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Durham

Katie Berman and her textile adventures.

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A growing collection of Katie Berman’s musings including collaborations, thoughts about textiles, tutorials and more.

Filtering by Tag: fringe

BEHIND THE SCENES - FOUND OBJECTS

Katie Berman

Rising  Katie Berman, 2019.

Rising
Katie Berman, 2019.

Cause everything old is new again.
- Peter Allan, 1974

If you’ve every taken a class with me or talked to me for 30 seconds about a textile or fiber-related topic, I’m 99% positive I’ve said something along the lines of “…textiles are my passion...” And it’s true. Creating work through the use of textiles and fiber is one of the things that gets me out of bed in the morning.

When you’re passionate about something, it means that you become very aware of both the great things about it and the not so great things. And sometimes, fixing the not so great things becomes a part of your passion too.

One of the negative sides of the textile industry is waste. Producing textiles— whether it be fabric, yarn, or your favorite t-shirt— can use a vast amount of depleting resources and create waste. Textile production is one of the leading industries in pollution and it’s getting worse with the Fast Fashion movement.

As I have seen the statistics become scarier over time in terms of the damage that is happening to our earth because of this thing that I love so deeply, I recognize that I have choice. As I move forward in my studio practices, I can either ignore what’s happening and contribute to the damage or I can try to help fix it.

This is where responsible design and stash busting comes into play for me. I am a firm believer that beautiful things can be created from materials that already exist. Materials that have been discarded. Sure, it’s super nice to create a new thing from shiny, new materials, but only designing in that way creates demand for new materials and— in many cases— continues to feed the pollution beast.

I want to use what I have. I want to use second hand materials. And if I have to get new materials, I want to attempt to source them well. That’s how I go about designing the work produced in my studio and this conviction is showcased in my growing collection Found Objects. Each of these pieces are made with a mixture of second hand yarns and other materials I’ve had in my studio for years. Yes, years.

My goal is to be a part of a movement that helps change the scope of how we as creatives approach designing our work. New work doesn’t always have to be made with new materials. Can we as artists amend the damage our work can potentially make by designing and creating in a different way?

I think so. Everything old can be new again.
-KB

ps. You can read up on my tips for designing within limits and using what you have here.

Covered  Katie Berman, 2019.

Covered
Katie Berman, 2019.

Divide  Katie Berman, 2019.

Divide
Katie Berman, 2019.

Flow  Katie Berman, 2019.

Flow
Katie Berman, 2019.

Closer  Katie Berman, 2019.

Closer
Katie Berman, 2019.

BEHIND THE SCENES - TRINITY

Katie Berman

Out of all of the artistic eras and movements, I think it’s safe to say that art created in the Byzantine era is my absolute favorite. This era was marked by moving away from classical style and entered into the abstract as well as the creation of iconographic images. 

I think what I love most about this style of art is that every color and figure had deep meaning and symbolism. Nothing was an accident. Everything was purposeful. One painting that I have come to truly admire is The Trinity by Andrei Rublov. This painting depicts the icons of the Holy Trinity held in Christian tradition. Rublov uses each robe color, hand position and scenery to strategically symbolize these divine beings. But the most amazing feature included in this painting is what historians believe was a small mirror at the lower forefront. There are only traces of glue and nail holes left now, but the inclusion of the mirror changes the entire theme of this painting. If you approached the painting when the mirror was included, you would be able to see yourself in the mirror, making you a part of the conversation. It gave you a seat at the table.

No longer was this about depicting some far off deities. Through this painting, you are invited to be a part of something so much bigger than yourself... Holy smokes. 

This is the place that I created Trinity and For, Alongside, Within from. I wanted to draw viewers into these pieces through their textures and warmer palette. I want you find yourself at home in these pieces and have them serve as a reminder that you have a seat at the table.

Trinity  Katie Berman, 2019

Trinity
Katie Berman, 2019





The Trinity  Andrei Rublov, 1411 or 1425-27

The Trinity
Andrei Rublov, 1411 or 1425-27

 
For, Alongside, Within  Katie Berman, 2019

For, Alongside, Within
Katie Berman, 2019

No matter your worldview, I think we all have a deep intuition of being a part of something bigger than ourselves. We belong to something. A larger conversation happening around us. There is a table somewhere with a seat for us.

I hope you find your table and take a seat.

-KB

INSTA-LESS UPDATE + STUDIO HAPPENINGS

Katie Berman

 

As most of you know, I’ve been taking a break from instagram.
I thought I’d let you know how it’s going, what things I’m learning and the work that has come out of it! 

Insta-less Blog Post Graphic-2.jpg

From a personal perspective:

I don’t experience as much fomo. 
The relief that I feel from being a little less connected is kind of mind blowing. I found that I don’t need to go to or know about every show or shop opening or movie release or pop-up market. The pressure to always be doing is off. By scrolling less, I find myself making time to do more of the things I like. Plus, you can’t feel left out when you didn’t know what happened in the first place, am I right? 

From a business perspective:

Growth is still happening without using instagram.
How can this be? Instagram is the driving force for all things, right? Wrong. Though my growth is small, it’s still growth! My website is still getting traffic, my newsletter list is growing each month and I’m still getting contacted for work. And at the end of the day, that’s what I’m trying to do here— make a livelihood and get jobs from my art, not get more likes on an app.

For my fellow creative entrepreneurs needing a break from social media and thinking about taking a sabbatical from instagram-- do it! Your business and world won’t end. Just make sure you can be found in other ways, like on your own website.

From an artwork perspective:

I’m making work that I love.
Without all of the noise and constant content that I’m seeing from other makers, I’m able to dig deep, get a little weird and make work that I’m really invested in. Work like this:

Trinity and Containers.jpg

I feel that I am finally producing work that speaks to my aesthetic and is truly birthed out of my passions. So much of my heart is toward creating work in a responsible way-- using the materials that I have and giving second-hand materials new, beautiful life. These pieces are made with that passion in mind. All of the materials are second-hand or materials I’ve had in my stash for years. Talk about stash busting! (ps. Got a stash to bust? Read up on my tips and tricks for stash busting like a champ here.)

I’m not constantly comparing myself to other makers and artists around me or creating work with “is this instagram worthy or sellable?” in mind. What a pleasant surprise. 

This is turning into a body of work that I’m so stoked about. I’m sure I’ll be making pieces like these until I run out of my hand-dyed avocado tassels, ha!

That being said, these works and others like them will be making their way into a shop update in October.

Strong Containers-detail1.jpg
Trinity-detail1.jpg
 

Need some new art for your walls? Sign up for my newsletter below and receive a coupon code for any of my works in the shop!
You’ll be the first to know when the update drops and can get your hands on my new body of work.
Already on my email list? Keep an eye out for my October newsletter-- you’ll be getting an extra special coupon code!

INSPIRATION STATION: STASH BUSTING WITH NATURAL DYES

Katie Berman

If you’ve hung around me long, you know that “stash busting” has been the buzzphrase around my studio this year.
I have so. much. material and I’m looking for ways to use it up. 

 
 

Over the past few weeks, I decided to tackle a bag of rope that has been sitting on my yarn shelf for too many years. This is leftover rope from a few commissions I did years back. Optic white yarn is usually not in my personal color spectrum, which is why I think this bag that’s the size of a small child has been on my shelf for so darn long... 

But then I remembered an equally large bag of avocado skins I’ve also had stashed way in my studio. Pair these two up and I’ve got a big ole bag of pale pink and brown rope that does fit into my personal color wheel!

My bag of rope dyed with avocados skins.

My bag of rope dyed with avocados skins.

How did this happen?!

How did this happen?!

 

With a little imagination and a lot of shredding and combing out rope, this is I’m using this naturally dyed rope for:
Lots and lots of tassels!

Strong Containers-detail3.jpg

I’ve been featuring these in my latest works and it’s been the most fun. Stash busting for the win!

So if you’re stuck with how to use up some materials in your stash, think about changing the color.
Over-dye it, bleach it, paint on it, what have you! 

Check out more of my tips on how to stash bust like a boss here.
And if dyeing things with avocado skins strikes your fancy,
you can read up on my tips for dyeing with this amazing food waste here

Happy making! 


 

5 DESIGN TIPS FOR BUSTING YOUR STASH

Katie Berman

Designing Within Limits While Busting Your Stash

My latest stash busting creation.

My latest stash busting creation.

When I started teaching my Intro to Macrame class, my students always ended up with little bits of excess rope and trimmings when they completed their pieces. Working in the textile industry, I’m very aware of the waste that comes from textile production. In my efforts to not contribute to that waste, I would bag up the rope bits and take them home with me. I couldn’t throw them away or give up on them! I kept them in a bag on my shelf that just kept growing and growing. In fact, I now have a whole shelf in my studio dedicated to excess bits from past projects and classes. 

Now, before I hear some of you start whispering words like “hoarder”, I know that I’m not alone! I know you’re out there and have your own little-bits-of-rope shelf. You know that shelf. The place where material bits that are too big to trash and too small to really make a full project out of live. Those materials may not be sitting in the landfill (hooray!), but they’re still just taking up space in your home and that’s no good either. 

This year, I’ve been working on busting through my stash and reducing the amount of new materials I purchase for projects. This de-stashing includes those little bits from my shelf. I’m happy to share that I’ve finally started going through significant portions of my stash and, oh buddy, does that half empty shelf look goooood! 

Through this process, I learned a few design tips and methods to think through as I stash bust and I thought I would share those tips with you. Designing and creating with things in your stash can get a bit challenging, but not to worry. With a little open-mindedness and out of the box thinking, you can do this! 

So, my wanna-be stash busters, it’s time to pull out those materials that you’ve been saving and make them into something beautiful! Here are my tips for designing within limits so that you can bust that stash.


Design Tip #1: Konmari Your Materials

I’m sure you know who Marie Kondo is. Her method of organizing and “sparking joy” is so popular now that we use her name as a verb! If you’ve read her book or seen her show, you know that her first step in organizing is pulling out all of the items that you’re looking to de-stash and pile them up in the same room together. 

And that’s our first step in stash busting. Pull out all of the yarns, fabrics, bedazzle gems, beads, what have you, and pile them all up in the same place. You can’t bust through your stash if you don’t know the breadth of what you have. Marvel at your pile and then get ready to start planning your next masterpiece!

This is all from the same rope source. This can be unwound and made into softer groups of cotton. The small shredded bits are leftover trim from my tassels that can be used as stuffing!

This is all from the same rope source. This can be unwound and made into softer groups of cotton. The small shredded bits are leftover trim from my tassels that can be used as stuffing!

Design Tip #2: The Materials Are Not What They Seem

Much of this process is thinking creatively and pushing the limits of the materials that you have. When looking at your pile, start to think about all of the ways it could be used or transformed. 

Got a crap ton of yarn in your pile. Psh, that’s not just yarn! That can be shredded into stuffing for small toys. Or made into little pom pom decorations for your next shindig. Or used as swatching yarn for knit or crochet patterns you’ve always wanted to try (like my Cable Collection project I’m working on). 

This macrame wall hanging I created was made only from excess rope. Some of it did stay in its original rope form, but some of it I shredded up to make those awesome fringe tassels. 


Secret, secret. I’ve got a secret!

Secret, secret. I’ve got a secret!


Design Tip #3: Designate Materials As Star Roles or Supporting Roles

Not all materials need to be at the forefront of your design. Over time our tastes might change or our color palettes have shifted. Materials that take up space in my stash are those that are colors that I can’t seem to work into my current color palette. 

For those materials, I’ve started to use them as fillers-- or supporting roles, if you will-- behind my star role elements. See those tassels. You know what’s behind them? Weird yarn from my stash! To give differing heights in my tassels, I used fillers in between the rows so as not to use up my limited supply of rope. Does the yarn color coordinate with my neutral vibe in this wall hanging? Who cares! You can’t see them! And you’d never know they were there if I hadn’t told you… This opens up a whole new world for stash busting. 

Design Tip #4: Embrace the Unusual

Remember Tip #2 about thinking creatively and pushing the limits with your materials? This applies to your design elements too. Don’t be afraid to embrace the unusual and get weird. For me, that’s embracing patchworking. In order to make some serious strides in busting my stash, I’ve had to learn to patchwork and graft materials together. It feels strange in the moment, but exploring new patchwork methods has broadened my creative scope and tastes.  

 

Design Tip #5: Think on Your Feet

There may come a time where you overestimate the amount of materials you have dedicated for your chosen project and you run out. 

Firstly-- well done! You’re busting through your stash like a boss!

Now it’s time to think on your feet! Incorporate them into something else or graft more materials in. I overestimated how much soft rope I had for shredding into tassels. When I ran out, I changed directions and grafted those tassels into a larger work with a different rope I had left in my stash. The end result was still within my design aesthetic, but just came about in a way I didn’t expect. 



Well friends, those are my tips for designing within limits. 
Are you ready to bust into your stash, keep things out of the landfill and broaden your creative scope?
I think so. Let’s do it! 

Have your own tips on stash busting? Share yours below!