Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Doug Johnston

Not so long ago I pinned some images of baskets, simple in concept, but with a surprisingly fresh and new approach that made them modern and unique. Those baskets were (and are) made by Doug Johnston. Not only are they visually stimulating, the description of the process of making, the evolution of form, and the studies behind the product make the objects that much more fascinating.

From Doug Johnston's website/portfolio:

sash cord studies | 2010 - present
cotton or poly sash cord and polyester thread / dimensions variable
A selection of bags, baskets and sculptural vessels based on these studies is available for purchase in [Johnston's]  webshop
Vessels, masks and sculptural pieces utilize an old crafting technique in which rope or cord is coiled and stitched to forms bowls and baskets. The technique is itself based on the ancient method of making ceramic coiled pots as well as coiled basketry. The method explores ways of transforming a linear material into three-dimensional objects, an interest I have also studied in other materials such as yarn or plastic tubing. I also see the process as a form of analog 3D printing/prototyping performed by a sewing machine and with much less precision. In this way the "3D file" is in my head as I begin each piece and its formation happens by making certain adjustments to the work while sewing. The process has its own limitations, largely determined by the sewing machine, and each piece takes on deformations and glitches that give it unique personality.

The studies use the raw 100% cotton braided cord, often called sash cord, and colored sewing thread. They are individually sewn on an industrial zig-zag sewing machine without the use of forms or molds and allow me to explore ideas for larger works such as Rumpleskillskid.

Not too long after seeing and pinning Johnston's work, I saw a tweet about identical, but mass made, baskets, now available at Target, a corporation known for copycat behavior.

Then today a shop was featured on the etsy front page with product photography and descriptive language eerily similar to Johnston's own.

No comments: