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Craft Design

A 546-Piece Puzzle Slots into a Hulking Simian with Moveable Limbs

June 27, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Mat Random

A follow-up to his wooden geometric figures, Mat Random designed a similarly stocky simian with a DIY twist. The architect and craftsman, who’s currently based in Lisbon, recently released a three-dimensional puzzle that once slotted together, forms a moveable ape-like creature. Made from 546 pieces that are laser cut from cardboard, the buildable figure has flexible joints and can be posed in various stances. “The Simian” is available as a limited edition in Random’s shop, and be sure to check out his Behance for more of his playful creations.

 

 

 



Craft

Colorful Characters Emerge From Chunks of Timber in Whimsical Toys by Wood You Mind

April 19, 2022

Kate Mothes

All images © Parn Aniwat

Texas-based Thai artist Parn Aniwat, who also goes by Wood You Mind, hews charming figures from timber, embellished in bright colors and playful outfits. Ranging from about four to eight inches tall, each unique character has a distinct personality, whether it’s a sweet face emerging from an owl costume, a bee sitting in a flower, or a vibrantly striped whale. Using traditional tools like a small hatchet and chisel knife, every piece begins with a rough sketch of the design before the contours and details are revealed by chipping small pieces away. The artist then applies vivid splashes of acrylic paint to bring the character’s sparkling eyes and rosy cheeks to life.

Aniwat shares quite a bit of work on Instagram, where you can see snippets of his process and stay tuned for announcements about commission opportunities. Shop available pieces on Etsy. (via Design You Trust)

 

 

 



Art

Piped in Decadent Layers, Yvette Mayorga’s Bright Pink Playhouses Luxuriate in 90s Nostalgia

February 15, 2022

Grace Ebert

Surveillance Locket 2″ (2021), acrylic piping, and collage on panel, 36 inches in diameter. All images © Yvette Mayorga, shared with permission

Within the luscious pink acrylic that composes Yvette Mayorga’s Surveillance Locket series, messages of joy and nostalgia for a 90s childhood coexist with critiques of consumerism and gendered labor. The Chicago-based artist uses tools like piping bags and tips to apply paint in peaks, curls, and scalloped edges evocative of an elaborately decorated cake. She builds each relief layer by layer, drawing on techniques she gleans from baking shows and Instagram tutorials. “Cake decorating is a true craft that is super laborious,” she says.

This sense of labor permeates Mayorga’s body of work and provides a conceptual framework that’s as subversive as it is celebratory: “The color pink holds so much weight that is tied to fragility and prescribed to femme identity and gender norms. Piping and baking labor is also very gendered and constitutes a perceived notion of labor,” she says. “I am saying that pink and baking labor is powerful. The hyper femme is powerful.”

Alongside fields of ornate textures, the artist also uses the tactile material to define labyrinth-like playhouses, which reference the small, plastic clamshells called Polly Pockets. “It’s a toy that I always dreamed of owning,” she tells Colossal. “To me, it’s a marker of attaining an Americaness that as a child of immigrants is often sometimes forced upon us in order to fit in.” Mayorga’s iterations include recreations of her childhood home alongside gilded rooms, staircases, and Rococo-style flourishes she admired while spending her childhood summers in west-central Jalisco and Zacatecas, Mexico. More modern emblems like cartoon-style characters and the televisions she used to watch MTV and Looney Tunes, alongside frames showcasing art historical works and selfies, complete the decadent mansions.

 

Detail of “Surveillance Locket 2” (2021), acrylic piping, and collage on panel, 36 inches in diameter

Beyond their idiosyncratic and playful reflections, though, Mayorga’s works contain more ominous messages. She stations toy soldiers in entries and underneath staircases, shrouding the works with “a feeling of an impending doom” as the concealed characters surveil the scenes in a nod to patrols at the U.S./Mexico border. “My practice is a compounding of these two worlds coming together to create surrealist landscapes that are about the pink, decadent, playful, real-time, nostalgic, art historical, surveillance, and consumerism. To me, the decadence becomes the surrealist in-between space that marks my identity, because it is imagined and an aspiration,” she shares.

You have multiple chances to see Mayorga’s dioramas in person this year: in April, she’ll be at EXPO Chicago, in a group show in Hong Kong this fall, and will open a solo show at Crystal Bridges The Momentary in October. A commissioned work will also be installed in O’Hare’s Terminal Five at the end of the year. See more of her works on her site and Instagram. (via It’s Nice That)

 

“Surveillance Locket 3” (2021), acrylic piping and collage on panel, 36 inches in diameter

“Surveillance Locket” (2021), collage and acrylic piping on wood, 60 x 35 x 2 inches

Detail of “Surveillance Locket” (2021), collage and acrylic piping on wood, 60 x 35 x 2 inches

“The Procession (After 17th-century Vanitas) – In loving memory of MM” (2020), acrylic nails, decals, collage, piteado, rhinestones, and acrylic piped on canvas, 72 × 72 inches

 

 



Craft Design

An Adorably Eccentric Cast of Googly-Eyed Characters Exude Joy and Whimsy

November 3, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images courtesy of Lidiya Marinchuk

The quirky troupe of characters crafted by Kyiv-based doll designer Lidiya Marinchuk sport a wide range of emotions from surprised three-eyed monsters and gloomy rain clouds to sly foxes in polka-dotted socks. Sometimes leaving them as soft, plush creatures and others painting their bodies to create sculptural forms, Marinchuk instills each with a dose of whimsy and play. You can find more of the wildly emotional cast on Behance, and shop available pieces on Etsy.

 

 

 



Art Craft Design

Imaginative Cartoon Characters by Yen Jui-Lin Express Playful Moods in Carved Wood

September 8, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images ©Yen Jui-Lin

Sporting waggish smiles or wide grimaces, Yen Jui-Lin’s wooden carvings are expressive characters that appear straight from a storybook. The Taiwanese craftsman (previously) stretches quirky figures, slices their bodies in half, and sprouts plant-like growths from their heads, exaggerating their cartoonish qualities in a playful and whimsical manner. Whether a character or plant, each work is evidence of his imaginative style and skillful process, which starts with a pencil sketch and gnarly hunk of wood—he shares more about his technique on Instagram—before becoming fully realized form. Although Yen originally began carving the smooth designs for his children, they’ve become collaborators on some of his pieces, like this wide-eyed monster.

 

 

 



Art Design

Delightful Characters Spring to Life in Hand-Cranked Wooden Automata by Kazuaki Harada

May 12, 2021

Grace Ebert

Japanese woodworker Kazuaki Harada (previously) has spent the last few years designing these playful automata that activate with a simple hand-crank. Watch miners work in tandem, a figure cackle with unparalleled enthusiasm, and the devil aggressively play the fiddle, and make sure to turn your volume up, too—Harada often pairs an audio component with the mechanical movements for an additional dose of whimsy. For more of his quirky designs, which include many of the character-based works shown here in addition to more elaborate, abstract pieces, check out his Instagram and YouTube.