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Weaving the Sea: Kay Sekimachi

Kay Sekimachi

Kay Sekimachi

Kay Sekimachi

Kay Sekimachi

Kay Sekimachi

While linking around yesterday looking for inspiration, I found an interesting article written about fiber artist Kay Sekimachi in the October/November 2010 issue of American Craft Magazine. Sekimachi’s latest body of work – jewelry made from objects washed up by the sea – incorporates¬†oceanic ephemera as diverse as shells, bits of coral, fossils, fish vertebrae, the delicate bones of birds, and sea urchin spines. Given the parallels between my interests and hers, I found this article particularly inspiring. Below are my favorite excerpts:

“Combing the sandy beaches and lava-formed tide pools of Puako Bay, she harvested shells, bits of coral, fossils, fish vertebrae, the delicate bones of birds, sea urchin spines and other oceanic ephemera with dedicated rigor but no particular endgame in mind. Once dubbed the “weaver’s weaver” by textile designer Jack Lenor Larsen (whom she assisted at the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in 1956), Sekimachi was immersed in redefining the boundaries of what could be woven, on and off the loom. But poring over the found objects helped keep her artistic gaze honed, especially when she was away from the studio.

“After each vacation, Sekimachi returned to her home on a leafy street in south Berkeley to choreograph the pieces she’d plucked off the beach. Some are arranged along windowsills and tabletops, but most reside inside her collection of Tansu chests-which resemble curiosity cabinets as curated by Joseph Cornell in Atlantis. Each drawer is a kind of wabi-sabi still life, with specimens arranged by type, color and shape, and concave abalone and turkeywing shells nested like Russian dolls, the smallest the approximate size of a child’s fingernail.

“Everything in Sekimachi’s house is placed with similar care, be it a feather, a wall hanging or a paper hornet’s nest. Replete with objects, yet strikingly uncluttered…

“The rooms also serve as a kind of time capsule for Sekimachi’s artistic explorations. Hanging, floating and nestled throughout are fiber and paper pieces spanning some 60 years.

“Sekimachi’s pieces have a lighter organic quality, as if they’ve grown out of the seagrass – the shells, coral and urchin spines entangling with the vegetation. Using Danish paper cord-the kind used for chair seats and backs-and black and white polished cotton, Sekimachi embeds her objects within the fiber; the shell in the Turrett Shell Necklace emerges from its woven casing as if dredged in a fishing net…”

Written by Deborah Bishop | Photography by Leslie Williamson
via American Craft Magazine


Filed under: Blog, Textiles, Wearables

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