Artist Spotlight: Jess aka Will Crochet

Artist Spotlight: Jess aka Will Crochet

How did you start creating art and what is your medium?
My medium is crochet and I started crocheting about 15 years ago. I started off making scarves and blankets, but quickly became interested in putting pieces out on the street. My first street pieces were all about adding something beautiful or quirky to everyday street objects. I added leaves to stop signs, making them look like flowers, stapled granny squares to telephone poles, and glued lace to streetlight boxes. In the run up to the 2016 election, I started putting out pieces with a political message, and found many like-minded individuals involved in craftivism on Instagram. I am a life-long musician and I never thought that I would take up the visual arts. However, since the election, I have really evolved my practice, and I have given myself permission to consider myself an artist and use my medium artistically. I am interested in making landscapes, primarily of the Big Bend area, and layered sculptural pieces (like the one I put out in front of the shop!).

I put up a telephone pole piece along the March on Science route last year and this year I have been putting up cats and dinosaurs with speech bubbles that say “Vote.” I collaborate with another crocheter, @Mrsprofessorcrochet (on Instagram), to make larger projects; she and I put up the “Be Nice” piece on the fence above the Lamar underpass, and we are working on another big installation for that fence, so keep an eye out! 
How does reuse play a part in your art?
This year I made a commitment to purchase only second hand yarn or natural fibers. I’m very concerned with climate change and since synthetic yarn is a petroleum product, my medium directly contributes to the consumption of fossil fuels. I feel good using yarn that I know would have been in a landfill if I didn’t buy it. Before learning about Austin Creative Reuse (ACR), I bought yarn from second-hand retailers and I worked for a larger second-hand chain for several years when I first moved to Austin, so reuse has been important to me for a long time.
I have been making crochet cacti to sell at markets around Austin, and all of the yarn that I use to make those is from ACR.
 
Why reuse?  Conservation, sentimentalism, another story? 
Science is real, climate change is real, and I believe that we all need to make lifestyle changes in order to ensure that our planet is here for our children and grandchildren. I advocate for reuse as well as riding instead of driving. I am a daily bus commuter and I use my commute time to crochet. I have a hashtag on Instagram #capmetrocrochet and I invite anyone who crochets on the bus to post to that hashtag! This summer all K-12 children ride for free, so I encourage you to plan family trips using the bus! You can map your trip using one of the Maps apps on your phone by choosing the public transportation option. Imagine the impact on Austin traffic if all of us chose to ride the bus, bike or walk just once a week rather than drive! 
 
What excites you about shopping at ACR?
Let me count the ways that shopping at ACR excites me! First, you never know what you are going to find, so it’s always a fun surprise to see what is in the shop that week. Second, there is a lot of vintage yarn in colors that you just cannot find at retail stores. Third, I have found absolutely beautiful fibers (alpaca, organics, bamboo, silk, etc.) that I could never afford retail and it’s so exciting to find multiple skeins for less than you would pay for one skein. Finally, it feels so good to know that your purchase helps keep items out of landfills.
Where can we find out more about your art?
I’m most active on Instagram, where I post about the items I make for markets as well as the pieces I put out on the streets of Austin. I live in South Austin, so I put up a lot of work in the South Lamar area. 
@MrsProfessorCrochet and I are planning to start a crochet meetup at the Austin Central Library and we would also love to get a yarnbomb collective started to work on larger scale installations, so please send either of us a direct message on Instagram if you are interested – the more the merrier!  
 
Please send a few pictures of yourself and/or your artwork to show. 
See embedded and attached.  If you choose to use the “Nevertheless, she persisted” photo, please credit Robert Safuto at @knowatx for the photo (I have his permission to use). All other photos are mine.
Instagram = @willcrochet
Facebook = @willcrochetart
Etsy = Will Crochet Art
 

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