Cutting & Stitching Edge

The Cutting & Stitching Edge | Contemporary Embroidered Art from Mr X Stitch

Lisa Kokin is a mixed media artist from California. She makes a wide range of amazing textile artforms, but we are going to focus on herbutton works.

Lisa Kokin - Leotard

“My fathers death in 2001 sparked a period of introspection and existential rumination. A primal tie was broken and I was left to ponder my identity as the only child of one remaining elderly parent. Whereas in the past my work often dealt with larger socio-political themes, at this time in my artistic life my work took a distinct turn towards the personal.

Lisa Kokin - Leotard (detail)

“Buttons had made cameo appearances in much of my previous work; never had they been the primary material until this series. My parents were upholsterers and my earliest memories are of playing in their shop with piles of vinyl and foam rubber. I have sewn since I was a child and the stitch plays a major role in my work, so it was natural to join the buttons together to form a reconstructed family portrait. What began as a memorial to my father soon expanded to the realm of family portraits, past and present, human and canine. The series culminated with a three-part public commission of button portraits of Rosa Parks, Cesar Chavez and Fred Korematsu.

Lisa Kokin - Si-Se-Puede

“My work has always had an obsessive quality and this body of work is no exception. Every button is stitched to its neighbor to form a low-tech pixilated composition. Up close each piece is an abstract mlange of colors and shapes; the further back one stands the more decipherable the image becomes. This interplay between abstraction and representation is a source of interest to me. It is as though I am painting with buttons, building my palette as I go along. adding and subtracting until the interplay of colors and forms coalesces into a coherent image.”

 

Lisa Kokin - Proximity

 

This is another of those “whoa” moments, like when I first saw Cayce Zavaglia or Alicia Ross and I had a paradigm shift. I’ve not seen a heap of button work, but I’ve never seen anyone working in the same way as Lisa Kokin.

Lisa Kokin - Muse

The method is simple and yet Lisa has set a high standard for this method of making art frombuttons. I’m pretty speechless, but I love it.

Lisa Kokin - Moment

I won’t even talk about Lisa’s costumes for chihuahuas, or her How The West Was Sewn series.

Lisa Kokin - Moment (detail)

I may have to come back to Lisa in another post once I’ve recovered! Go get yourself a cuppa and sit down for a good rummage through Lisa’s website. You will not regret it.

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The Cutting (& Stitching) Edge is brought to you in association with PUSH: Stitchery, the contemporary embroidered art book curated by Jamie Chalmers. Featuring 30 textile-based artists from around the world, it’s a must have for needlework fans.

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The Cutting & Stitching Edge | Contemporary Embroidered Art from Mr X Stitch

A bit of a variation on the Edge theme this week.

As you might know, we love Etsy – they’ve really helped revitalise the Craft scene and they’ve just launched their first UK TV advert – check it out! To celebrate, we got the opportunity to interview one of the featured sellers, who just happen to make the most excellent needlepoint kits – POMPOM!

POMPOM - Canyon Needlepoint Kit

Awesome kits guys, tell me how you got here.

POMPOM Kits was started in 2011 by artist Helena Ben-Zenou and textile designer Daniel Rambaut.

After studying painting at the Slade School of Fine Art, POMPOM s founder/director Helena had a successful career as an artist and academic, but always had a love of all things design, textiles, interiors and in particular needlepoint. She started out by designing and making her own needlepoint projects about 15 years ago, mainly making needlepoint versions of her paintings.

“However I realised that I really wanted to stitch needlepoint projects which were also great as contemporary textile designs: beautiful, highest quality, enjoyable to make, and that would just look great on my sofa. I also realised that if I wanted to stitch kits like this, there was a really good chance there were lots of people like me.”

Dan studied textiles at Middlesex University becoming freelance textile designer selling his contemporary designs both nationally and internationally and also running his own textile-based printing business. In 2011 Dan partnered with Helena as Designer for POMPOM Kits.

POMPOM in the UK Etsy TV Ad

Where do you get your inspiration?

All our kits are designed to share our passion for surface pattern, interiors and the hand-crafted. We take our inspiration from Modernist design, graphics and architecture and a contemporary take on textile traditions. We are also influenced by the Slow Movement and the resurgence of interest in creativity and making.

We are aiming to bridge the space between design, needlepoint and interiors. However we develop all our designs with the stitcher in mind and every kit is carefully considered to keep stitchers challenged and engaged in the experience of making.

What do you make of the current world of needlecraft?

We think it is really exciting! There are so many different approaches and ideas out there that there is something in the spectrum for everyone: from the subversive, political and radical, to the traditional, twee and nostalgic. Somewhere amongst it all is our little company POMPOM Kits!

POMPOM in the UK Etsy TV Ad

Do you have personal art practices as well as designing for the kits?

Helena has been an artist for (ahem) twenty years and continues with her studio practice albeit in a more limited way. Increasingly though she is finding that needlepoint and needle-based crafts are moving to the forefront of her art practice.

How s Etsy working out for you?

We really love being part of the ETSY community. As makers, it is a great way to reach a national and international audience and to be part of a huge community of people designing and making a diverse and exciting range of items. ETSY are also really active in supporting their sellers: from online seminars and courses, seller communities and events, and most recently a UK TV ad!

We also really enjoyed a recent project where ETSY partnered with the Liberty department store in London. Helena had the unique opportunity to craft-live in a Liberty window, not something I could ever have imagined doing! . We are also looking forward to working closely with ETSY on future projects too

POMPOM in the UK Etsy TV Ad

Any pearls of wisdom for aspiring needleworkers?

We believe that needlepoint is a fantastic creative activity to be savoured and enjoyed, where the journey – the process of making – is as important and the finished product. Within our often fast paced, disjointed and throw-away culture, needlepoint and needlecrafts have a critical role in fostering a respect for the tradition of making and an understanding of the value of where and how an object is made

We love that needlepoint is adaptable, offering both contemplative and sociable crafting. We design our kits so that you can concentrate on them totally, think and dream, listen to music, the radio, audio books, or you can chat away as you stitch. You can dip in and out of your project for a long or short time. You can stitch on the train, the bus, in the garden or park, on the sofa, in bed, in your lunch break, in the evenings or during weekends and holidays. There can be great pleasure in taking time for some quiet relaxation and personal creativity before the demands of the day take over, and it is a perfect way to complete a day

POMPOM - Mini Cushion Needlepoint Kits

I really like these kits – it’s great to see a fresh set of needlepoint designs and I’d like to thank Etsy for sharing their work with me. If you’ve got someone who likes a bit of needlepoint, these kits are an ideal present. Visit POMPOM’s Etsy store to make your purchase!

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The Cutting (& Stitching) Edge is brought to you in association with PUSH: Stitchery, the contemporary embroidered art book curated by Jamie Chalmers. Featuring 30 textile-based artists from around the world, it’s a must have for needlework fans.

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The Cutting & Stitching Edge | Contemporary Embroidered Art from Mr X Stitch
The Great Tapestry of Scotland is a contemporary national treasure currently on exhibition in Paisley. It is the longest tapestry in the world at 143 metres.

The Great Tapestry of Scotland

Created over a two year period, the tapestry features 160 panels that explain the history of Scotland, each of which has been hand stitched in crewel by groups of makers from across the country.

James Clark Maxwell panel at the Great Tapestry of Scotland

The overarching designs forthe panel came from Andrew Crummy, who designed the Prestonpans Tapestry, and with the stitching supervision of Dorie Wilkie, over 1000 people made their mark on this magnificent piece of work.

The Black Death panel at the Great Tapestry of Scotland

The panel designs are classic, making fantastic use of space and colour, with each piece being surrounded by a border that allowed the stitchers to personalise their panels in the bottom corners.

Stitched personalisation at the Great Tapestry of Scotland

The panels tell a well-curated story of Scotland that highlights the achievements of this country, as well as paying homage to some of Scotland’s quirkier elements. The panels are filled with love, reflected in the quality of the stitching and the diversity of the groups involved.

Pop Music in Scotland panel at the Great Tapestry of Scotland

I loved that many of the geographically-specific panels were stitched by people from those areas, and it was wonderful to realise that groups from all parts of Scotland had taken part.

James Watt panel at the Great Tapestry of Scotland

Old, young, male, female, individuals and groups – the breadth and qualityof work cannot fail to make you fall in love with the tapestry.

Dolly the Sheep panel at the Great Tapestry of Scotland

You could spend a lot of time looking at the tapestry, getting deeper into the work and understanding the form of the stitching. This panel of geologist James Hutton is a great example of the variety and quality of stitching that appears throughout the tapestry.

James Hutton panel at the Great Tapestry of Scotland

James Hutton panel at the Great Tapestry of Scotland (detail)

James Hutton panel at the Great Tapestry of Scotland  (detail)

The tapestry will be displayed at various points around Scotland in the next year, and a permanent space is being sought. If you’re able to visit it, it’s a must-see.

Hillman Imp panel at the Great Tapestry of Scotland

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The Cutting (& Stitching) Edge is brought to you in association with PUSH: Stitchery, the contemporary embroidered art book curated by Jamie Chalmers. Featuring 30 textile-based artists from around the world, it’s a must have for needlework fans.

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The Cutting & Stitching Edge | Contemporary Embroidered Art from Mr X Stitch

A quick Edge post this week, with this compelling video about Ayano Tsukimi who livesin Nagoro, a village in eastern Iya on Shikoku, one of the four main islands of Japan. Not many people are still living there. For those who die or move away, Ayano Tsukimi is making lifesized dolls in their liking and puts them in places that were important to them. The dolls are scattered around the whole valley.

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The Cutting (& Stitching) Edge is brought to you in association with PUSH: Stitchery, the contemporary embroidered art book curated by Jamie Chalmers. Featuring 30 textile-based artists from around the world, it’s a must have for needlework fans.

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