Le perle di vetro a lume da Murano

Bead work has a millenia old relationship with textile arts. I remember visiting an exhibition in Zurich a few months ago about the Nasca culture (200 a.c. to 650 p.c.) where I saw beautifully stitched textiles with handmade ceramic beads. –

During my third visit to Venice this spring, I learned more about the famous “perle di vetro a lume da Murano”: the Murano glass beads.

Glass making is an ancient handicraft that originated in the Arabic area in the times of the Ancient Greeks. It is said that the Syrians perfected this craft during the following centuries.

So in the late Middle Ages, glass products were in very high demand in Europe. They were a treasured merchandise good. Clever Venetian craftsmen from the isle of Murano decided to try to follow along and started experimenting with glass making themselves. What started with copying Syrian glass making evolved into an experienced and widely recognized craft over the centuries. And with the downfall of the Osmanian Empire, Murano glass definitely conquered the world trade.

Glass is made of silica sand and salt acid. For color, various mineral acids are added.

colored silica sand
mineral acids and colored glass samples

The famous and also for textile arts and crafts often used Murano glass beads are made of colored glass bars, fused into a thicker bar and finally cut into small pieces that are then further processed and molded.

a bead worker’s bench
glass bars

In the local Museo del Vetro (glass museum), old sample cards of glass beads are on display, such as the two below, fabricated by glass artist G. B. Francini 1820-1861:

I am totally inspired by this beautiful collection! I love the variegation, don’t you too?

All pictures taken by me in Museo del Vetro in Murano.

Upcycled

Whereas a painter buys (or fabricates) a canvas and creates his piece on it, for a textile artist, the canvas is his piece (or at least a part of his piece). This can well be seen as causally determined as canvas is fabric. –

“Waste not, want not!” is a motto often used within the upcycling community. I am not specifically an “upcyclist”, but as a textile artist, re-using fabric, upcycling fibers and re-modelling cloth comes with the job. Of course I also buy new fabric from time to time. But I also like to manipulate spare fabrics I already have or have been gifted.

So I decided to focus an this upcycling theme and create a new series.

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Traces of thought (2017)

Above is the first piece of this series. It is a “crazy patchwork freestyle quilt” kind of thing, sewn on painted canvas. The background is made of snippets of an older summer dress of mine which I upcycled into a skirt, so there was plenty of spare fabric!

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Map of passions (2017)

No. 2 of the Upcycled Series is “Map of passions”. It is made of left over fabric of pants that were tailored for a ballett show of my dance class (we performed Cinderella). Dancing is another passion of mine, therefore the title. 😉

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Proof of waste (2017)

“Proof of waste” entirely made of thread and clothing labels. Some plastic waste and glass beads added for adornment.

 

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Evidende of injuries (2017)

This is the most elaborate piece of the series. The background is made of left over gauze bandages (some with tea stains), machine sewn together. Then stitching was added. I grouped the stitches and deliberately left some space between them untouched. The gauze symbolizes the body and the stitching cared for injuries on various body parts. The gauze background was then sewn onto a white fabric with “surgical stitches”. The white fabric was sewn and padded and left un-ironed to resemble a used hospital cushion. Finally, I sewed the whole piece on a white canvas.

With “Evidence of injuries”, I was nominated Palm Art Award Nominee 2018.

 

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Cycle of life (2018)

“Cycle of life” consists of dried leaves my son had collected for me once, silk ribbons and glass beads. This paraphernalia is stitched onto a canvas made of used tea bags, machine sewn together. The stitching style is Sashiko (or Boro if you want).

 

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Rhythm of days (2018)

This is the last piece of the Upcycled Series. When I was working on this piece, I also created a few art cards and art patches or brooches to sell at crafts fairs. I wanted to experiment with using patches in a more “artful” way. 😉

The piece is made of old jeans and an old scarf of mine. The colors of the embellishments are contrasting nicely with the subdued colors of the background. It is a delightful piece I think.

Alpine Flowers: pdf patterns Vol. 1

enzian
pattern sample

Dear fellow embroidery enthusiasts, here’s the good news for the new year: I worked through my sketchbooks and decided to share some of my patterns suitable for embroidery beginners.

I am very grateful for all the inspiration, tutorials and patterns one can find online and wanted to share something in return.

So here you go: the first downloadable pdfs in a series of alpine flowers. Created in Switzerland for you! 🙂 You can download the files in my webshop – for the symbolic costs of 5 cents only!

Participation in other artist’s art projects 2015-17

From time to time, I love to participate in art projects of other artists. This gives me the opportunity of working for a concrete assignment given by someone else then myself. I like to send work not only to textile artists but also to artists working in other media. I see it as a welcome challenge to create a fiber art piece that “fits in” with the other media art pieces and it is also another try to let the art world know that textile works have a right to be regarded as art pieces just as well. Plus, taking part in other’s projects provides the bene of having my work more widely shared.

Below are my works that I sent to other artists within the years of 2015 – 17.


 

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“The key” 2015

Creating “The key” was my very first time participating in a mail art project. I was approached by the talented and friendly contemporary mixed media artist MOO (Monika Mori) and instantly loved her project! The project’s theme was “Turquoise” and you can see all the amazing entries in this online gallery. Since this first participating in an art mail project, I love the concept!


 

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“Colorful Silence” 2015

In spring 2016, I came across an open call for another art mail project on facebook. The project was initiated and curated by the Spanish photographer María Hernández Laplaza. The project’s theme was “Confidencias mudas” and the resulting exhibition toured throughout Spain. Some pictures can be found here. Unfortunately, my work was stolen during the first exhibition. 😦


 

gugudada
“Gugu dada” 2016

Another interesting art project I found in 2016 was author and artist Sabine Küster’s mail art project “…mir ist so daDa im Kopf!”. As a Swiss artist and author myself, I feel closely connected with dadaism and I love playing around with words as much as I love embroidery! My entry (see above right) was selected for publication in the project’s work book (above left). The book is available here.


 

betweenmoss
“Between moss” 2016
betweenblues
“Between blues” 2016
fillthegap
“Fill the gap” 2016

Inspired by the three art mail projects I took part in, I decided to give a go at curating my own exhibition after all. As a founding member of the Swiss Hand Embroiderer’s Guild, I organised the project “IN BETWEEN / DAZWISCHEN” under the Guild’s roof. The project resulted in an online gallery and a one-day exhibition in a pop-up gallery in Winterthur, Switzerland. My three entries are shown above. The project was a very time consuming but also very exciting and satisfying undertaking. 🙂

PS: The Guild hosts a yearly fiber art project since then. Go check out their website!


 

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“Evidence” 2017

In 2017, I participated in a project by fellow fiber artist Martina Unterharnscheidt. She planned and executed an exhibition in her own gallery with the title “Almohadismus – das Kissen in der Kunst”.


 

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“Upcycled CD – front” 2017
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“Upcycled CD – back” 2017

Also in 2017, I worked with one of my favorite artist collectives Art in Open Roomz again for a small yet funny art project: upcycling cd’s into art objects! You can view pictures of the resulted mobile sculpture here.


 

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“Beautified” 2017

My last project entry in 2017 was “Beautified”, a quilt square for a collaborative art quilt by the Upcycled Cloth Collective founded by upcycling textiles virtuoso Melanie Brummer. The square has to be made of recycled materials and has to show a word paraphrasing “upcycled”. If you are interested, join the collective here.