Monday, July 23, 2018

Revival of my own Interest in Shirret 2018: Surface Design Association

Surface Design Association of Connecticut is a chapter of a national group of textile and design artists. - - Recent exhibitions include the artisan collection Fair Haven Furniture, New Haven in late 2017.

The SDA Call for Entries theme announced was of text and words, curator Bruce Hoffman.

Sketches I made as I thought about words, women,
atomic bombs, the earliest stages of civilization, and the Venus de Willendorf

Somehow as I started sketching, in my combustive state after another suggestion of war with North Korea, climate change denial, and the incendiary comments made regularly as if this were normal behavior, I thought about the power of women.

I thought about the Venus de Willendorf, one of my favorite works of art, created in Paleolithic Age Europe around the year 28,000 bc, or around 30,000 years ago, and found in lower Austria.

It is thought that women carved these icons, while looking down at their own bodies, and from looking at their reflections in the surface of still water.

I worked on this 5 days to get a 'cartoon' idea of it out, photographed and submitted it for the show to get it in on deadline. Then I tore it out.

The next morning I began remaking it with better technique. It was way too primitive.

I have another idea for a simple one, made with 3 round shapes surrounded by a row of stripes.


Shirret in the Exhibition at City University of New York Queens College, Fall 2017

Title: Bonsoir LB 0539, 24"h x 28"w x 1" deep, recycled wool and cotton cord.
In the Danger Zone street construction project: image includes a lit tunnel, cones and ladder.

Last summer I made the Shirret rug pictorial above, for The Fabric of Cultures exhibition at City University of New York Queens College, curated by Eugenia Paulicelli, PhD, head of Italian Studies, Fashion and Film. Her research involved the exploration of handmade decoration in fiber and fashion.

As an artist I have always felt a connection to Louise Bourgeois and her sculpture from when I first met her at an opening, including her family history in textiles. She's my height. She's French.

Thinking about the Shirret Eileen Fisher Workshop in 2013 at the Lab Store

Shirret rug made in silk, circa 1980s, Connecticut. Collection of Lexi McCrady Axon

Shirret rug circa 1980's made of Daddy's Silk Neckties, using red cord.

I'm a colorist and painter, and Adjunct Professor of Textile Design and Digital Design at Eastern Connecticut State University. I teach Painting and Drawing in New Haven. I make paintings using the name Lexi Axon.

I taught shirret to a large group at the invitation of Eileen Fisher Lab in Irvington NY on the Hudson River. Among the Eileen Fisher designers who work there, community members including architects and film industry people, and Storm Field the New York TV meteorologist, learned to Shirret in the workshop! They have upcycled EF clothes on sale there too, so I brought home a            couple great Italian knit jackets.

Monday, June 4, 2012

An Artisan Who Sells Her Shirret Hand-mades

Artisan is a French word for fine design, as in Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Coco Chanel. There are many of you who are selling the Shirret rugs and objects you make at summer and church fairs.

Many people around the country make shirret, and show it, and their friends even collect it. Irene Young of Pocasset Cape Cod and Shirley Massachusetts sells her Shirret in the popular Falmouth and Sandwich Farmers markets on weekends. I first met Irene at Massachusetts Sheep and Woolcraft fair in Western Massachusetts. My children and I camped and brought our rugs and supplies to wool fairs for a lovely 20 times over 5 years. It was such fun.

Irene showed my 13 year old daughter Juliet, who Shirrets, the wee bunny she had in her hands that she'd just bought. We could relate, because we had a purebred Giant German Cashmere orange bunny, named Thistledown Jack, the Pumpkin King. 

We started seeing Irene everywhere we showed Shirret then - at Vermont Sheep & Wool, NY State Dutchess County New York Sheep & Wool, Connecticut Sheep and Wool, Maryland Sheep and Wool, and even at Park Slope Brooklyn Sheep and Wool. Pretty much.

When her friends are learning to Shirret from her, if they make a stitching 'mistake', she says "Don't tear it out!  Make it into something - make it a flower if it suggests that. Just DO it." In fact, the stitches in Shirret are totally hidden inside the fabric, so I make mistakes all the time and it doesn't matter.

At her booth at the Farmers Market in Sandwich or Falmouth, she says "Everything here was made by an American woman - I made it all.  Forget fair trade - this work is made here."

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

If you Crochet, You Can Make cheerful Shirret Rag Rugs

If you can crochet a chain stitch and a double crochet stitch, then you can Shirret.  Recycle old fabrics by cutting up wool skirts, curtains, madras bedspreads, even knit sportswear. We cut free 'yarn'! from stash fabric. Cheap and cheerful "rag" rug making, but the rugs are luxury and look expensive, from a designer collection for the home.

I manufacture the special steel rugmaking needle you need. It was made before the Civil War and again in the 1930s.  60,000 people learned to make Shirret rugs because my granny and mom Louise McCrady taught, travelling all over the midwest and throughout New England, either personally or with their book. Then, many of you have traveled and moved and taught others to Shirret.

Louise's book, first published in 1968 and revised and updated in 1997, THE ART OF SHIRRET is filled with how-to drawings, photographs, written how-to instructions, and patterns for round rugs, oval rugs, rectangular rugs, and quilt rugs. We are THE SOURCE for SHIRRET, a pretty word Louise McCrady created to describe her very pretty rugmaking technique, in 1968.

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