If you’ve seen my Instagram feed lately you’ve noticed it’s heavily embroidered. Embroidery and crochet were the two crafts that I focused on in Indonesia and I’ve continued those pursuits since we’ve been home. Recent nights have been full of falling deeply down the Insta-hole of textile inspiration. While I love how the internet can create a tight knit community of far-flung artists, it also has its drawback in that there’s so much amazing work that one can’t help but compare your work to theirs. As a kid I had this idea that ‘art’ meant photo realistic drawing, so my inability to draw meant that I could never be an artist. My awe for artists who can draw what they see is compounded by embroidery artists like Cayce Zavaglia who can stitch what they see. The detail of her embroidered portraits is breathtaking and intimidating.
But alas, I know I’ll never be a portrait artist and by focusing on what I can’t do, I’m hindering my aspirations of what I can do. Recently I’ve expanded my inspirational searches outside embroidery focusing not on one particular medium, but on only color and shape. A couple of my favorites are Frank Stella, Kirra Jamison and Hayley Gaberlavage.
There’s a large Frank Stella piece near the entrance of the NC Museum of Art (located in my hometown of Raleigh). I have vivid childhood memories of being greeted by the the giant, vibrant colors and shapes. Many of his pieces remind me of quilts and textiles pieces and he does a great job of mixing vibrant colors while retaining a sophisticated look.
Frank Stella image sources 1, 2, 3
Kirra Jamison is an Australian artist whose abstract pieces focus on gorgeous color palettes and flowing shapes. Her imaginative floral pieces are especially inspiring when I’m wrestling with my preconceived notions about photo realism.
Kirra Jamison image source 1, 2, 3
Hayley Gaberlavage is a Savannah based artist that I had the great pleasure of knowing when we both lived in Atlanta in the early 2000’s. While many of her current works are whimsical, but realistic portraits, I’ve always had a fondness for her abstract creations.
Hayley Gaberlavage image source 1, 2, 3
Seeing all these images together really illustrates my fondness for movement and color. I’m excited to see how I can incorporate these themes into my upcoming stitching projects.
Truth be told, I can’t wait to get back to the Pacific Northwest- three weeks and counting! The weather, the water and my beautiful, little doggy will welcome me back just in time for a glorious summer. Living in a foreign country has been enlightening and also had its share of challenges. But after almost two years, it’s started to feel like home and there are aspects of life in Indonesia that I’ll be missing once we’re back in Washington. Here are a couple at the top of my list.
Continue reading I’ll miss you Indonesia!
We’re getting down to the wire; just two weeks until we go back to the US for over a month! But that’s not stopping us from working in some last minute travel. We first heard of Troso when we went to Jepara in January. The small village is just south of Jepara and is known for it’s production of woven fabrics. The main street was lined with stores full of gorgeous, colorful ikat and songket textiles, but we wanted to go deeper than just shopping. I had recently connected with an ikat seller on Instagram and asked if we could visit their studio. They were gracious enough to oblige us and that’s how we came to meet Mario and his uncle, Pak Aman.
We followed Mario down a dirt road just past their impressive neighborhood mosque. Connected to Pak Aman’s home is a small, covered, outdoor workshop set up with multiple looms. He gave a detailed, step-by-step lesson on the dying and weaving process, starting with mapping out the initial design with ink to wrapping the threads tightly with plastic as to resist the dye.
The plastic bindings create intricate patterns, then the threads are removed from the frames to be dyed. We were impressed with Pak Aman’s extensive knowledge of each motif and where it originated, whether it was from Java, Kalimantan, Sulawesi or Sumatra. Pak Aman’s family has been weaving for five generations, so he’s had many years to soak up knowledge of dying and weaving.
The home’s kitchen floor served as the spooling area with a machine that spins the dyed and dried thread onto spools, then they’re loaded onto the looms. There were more looms than I anticipated, probably a dozen between the two studio rooms he showed us, but with each piece taking a month to complete you have to have quite a few irons in the fire so to speak.
Mario was nice enough to let me have a go at the loom, I would definitely need a few lessons before I felt comfortable at the helm. Joel was actually the more natural weaver which was a pleasant surprise.
With so many amazing patterns it was hard to pick just a few to bring home. Even though I couldn’t take them all, my ikat stash is getting pretty extensive (photo on the right below). It’s a good thing we’re moving next week and I’ll have lots of home goods needs so I can start putting these beauties to work.