spinhandspun designs

Belgian Natural Gas Stop Motion Cozy Install
March 21, 2010, 3:14 PM
Filed under: inspirations | Tags: , , , , ,

I guess i’m excited, because i beat Craftzine to this post by a full two days… SPIN WIN! For more on reverse stop-animating your unraveled projects, check out equally well-edited making of:


Caroline Lathan-Stiefel

Caroline Lathan-Stiefel

A decade ago, Caroline Lathan-Stiefel fashioned her first immersive installation from re-purposed craft and household materials, including fabric, yarn, fruit nets, plastic bags, bottle caps, and rice bags, which were sewn and pinned to elaborate pipe cleaner frames. These colorful upcycled nests are akin to three dimensional drawing, and imply connective systems in chaos.

Below are images from her Layer City (2009) installation at the Delaware Center for Contemporary Arts in Wilmington. During its four month exhibition, Lathan-Stiefel continually added new components to the work, conjuring references to urban sprawl.

More images below, this time from the “Microfibers” show at Philadelphia’s Locks Gallery (2009). Alongside Lathan-Stiefel, Danielle Bursk and Laura Watt exhibited compelling 2D illusory spaces.

Her upcoming installation entitled Hinterland for the Tiger Strikes Asteroid Gallery in Philadelphia, will incorporate sound components in a collaboration between Lathan-Stiefel and her husband, composer Van Stiefel. Over the next several months, Stiefel will be collecting the natural and man-made sounds surrounding their home, and combining these into computer-generated compositions for gallery visitors to hear.

Lathan-Stiefel’s one-story 1950’s ranch home is located in West Chester, PA, 45 minutes west of Philadelphia, in a neighborhood that is adjacent to a densely-wooded forest. In preparation for Hinterland, she has been creating a series of small outdoor installations for a project entitled the Roam Project. Installations range from the wooded community surrounding her home, to buildings and cars in urban Philadelphia.

This prospective work, its collaborative sound elements and guerrilla upbringing in the landscape surrounding her home, updates our modern conception of a Hinterland. Once defined as “the land behind a city,” for Lathan-Stiefel, a Hinterland is “a permeable, fluid entity where the urban, suburban and natural realms connect and seep into each other, creating a kind of thick, overgrown sprawl. A hinterland can also be a psychological realm that one either wants to escape to or escape from.”

Thus far, my interactions with Lathan-Stiefel and her work are solely digital, yet her images still evoke a Hinterland. I regress, escaping into her colorful nests, and feel like an imaginitive youth who, given unlimited supplies, has built myself a fort in the midst of the city. Despite the implications of urban sprawl, there is a playfulness about Lathan-Stiefel’s work that begs experiencing first-hand.

I have asked Caroline to do a show in the Midwest, to which she stated, “I would love to show something in your area, but have no plans as of yet. I may apply to the Kohler Art Center soon though.” Talk about escapism: cheers to seeing a red-hot cast iron bathtub suspended from a crane, and exploring a Lathan-Stiefel installation all in one trip!

Ugly Necklace Complete!
February 24, 2010, 5:19 PM
Filed under: art-icles | Tags: , , , ,

On February 13th, Twin Cities Makers hosted their first annual Minne-Maker Faire. Spinhandspun joined the makers, and visitors spent the afternoon learning how to make wet felted and needle felted beads for an ugly necklace collaboration.

Photos of the finished piece can be found below, will be submitted to the 2010 Land of Odds Ugly Necklace Contest. For more photos of February’s Minne-Faire at the Hack Factory, visit TCM’s Flickr pool.

A flock of Mini-Minne-Makers agitates raw fibers into felted beads.
Photography by danbackslide

The Ugly Necklace

The Ugly Necklace (detail)

Vodafone Controversy
February 21, 2010, 4:17 PM
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A recent Vodafone campaign has guerrilla knitters dropping stitches left and right..

The commercial features a trendy group of teenagers who text the ‘Granny Squad’ for knitting lessons, and yarnbomb Dublin overnight.  While their protagonist is initially inspired by an authentic Irish-made hat, the remainder of Vodafone’s campaign is decidedly artificial.

Vodafone’s yarnbombs parade as the work of tea-sipping crafters, yet in 24 hours, their machine-knit installations span impossible-to-reach-statures and three story support beams.  Rather than exhaling a handmade breath of humanity into Dublin’s urban landscape, Vodafone’s cozies uphold the mechanized society guerrilla knitters critique, and undermine the true yarnbomber’s patience, stealth, and artistic vision.

Unlike advertising agencies, guerrilla movements are inherently anti-establishment.  Yet their mainstream assimilation should come as no surprise.  Mad men frequently appropriate counterculture imagery into ads because it appeals to their ultimate target market: youth, whose pre-packaged rebellions signify burgeoning independence.

Here, Vodafone fuses their identity with the craft’s growing popularity by highlighting young (and male!) knitters.  Unfortunately, their assertion that urban knitting is simply cute and fun is retroactive, and defeats the yarnbomber’s original work advancing her craft as an art form.

For mainstream audiences, Vodafone is right to say it “turns out it’s easy to put a smile on people’s faces…” if you’re a multi-million dollar corporation.  But hardworking guerrilla knitters, have no fear; the ad proves that our efforts have been appreciated.

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, we now face the challenge of advancing the movement beyond its obvious pole, tree, bench, and statue tagging.  Now is our chance to develop new innovations and unpredictable techniques in the realm of guerrilla craftivism.

For more on the Vodafone controversy, check out The Electric Sheep’s hilarious and poignant Podcast below.

Call for Entries: Stories in Textures with Daina Taimina
February 16, 2010, 5:16 PM
Filed under: opportunities | Tags: , , ,

Fiber Stories with Daina Taimina

Hyperbolic crocheter Daina Taimina has announced an open call for participation in her experimental fiber project tentatively titled, “Story in Textures.”

Last month, Taimina retired from her profession as a Mathematics professor at Cornell University. Because she experiences difficulty expressing this emotional transition in words, Taimina has begun outletting her feelings through fibers.

Her hope is that, if someone asks her how she feels about her academic career and retirement, she will be able to hand them a tangible object that expresses her loss for words. The challenge will be creating beautiful work that also represents the pain of her transition.

Taimina is inviting other fiber artists to express a story or emotion through small fiber work ranging between 20 and 50 centimeters in any direction. Whether you include the story or emotional experience that inspired you is optional. Entries must be received by the end of March at the latest in order to be included in her talk at the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Arts’ “Textures” conference in June.

For more information, visit http://fiberforthought.multiply.com/ (you do not need to register to view the site).

Sweet Porridge: A Stop Motion Animation
February 15, 2010, 11:50 PM
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This afternoon, I uploaded a high quality version of my Sweet Porridge stop motion animation to Spinhandspun’s Youtube account. The original was completed in 2007, and features a cardboard house of thrifted furniture whose handmade inhabitants are overcome by a porridge avalanche.

If it existed, The Making of Sweet Porridge would feature me stabbing myself in the hand while watching Baraka (specifically, the part with the chicks), flinging six quarts of oatmeal into the Wisconsin snow, and confusion upon realizing (at the critique) that our prompt was to address the cult of celebrity in mass culture.

This particular story has been adapted and translated into AT&T Text to Speech from a Grimm’s fairy tale, and the dolls are embellished with yarn from upholstered wire armatures.

I had spent the summer of ’06 learning how to spin wool, and the original version was my first YouTube video. Its upload on Valentine’s Day 2007 marks the beginning of the pseudonym Spinhandspun. Happy third anniversary, alter-ego.

Knitting from the Inside Out: Designs by Inmate #200244
February 15, 2010, 8:55 PM
Filed under: artists in review | Tags: , , , ,


Mutual friends brought #200244 to my attention last winter. At the time, I was writing a literature review on the effectiveness of art therapy in the prison system and yarnstorming Spinhandspun into screaming infanthood. #20024’s subversive dog sweaters intrigued me, and his big house crochet inspired many components of my thesis.

On the outside, #200244 created projects using the materials around him. A painter and mixed media artist, he learned to crochet in lock up through a program that teaches inmates to make blankets, hats, and mittens for charity. With enough practice, he took to crafting his own designs.

For #200244, creating is a privilege: “I am fully aware it’s all I have, so I appreciate it a lot more. I pretty much live to make the next piece better than the last.”

Recently, #200244 has made the switch from crocheting to knitting to save on yarn. He has also taken up veganism, and begun a pink stuffed animal series in addition to more sweaters.

In the future, he hopes to meet a farmer who will let him knit sweaters for his cows, and has a garment in mind for Yoko Ono. That said, he predicts Ono will be less receptive than the cows.

Below are a selection of images from his current collection. Each item is moderately priced, and available for purchase. Contact julie@shimonlindemann.com for information.

Photography by J. Lindemann & J. Shimon.

#200244, #200244

Smoking Skull, #200244

Skull and Pig, #200244

665 + 1 = Fun, #200244

Grenade, #200244

Pink Elephant Sweater, #200244

Yoko, #200244

Math, #200244

Potted Skull, #200244

Pink Elephant with Pants, #200244

Pink Elephant, #200244

Pig, #200244