medium /// textiles/fiber arts

ying chew

In. Awe. This is the elegant, meticulous, and kind of haunting work {hand embroidery, petit point on cotton} of Australia-based artist Ying Chew. All of these lovely faces look like they have stories to tell … and quite a few secrets to keep. Beautiful.

nora fok

Oh my word … this is the fantastical work of UK based Nora Fok {ps. that’s Nora in the photos too}. All of her gorgeous wearable art is made by hand, using only simple tools and her her own unique processes. Modern materials like nylon are manipulated with age-old techniques like knitting and weaving to create these beauties. She works from her home on the sunny south east coast of England, inspired by nature and the world around her:

Nora is fascinated by different aspects of nature, structure, systems and order, and the mysteries and magic which she sets out to capture in her work. They are often quite complicated requiring many hours, days or weeks to produce and she has the necessary dedication to see her ideas through. She likes to draw attention to the very ordinary to make something special by presenting it in her own way. Her approach is not scientific; she combines her discoveries intuitively with her personal technical skills to produce her unique pieces.

{via Hi-Fructose}

sonya clark

Sugar flowers and cotton pods ; gold rings and sugar ; handmade bagasse paper ; sterling silver rings, cotton, hair and cast sugar ; money and sugar. Oh my goodness, these sugar pieces by American artist Sonya Clark are beautiful and, oh, so brilliant. Here are some of Sonya’s words about this work:

“In 1870 my African great grandmother married my Scottish great grandfather and began a family in Jamaica at a time when sugarcane was more valuable than the people who cultivated the cash crop. As my forebears negotiated race and commodity in this hemisphere, across the ocean European gentry flaunted sugar-rotted teeth as the status symbol their slave trade wealth. Generations later in my family that ranges in every skin shade and hair texture, an aunt defined race this way: “You cannot tell if someone is black by skin color but by hair texture.”  Her tangled race construction was explained to me as she was braiding the legacy of sugarcane production onto my head.  She, like most Jamaicans, referred to my hairdo, as canerows not cornrows.  …  Some objects presented here are subtle … others are more overt: gold and silver rings set with sugar “diamonds”, cotton, and human hair or an unraveled Confederate battle flag that somehow remains intact despite being deconstructed. Some are visceral: edible cotton flowers made from sugar, images of brown sugar that call the tongue and reflect the viewer, and Lincoln encrusted in rock candy five-dollar bill.”

Love! Sonya’s site is filled with all sorts of amazingness, so pop over and have a closer look.

joana vasconcelos

‘Prolific’ does not even begin to describe Paris born, Lisbon based artist Joana Vasconcelos. She’s been making work since the 90’s, so choosing what to feature was tricky. That said, I love these crazy sculptures. You can see the joy in every single one of them! So much color, attention to detail, gorgeous composition, and her materials lists – well – that’s just something else altogether. The last piece featured here is titled “Kilimanjaro” and the description reads as follows: Stainless steel sink, handmade woolen crochet, ornaments, polyester  ♥


“paintings, pinholes and pina coladas”

Those are needle-hole perforations in paper… because I know you’re wondering! Today I’m talking to the very prolific artist, and teacher, Wendy Kawabata. I wrote about her needle-hole series, titled “Blind World” a few years ago, but they are just one of many gems in her extensive portfolio. So, this episode is coming to you from Hawaii… I’m in Maui, and Wendy lives on Oahu… mai tais for everyone! Listen right up there under that intricate beauty, or you can subscribe on iTunes.

First up, some of her newest work. Wendy has recently gone back to oil painting after a very long break:

Ahhh, gorgeous! Each of these are titled “Cairns III”, “Cairns II”, and “Cairns VII Here Comes The Sun”.

Now, these pieces are both drawings and mixed media. Wait… is it fabric… or drawings .. or both? …

You can see why I wasn’t sure! The top two are gouache and colored pencil on paper, and the bottom two are gouache, colored pencil, and kantha cloth on paper. Love them all!

Next, the work inspired by her month-long residency in Iceland. This is “In The Land” when it was shown in 2016 at Sanderson Contemporary in New Zealand:

Dreamy, icy watercolors and that amazing crocheted flower piece… which has oh so much more behind it than grey, metallic paint covered flowers.

Oooh, I love this series too {see, prolific!}. This is a gouache and pencil on paper series, titled “Acts”:

Note the “mama”… such a beautiful reason for having that word woven into these drawings from a few years back.

And here we are, the first body of work of Wendy’s that I ever saw. “Blind Worlds”. So gorgeous:

Needle-hole perforations in paper, or as Wendy would say, drawing with holes. Love, love, love!

And finally, this is the piece she mentioned near the beginning… logs covered in crochet with Wendy’s made-up stitches {thank goodness for mothers}:

Beautiful… right stitches or wrong stitches! Thanks so much to Wendy for doing this with me; thanks to Saatchi Art and Thrive for supporting the episode, and thanks to you for listening! There will be more art for your ear, not next weekend but the weekend after that {Feb 17}

Other links:

  1. Material Slip Show, March 4 ~ April 6th
  2. Sanderson Contemporary, NZ
  3. University of Hawaii at Mānoa


liz robb

Gasp! This is the stunning work of Los Angeles based artist Liz Robb. The beads, the dyes, the weaving… seriously I’m having a hard time catching my breath. And, if all of these beauties aren’t enough to be excited by, from what I can tell via her site and her Instagram feed, I’m pretty sure Liz makes a lot of her own dyes! CAUTION: DO NOT EAT POKE BERRIES.

ulla-stina wikander

Discarded household items covered lovingly in discarded cross-stitch embroideries. LOVE. This is the work of Swedish artist Ulla-Stina Wikander, and this is her story behind this body of work:

”For more then 10 years I have collected cross-stitch embroideries and today I have quite a big collection with over 100 different designs. These embroideries have mostly been made by women and is seen as kitsch and regarded pretty worthless. I think that sometimes they are really beautiful and I want to bring them back to life. In 2012 I started to cover ordinary household things from the 70s, like a sewing machine, vaccuum cleaner, electric mixer etc. I find it interesting to see how these objects transforms in a new context; the obsolete, the things we do not want any longer, the old and forgotten things. I give them a second life and although I cut the embroideries into pieces, I still think they look very beautiful, when the objects has been ”dressed up”. 


{found via Create Magazine’s Instagram feed}

“yak friends”

Pink cashmere, cable knit covered deer. Sigh. I have loved the artwork of American artist Rachel Denny since way back in 2009, but today is the first time we’ve ever spoken! I had A LOT of questions, and she had lots of answers. One thing that became very clear very quickly – she is one handy woman! She works with so many materials and does it with ease. Also, she owns four yaks. I realize I sounded like a bit of a Facebook stalker during this episode, but just wait until you scroll down to see not only her gorgeous work, but also photos of her yaks playing hide n seek and tag! Now I want yaks. Anyway, listen right up under those lovely pink bucks, or you can subscribe on iTunes.

First, of course, her knit-covered deer trophies:

Ah, and there’s my Rosie – so gorgeous!

Speaking of gorgeous, here’s a peek into Rachel’s studio:

Amazing, yes? There’s the chenille covered moose commission she mentioned, and I’ve also included the turquoise angora-covered rabbit we talked about. Seriously, it’s just all too good.

Also, still living in her studio, this big beautiful blue buck:

Isn’t that beautiful and heartbreaking all at once? Also beautiful – her most recent commission, made for Nita Lake Lodge in Whistler BC. The first shot is in her studio, the second photo shows the deer in their new home:


Ok, and the flattened penny horse that I brought up about 1000 times (?), along with proof of her handiness when using any and all material – from pennies to matches to resin to tiny bits of mirror:

Whoa. That snake. Gorgeous, but if I saw him in my yard I would lose my mind. Here are a few things Rachel sees in her yard every day… YAKS!

Stunning. And there’s the belt bull we were talking about. Isn’t he majestic? The amount of work she puts into each piece is just mind blowing.

Alright, now here’s the non-art related reason for following along so closely on Rachel’s Facebook page! Look at these hairy beauties:

Oh my word, Tsampa in full-on frolic mode! I could look at that photo all day… he’s so happy! And finally, like so many artists, Rachel takes photos of her work, but rarely herself. I did find one, and I have a feeling this is what she looks like most of the time anyway:

Yep, covered in animals! Thanks to Rachel for figuring out Skype so we could chat; thanks to Saatchi Art for supporting the episode, and thank YOU for listening! There will be more art for your ear next weekend.

Other links:

  1. Vernissage Gallery, Portland {her show is up until Dec 30th}
  2. Alison Milne Gallery, Toronto
  3. Bedford Gallery, Walnut Creek CA
  4. Nanaimo bar recipe! Mmmmm


natalie baxter

What do you do when your artwork causes crazy people to come out of the woodwork? Turn their horrible online comments into soft sculptures, of course! Oh, how I love this new series, titled ALT CAPS, by New York based artist Natalie Baxter. I had her on the podcast last January to talk about her droopy Warm Guns and tassel-covered Bloated Flags, and she admitted both series get some pretty nasty comments from time to time. Well, instead of allowing those rude words to stop her, Natalie decided to spend a good part of 2017 turning those trolly words into a whole new series … brilliant and hilarious. Mic drop.

ps. Natalie is another of the contemporary artists featured in my upcoming book. Seriously, with work like this, how could she not be!?

sheila hicks

Oh my word. This stunning fiber based installation was one of my favorite things at the Venice Biennale this past summer, and yes, it probably has something to do with my current obsession with pom poms. Granted, these are not pom poms at all. They are “pigmented acrylic fibre” wrangled into large soft orbs with some kind of synthetic netting! This gorgeous piece {that you were NOT allowed to jump on even if you really wanted to} was part of the “Color Pavilion” at the Arsenale, and is the work of American-born, Paris based artist Sheila Hicks. Watch the video above to see Sheila talking about this piece… so beautiful on so many levels.

ps. a bit of proof, basically to remind myself that I really was there – because sometimes it feels more like a crazy dream.