Note: Last week I wrote about Arlene Stimmel. I’ve since learned a bit more about her and have updated that post.
If you’re following along on my exploration of edgy 1970’s crochet designers you’ll see that I’ve jumped ahead on the list this week. I’ve decided it makes the most sense to share what I know about the designers that I have found the most information on while I continue to research the other designers. So this week I’m talking about the terrific Del Feldman.
Who is Del Feldman
Del Feldman was originally a sculptor but she wasn’t able to make enough money in that form of art so she turned to crochet which allowed her to make a living in the 1970s. She pushed the edges of what crochet could be by exploring various free form crochet patterns and techniques. She opened her own Greenwich Village boutique and made a living teach her free form crochet ideas to others. The basic foundation of her teaching was that once you know the most common crochet stitches your work is limited only by your own creativity. I so agree! She emphasizes in at least one of her books that it’s the freedom of crochet that makes it such a wonderful form of art. She also celebrated the fact that historically crochet was always done as an art form or decorative choice, not as a necessity (in contrast to other old crafts like weaving.)
Del Feldman in Creative Crochet
My go-to book for the start of my research into each of these edgy crochet designers is Creative Crochet. Del Feldman has a few items featured in this great vintage free form resource, all of which are vests. Del Feldman also did non-wearable crochet art but her wearable work was definitely attention getting. In fact, I was kind of surprised to find that she wasn’t one of the artists featured in the Art to Wear book that I’m so loving these days.
Del Feldman in Hard Crochet
Another book I love for 1970s crochet research is Mark Dittrick’s Hard Crochet. Del Feldman has work featured in that book as well but in this case it’s very structural spiral crochet vases.
Del Feldman’s The Crocheter’s Art
Although Feldman’s work made cameo appearances in those other great 1970s crochet resources, the real wealth of information about this crocheter comes from her own books. I have a copy of The Crocheter’s Art, New Dimensions in Free-form Crochet, a book she put out in 1974. The book features the work of many other crochet artists from that era but most importantly gives insight into how Del views crochet as art. In fact, the entire first chapter is titled “How Crochet Can Be Art”.
This book shows some of Del’s crochet art that can be worn (there are mittens, for example) but what I love about her work in this book are the examples of dolls and landscapes that are shown here. And my favorite is a crochet plant holder. I think I love it because the hanging plant holder seems so classic to the 1970s but I always think of them in macrame, not this kind of cool creative crochet.
Del Feldman’s Crochet: Discovery and Design
Feldman has another book from the 1970s that I don’t have a copy of. It’s called Crochet: Discovery and Design. It’s a 1972 book so it pre-dates the other books I’ve mentioned here and is therefore tougher to find. I bet it has some great stuff in it though!
Del Pitt Feldman Today
I don’t know for sure what Feldman is up to today. However, I’ve seen some mentions here or there that give a hint. For example, there was a 2008 art exhibit called Eat Clay or Die at the Greenwich House and Feldman was named as one of the participating artists. She was also named as an artist participating in their holiday sale that year. If you know anything else about Del’s more recent work I’d love to know about it!