Ruth Jensen: I’m enthralled with the transparency of wire. It’s perfect for revealing the extraordinary beauty, transience, sometimes humor of what appears to be ordinary. I make each sculpture one twist at a time, without patterns or molds, using bazillions of pieces of straight wire. I “see” the shape I want, and make the wires come together in that shape, like putting a puzzle together. (I love puzzles.) My pieces are meant to intrigue and delight the viewer, to combat the overabundance of dull ugliness in the world.
Gifts from the talented hands of textile and fiber artists are a wonderful way to celebrate the season. Below are just a few of the great pieces of work sure to delight someone on your gift list this year.
Sue Bleiweiss of Upton, MA is a full time mixed media fiber artist working with both fabric and paper, currently exploring the art of quilting, surface design, and book making. She is self published and has co-authored two books with Terri Stegmiller: Creative Ways with Fibre & Stitch and Creative Ways with Books & Journals. Her work can be found at her shop on etsy.
After graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design with a major in ceramics, Betty Busby founded a custom tile manufacturing business in Los Angeles. After selling it to move to New Mexico in 1994, she has gotten more involved in fiber art, and exhibits in shows nationally and internationally. She creates her own raw materials, and has been dyeing her own fabric since she began quilting over 30 years ago. Her amazingly beautiful art quilts can be found at www.bbusbyarts.com, sales are through her etsy shop
Colin’s Creatures is a collection of hand carved, lifelike, fine porcelain wooly animals, primarily sheep figures. Heads, legs, horns are made from porcelain for its detail, while bodies are cast stone for stability and a wonderful substantial feel. The fur is a woven fabric of wool, mohair or alpaca from the same German source of used on Steiff teddy bears. These whimsical handmade pieces can be found at www.colinscreatures.com
Diana Hughes of dyedianadye uses a variety of shibori techniques to hand dye gorgeous garments and accessories. Her Soba Scarf series, funky hand dyed scarves that are composed almost entirely of fringe, can be worn in nine different eye catching variations. This is one very versatile accessory! Diana’s work can be found at www.dyedianadye.com
For more incredible textile and fiber artists see TAFA: The Textile & Fiber Art List.
Hosting the 2010 World Cup is a tremendous accomplishment for this complex region, hopefully the excitement of the moment will continue to inspire economic growth and social change. The growth of the handmade industry is also taking root, with traditional African artistry becoming globally relevant. Enock Mpofu is a fine artist who grew up in public housing in the slums of Zimbabwe, where he shared a tiny apartment with his seven family members. Now Mpofu is an internationally recognized artist whose fine beadwork results in these dazzling creatures, each animal reflects the beauty of its living inspiration. Each piece is signed by the artist and numbered.
Aid to Africans is an international non-profit organization that uses craft to spur economic development, and one of their artisans is the collective Feeling African. Based in Soweto, Feeling African produces wire furniture that has been nationally acclaimed (Elle Décor recently featured this table.) Furniture ranges from side tables, coffee tables, stools and bowls. Feeling African also creates custom made pieces.
Wola Nani was established in 1994 as a non-profit organization aiding people and communities impacted by HIV. Historically women bear the brunt of the global HIV pandemic. They have limited resources to help when this disease comes into their lives. Wola Nani is an art collective offering women a way to earn income, even in a time of crisis. In the Xhosa language, Wola Nani means “we embrace and develop one another”. These papier mache bowls are handmade by local women in South Africa who are dealing with HIV.
**If you happen to be visiting Johannesberg in August, you can stop by the South African Handmade Collection event taking place from the 5th-9th.
i have to be honest with you. I was going to write about Athens, Georgia due to the fact that they are a hop-skip-and-a-jump away from a place called Homer, Georgia. What’s up with Homer? It’s where the World’s Biggest Easter Egg Hunt used to happen every year (as per Guinness Book Of World Records). But Athens was written featured on Try Handmade recently, so I opted for another locale. So why Charlottesville? Well beside the fact that it is a really beautiful place, with loads of historic buildings and homes, landmarks, and oozing with southern charm, I didn’t seek out buyers in Charlottesville, VA. I was drawn there by this AMAZING wall clock. I saw this item on the Etsy site in Handpicked Items as I logged on. And then I looked for more makers in the same town. And boy am I glad I did! The creator of this first item is Pixelthis, who says “I’ve been taking things apart since the day I could walk,” and they definitely have a talent for re-configuring the unexpected like this clock made with a bicycle spoke. I love how you don’t realize what it is until you look closer. It’s totally modern and not “junk art” at all.
Hello Sunshine! How would you like to be greeted by this little cutie everyday? Those blue eyes, big smile, pinchable cheeks–and what a cool ride! I guess his parents are the talented wood crafters, unless he’s also a prodigy. This is the cutest kid’s ride on toy I think I have ever seen. Julestatum is a true crafts person. He uses Cherry, Walnut, and Maple woods, makes and effort to be green and use recycled when possible, and he cuts, molds, sands, drills, oils and waxes the wood to a silky smooth finish using 100% non-toxic materials. These are the things you can’t get in big box stores! But if you want to get into the retail business, he will sell you three for a special price and you can spread the handmade love in your own town.
Seriously. This is so. Freaking. Cute. What’s even better? The name of the business is CardboardSafari. Cute, right? Only problem is–I can’t decide which animal I like the best! CardboardSafari is a collaboration between Chris Jessee and Luis Rodrigalvarez. And the best part is that not only are they talented, they’re generous too. They donate a portion of their profits to the American Red Cross specifically for the support of the victims of the earthquake in Haiti. They also have their own web site and a blog.