Skip to Content Skip to Search Go to Top Navigation Go to Side Menu


"craft" Category


I get excited by old stuff.


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

 

an old and very shiny little bowl to drink from.

wear a simular creation on top of your head.

a cup with a lid.

another hair accessory from horn, gold and diamonds. fancy stuff. this is a ring. with something like a lock inside. if you do not read dutch you can only emagine what it is for. it looks mechanical. porcelain parrot. no purpose.

a glass model of a big and powerful canon!

for making coffee. made from silver and bone. this is a shiny container for sugar. these are for storing liquid.

i do not know what this is. but i know i like it. someone was ment to drink from this. h 38,0cm × b 61,0cm seal ring. nice. very very old.

this is a porcelain monkey holding a snuff box.

this is for serving gravy. lots of it. this is a cup for something. another knife for food. even older than the first.

this is a tiny eg that can open. and close. finger ring. from back when diamonds where a little rougher. this is a jar with dead stuff from the ocean.

 

Old things are exiting because they are old. These things where made because it was possible, with the aim of perfection. carefully created with perfect skill. looking at beautiful things makes me smile. In the old days, rich people acquired these artifacts, because they could. To show off, and to create a visible distance from the people who couldn’t afford the decadent lifestyle they represented. A similar trend is still present today.  Nowadays they buy overpriced modern design or old and rare stuff, but the concept is the same. Being able to surround my self with beautiful things, of which the design has no practical function, is a privilege, that I enjoy very much. Even if it is just for the time I am hanging out in a museum, or in  a fancy place of someone else. I am fascinated by old things because they are old and rare. They come from another world. One that I can never become a part of.

 

violin. most likely with a crappy sound. watch. this is a glass. it is nice.

this is jewelry. for wearing. it is also a whistle this is a wooden dog. for no purpose.

9 bottles for expensive liquid. in a box that fit!

pocket watch. a whole lot of detail on 5cm. a mug. this, i think, is for storing cutlery.

old and thin container for liquid. pretty cabinet. very locked. this is where to put the salt for the table. there are 2 of them. some one had 2 of these.

birds cage. for tiny bird.

old, heavy and shiny. for tea and coffee. this container is either for soup or potatoes. it is 1 piece of a very much bigger set.

really old guns in a box that fit! put hands in these. to show you dont need to use them.

a little, old, sculpture of a grotesque monster. no purpose. fancy snuff box. made of solid gold. very old and very expensive table. could possibly contain all my belongings. one in each drawer.

items from the collection of the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

 

Fashion With a Gold Tread


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

2013. We eat while we walk the dog and call our grandmother at the same time. There’s no time for sitting down. You see, time is money, and definitely not worth spending on a bench in a beautiful park doing nothing – or on repairing an unraveled sweater. It’s easier (and cheaper perhaps) just to buy a new one. But can time be measured in gold? We talk a lot about time over our worn out jackets.

 

 

Perhaps a short explanation is needed.

Seven years ago, Saskia van Drimmelen gathered a few people she knew and shipped off to Bulgaria. After eight years of designing clothes for the fashion elite in Paris, she had decided to quit her own (and at that point quite successful) brand, in search of a more fulfilling way of making clothes. In a book about Bulgarian crafts, she had found pictures of needlepoint lace unlike anything she had ever seen before – and so the treasure hunt begun. What started as a research on old fashioned and nearly forgotten techniques, became what today is known as Painted.

They call themselves a hybrid fashion collective. Many people stand behind the name Painted, but in the front seats you find Saskia together with theater director (and also Bulgaria explorer) Margreet Sweerts.
Their latest project is called Golden Joinery. Inspired by an old Japanese tradition where broken ceramics are repaired with golden paint, Saskia and Margreet invite you to repair your ragged clothes with a golden thread. They organize workshops where you can bring your beloved but broken sweater, jacket, dress or pair of jeans, and together you make it as good as – or perhaps even better than – new. And this is the frame of our conversation.

 

 

Painted is doing something different. In lack of a better name – perhaps combined with peoples need to categorize everything – Painted and their series of clothes are often referred to as slow fashion. Saskia and Margreet rather (if they really have to give it a name) call it slow clothes. Though many of the ideas behind their brand is compatible with the slow fashion thinking (like the sustainability and the anti buy and throw away mentality) Painted is still doing something different.

They work in the periphery of the fashion world, far away from catwalks, collections and trends (when they were asked to open the Amsterdam International Fashion Week, their answer was a YES with a big BUT – resulting in a room where models practised their tightrope skills, while the audience could walk around and watch).

Painted means spending time on making the clothes. Most of their garments are developed over years, and a normal procedure could be this: One starts making, lets say, a dress. Then leaves it to rest for a while, until somebody else finds the inspiration to continue. The garment grows in the hands of different people, until it’s finished. Nothing is planned or designed to the end, it becomes while it’s being made. All the contributors have something to say, and every piece is different from another.

 

 

I asked Saskia and Margreet what they thought making something by hand added to a clothing, and they answered with returning the question; What do I think making something by hand adds to a clothing? I was not capable of giving a straight answer at the time being –  and I’m not sure I am today either. But I know it adds something. Something of value, whatever that means. I know for instance that buying sweaters on a fleamarket and only afterwards realizing that it has been made by somebody’s hands, makes the scoop three times as good. This is of course a quite subjective way of thinking. Perhaps my idea of an old, gray haired and slightly chubby woman, sitting in a rocking chair knitting (I know this is the case only one out of twenty times) makes the sweater even warmer. Or maybe it’s the idea of somebody spending their time doing it that warms?

By the end of our talk, Margreet draws a scenario; If your house was burning, and you could only save what you could carry in your arms – what would it be (and now let’s look beyond computers and smartphones)? After the workshop, thinking about what I would have saved, I realize that this might be what Saskia and Margreet are trying to create in their clothes. A value that goes beyond money. Not just another really beautiful dress – but a garment with something close to affection.

I like to think that time invested in an out dying technique (let’s say a Bulgarian needlepoint lace) or in repairing an unraveled sweater makes it more worth than the machine produced alternative. I mean, time is after all money. Maybe we just haven’t learned to recognise the currency yet.

www.paintedseries.com

 

 

Epilog
After attending their workshop, and becoming a part of their secret, golden brand, Margreet and Saskia asked me to add a song to their playlist, a song about something broken or golden. Not that it really has anything to do with anything, but it’s about a broken heart and I felt like it belonged here as well.

Christopher Owens – A Broken Heart

 

Empty wallet – NO WASTE


Monday, May 27, 2013

“The Sea Chair”

When I first saw the Sea Chair I immediately reacted on the aesthetics – it’s imperfections, hints of craftsmanship, and it’s strange plastic molding. The plastic resembled, though not clearly, marble stone. Soon after I found out of it’s relation to the Great Pacific Patch [x].
The Great Pacific patch is a floating soup of plastic debris covering an area one and a half time the size of USA and is trapped in the currents of the North Pacific Gyre. Many organizations have tried to clean it but it has been deemed as “the worlds largest dump” – feared impossible to defeat.

The plastic debris releases chemical additives and plasticizers into the ocean and finds is way into the food we eat. The fishes and seabirds mistake the plastic for food, as you can see on the picture above showing a Laysan albatross chick (90 % of Laysan albatross chick carcasses and regurgitated stomach contents contain plastics.)

The Sea Chair is made of plastic debris collected from this garbage patch. It is part of a project with the same name lead by design duo Studio Swine, Azusa Murakami and Alexander Groves; in collaboration with Kieran Jones determined to clean this floating dump and lower the production of plastic

The overall concept is to design with sustainable systems while treating the aesthetics with the same importance. With the use of design they form the plastic waste into an aesthetically desirable object. They believe that desire is the factor for change.

The sea chair project uses craftsmanship, together with recycling and protection for the environment, as a part in the ecological cycle. Like a craftman the designer should follow the whole process of production. Studio Swine uses tools and created devices to collect and process the marine debris along the shoreline. The Nurdler is a machine, that was created while being inspired by the miners, sorting plastic from the other waste. The next step is in the Sea Press which is a furnace and hydraulic press that heats and molds the plastic into the stool.

The Nurdler

The Sea Press

The stool is just the start in Studio Swine’s environmental cause. They also want to convert fishing boats into plastic refineries, so that the fishermen would collect plastic instead of fish. They mean that this would lead to lowering the demand for new plastics and therefore also the production of new plastic. Eventually this would also mean that the fisher men could continue fishing instead of picking plastic.

The connection between chairs and the seamen comes from a tradition amongst Britain’s port towns where sailors were required to have carpentry skills for repairing wooden ships at sea and after they retire many of them would continue to make wood furniture, in this case instead of wooden chairs the fishermen would make plastic chairs.

The Sea Chair proves that Eco-design goes hand in hand with craftsmanship and collectivity. Eco-design, since the 60’s, has questioned consumerism, taking inspiration from craftsmanship before the industrial revolution when eco-design was considered a norm and goods such as furniture tended to be made locally by craftsmen using local resources. Studio Swine follows the eco-design concepts of “Do-it-yourself” and engaging the community by making the production process accessible. On their website you can access a manual and video for how to build the devices and create the stool .

Though I desire one of those sea chairs, I’m not gonna be able to make one in this short amount of time. Instead I decided to make the smallest effort in creating from recycling waste material. I was going to empty my wallet from all the “shit” I gathered when I decided to use it as my “waste” material.

So I limited my self to this source material and one tool

I intended to make jewelery or at least functional objects but I’m not a designer so it resulted in something else…

An essay concerning what I think of Design and Art and Crafts and ugly glass objects and Christien Meindertsma and her PIG05049 and her Single Sheep Sweaters.


Saturday, May 25, 2013

I find Design a difficult term. When I think of Design objects, I think of the Museum für Angewandte Kunst in Frankfurt, which I, to my rather substantial displeasure, accidentally visited once during a school trip.
The building contained a few rooms filled with all sorts of glass Design objects, ranging from a little unpleasant to straight up horrible stuff. According to Wikipedia, the museum exhibits “more than 30,000 objects representing European and Asian decorative arts.” All I saw were contemporary glass lamps and mobiles and vases pretending to be all sorts of extremely valuable and expensive.
Having said all these mean things about Design, I myself completed an education in Graphic Design not that long ago. I have caught myself calling myself a Graphic Designer quite a few times.
Christien Meindertsma is also often called a Designer. In her bio a position on this matter is not being made, but in her CV the word Design appears very often. (It also says that in 2010 she was part of the show “Dutch Domestics – Design as Research” in the Museum fur Angewandte Kunst Frankfurt)


Christien is interested in raw materials. She explores these materials in thoughtful ways, making simple books and products that lay bare complex and otherwise hidden processes. If you’d like to hear her talking about her work you can follow this nice link.

I know Christien Meindertsma from her project PIG05049 (or actually from the TED talk she gave about it). For this project she spent three years researching the afterlife of the ordinary pig, and all the products that it ends up in after slaughter. All items are presented at their real scale in a book, a visual encyclopedia. Amongst some of the more unexpected products were: Ammunition, concrete, cigarettes, heart valves, brakes, chewing gum, porcelain and cosmetics.

Only recently I discovered one of her other projects, called One Sheep Sweater. It was on display in the cliché corner Eerlijk (Honest) at the Handmade show at Boijmans van Beuningen.
Christien started working on this project in 2003, when she was still studying at the Design Academy Eindhoven. In 2004, she made a collection of cardigans that were each made from the wool of one sheep.
After a few years of working with all sorts of wool and yarn manufacturers for her poofs and (Texel) ottomans, she picked up the One Sheep Sweater project again. Her goal was now to make them with a 3D knitting machine, to create an industrially made product, that would still tell a story of where it came from. She used Merino sheep from Holland and was part of the whole process from the shearing to the knitting.

I can very much relate to Christiens’ work most of the time. Though I don’t really have a particular interest in raw materials, I am very much concerned with the ways society deals with agriculture, whether it being for meat, wool, seeds, crops or other commodities. We are completely unaware of production processes and I find this very intriguing.

I think some of Christiens’ works I would call Design, for example the poofs and the ottomans and these Designy lamps that unfortunately remind me a bit of the glass Design objects that I mentioned earlier. However, the two main projects mentioned in this essay I consider to be art.
In my opinion Crafts, Design and Art are all the same things, namely words. The word Design reminds me of ugly glass objects, but that is really nobody’s fault, and it will hopefully not stay that way forever. The word Art is something I have more respect for, but I have also seen horrible stuff that was called that. With the word Crafts I mostly think of handwork, (which I use quite a lot in my own work, when I think about it now) but I also associate it with exceptional skill. And, as we all know, skills are awesome.

The words Art, Design and Crafts have different associations, but I think it’s extremely difficult to separate them from each other, if it is even possible to find out what they really mean. Some things that are considered Art can also easily be considered Craft, like some old Mannerism paintings, or more contemporary Hyperrealist paintings or sculptures. Some things that are considered Design may be considered Art. And some things that are considered Art, may by some people be considered Design.

Value is one of the main themes in Christien Meindertsma’s works. Trend forecasters tell us that, as a reaction to mass-consumerism, crafts will be valued more and more in the future. I’m hoping for this trend to develop in a large scale, for I think it has great potential to contribute to shifting our views and beliefs into less destructive and more beautiful ones.

History repeats itself.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Does this mean you make the same mistakes twice?

Do we re-live our past but in a different atmosphere?

Can we see our future in the history of time?

It is surprising how the sum of the past and the future can result in the present. As well as in the last book I’ve chosen, I have the feeling that two different time spirits come together.

The layout and especially the letters used on the cover of this book are very old fashioned; the use of soft orange dyes in a round shaped fond combined with a black and white frame. A frame which reminds me of origami class where at least six women with the age of forty-five and higher are sweating over a piece of paper trying to construct a whooping crane. But the picture of the cover doesn’t correspond to my slightly ironical conclusion at all. It is a picture of two wooden beams with beautiful shapes on the end of each beam. The shapes are perfectly opposite so that they can fit together as two pieces of a very complicated puzzle. It looks very modern, like something they use in high tech vehicles or space ships.

 

At present, the title began to dawn on me. It said: ‘The art of Japanese Joinery’, made in 1977

 

After a small peek into the content of this book, it occurred to me that it was filled only with old Japanese ways to attach two or more pieces of wood together. Not in the prefab-style we attach stuff these days, but on the most exquisite, caring and futuristic way possible. I felt for a moment so angry at our IKEA society where everything has to be cheap so you can buy a new sofa every four years, not caring about old handicrafts and their gift to make the most refined details. Details of such beauty that you have to suppress the urge to dismantle your closet only to see how it has been made.
The tender approach of something so simple as to attach two pieces of wood together reminds me of the first book I had chosen, where Nabokov describes individual letters of the alphabet in the way he experienced them.

Affection, or at least attention, for stuff we work with everyday, like the feeling of a specific letter, a symbol or a construction, is very rare these days. We don’t seem to have time to notice these small ‘gifts’ in the rush of everyday life. So next time you go to the library, go with an open mind and grab the very fist book that draws your attention. You’ll be surprised what comes out.

Rietveld Library cat.nr: 694.1


Log in
subscribe