One of the things that is fun about going to a crochet event, such as Rhinebeck, is that you get exposed to crafty people who you might not otherwise have ever learned about. I didn’t go to Rhinebeck myself this year but one of the things that is fun about being a crochet blogger is that the terrific people who do go to things that I miss sometimes let me in on the cool things that they’ve spotted. That was the case with this week’s artist, who I heard about from reader Janice Davey. Janice met the artist during Rhinebeck and knew it was someone I’d be into learning more about. Definitely correct …
About Crochet Artist Huckleberry Delsignore
Huckleberry Delsignore, photo from Rhinebeck 2012 via Janice Davey
Huckleberry Delsignore is a Massachusettes-based textile artist who learned to crochet years ago but only recently started exploring new techniques for creating wearable art using crochet. She incorporates crochet techniques with mixed media materials and uses a combination of old and new yarns in her work. She truly immersed herself in the exploration of this work during a recent residency at The Berkshire Museum. As a result, her crochet work has gone from craft to a combination of fashion and performing art that is intriguing to see. Her work has been featured at Three Letter Man Gallery in London, BASE in Miami and Hardware at Mass MoCA. She sells her crochet masks as one of a kind wearable art pieces; she also takes commissioned orders for crochet masks; see her Stan Lee for an example.
A Little About Where She Lives
Huckleberry was originally from California but in 2007 moved to Pittsfield, Massachusetts, which a 2010 article informs me has been a recent hotbed of creative activity. She was quoted then as saying that she felt like just being present in the city as a young person helped make an impact on the town, adding a pioneering spirit to the city that had been left economically depressed after “the wreckage GE left”. As of 2010 the artist was working in a shared warehouse space, although from various comments made online it looks like she may have since opened her own studio.
Huckleberry Delsignore’s Crochet Art
This artist explains on her website that she “crochets wearable art from a varied collection of new and vintage yarns, feathers, flowers, and wire.” She had been creating crochet dolls and then started exploring the idea of creating doll-like crochet wearables and the current work she’s doing was born. In the past year or two her work has been getting a lot of attention. In 2011 her crochet masks were featured on an episode of MTV Extreme Cribs and in a Huffington Post article about artist Walton Ford who commissioned his mask. In April of this year British Vogue included one of her crochet fox masks in an article about how fairytales have recently been influencing high fashion. She also recently had work featured on stage in a rock opera about grief called Blue Venice. Great steps to what could certainly end up being an interesting creative career for this young mom-to-three!
One of the things I love about this artist’s work is that she provides a name and a little bit of back story for her pieces that are for sale. She only shares a little start of a story that you could continue with your own imagination, which adds some magic to the pieces. For example, she says about her Whitey Furskull mask: “Whitey is a monster we have all grown to love. Some sort of abominable snowman with really bad teeth, he just needs somebody to dance with.”
Crocheting to Stay Sane
Early crochet sculpture work from Huckleberry Delsignore
In an ArtSake interview last year, Huckleberry was quoted as saying:
“My daughters are ages 3, 5 and 7. Balancing life as a single mother is complicated but they are proud of what I do and love playing with the masks. I make art to preserve my sanity. I must been actively engaged in a creative project or I feel myself wilt. Fortunately, my work is easily transportable, so I am often crocheting at the park while they play. I also stay up very late and get a lot done while they are sleeping.”
I mention this because I think it is so important that caregivers, and that includes parents, do what they need to do to stay creatively fulfilled. You can’t be of use to others if you yourself are drained. Crochet is great because it’s portable and can be affordable and I like seeing an artist acknowledge this role it is playing in her life. This true love for and dedication to her work is something that inspires the teens she talks to about art.
Fun fact: This artist doesn’t know how to read crochet patterns.
Other Similar Artists
Huckleberry Delsignore is definitely doing something unique here, but her work does make me think of some other artists who are crocheting in the same vein:
Helen Rodel combines crocheted items, including animal-inspired headwear, with high fashion
Any mention of crochet costumes and masks always makes me think of Aldo Lanzini
Something about the slightly dark humor of these animal-based pieces reminds me of Patricia Waller