Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Smallness - Senior Process


My senior collection is about the interaction of light and wind and how, when connected together, they create a transcending feeling of smallness.

I almost used broken shards of glass as one of the main elements. It was a time in my life where I didn’t feel entirely whole. But after advice from my mentor and praying and searching, I decided on something so much better.

What I really hope is that the materials, together, will interact with the true elements of this design: the wind and the light and the unexplainable aura that resonates from them. If I can do this, I can echo to others the absolute greatest feeling I’ve ever experienced—the feeling of staring up at the night sky, watching the stars reflect their light, feeling the wind against my skin, and suddenly realizing how amazingly small we are.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Harmony in Head

It’s midway through the day and I’m thinking three rows ahead, down at my knitting. It’s been 6 hours and whoa. I have completed, wait for it…wait for it… Three. Whole. Inches. 😐  This is a decent accomplishment, but I’m not admiring these fresh stitches. I’m calculating those three inches, into hours, and multiplying them by the knitting yield of the full piece, and then dividing that by seven and then counting down the few remaining days I have left until my critique with the dean. (10 days).

At this rate I should finish this single layer of my first look by, mm, next Tuesday.

I realize this same time comparison has actually been going through my head all day on repeat.  Inch by inch, hour by hour, day by day, minute by minute stitch by stitch by cup of coffee, by stich, I have been calculating my deadlines. The moment when I finish this piece, so I may move onto the next and begin calculating again, but as exhausting as it is to think about and as exhausting as this is to read, you should all know that there is a time when this chess game in my head quiets.

Two days a week, on Monday and Wednesday mornings, I have an art history class and it is my favorite moment of the entire week. It’s a time when I get to sit and pause and just look at artwork.  It’s so soothing. I’m not thinking in terms of a plan and a deadline. There’s no pressure. My boyfriend and I sit aside each other, both of our minds moving a mile a minute, admiring art, coming up with new ideas, and laughing at our professor’s ridiculous, interpretive, dancing. Yes, this really happens.

It’s a pause.  It’s a soak.  I always have a pen and paper ready, but not to write down the names of the artists or the dates of the paintings we cover in class; I have an entire notebook willed with new ideas.

As an artist, we need pauses. Soaks. We need to be inspired without the pressure of creating. Because when you’re not looking for something beautiful, is often when you find beauty in things the most.

Here are some of my favorites art pieces that I should have written in my notebook:

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

That Cold, Heartless, Knitter Critic

Sometimes, knitting is a barfight between your fingers, your needles, your mind, body, and spirit. And sometimes it’s your spirit that loses. Last night was one of those nights.

It was another beautiful day of working on my senior, Estonion lace inspired knitwear collection, when bam!πŸ’₯ πŸ’₯πŸ’₯

The inner-critic hit again.

This nameless, faceless ghost lives inside me and does this from time to time. Taunting me. Cursing me. It likes to creep up slowly and whisper insults at me without me noticing, but by the time I’m aware of its presence, it’s too late; my shoulder is aching, my callused fingers are burning; my mind and body have both taken sides with the critic; I can go on knitting no longer.

For this collection of mine (title still pending) I’ll need to be knitting 8 hours a day and pattern drafting the rest. Next month, I’ll need to step it up to knitting 12-16 hours a day. With thousands of hours still ahead of me, and my stitches slipping, yesterday was a battle I admittedly lost. Critic, one. Esther, zero.

But it had to happen, you guys. I’m so glad it did. It was a strategic loss and I’ll tell you why. Hand knitting has and always will be a slow process. There’s no better example of this than Estonion culture.

For them, knitting wasn’t a hobby. It was tradition. It was about creativity and innovation. At a very young age, little Estonion girls would break out their needles and experiment with new techniques. They’d knit piece after piece, all this so that one day, when they were married, they could give these knits away to guests at their ceremony. And let me tell you, it was a ceremony, shawties. The whole town showed up to that Shindawg and the Brides’ knits represented who she was as a homeslice. It was a way of life, yo.

It was not something they churned out as fast as they could to meet a deadline. Knitting was a slow, organic, creative process. It defined them.

I realize today that I was holding my needles too closely and twisting my stitches incorrectly. (If any of you know a trick to increase the brioche stitch, lemme know, dawg).  I was rushing. I was working too tense, too fast, too long and too critically.

When I got home, I had a headache and a rowdy knot in my shoulder that wouldn’t stop yelling,

Don’t ignore me, you stupid, little, yellow piece of cake—you know your gauge is sloppy—oh, and that lentel soup you made? You don’t even like it. It sucks. Everyone at Friendsgiving was just pretending to enjoy it because they felt bad for you, but they shouldn’t, you know why? Because you SUCK.

I was done for the day and I was away from the needles, but the inner critic—that cold, heartless, Knitter Critic—wouldn’t shut up. It grew louder and louder and I cried a little.

But when I woke up this morning everything was different. My mind, body and spirit were working together again as always and I realized: last night may have been a loss, but the score is not Critique: one, Esther: zero.

I’m gonna’ slow it down, lock it in. Block it, draft it, and get it done, one stitch at a time.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

How to Whimsify Your Boring, Old HallwayπŸ‘ΌπŸ’«

Step 1: Forget everything you know about crafts

The art and act of crafting is not at all what most people think.

You could be a fool with your hands. Your cutting skills could be seriously lacking. Your gluing abilities might not be so hot and you may have little-to-no- spare time. That’s okay, gurrrl—turning a dark, horrible hallway into a whimsy wonderland requires none of these things! There’s only one thing you absolutely need to create another world, that is, an idea that excites you.

This will not be your typical how-to.

Step 2: The Vision

When I’m feelin’ crafty but don’t have a project in mind, its hard for me to relax. I always have to be doing something with my hands, but I always remind myself that it’s never good to force something. In the end, the vision and the feeling has to come first.  

After 12 + hours a day pattern drafting and knitting at Eckburg, coming home and opening the door to a long, treacherous, empty, barren, dark, quite, scary hallway was kinda the icing on top of the workaholic cake. So. I decided to remind myself of one of my favorite feelings, whimsyπŸ’«

Once you know what feeling you want to create, hone in on that vision, beebee! If you have a strong mind’s eye, this may be easy, but for others, focus on that feeling; search online and look for inspiration. Create a mood board if you have to.

For me, I thought about friendly clusters of butterflies guiding me kindly, safely, to my bed so I may promptly pass out in peace. Motivation! πŸ‘

Step 3: Choosing your elements

Now, I'm not going to lie to you all. I really broke the bank for this one, guys. I used some pretty high tech stuff (printing paper, masking tape). Which leads me to Bonus Tip number one:

Stay within your budget. And know that there’s almost always a much cheaper version of the material you’re envisioning. For me, construction paper was tempting, but in the end, borrowing copious amounts of paper from the printers at my school just made sense. 😊 ✌πŸ˜‹

TIP 2: Keep it consistent! More important than the materials themselves is consistency. Stolen sheets of computer paper may be paired well with masking tape found in a drawer! When creating a new world, the components need to create harmony.

Step 4: Execution

It’s all in the details on this one, son. 😎  The subtleties. The little stuff. Let the experience be organic. Don’t make every element a piece from a cookie cutter. Don’t feel limited to the designs you find online. Vary them in size and shape a little. Make some mistakes. I certainly didn’t cut all of these little butterflies perfectly. Some of them really suck. They aren’t clustered together into perfect crescendos or anything like that, and I didn’t have the principles of design floating around in my head constantly when placing them. I just had fun and cut away and taped and relaxed. Don’t worry if you mess up. You’ll be surprised: an imperfection up close can seem so horrible and ugly, but when you step back and look at your finished project as a whole, its these imperfections that makes it all beautiful.  


Monday, July 25, 2016

Parent's Story & Process

My parents have such different interests from one another that for their intro collages I wanted to show their different backgrounds with their childhood pictures and favorite toys.  Their stories were the most fun to play with on garment placement, because there were so many possibilities.  That's what the below process pages mostly experiment with.  

My parents both grew up in Indiana.  My dad from the south part and my mom from the north.  They met in the middle when they went to collage.  My mom was studying fine art, her focus being painting.  My dad's major was agricultural economics.  That focus was to be a cowboy.  They married young while still in school and once graduated moved out to Nebraska, because my dad got a job as a wrangler on a dude ranch.  

They lived life of cowboys for a bit - though, while it may sound romantic saying it's the opposite is an understatement.  They lived in a small rundown mobile home that was infested with rats and flies.  Their closest neighbor was 50miles away so only the cricket bugs were around to keep my mom company while my dad was out with the horses all day.  One day my dad came home to find my mom doing laundry and talking to the cricket bugs like they're her best friends.  At that moment he realized this was not so much of the western dream he imagined.  

So they moved back to Indiana where my mom continued painting and my dad went from a cowboy career to a computer programming one.  And he's been wrangling HTML codes ever since.


Saturday, July 23, 2016

Childhood Story Process

This project was all about research in terms of textile development.  I took the concept of my family memories and then I had to figure out a way to turn that into a fabric.  There was a lot of experimenting with resin casting for embellishments and PVC printing.  I like the way the PVC printing turned out and ended up using this for the final.

The process pages about my parents stories are up next!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Bee Story Process

I used to be terrified by process.  When explained by professors so much of it was left open, and while there are no rules necessarily, there are a lot of unspoken rules.  In the beginning of each class I would hear, "Process is about experimenting so experiment!"  When in reality what they actually meant was, "highly curate each page so it looks pretty."

After an entire afternoon of trying to curate pretty and cohesive pages and feeling so frustrated because it just wasn't working, my friend Hope came over and shown some light on process.  She was a senior when I was a sophomore and always had a talent for knowing what to say so I'd feel normal in the midst of my struggling.

"I feel like I just don't get process!  But that's stupid, because process is about me and what inspires me!"

Then her calm voice parts the waters and says,"The thing about process is, it gets better the more you do it." And somewhere in that moment it's like my brain clicked and I realized "Hey, it's ok.  You're still figuring this out."

Since then, I started just playing around and figuring out what I like.  Through the years I've found what I like and what I don't and now process comes more naturally and it's not so much of a fight.  This is what my process looks like now.  I'm sure it'll look different at the end of next year too, because process is always growing and will continue to redefine itself in different ways for the rest of my life, but this is what my process looks like right now.

Experimenting with acetate printing on fabric and cut out paper bees dipped in old resin that turned yellow and rememinded me of honey.
Bee embellishment and knitwear.

Bee embelishment on PVC and denim. 

I've shared the meaning behind this bee story in the past if you'd like to read about it.  Next post will be more process pages.