Emily Barletta's Crocheting, Clay, Thread, and Drawing Experiments

Posted at 6 pm on June 6, 2012 by

Posted in: Fabric Design, Hand Craft, Mixed Media

We like the experimentation Emily Barletta is doing with traditional textile techniques and the intertwining of disciplines. Earlier projects have seen her encasing clay sculptures in colourful, snug, crocheted skins. Her recent work is a study into stitched drawing techniques, blurring the seam between drawing and fabric design.

It’s a really interesting idea with beautiful results so we look forward to seeing where the work takes her. In the meantime, we wanted to know more about how these ideas started and she was happy to answer a few questions.

Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you became interested in using textile materials?

I started painting in high school, after that I decided to pursue illustration at art school.  I very quickly realized was not the path for me.  I eventually took an intro to fibers class for fun, which lead to my interest in textile materials.  

I had spent a grew deal of time as a kid, sewing and beading and crocheting, so using fibers materials seemed very second nature to me.  After college, when I was left without a studio, I had to figure out how to make art without equipment.  So, that is when I really turned to the techniques I’ve been currently using, either crochet or embroidery, as they are skills I can do without a machine.

Where did you get the idea for your recent thread and paper drawings?

It took more than a year of on again off again experimentation to figure out just how I could do the drawings.  For me they are drawings, and they are just another way to make a mark.  The same way a crochet stitch feels like a mark or a stitch on fabric is a mark.  I wanted to work with hard inflexible materials.  

I also wanted to sew, to create a sense of tactility, and be able to see the hand in the work.  I have always liked drawing in a sketchbook and these patterns reflect the drawings I’ve been privately making for years.

Please tell us about the work you’ve done with crocheted yarn and clay.

For some time, I was making crocheted artworks that included the use of beads.  For me, the clay was a way to make my own beads and instead of them being sparkly and decorative, they became more like flesh.  Most of this work was small and I really enjoy the intimacy of a small scale.  These objects were mostly sized to be hand held and I wanted people to look at them and at least imagine holding them and relate to them in this way.  I imagined each of them as something that could have come out of or be attached to the body.

What are some of the benefits or drawbacks from working with these materials?

 The one drawback is that the work is very very slow and time consuming to create.  For me the benefit is just making something that I really love. 

What ideas are you investigating in your work at the moment?

 I am currently continuing to sew on paper and I’m trying to learn how to incorporate more colors, which is more difficult than I had imagined.  I am also on again off again trying to figure something out with crochet that is taking longer than I expected.

© Emily Barletta, 2012