a collaboration with nature. After all, clay itself is a material of the earth.”
In addition to creating an array of functional pieces, Al Ajmani teaches virtual and in-person workshops at Clay Corner Studio, which she founded in Ajman in 2019. Follow her on Instagram to keep an eye on new releases in her shop.
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From her studio in Amsterdam, Gésine Hackenberg (previously) punches perfectly round discs from Delftware and antique ceramic dishes. The ornate, pearl-like forms are then strung together into necklaces or secured into metal bands for rings and earrings. Juxtaposing the old and new, the completed wearables are positioned alongside the original dinnerware to draw connections between the domestic objects and personal adornments that are ubiquitous in everyday life.
The ongoing collection—which Hackenberg says was inspired by her grandmother’s pearl necklaces and massive cabinet of porcelain dishes—evidences what the designer sees as “a certain kinship” between what’s worn on the body and the pieces that decorate and sustain a living space. She says:
What one keeps and owns, often contains an emotional meaning next to its practical function or worth. Possessions, especially personal treasures, define and represent their owner. Jewelry is in particular an outward sign of values that are deeply rooted in the wearer, of what people cherish, in what they believe, and what they desire.
Because the ceramic material is incredibly fragile, Hackenberg works manually with custom tools. She’s developed a precise understanding of the drilling speeds and pressure necessary to remove each disc without creating too many chips or cracks. If the material is damaged throughout the temperamental extraction process, the entire piece is unusable.
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From her home in Kansas City, Missouri, photographer Jill Burrow composes elegant dining tableaus captured in the fleeting light of golden hour. Complete with floral arrangements and unusual additions, Burrow’s fare distinctly exhibits the artistic potential of a simple meal when presented in unorthodox settings. Her shadow-filled images frame a picnic spread hanging from a washline, a humble breakfast submerged in water, and a quirky still life of bread-based cookware.
Although she’s adept at transforming a simple piece of toast into a dandelion-studded canvas, Burrow’s forays into cooking and baking are recent. “I have always enjoyed cooking but never felt a creative connection to it, so when I started creating art and creative sets I realized how diverse and creative food is. Food is already so vibrant and full of life and pleasure, and it is quite easy to transform and change into unexpected works of art,” she says.
Ultimately, Burrow hopes her sculpted butters and arranged berries convey an alternate vision for understanding life. “My main goal is to create a world where people who don’t have the typical brain might feel stimulated and inspired. I have always seen the world differently,” she says.
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Artist Glen Taylor solders ridges of metal to porcelain fragments, completing a halved teacup or broken saucer with a range of unusual materials: barbed wire, tarnished silverware, old book pages, and multicolored twine form a portion of the household objects. Each intervention contrasts the pristine, delicate qualities of the porcelain with the visible rust, unwieldy strings, and patchwork metals.
A cabinetmaker for much of his life, Taylor originally worked with pottery but found it limiting until he started breaking his ceramics into pieces. “I had read about the ancient art of Kintsugi and decades before I had learned how to copper foil and solder stained glass windows. All of a sudden I felt the emotional expressive range was infinite,” he writes. A Japanese art form, Kintsugi is the process of fixing broken pottery and celebrating the repairs, rather than try to hide them.
Now, Taylor gathers materials at auctions and estate sales, choosing pieces that spur an emotional response or nostalgia for his childhood, although some objects have a more personal connection. “For years, I have had my grandmother’s dishes in the attic, wondering what to do with them,” he says. “My mother died last year and so I have let the grieving process appear when it needs to. I released a lot of emotions about my mother when I started breaking the dishes that she grew up with.”
The artist tells Colossal that the broken pieces also are symbolic of imperfection. “As I began mending and recreating my broken pottery, the personal therapy and healing became the whole point,” he says. “I reached an age where I began sorting through the emotional baggage of my life, and the elements for my work became apparent.”
For a deeper look into Taylor’s mended works and a glimpse at his process, follow him Instagram.
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A new short film by Optical Arts depicts what would be a dinner-party nightmare: ceramic plates and bowls shatter, red wine cascades from long-stemmed glasses, and sharp knives dive to the floor. Despite its explosive scenes, “Tocatta” subsequently shows the same dinnerware, drinks, and plates of boiled eggs seamlessly repair and float upward as whole objects.
A multivalent consideration of physical contact, the word “tocatta” both originates from an Italian form of “to touch” and refers to a musical composition designed to showcase the performer’s refined techniques. The reparative film is set to the opening section of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Toccata and Fuge in D Minor, one of the German composer’s most recognized works. Because of its discordant runs, the musical piece historically has been used in horror films, like Rouben Mamoulian’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931), Terence Fischer’s The Phantom of the Opera (1962), and Norman Jewison’s dystopic Rollerball (1975).
Written for organ, the eerie composition adds a foreboding element to the film. The dramatic piece explores “the nature of time, the relentless violence of entropy and creative energy and its relationship to music itself,” the London-based creative studio writes in a statement. Another nod to the iconic composer, the dark, opening scenes are shots from Eisenach, Germany, where Bach was born and lived for the first few years of his life.
Update: A previous version of this article incorrectly identified the film as a CGI animation.
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Editor's Picks: Design
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