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Yarnbombing and Valentine’s Day – Being Encouraged

11 Feb

I was sewing this big felt heart onto my local fence when Tanner showed up . He seems to drop from the sky when ever I am doing  street art in our neighborhood.  I didn’t recognize him at first because his yellow hair is shorter and his teenage face is in the process of moving from prettiness to strength.

“I like what your doing here ” he said looking at my street heart . ” And I liked the snow flakes too. I took a lot of pictures of street art when I was traveling . I’ll show them to you later . ‘

And off he went .

The very first time I ever yarnbombed , a very little tiny knitted sock on a pole –  young Tanner came out in bare feet to tell me he like what I was doing. I love a teenager being out in the world encouraging artists to make street art . Right away as it’s in progress .  A little encouragement , it can be so little , can make the difference to so many brave , big  , ridiculous  , wavering art experiments .

I also appreciate the people who yell out their cars -

‘ Thank You  !” to me as I am sewing up .

And to the people on Facebook who tell me ” Get your hearts out there ! “

So this is a new series of street art called ‘Street Hearts ” and it is 15 big felt hearts that I am putting up all over Berkeley to celebrate Valentines Day. See if you can find them .  And go encourage somebody .

yourself too. You are so great . I like what you are doing.

Yarnbombing – How to Take down a Yarnbomb

22 Jan

I never take a yarnbomb down unless I have to. And yes – I remember having to take that yarnbomb down in front of the Capitol building as the policeman stood next to me muttering ” Vandalism . Vandalism ! “

It was time to take down The Oakland Museum of California  yarnbombing installation. I had been not thinking about this with a lot of concentration. It took more than 2 weeks to get all the pieces up with many knitters sewing. The installation had been up for 10 weeks with a 4 week extension. It could not be put off.

And I felt guilty about the rain . When we put up the installation I had said a prayer for it to not rain until we took the knitting down. And then it didn’t rain .

I decided to make a little film first . I turned on the camera. I walked back and forth filming the yarnbomb. It sat there . It was the boringest film I ever saw. Must think more about film making I started trying to take down the first bannister . It had felted some from being outside in the wind. The stitches were beautifully done , very tight and small.  My sewing is crooked and sloppy. I tried cutting them but that cut the knitting. I tried pulling it apart with my fingers. My fingers started to hurt. I thought of slaves picking cotton.

There had do be some way to go faster . I thought of spending the next 7 days standing there pulling out every little stitch.. It came to me to get out my tapestry needle and pull out each stitch with that . That worked pretty well. I tried to make each movement of my hand graceful and easy . Oh ! That worked . Actually it was fun. OK .

Then Betsy Graham showed up . Thank You ! I showed her how to pull straight down with the needle . We got deyarnbombing  really fast . She told me about how Steve Jobs didn’t bathe.

We got the whole installation down . It was very odd to see something beautiful and unusual go back to being ordinary . The opposite effect of yarnbombing. I miss this art installation. It seems sad that it is all gone . On the other hand I have lots of knitting now to do something big and high risk. So much of art is the pleasure of thinking and imagining about all the great things you might do.

This now is how to take down a yarnbomb , use a tapestry needle and make beautiful relaxed gestures out of each movement.

A  yarnbombing blog post in a mysterious foreign language here

Yarnbombing And Protest -Yarnbombing Occupy Oakland

8 Jan

We were putting up yarnbombs around The Oakland Museum last Oct and I thought it would be interesting to go over to Frank Ogawa park and yarnbomb Occupy Oakland. I wasn’t sure what the protests were protesting at that point but I was sure a yarnbomb would be a good addition .

It was a pretty long walk from The Oakland Museum to Occupy Oakland . The streets were dry looking and I saw many street poles that would have looked a lot better covered in wool . I was in my Streetcolor persona and felt like I could go anywhere and do what ever I wanted .

I was surprised by Frank Ogawa square , surprised in every way . The square itself was beautiful – edged with tall leafy trees , the iron lamp posts were beautifully shaped , the whole space was very balanced . It smelled awful , there was wet straw spread on the ground and many distinct neighborhoods of tent and booths set all around . People were definitely protesting , every one was protesting something different .  Some people were protesting big banks , some were protesting against homosexuals , one man was protesting the lack of a keg of beer . I wasn’t very attracted to the energy but I still wanted to yarnbomb.

I walked all around the square twice trying to get attracted to something . Finally I found a stairway I liked and started sewing up a piece . Soon I realized that I had picked the neighborhood where men were standing and smoking pot and yelling at woman . I ignored this and kept sewing . I was protesting too I realized . I was protesting the ugliness and lack of art .  And beauty.

When I was done Batman appeared . I complimented his outfit. A man stopped and asked me about my yarnbomb .

“I’m just wanting to make the world more beautiful and warm ” I said .

‘It’s pretty ‘ he said kindly.

I would dearly love politics and protests to make the world better . The struggle for fairness will have to go on forever . It’s so hard to keep the big meaning in mind – we all want to have a good happy life .

So don’t worry so much about dessert .

I do believe this one thing for sure   – making art is always a good thing . Art is appropriate for every occasion.

A very nice interview in Oakland magazine here

Yarnbombing And Confession -The Cerrito Theater

28 Dec

I was putting up this yarnbombing installation at The Cerrito Theater when 2 woman stopped and asked if they could take my picture . Immediately my teeth got tense . I don’t like to have my picture taken when I’m yarnbombing .  However – recently I was on live TV so it seemed silly to tell them – no , you can’t take my picture . In the past I have always said  ” You can take my picture if it’s just for you and you don’t publish it “

This time I gritted my teeth and just said “Yes .

The next day the picture was up on the internet .

This is not what I’m trying to do .

We are so focused on what people look like  that –  we can’t get fed .

What I’m trying to do is get deeper where the rest and energy is , to the ideas of yarnbombing , that the world is a theater to make stage sets and have short , unexpected , thrilling performances.

I feel like I’m performing when I’m out on the street sewing knitting onto everything . People like to talk to me and some people really like to talk to me . I’m a good listener , I listen to every word and unfortunately memorize it . My partner J tells me to stop doing this but I  don’t know how.

So I was sewing this pole up and a man stopped and told me a long story about how he was turned out of the house by his father  when he was 10 and lived for 2 months naked in the caves of the Phillippines.

“That’s a good story ” I said .

“Is it ? ” he seemed surprised .

I have had people talk to me for 45 minutes and tell me their whole life stories. I liked a story that a woman told me about saving and raising a raven . I don’t know exactly why people do this , I guess they are happy to find someone who is standing still .

I love going to The Cerrito Theater , you can sit on a couch and eat hamburgers and salad and brownies as you watch your movie. I grew up going out to the movies and stopped as an adult because I could watch so many at home . But we all miss the festive feeling of being in a theater and if there are hamburgers I want to go for sure .

With yarnbombing I can mark and decorate the places in my life that make my life fun. There is an article in the El Cerrito Patch here.

yarnbombing The Oakland Museum – Part 6

19 Dec

I have been an artist all my life , well since I was 10 , so I have been swiping ideas from other artists all my life .  This is what I do – I find an artist that I think is great and that I can’t stop looking at . Then I make 3 pieces where I copy their work exactly. Then I make 3 pieces of work using what I learned ,  but to my own eye.

This is a great exercise and I think you should try it. It works for writing , filming  , painting , photography ,wire work and of course , yarnbombing .

This yarnbombed bench was from a painter – Squeak Carnwath.

I wanted to refer to The Oakland Museum collection and this bench was it . Squeak Carnwath works with a lot of checkerboards, earth tones and pure primaries and 9 squares floating in black . I rummaged through several painting and picked out thoughts and laid them out and then Liz Serrano knit up 3 squares . They were very hard to install.

I don’t care about being original – I care about learning and becoming more agile. If I truly love an artist there is something of me in them already .

What did I learn from doing this whole big museum installation ? Am I glad I did it ? Was it what I hoped it would be ?

Well I am glad I did it , I thought it looked terrific when it was all up and it did change the feeling of the museum . I had hoped to know more what people felt about it , I’m told people loved it –  but I don’t know what they thought  in any detail . I am very grateful for all the work so many of my friends put into it .  There is something more that I want from it – to get it over more clearly that any part of life can be softer and more relaxed and more beautiful . The knitting says this for me.

Yarnbombing The Oakland Museum – Part 5

14 Dec

I’ve never yarnbombed a tree before.  Well I suppose it’s possible that you never have either. I’ve actually been sort of opposed to yarnbombing trees. I like the contrast of soft cushy bright yarn againest hard dry metal , how knitting looked on a sterile street . Trees are already so beautiful and nature tends to out do us as artists .  But I saw this tree in the central garden of The Oakland Museum and I wanted to include it as part of the yarnbombing installation . As part of the art of the museum.

.When yarnbombers wrap a tree in a thick blanket of knitting I always worry about if the tree is going to like it. I felt that the tree wouldn’t object to a knitted piece of jewelry though –  so I knitted up a bunch of i – cord on my little knitting machine and made this sash .

I like contrast in my art as I just mentioned and I was pleased with the sensation if the rough bark next to the round knitting .  I made the security guard help me tie this sash onto the tree . She was a bit dubious .

This is a very small yarnbomb , just a gesture , but it is part of the idea of yarnbombing the bannisters , furniture and garden of a museum. We go to a museum to see art and so we look at the paintings and sculpture and we think  ” OH – Art ! ‘.

But everything around us is also interesting to look at and feel . Trees especially.

I’m thankful for the rest trees have given me.

I’m not sure what this spanish blog says but the pictures are great here

Yarnbombing The Oakland Museum – Part 4

14 Dec

I wanted to make a group piece as part of the yarnbombing installation at The Oakland Museum and I suggested that we do one when I pitched this installation idea to The Oakland Standard. Then I got over whelmed by all the other crazy knitting ideas I had come up with and I dropped the idea . Then late in the game the people in the museum said ” Why don’t we have a knitting circle as part of the yarnbombing ? “

This was great , this went along with a helpful tip my father had given me.

‘The way to get people to do something is to allow them to think that it is all their own idea ” he told me when I was young.

So I organized a knitting circle to make a flowered garland – I brought all my many handspun colors , I gave everyone a simple knitted flower pattern and planned to sew them all onto a braided cord later.

The knitting circle was a lot of fun . I had just had some surgery on my face and had a big bandage on . I could hardly open my eye yet no one commented. People are very kind or possibly very oblivious. Some one asked me to speak about the yarnbombing project so I made a little speech . I love public speaking . I felt like a kayaking instructor again.

Some of the knitters who came knew me from my other life and didn’t know that I am now Streetcolor. That was an interesting melding of worlds.  “Call me Streetcolor! ”  I had to keep saying when they said my other name . I only felt a little silly saying that .

There were some new knitters showing up and the more experienced knitters were teaching them how to knit. I was touched by this and inspired. This yarnbombing installation and this collaboration on the garland are part of something that I believe really strongly.

1 . Everyone gets to make art.

2 . Making art is not a competition – it is this steady flow of natural relaxing yet exciting energy.

3 . This is all to have more fun and to enjoy , not to prove something to some one else.

So there we all were having fun and making something beautiful together. Oh I forgot to mention I had bought some cookies from Sweet Adelaines –  every kind they baked – lots of them. The handspun yarn looked very lush. So I was able to follow 2 of my rules for life – use beautiful art materials  as much as you like and make sure to have cookies.

A baby friend of mine came to the opening with her father. They went into the gallery to see the art . When I got a moment I went into the gallery to see how it was going . The baby who is named ” Bay ” , was running up and down the aisles looking at the art and cheering madly. ‘YEAH ! YEAH !’ she was shouting and throwing her arms up in the air.

This is the proper attitude toward art.

Some pictures and a blog about the installation here.

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