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‘swell things’ Category

  1. Swell Things No. 54

    July 31, 2020 by Erin Fletcher

    1. The subjects in Andrew Gray‘s artwork have this an unmistakable gravitational pull. His keen eye for design and color are most unique and part of the allure. Gray is a Baltimore-based artist creating work influenced by his diverse upbringing and studies within African-American history, Russian propaganda, contemporary realism and color abstraction. The latter is readily recognizable by the unusual color-blocking used in his paintings.
    2. The textile work of recent RISD grad Kelly Lucero Hughes is a beautiful blend of textures, desert hues and captivating imagery. Influenced by the New Mexico landscape she grew up in, Kelly often incorporates physical elements of nature into her work.
    3. I am in love with everything that Daniel Garver has created: every textile, ceramic piece and illustration. I am reminded of the geometric work created by Sol LeWitt. Another favorite artist of mine! Purely simple, absolutely brilliant.
    4. Eboni Hogan is an incredible embroidery artist. Her technique of dense stitches and thick, black outlines gives her work an luminous quality, like stained-glass. She also has an amazing talent for creating realistic textures and movement in her work. The piece above was inspired by Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon and illustrates Eboni’s ability and determination to accurately stitch the subject’s lovely locks. 
    5. Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m an earring fanatic. Which is why I’m obsessed with the jewelry made by Morgan Hill. I love the asymmetric quality of her work, the colors, the texture, the multi-faceted shapes, I love it all!

    6. Canto Cutie is a literary zine developed by Katherine Leung as a way to collect and share stories from artists who self-identify as Cantonese. Contributors can freely express their thoughts about identity surrounding the Cantonese diaspora and reflect on both historical and contemporary events. Volume 1 is available now!
    7. Tiffany Tang is creating some fabulous ceramic work. In the series, Mini Moons, the color palette is sweet and luscious, which contrasts beautifully with the harsh and heavy glazes. Blue & White, shows a softer and more delicate hand which evokes a more classic look of porcelain. All of her work is engaging and strikingly beautiful. Ceramics has the ability to blur the line between function and art, Tiffany plays with this dichotomy well within her work.
    8. When you are led by a love for color, structure and anything odd, it’s no wonder Daphne Chen has the ability to craft such unique and chaotic patterned knits and weaves. Her work undoubtedly stems from an exploration of identity, place and family. All of these complex ideas morph into equally complex prints, weaves and illustrations.
    9. Mugs: my other obsession! Oh how, I love the work of Mud Witch, run by Viviana Matsuda. Her work is so incredibly popular, that I have yet to snag a mug before they sell out. After inheriting pottery supplies from her late father, Viviana began working with clay as a means to work through her grief. As a fellow curvaceous lady, I love that Viviana’s pottery reflects her body positivity: chubby and curvy.
    10. Working predominantly in portraiture, Jessica Spence is a New York-based artist whose work reflects her own life and black female identity. Her pieces put the focus on the subject’s hair, emphasizing an importance for self-care, the care of others and expression. As an outsider to this culture, I don’t profess to understand the discrimination or stigmatization black women experience based on the way they choose to style their hair. But I appreciate the shear beauty and talent of Jessica’s work and how it invites me to investigate these topics further. Check out this interview on Girls United by Essence.

  2. Swell Things No. 53 // Black Women in Fiber Arts

    July 3, 2020 by Erin Fletcher

    1. Sarah Branch is a Brooklyn-based artist creating work inspired by artists who have pioneered black arts across all platforms. This embroidered portrait of Shirley Chisholm is powerful and amplifies her position as the first black women to be elected to the US Congress (she was elected for a total of 7 terms from 1969 – 1983). Chisholm also became the first woman and first black person to run for the Presidential Democratic nomination in 1972. You can learn more about this untold historical moment in Shola Lynch’s documentary Shirley Chisholm ’72: Unbought and Unbossed (watch on PBS).
    2. I love seeing the process behind Raven Kianna D.‘s delicately cross-stitched pieces on her instagram. The use of tiny stitches makes her work incredibly detailed and realistic. Just Like Life, Nothing Is Just Black And White is one of my favorite pieces. Raven often focuses the view on the subject’s eye or alters their portrait to obstruct their eyes.
    3. The punch needle work of @_dweba is gorgeous and captures the strength and beauty of women in Cape Town, South Africa.
    4. I’m not a knitter, but love to fantasize about knitting beautiful garments for myself. I love this cardigan from Bayron Handmade. Denise Bayron is the brains behind this amazing line of knit and sewing patterns. I appreciate that she includes videos about her pieces to speak about the construction and the best way to wear the garments. Maybe it’s time to pick up a new skill!
    5. For many, fiber art can be a therapeutic form of expression. This is how Adele Deloris Riley describes her work, especially turning the lockdown. Much of the fabric used in Adele’s work is reclaimed from vintage and secondhand shops. In a feature in The Sunday Times Home, she states, “During the uncertain times of the lockdown I found solace in my work. The laborious deconstruction and reconstruction of fabrics provided a therapeutic and joyous release.”

    6. Pretty Strange is run by Ciara LeRoy in Lexington, Kentucky. Her embroidered lettering is so gorgeous and precisely stitched. Ciara works through self care in her work as a practice-what-you-preach-kind-of-way (which I greatly appreciate). She is making work that is playful, inspiring and beautiful.
    7. Self care is very important right now and Lauren Singleton of Yes Stitch Yes is boosting my mood with her beautiful monochromatic and floral embroidered expressions. I particularly love this tribute to everyone’s favorite personal massager ;)
    8. The unique silhouettes of Niki Dionne‘s subjects are rendered in a wide range of media, including oil pastels, illustrations, rugs and knitted portraits. Even though her subjects are often crafted without faces, Niki builds so much expression into the body language, texture and color palette of her work.
    9. Charlotte Edey is an amazing artist working in print, textile and embroidery. The surrealist quality of her work stems from pulling together symbols and myths that explore an intersectionality between identity and spirituality in addition to experiences of women of color. Each tapestry begins as an illustration that is then translated into a Jacquard woven piece created in a limited edition. The softness of her work contrasts beautifully with the heaviness of her themes.
    10. Simone Elizabeth‘s tufted tapestries are part of a long history of using fiber art to highlight and investigate political, social and cultural moments. Simone’s tapestries are incredible. She transforms each portrait with bright color palettes and bold outlines. The subject in her pieces have the ability to confront the viewer, creating a moment of pause and reflection. Absolutely stunning work.

  3. Swell Things No. 52

    March 31, 2020 by Erin Fletcher

    1. The work of Rose Nestler can be both playful and intrusive. Using traditional sculptural and sewing techniques, Nestler manipulates fabric into these large-scale objects that speak to our ideals on clothing and how they perpetuate patriarchal standards and norms around gender and sexuality. Her pieces stand alone or become interactive elements in performance.
    2. I recently stumbled upon the beading and embroidery work of Polina ( I really love her style, it’s painterly and a little chaotic in the most gorgeous way. Been seeking out new embroidery inspirations during this time to keep my spirits and interests afloat. Looking forward to her next post!
    3. In addition to seeking out inspirational embroiderers, I’ve also been hunting down new ceramic artists. I’m charmed and delighted by Jensen of After Hours Pottery! I want to fill all of my cupboards with her dazzling pottery. The glazes and colors are bright and bubbly and so happy to see them pop up in my feed.
    4. Many film festivals have been making their films available online. Yesterday, I binged a few from the D.C. Environmental Film Festival. I finally got to see footage of what a walrus looks like underwater (a long time curiousity of mine) in addition to experiencing the thunderous cracks from icebergs shifting and breaking in the water. This was all documented in the film Under Thin Ice. I also enjoyed learning more about the Colorado River and how it was disrupted by the building of the Glen Canyon Dam in Glen Canyon Rediscovered. Finally, I got a short history lesson about the vast diversity of snails in Hawaii and how their populations are dwindling or becoming extinct due to the Rosy Wolf snail in Death of a Species.
    5. Another ceramic artist, whose work I’ve recently discovered is Sam Thompson, whose geometric designs are playful and full of whimsy. Thompson also creates these delightfully colorful paintings that seem to inspire the ceramic work or perhaps vice versa.

  4. Swell Things No. 51

    January 31, 2020 by Erin Fletcher

    1. One of my current obsessions on Instagram is @fashion_for_bank_robbers. The account is curated by German-Iranian artist Carina Shoshtary, who makes wearable art and jewelry. Carina showcases the work of other artists in addition to her own creations on the account. Each post is thought-provoking and delightful, playing with form and identity.
    2. I am a bookbinder. My husband creates animations for a planetarium. This Book is a Planetarium marries our interests so beautifully. This pop-up book includes 6 interactive spreads including a 3-D dome that projects constellations.
    3. I’m constantly wowed by the work of Taili Wu. Her work is colorful, imaginative and filled with whimsy and humor. I particularly love her ceramic work, but her range of skill with animation is also quite engaging.
    4. Alok is a fierce dresser. I am captivated by their bold choices in color, pattern and silhouettes. But more than that Alok is an inspiring figure for the LGBTQ community and how one can express themselves in ways outside of the traditional norms or expectations. Alok travels around the world, speaking about their experiences, breaking down stereotypes and just being a completely amazing person.
    5. Magical Circle Variations is a body of work by sculptor Rogan Brown. In this series, Rogan makes a connection between the human microbiome and coral reefs. After extensive research, pastel-colored papers are intricately cut and arranged to mimic the equally vast and diverse habitats that make up coral reefs.

    6. I’ve been a fan of Michelle Kingdom‘s work for sometime now. Her dense embroidery is so expressive and lively. Michelle paints so beautifully with thread to create a perfect balance of light and shadow within her characters as they dance across the canvas.
    7. I am awestruck by the illusions make-up artist Mimi Choi is able to create on the human face. Most recently she styled Ezra Miller’s face for the Met Gala Camp in 2019. Mimi is incredibly talented and teaches her techniques at the Blanch Macdonald Centre in Vancouver.
    8. A few years ago while taking a workshop at Penland, I had a chance to visit their gallery. I was wowed by the sculpture work of Kensuke Yamada. His bulbous characters are filled with emotion and delight. I love his use of color and texture. His work is really engaging and even more rewarding to see in person.
    9. In this mesmerizing short, filmmaker Rus Khasanov developed a technique for capturing the seamless mixture of two or more droplets of pigment. This is done without any human intervention. The dazzling colors explode together and make new shimmering ones. It’s quite amazing to witness in his film Unity.
    10. The sculpture work of Susannah Montague is alluring. Her main subject is cast from toy baby dolls and adorned with bouquets of flowers, butterflies, skulls and chains. The angelic white ceramic is sparsely decorated with splashes of gold, pale pink and blue, and black.

  5. Swell Things No. 50 // Tokyo

    January 31, 2019 by Erin Fletcher

    1. The paper wall at Itoya in Ginza was stunning. It had every imaginable color under the sun. You simply chose which color and textured paper you needed, grabbed a square and brought it with you when checking out. There were so many luscious papers I wanted, but only walked away with a small handful of papers.
    2. Manhole covers around Tokyo are elaborately designed and vary depending on the location.
    3. Just one of many impressive structures at the Sensō-ji Temple is the 5-story pagoda. This temple is the oldest in Tokyo and upon our visit, my husband and I each donated 100 yen to read our o-mikuji, which are random fortunes. Unfortunately, I drew a bad fortune, but as is tradition I tied it onto a metal wire stand in the temple in hopes that would prevent it from coming true.
    4. At the MORI Building Digital Art Museum is the teamLab Borderless exhibit, which is a fully immersive and interactive art piece spanning several rooms and floors. The walls were flooded with animated florals, waterfalls, whales and marching warriors. While exploring we stumbled upon a room with grid-like walls where powerful strobe lights were evenly spaced on all four walls and the ceiling. The floor was mirrored to reflect the lights. The lights would rotate, flash and dim in sync to the music.
    5. Our last dinner in Tokyo was well worth the anticipation. We ate at the renowned Sushi Bar Yasuda where we were served omakase (or when the dishes served are selected by the chef). In total we consumed 17 varieties of sushi and I tried uni, sardine and oyster for the first time. But I can’t forget the succulent flavors of the bonito, sweet shrimp and consuming the sweetest, most caramel-y tasting tamago of my life.

    6. Tokyo is filled with animal cafes. Our trip to Harry Hedgehog Cafe resulted in petting giant rabbits, a petite black and white bunny and many sleeping hedgehogs. Of course we gently woke them with a sweet treat of dried maggots.
    7. We also made a visit to the Akiba Fukurou Owl Cafe, where we got the chance to sit in hushed whispers with a couple dozen owls. Each guests got to hold up to two owls over the hour-long session. My first owl, named Bonito, was quite rascally and preferred to perch on my head rather than my arm. My second bird was much smaller and much calmer. Sweet Potato (pictured above) loved posing for the camera and even coughed up a pellet for me.
    8. During a stroll through Harajuku we visited ReIssue Cafe where we ordere lattes with foam art. I asked for Totoro holding an umbrella. It was particallarly fun to watch the image distort into a terrifying demon-like creature as I consumed the coffee.
    9. At the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, we saw a large exhibit of calligraphy. The work ranged from traditional strokes to those that were highly expressive. The scale of the work was also quite impressive.
    10. So many elements of Tokyo are well designed. Anywhere you look, you can find a beautiful design or pattern. Looking down while waiting for the train, I saw this lovely pattern.

  6. Swell Things No. 49 // Hong Kong

    December 31, 2018 by Erin Fletcher

    1. In the center of the city is the historic Hong Kong Cemetery, which we got a glimpse of while sitting in a double-decker bus.
    2. A view of my two favorite buildings in the Hong Kong skyline from Hong Kong Park.
    3. Just one of many stone wall trees throughout the city, where trees are effectively growing out of the stone walls and defying gravity.
    4. A visit to the Man Mo Temple in the Central neighborhood where dozens of incense cones are hung from the ceiling.
    5. The view of Hong Kong Island from the Star Ferry on Victoria Harbour.

    6. We passed by this mural everyday on our way to Wong Chuk Hang train station, so on our final day I made sure to get a photo with it.

    7. A visit to Pak Tai Temple had me gasping at the array of paper flowers hanging across the entire ceiling. 

    8. Posing with Yayoi Kusama dressed as Princess Leia at the Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum. You know, just a typical Saturday night in Hong Kong.
9. Eating our only hot pot dinner while in Hong Kong. Amongst friends and their family, we dined on steamed seafood, congee and steamed honey cakes!

    10. The view of Hong Kong from Victoria Peak. Such a gorgeous and dense city filled with the most skyscrapers in the world.

  7. Swell Things No. 48 // Maine, Michigan and Texas

    June 30, 2018 by Erin Fletcher

    For the past three months, I’ve been traveling to teach and have visited some incredible spaces and met really talented people. So in this Swell Things post, I’ll introduce you to a few.

    1. In May, I taught at the Paper and Book Intensive which was hosted by the Ox-Bow School of Art in Saugatuk, Michigan. This is a really unique space built near a lagoon that flows into Lake Michigan. The camp ground is filled with a variety of buildings set up for paper making, printmaking, painting, ceramics and glassblowing. All of the participants are housed on the grounds and we meet at the Ox Bow Inn for meals and social events. I highly recommend making the trip to Saugatuk for either PBI or to attend a workshop at Ox-Bow. It’s a fantastic way to unplug, relax and be creative.
    2. In April, I taught a workshop at the University of Southern Maine in Portland. And although my schedule hindered me from visiting PrintCraft, I didn’t want to miss this opportunity to tell you about it. PrintCraft is the combined studios of W.I.P. Editions and Strong Arm Bindery in Portland’s West End. Sharing equipment, experience and expertise in the fields of printmaking, bookbinding and letterpress printing, co-owners Lisa Pixley and Martha Kearsley produce an array of prints, printed matter and ever-evolving experiments in stationery. PrintCraft studio storefront is open Tuesday – Sunday from 12:00-6:00pm.
    3. At PBI, I met a delightful and talented ceramicist by the name of Gabrielle Soltis. She set up shop one evening and I walked away with this gorgeous speckled paste bowl and a handmade mug for my morning coffee.
    4. Before teaching in College Station, Texas, I made a stop in Austin to visit family. But I also made a visit to Flatbed Press and Gallery, which was founded in 1989 by Katherine Brimberry and Mark L. Smith. The space functions as a publishing workshop open for artists to produce large-scale limited editions prints. They are set up to create etchings, lithographs, woodcuts and monoprints. While walking through the studio, two large woodcuts had just been inked up and were ready to print. The inking took a little over an hour!
    5. During my time at PBI, I got to meet the extraordinarily smart, talented and hilarious Béatrice Coron. She works primarily in Tyvek creating “cut stories” by slicing away the material to reveal intricate scenes. Her work exists as flat pieces of art and wearable garments. In fact she wore a beautiful silver and black Tyvek jacket during her evening presentation. She has also designed fencing, sculptures and art for public spaces.

    6. I met Carey Watters at PBI and we spent an evening chatting about our art, our family and our love of travel. Her paper reliquaries are quite magnificent and her approach to paper cut sculptures is fresh and exciting.
    7. Vintage Marüshka fabric prints from the 1970s and 80s were scattered throughout the Ox-Bow Inn. The one pictured above was my favorite and is located in the bathroom inside the dining hall. I was able to find an authentic Marüshka cat print from 1983 that is hanging above my bookcase.
    8. I am a ceramic fanatic and when Jon Hook came out to PBI to sell some of his pieces, I jumped at the opportunity. I was in awe of so many of his vessels and mugs, but I ended up walking away with this tiny ceramic pig.
    9. Before visiting Flatbed, I made a stop at the Austin Book Arts Center (which happens to be in the same building). Mary Baughman gave me a tour of the bindery and their newly added print shop. The space is cozy and well loved. Every inch of their space is well designed to really maximize the potential of the room. They will be celebrating their third birthday in September, if you’re in the area, stop by for their auction!
    10. During one of the last few days at PBI, the resident artists opened their studios for touring. This is when I got to meet fellow School of the Art Institute alum, Noël Morical. Using macrame, Noël creates these massive hanging sculptures with bright parachute cord. She also had on display some smaller wall hangings, that to me, resembled alien-like sea creatures. I hope to own a piece one day!



  8. Swell Things No. 47

    April 30, 2018 by Erin Fletcher

    1. What can you do with ceramic shards? Artist Zemer Peled creates these magnificent sculptural pieces from fragments that mimic flowers, sea anemones and other flora.
    2. I love the embroidery work of Stephanie K. Clark. I’ve recently become enchanted with how she mixes pastels with rough and uneven strands of floss.
    3. Need some help learning how to type more efficiently? Get some help from film auteur David Lynch in this easy to follow game David Lynch Teaches Typing.
    4. Gloomy Sunday is a film by Memo Akten which presents how a computer can re-interpret a live performance of mundane objects into natural landscapes, a fiery hellscape and blooming florals.
    5. Many animals see color differently from us humans; on either end of the spectrum. Birds, in particular, can see levels of ultraviolet light beyond what humans are capable of. This ability allows birds to see each other’s glowing beaks and feathers, which in turn communicates a variety of information. I’m so compelled by this secret language and what must be a beautiful and luminous existence.

    6. Michelangelo, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, meets Michelangelo, the 15th century artist at a trip to the Metropolitan Museum.
    7. Artist Mary Frances Dondelinger has reimagined Roman history that puts women on equal footing to men. This series is documented through the excavation of Roman pottery that has been handcrafted to replace men with women in traditional scenes of strength and stamina.
    8. I am so delighted by the bubbly and quirky work of ceramist Beth Lo!
    9. Gucci’s Fall 2018 Ready-to-Wear Collection took some cues from Renaissance art. Visual effects company, Makinarium, was hired to create these lifelike props, which include a baby dragon and two human heads identical to the models carrying them.
    10. Alternative Moons is a photo book collection by photographer Robert Pufleb and web designer Nadine Schlieper. Traveling through images of the moon, the reader comes to a surprise as they reach the end of the book. This trip through space is actually perfectly staged images of pancakes!

  9. Swell Things No. 46

    October 31, 2017 by Erin Fletcher

    1. There are a lot of silly laws on the books and photographer Olivia Locher set out to break them. The full series is published in her book I Fought The Law. Shown above: “In Ohio it is illegal to disrobe in front of a portrait of a man.”
    2. I love the whimsy and softness of Jody Alexander‘s portraits.
    3. The textile and illustration work from Hannah Waldron is so gorgeous. She packs in so much imagery into her work with abstract shapes and luscious colors.
    4. At the World’s Fair in Paris in 1900, W.E.B. Du Bois showcased a series of infographics in “The Exhibit of American Negroes”. These graphs depict what life was like for African Americans across the US and within Georgia. W.E.B. Du Bois illustrated these charts himself collecting data with the help from students at Atlanta University. These charts were recently digitized by the Library of Congress.
    5. Accidental Wes Anderson is a subreddit showcasing perfectly symmetrical and brightly colored scenes that could be pulled from a Wes Anderson film.

    6. Jake Fried animates these mind-blowing illustrations made with ink and white-out. Check out Night Vision.
    7. Super Terrain, a publisher in France, has created a clever prototype of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 that requires extreme heat to be read. The technology was developed by Charles Nypels Lab, when activated by heat the black material disappears, but eventually reappears hiding the text.
    8. These bags from Grav-Grav are a gorgeous combination of wood and embroidery. Could be a great idea for a binding!
    9. The illustration style of Lisa Congdon is colorful and whimsical and a bit mystical, the best combination.
    10. The first known bookplate dates back to 1480 and was found in the personal collection of scholarly priest Hilprand Brandenburg of Biberach.

  10. Swell Things No. 45 // Jeanne Goodman

    September 30, 2017 by Erin Fletcher

    Jeanne is a close friend and colleague. We overlapped at the North Bennet Street School before Jeanne made her way back to Texas to help renovate the conservation lab at Texas A&M. She has appeared on the blog before writing posts for Conservation Conversations. But this time around she’s sharing some of her favorite internet finds.

    1. This first caught my eye because it is hilarious and a fun irreverent use of this turn-of-the-centry style of painting, but Omar Rayyan’s work is wonderful because it reminds me of the book illustration and old school animation I grew up as a kid.
    2. Motherland Chronicles is an ongoing series of photographs by Jingna Zhang, a fashion, beauty, and fine arts photographer. I love this series because when you first look at them, you think you are looking at a renaissance painting. She is also completely badass; she joined a Japanese rock cover band in her early teens and represented Team Singapore in air rifle shooting.
    3. Klaim Niko Inko tattoos – follow on instgram
    4. Under the Baobab, Southbank Centre in London
    5. Chelsea Flower Show 

    6. This artist (William T. Carson) works with coal on wood. I saw his work for the first time few months ago in Dallas at Camiba Art Gallery and I immediately wanted one. Its just one of those artworks for me.
    7. 3D printing, laser and electroplating…dresses? I LOVE this. its just so weird. (Iris Van Herpen)
    8. Sitting on my window in the lab is a paper sculpture by Charles Young of Paperholm in Edinburgh. Although he has many great creations, I was drawn to this one because it looks like Baba Yaga’s house, the witch who could decide to have no visters by asking her house to stand up so they couldn’t reach the door. I always thought that was so smart.
    9. Jan Vermann is a German artist who travels around fixing crumbling walls and monuments with legos. (Note from Erin: There is a small patch of legos near by studio in South Boston!)
    10.  I find myself looking at images and artwork and thinking about how they would translate into leather and tooling and inlays for bindings. Michelle Blade’s work here makes me think of mother-of-pearl inlays, veneer inlays, deep black grainy goat skin leather, and palladium tooling.



  • My name is Erin Fletcher, owner and bookbinder of Herringbone Bindery in Boston. Flash of the Hand is a space where I share my process and inspirations.
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