Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Vegetable Supreme

By now, the incredible amimono (a word that encompasses both knitting and crochet) vegetables of Japanese crafter Jung-Jung have been showing up on blogs and pins for months. As with the work of Kyoko Yoshikawa, these pieces take food knitting to an entirely new level: of skill, of delicacy, of what is possible to accomplish with a hook and needles and yarn. On the one hand, they're incredibly life-like. On the other, their lace-patterned leaves and variously-textured surfaces artfully translate life into sublimity.

Using DMC Cordonnet Special crochet threads in numbers 80-100, Jung-Jung, who tells me she cooks every day, seeks to make accessories of the common vegetables – radishes, carrots, broccoli, mushrooms, lotus root – of her kitchen. She's entirely self-taught, and began to learn to crochet at the age of eleven.

"I want to express various things with knitting from now on," she says. And after vegetables will come "flowers of the field" - a series of events to greatly anticipate.

All photos courtesy of Jung-Jung
Oh, and did I mention - they're jewelry...

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Knit What You Eat...

...the better to examine it. This is the underlying premise of the work of Swiss crafter Madame Tricot, who has been blogging her "knitted vintage butchery" for the past couple of months. "When you want to eat meat, you have to accept to see the dead animal which gave his life for you, without the packaging of the supermarket," she told me.

Honestly, hog's head never looked so un-upsetting. Perhaps this is a result of the obvious care Madame Tricot – who is a doctor in her non-knitting life – takes with her free-hand, life-size subjects, the result of what must be a love affair with meaty foodstuffs. Perhaps it's also helped along by the luxurious yarns she  uses: mohair, silk, alpaca, cashmere, and homespun. "I need a pleasant tasting material for my soul," she quips.

On a more serious explanatory note, "I learned in medical school to observe," says Madame (Docteur?) Tricot, a grandmother who has only lately begun to feel that expressing her more artistic side through these objects is not, somehow, shameful. "I think my knowledge of anatomy helped me to knit correct meat for my butchery, or to knit a lobster, or to knit a plant." A yarn shop called Novalana, in the town of Winterthur, will exhibit her work beginning on May 11.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Helen Pynor is known to crafters the world over as the artist who knit heart & lungs with diaphanous strands of human hair. This month, she's featured in London's Wellcome Collection exhibit, "Brains: The Mind as Matter." It's an exploration of many of the "strange and extreme things that have been done to the human brain in the name of science," according to the press release.
"Headache" (detail) by Helen Pynor, C-type photographic print on glass, 2008.
Photo courtesy of the artist and GV Art, London. 
Pynor's bright yet haunting piece features no knitting this time around, but rather, black cotton embroidery on fine silk fabric. The text reads: "Headache – press brown paper soaked in vinegar against the forehead" and is taken from an old home remedy Pynor discovered in an oral history archive at a library in Australia. 

"Headaches aren't something I'm prone to, otherwise I might have been tempted" to try the remedy, she maintains. It's possibly just as well that she hasn't, as "I've been told that some of the old remedies are no longer as effective due to contemporary ways of manufacturing things."

Anyone out there got a home remedy of their own for curing headaches they'd like to share? Knitting and embroidery, perhaps?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Death to Heroes

I can't argue that the work of Patricia Waller featured in ASTOUNDING KNITS was subtle, exactly. There was a crocodile massacring a toddler, after all. And an elf endowed with the cumbersome hindquarters of a snail. But "Broken Heroes," Waller's new show at Galerie Deschler in Berlin, presents a certain nauseous hilarity in the guise of homey crochet. As a collection, it's not surprising in comparison to her older work. It's just a wee bit...frappant, as the French would say.

Ernie from the iconic kid's classic Sesame Street is recast as a Bowery bum, replete with five o'clock shadow, empty bottle of booze, and a begging hat (although, for what it's worth, my pessimistic bet for complete degenerative breakdown would have been dour Bert).

"Ernie," 2011. Wool, cotton filling, fabrics, glass, crochet work, 100cm x 100cm x 80cm
Hello Kitty is caught in the throes of seppuku, spilling her cute guts all over her tidy pink dress. 

"Hello Kitty," 2011. Wool, styrofoam, plastics, crochet work,  65cm x 45cm x 60cm
And Spiderman has managed to tangle himself hopelessly in his own web. Frankly, I always thought this outcome was inevitable. 

"Spiderman," 2011. Wool, cotton filling, fabrics, crochet work.  90cm x 150cm x 200cm
All photos courtesy of Galerie Deschler.
The show's up through June 9, 2012.