There was a time not too long ago when crochet had its place, typically in the rec room as a multi-coloured afghan draped across the sofa or as a pair of comfy slippers to slide into on a chilly morning. A homey craft, easy to learn, it was passed from one generation to the next like a well-earned Brownie badge, yet somewhere along the way it hit a rut, and knitting passed it by only to leave it lying in the dust. It wasn’t until the turn of this century that crochet suddenly revved up its jets again, this time appealing not only to weekend crafters, but attracting a huge following of artists as well. Crochet has evolved into a higher art form, artists have emerged with solo exhibits in major galleries inspired by the creative possibilities that this craft allows, adapting easily to sculptural shapes, it is organic in texture and fluid in movement.
Paying homage to her hometown, Portland Oregon, artist Jo Hamilton created this fascinating cityscape entirely with a crochet hook, “My work is large scale and may appear realistic at first, but the saturated colors, textures and hanging threads reveal my process and medium. I work directly from photographs and use no sketches or patterns; I begin in the middle and work out from there until the piece is complete.” Along with landscapes, Jo also crochets vividly-detailed portraits on commission.
San Francisco textile artist, Josh Faught combines weaving and crochet to create substantial three-dimensional collages, this one above is worked entirely in hemp and formed on a garden trellis. “This could be about time or the limits of a material, or it may be about formal strategy and process. I want to introduce strong language, strong statements, but then take a step back in order to render something both visible but also more open and fragmented, to let it unravel.” Josh’s work gives off a raw organic energy and is exhibited extensively across the U.S. and Canada.
Canadian artist, Caroline Routh began her career as an art teacher before making the switch to multi media artist. Working with cotton thread and embroidery floss as her medium, Caroline mixes strands of different hues to achieve a painted effect in her tapestry crochet designs. Colours are woven along and under each stitch, which are worked over a wire skeleton to reinforce the shape of the vessel. “My works are carefully designed, intimate views of the forms, colours, textures and patterns in the world around me. I try to shine a new light on these elements, all brought together in an unconventional composition in an effort to create magic.”
Japanese artist, Jungjung began honing her crochet skills at a very early age using only fine cotton thread and a steel hook. Since then, her craftsmanship has blossomed into a true artistic form. Showcasing her work primarily in solo exhibits, and also in an instructional book of botanical designs for the average crochet enthusiast to follow, Jungjung dyes an uniquely-muted palette to capture the essence of plant life in miniscule detail.
After a career in tv and film designing miniature sets, British artist Susanna Bauer rediscovered her love of handicrafts through a connection to her German heritage and by walking in the forest, taking time to notice the simple things in nature. “I go walking, I find a leaf, a piece of driftwood – or sometimes it finds me, I take it home and its new life begins.” Working with very fine cotton or linen thread and a crochet hook, Susanna illuminates the fragile beauty in found objects.