175 Glass

MARY E BLAKE
175 Glass, Gold Plate Bracelet

Mary Blake says about her work "I seem to have worked with fibers in one form or another ever since I
can remember.  I grew up in Indiana with a very talented grandmother who
could make just about anything. I learned to embroider at an early age
and spent many years looking at Jacobean and other more humble forms of
embroidery.  I've designed and made quilts, clothes, costumes, and cross
stitch pieces, all based on or inspired by antique works and styles.  I
discovered beads in an introductory fibers class about twelve years ago
and became fascinated with the myriad shapes, sizes and finishes
available.  I particularly like seed bead work.  The medium is eminently
portable and the tactile feel of the fabric created with off-loom
stitches seems like a cross between fine chain maile and silk.
Embellishment of the fabric is particularly challenging and satisfying.
Antique beads add a sense of the organic to a piece, since they are less
uniform in shape and size.

I like to draw upon historical sources in my work, especially pieces
that are applied art -- jewels made for the aristocracies of Europe,
beaded purses made at the turn of the 19th century, antique embroideries
that can be mapped for loom work, jewlery made for the earliest of mass
markets.  I have collected vintage seed beads and stones on the
secondary market and have endevoured to incorporate them into my pieces,
feeling a sense of continuity with other women, whose work has remained
without the benefit of their creator's names.

I hope that I may continue to work in this manner, continuing a
tradition of craftsmanship that began with the first human -- probably
female -- who picked up a shell or sparkly rock with a hole in it and
strung it on a length of sinew to tie around her neck in order to say,
"Look what I made!  Isn't it pretty?"

text and image from The Chait Galleries Downtown

This page was first displayed
on September 07, 2010

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