Monday, May 13, 2013

Grace & Ritual

Over the weekend, "Grace & Ritual" opened at iam8bit in LA. You may have heard of iam8bit from their awesome video game-themed shows and their recent Nickelodeon show. They do lots of other cool stuff besides art shows too.

Grace & Ritual is an all woman show, curated by iam8bit co-founder Amanda White, featuring 47 artists in all forms of media, from painting and sculpture to photography and textiles. I decided to explore "ritual" from a religious standpoint. The image of "Our Lady of Guadalupe" has always intrigued me. It is so iconic and recognizable, and has become a part of not only Mexican culture, but pop culture too. I remember Jack Bauer on "24" had a tattoo of Our Lady when he was initiated into a Mexican gang. It has a really interesting story behind it too, not merely a painting, but a miraculous apparition that is celebrated around the world.

The pieces I make for shows are always three-dimensional but are usually meant to be displayed on a table. I wanted to try something different and have this piece hang on the wall. I acquired a large gold shadow box and a blue satin backing.  

"Guadaloope" is secured inside with rays of red, orange and gold sunlight shining behind her. Her rose-colored dress is embroidered from top to bottom in gold flowers and swirls. Her turquoise veil is trimmed in gold and adorned with gold stars. She wears a black sash high upon her waist, indicative of being "with child". 

A tiny smiling cherub is at her feet with real feathered wings. A dark crescent moon rests beneath her.

Seven roses surround her, crocheted from fine crochet thread.  Interestingly, all of these little details have very specific meanings. A wikipedia page about Our Lady of Guadalupe tells the entire story.

I think even people who don't consider themselves religious can appreciate beautiful religious portraits and icons. I feel "Guadaloope" (see what I did there?) represents the themes of Grace & Ritual in a unique way.

"Guadaloope" sold on opening night but the show continues to run through May 26. There are some amazing pieces of art still available for purchase. Go by the iam8bit gallery if you happen to be in LA and take a look at "Guadaloope" and the other art. Tell them Allison sent you!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

I Heart Beginners

I get asked this question a lot:

I've just started crocheting. Do you think I could figure out one of your patterns? 

I always answer the same way. If you know basic crochet stitches, why limit yourself to washcloths and scarves? I mean, I love making quick scarves and little washcloths as much as the next guy, but if you see something awesome, and you think, "I wish I could make that!", then just make it! Learn as you go! 

When I first started crocheting I was doing it completely wrong. Self-taught, no one was there to tell me, "Hey, Allison! That looks like you're sticking the hook in the wrong row!" (I was, see bear below.) Or, "Hey, you know you're crocheting that little octopus inside out??" (I was.)

But you know, after crocheting enough inside out octopuses and figuring out where the hook was actually supposed to go, I got it! I'm not claiming to be the authority on all things crochet by any means (hairpin lace, huh??), but I feel like I've figured out my niche. I watched enough youtube videos and photo tutorials that I finally got the hang of it. 

Here's a photo of the first thing I ever actually crocheted and finished. A little blue bear. I think he's pretty cute. Imperfect, but cute. See how I was, um, "unconventional" with how I made single crochets? 

My first attempt at amigurumi

I love that the most popular post I've ever done here is my beginner amigurumi pattern for Baby Monsters. That means lots of beginning crocheters are making some amigurumi! I get lots of questions about how to dress them up a little with feet like some of the ones in the photo. That's easy!

At the end of the last round, do not fasten off. Make 3 dc into the front loop only of the next 2 stitches, sl st into the next 4 stitches, 3 dc into the front loop only of the next 2 stitches, sl st into the next st, and fasten off. Feet!

Look! I have feet!

If you're a beginner, these are fun to make, but you'll want to move on, right? I think my book, AmiguruME: Make Cute Crochet People,  is going to be a great book for all levels. I opted to include step by step photos in the how to section. I really focused on the adjustable ring method for crocheting in the round. I want everyone to learn it! I also made sure that all of the examples in the how-to section are made on "in the round" swatches. I think it makes a difference. 

You can preorder my book from Amazon or Barnes and NobleAmazon UK,  Bookworld for Australian shoppers, as well as other places. I'm really excited about it, and I hope you will love it! I cannot wait to see people start posting their projects online. I want to see them all! The possibilities are endless so there won't be any two dolls exactly alike!

If you're planning on getting my book, what doll would you make first? A celebrity? Your kids? A gift for a teacher? 

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