As you may remember from our last post, Coco has spent the past few months creating a Spring 2013 Collection. The inspiration for the collection came from the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen’s call for artists for their “In Bloom” exhibition, which opens next month. With Spring in Bloom as the theme, Coco set out to design a cohesive collection featuring budding leaves.
The first of the collection is “Swinging Through Trees,” a fiber macrame necklace meant to evoke the playfulness of Spring. The design began on paper and was transformed numerous times as it came to life. The first executive artistic decision Coco made was altering the color scheme.
Although Coco is deeply inspired by the range of vibrant colors when Spring is in bloom, he is most impressed with the seasonal shift from browns to greens as trees sprout their budding leaves. He thus removed the orange Agate and Jasper stones from the design, which would have sharply contrasted against the leaves. Instead he chose Serpentine and Argentinian Onyx stones to combine with graduated shades of green fiber. The change created a much more subtle effect.
As in all of his macrame jewelry designs, Coco began this necklace by creating a fiber bezel for the cabochon. He then used a large needle to thread in all of the fibers he needed to complete the design. From there, all familiarity came to a halt. Creating “Swinging Through Trees” was the first time Coco tackled knotting leaves into large-scale, three-dimensional, sculptural forms. Throughout the creation process, Coco faced many challenges. He informed me that the hardest part of creating this necklace was keeping track of the meters upon meters of fiber as he knotted. For each new leaf, he had to pull all of the fibers through the design without creating gaping holes in between the knots.
Other challenges Coco faced while creating “Swinging Through Trees” were tedium and pain related to repetitive motion. In his other macrame designs, Coco uses many different types of knots that require various movements with his hands. The leaves in this design, however, are all made up of the same knot, so his hands and brain quickly tired of the repetition. He could only knot a few hours at a time before needing a break. That, combined with just how long macrame takes in general, made for a very slow progression of this piece.
Still, Coco was inspired to persevere as he saw the beauty when the leaves and necklace began to take shape. He loved the leaves so much he decided to add more than were in the original sketch. The necklace literally just kept blooming.
As the necklace progressed, Coco kept calling me into his studio to try it on. He was fastidious about the symmetry of the design in color and form. Perfect symmetry by all means does not define him as a designer; it was just who he was on this particular piece. You will see in a future post that another design in the Spring Collection is asymmetrical and the leaves’ balance were of no concern. But in this design there is beautiful symmetry. And blooming splendor too.
Coco’s hard work on the design paid off. “Swinging Through Trees” has been accepted into the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen’s “In Bloom” exhibition, which will run May 3 – June 22 at the Center of American Craft in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The exhibition brings together the work of talented Guild artists across all mediums in their interpretations of Spring’s abundance. Be sure to visit if you can. Happy Spring!