Nichole Deponte‘s work is not for shrinking violets. She makes statement piece accessories from men’s neckties–are they scarves? Are they necklaces? I’m not sure, but they wrap around your neck, and they’re beautiful.
It’s funny, because the first thing I thought of when I saw Deponte’s work was this pin, that I’d pinned on Pinterest:
It showed how a simple necktie could be turned into a feminine, ruffled, neck piece. And yet, what I love most about Deponte’s “Lilian Asterfield” line is that although it stems from a common cultural meme, it takes the common idea and pushes it further than anyone else has done and does it elegantly and with great workmanship. Again, there’s that push-pull relationship of competing thoughts: “It’s just neckties, you can do this yourself” and then, as you peer closer and see what’s really going on, there, “No, way, look what she’s done with those neckties!”
The more you look, the more you see.
I’ve done work with upcycled men’s neckties, myself (more on that later) and again, Deponte’s art stood out to me because it was not easily duplicated. For starters, she uses really nice ties. They’re good quality, and she uses a lot of them: one ruffled neck piece might have three ties in it, but when they’re all the same color, you don’t notice at first. And then she puts them together. I’m sure it’s fun to fold and ruffle ties, but I also know from looking that it’s going to take a lot of time before I could ever “fold and ruffle” to the extent that she has. So many quirky variations! And then on top of that, she adds bits of lace and buttons and other embellishments, and they’re all sewn together quite well. These ties are flashy and fun, but they’re also well-made down to the details.
I think this product line is a good illustration of how, as crafters, we often have a choice: we can wrap our arms tightly around our ideas defensively and say “I thought of this, first!” or, like Deponte, we can rework ideas, improve upon them, and get so deeply rooted into the artistry of it that we run, leaping and skipping ahead of the pack, making with pleasure and wild abandon until what we’ve created has value far beyond that of the original idea. She hasn’t “inspired” me to make a tie scarf, myself, or copy her idea (no, I want one of hers, preferably one of the striped ones that look so very modern-Downton Abbey) but Deponte has inspired me to look farther than just follow-the-directions when I see an intriguing idea, lying around.