Labels, we humans do love them. So much of the world is rigidly categorised and stereotyped, we can easily miss just how much we have in common. Take art and science for instance, often times the arts are derided as frivolous luxuries and science portrayed as a serious humourless discipline. Anyone who works in any of these fields knows what poppycock this is. There’s a little bit of art and science in everything we do, we all know what can happen if our measurements are slightly off or the tension in our hoops not right and all great science has an element of creative thinking. Today’s featured maker, Jessica Ahn-van der Bijl, epitomises the relationship between the two, showing it off to perfection in her shop ‘Plush Art Lab’ and – in my favourite kind of way – with needlecraft.
Jessica was formally trained as a researcher and rediscovered sewing several years ago while adjusting to living with a health condition. She started experimenting and learning by doing projects for a number of charities. Over time, her interest in developing original work grew and she decided to give it a go! Recently, Jessica opened shops on Etsy and Amazon Handmade to offer her pieces, for which she draws inspiration from her background in science. “I can’t forget to mention my husband Lars who is a big help; he is my indispensable sounding board, and he designs and prints 3D objects for some of our pieces.”
What is your earliest stitching memory?
When I was little, maybe 6 years old, I often saw my grandmother hemming her pants. I would peer over her shoulders and she eventually showed me how to make a knot on the thread to hold the needle in place. I was in awe of her deftness and tiny stitches. My first real sewing project was in middle school. This was in Canada and we had a family studies class, where we had to complete a plush toy sewing kit. It was fun at first, but I got bored quickly, which showed in the end result. I’m much more patient with my work now.
What fires your imagination?
The intersection of Art and Science, or perhaps their alignment. Just as cells come together to form a multicellular organism, stitches come together to stimulate you visually and tactilely. Maybe that’s why I’m currently obsessed with knots- they are little circles, like cells!
The detail Jessica manages to create in her work is fantastic and I absolutely adore her scientist art dolls, especially the ones championing the amazing women of science that often get forgotten. Pop along to her fab shop to see more of her fantastic work!
Jessica Taylor aka Loadofolbobbins is a Textile Artist and Illustrator based by the sea in Portsmouth. At her happiest with a needle and thread, with a passion for genealogy she often explores old photographs in her textile art. With her fingers in many creative pies she loves to experiment with new techniques, creating illustrated and stitched goodies for her Etsy shop.