One other “Maker of Fine Clothing” that I admire is textile artist Leni Hoch.
Leni Hoch makes silk scarves (mostly) but also jackets that start with a very light, transparent fabric, and then are hand-dyed lustrous and brilliant colors, often with a metallic sheen. Then they are intricately pleated. The resulting scarves have more body and form to them, from the scrunched pleats. As you’ve seen, the cloth-as-sculpture thing is a perennial favorite for me. With a fabric this distinctive, the shapes and styles of a garment can be really simple, as the fabric takes over and makes any resulting item a statement piece that’s hard to imitate. Complex, intensive process leads to strong, distinctive and unmistakable results.
This weekend I was fortunate to attend the American Craft Council show. Because of this project, I paid particular attention to the textile artists, clothiers and designers.
I am tempted to call it “inspirational” but what I felt most, looking at the fine handcrafted work of others, was quite different from inspiration. I think of “inspiration” as when I feel the need and impulse to run home and try out something for myself–it’s what I feel, often, when looking at pictures of runway fashion shows, for example. Or knitted items in retail stores. What I felt, however, looking at the work of these artists was quite different from that. So often, whether it was a craft I can do myself (like sewing) or one I’ve never tried (like furniture making), what I felt was more like awe. Awe and admiration, that someone had thought of this. That someone had tried it with this twist, or had perfected it to that level. And rather than wanting to run home and try out each process myself, I found myself feeling grateful, instead: grateful that someone had demonstrated that this could be done, and done so beautifully. I realized that while I do want to make a lot of things (like my clothing), I don’t need to make everything and yet, fortunately, for many things I really like, there is probably someone making it by hand, and making it very beautifully.
Teapot by Michael Scarborough
The craft vendors that I loved the most were the ones to whom I wanted to say “I couldn’t possibly make this, myself–but wow, you have done it, and done it so splendidly, I will never need to.”
I like to say “the world is full of beautiful things”, and this weekend I feel overstuffed with beautiful things. I will post a few of my favorite “finds” from the show, to share with you, here.