Saturday, January 10, 2009

Punch Needle - Funk Factor?

It was just about a year ago that I was suffering from a killer cold and severe cabin fever. My old friend, television offered no solace and only bored me to the point of anger. Looking for something to occupy some time and concentration I took a trip to Michael's for inspiration. Or at least some distraction.

That's when I found a "punch needle" heart design kit, made by Dimensions.
I immediately thought that the resulting project would be useful for hand made cards, small gifty things and inclusions in hand bound books.

Like many projects, I finished the first and then let the idea sit idle for a long time. Like, for a year.

Just before the holidays, I picked up another kit (colorful coffee cups) and finished it. The original idea was to make a smallish picture to hang in a kitchen. But after it was done, the finished product was less than desirable, quality-wise.

Yeah, it looked okay, but it was just...I don't know...a little "precious." It was just this side of being too cute, too obviously "crafty" and maybe just a bit too much like something Grandma would hang in her hallway.

Now don't get me wrong. I love ALL handcrafted items. I appreciate the work, dedication and skill that goes into making any hand made chotchke. I just don't like to put some of it on the wall.

The piece has to either be very fine or have a certain "funk factor" present before I will display it.

I freakin' love paint-by-numbers (PBN) paintings, but there are few that have the desired funk factor. I've got a couple of friends, Kelly Sue DeConnick and Jody Jean Saltz who have the greatest thrift store PBN painting collections I've seen. Kelly Sue's collection of Kimono clad ladies and Jody Jean's religious-themed paintings are amazing.

Their collections truly reflects a high level of funk factor.

The punch needle stuff straddles that line in my eyes. At least on the stuff I am making at present. Maybe because it's relatively easy to get a minimally satisfactory result or perhaps it's just a little too sweet. The jury is still out, but in the meantime, I will continue to dabble with punch needle which will please my wife since I've invested in some higher end tools to work with.

In coming up with a more satisfying project, I recalled the fuzzy, touch-and-feel books made for little tykes that my baby sister enjoyed. With that in mind, I've started to assemble appropriate designs to include in a hand crafted version.
It will contain various animals, maybe 4-5 in total, all bound together using a simple Coptic stitch. The fuzzy pictures will be inserted on heavy pages, the images viewed through a cut-out.

The first of the images is of a grouping of funny giraffes and I admit being satisfied with the end result.
Having some trouble finding acceptable images for the rest of the pages is proving frustrating. I've decided to just draw my own and go for it.
The patterns are made coloring book style and since the characters are not realistic but more cartoony, it shouldn't be too difficult to make them. I'll update as they come together.

In my searches for patterns, I came across a fiber artist that has elevated this weekend pastime above mere craft to true art. Missy Stevens is perhaps the finest artist working in this medium. Her punch needle embroidery, and other fiber art, is remarkable.

Her work is striking. Her pieces have been featured in numerous books and magazine articles, displyed in craft museums, exclusive collections and sell at high-end galleries.

Yeah, no funk factor here.