Category Archives: Mentions & Coverage

Yarn bombing: Finding Yarn Cozies in the Darnedest Places

Olga de Klein is on a journey. From painting to drawing, photography and, most recently, yarn bombing, de Klein thrives on being creative.

Though the 69-year-old says she never knows which direction her creativity will take her, she was pleasantly surprised that her yarn bombing project is being showcased on a nationally televised FedEx TV commercial airing this holiday season.

Yarn bombing is “the act of crocheting and knitting unexpected pieces for public display,” de Klein says. “It was started to cover/brighten up insipid concrete and metal structures in urban living. “

In the commercial, a grandmother is talking to her daughter on the phone, asking if she received the “toaster cozy” shipped through FedEx. The daughter says “yes,” and the camera shows the husband putting a huge cozy on the Christmas tree as well as several other objects covered by cozies. The last shot is a boy covered completely by a cozy and asking, “Is that Nana?”

Yarn bombing was started in Texas in 2005 by Magda Sayeg, who is considered to be the mother of the unusual art project, de Klein says.

“I had seen her work online and included it in my senior presentation at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga about the history of knitting. One of the things I touched on was what all you could do with yarn, which lead into ‘yarn bombing,'” she says.

In April 2012, de Klein yarn bombed trees in front of the Tennessee Aquarium. The “bombing” was part of MakeWorks 10 x 10 project, de Klein says. Last February, she struck again.

“I knit it (cozies) loosely for the trees so the trees could breathe,” she says. “Most of the time, the rough areas of bark keep the yarn in place. When I put it on smooth poles, it is secured in a way it does not slide down.”

122913e_Yarn_Bomber1_3col_clr_t240“I did the trolley on one of the walls at Glass Street for their Better Block event. The trolley is 32 feet wide and 15 feet high.” It’s still covered in yarn today.

But bombing is not the only use for yarn, she says, and it also shows up in her mixed media works, which are on display at Studio 3K at WorkSpace in downtown Chattanooga.

“It is a different way of feeling creative with yarn. The yarn I get is not your typical ‘grandmother’s’ yarn,” de Klein says. “It is very colorful, varied in texture, sometimes chiffon, sometimes silk, and most of it is strips stitched together by women in India and Nepal. They either collect remnants from fabric in factories where they make saris, so it does not end up in the landfill, or are from old saris. With the proceeds, they pay for the schooling of their children.”

She purchases the majority of her yarn from the DarnGoodYarn website, she says. “The owner of the business, Nicole Snow, has helped me in all my yarn-bomb endeavors, and always came through when I had to place a frantic call for more and/or different colors of yarn, texture, etc.,” she says.

It was de her connection with Snow that lead to her participation in the commercial, de Klein explains. Last October, Snow received a grant from the FedEx Small Business Competition that landed their yarn art in the commercial.

“I could not do all this by myself in less than a week, but Nicole had team of knitters who helped as well. Nicole called back, asking me to help her pull it all together and five days later I was on a plane to Los Angeles, where I arrived around the same time as Nicole, both armed with suitcases full of cozies.

“We fitted all the items — refrigerator door, toaster, dog, Christmas tree, an outside topiary. We only had to adjust the cozy for Fritz, the dog, which was a little too big on him.”

A native of the Netherlands, de Klein moved to America in 1967 and earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting and drawing at UTC in 2011. Her grandmother taught her to knit.

“I stopped knitting for many years but took it up again after Adrian (her youngest son) died, and I knitted one scarf after the other, mindlessly, as it took me away from that cutting pain,” she says. “Then, when it was time for my senior project at UTC, and I wanted to get away from doing the same thing, I decided to ‘paint’ with yarn and it has been like that ever since.”

This story originally was published on Chattanooga Now.

Olga de Klein Uses the Art of Yarn Bombing to Create Connections

Can yarn bombing build community? Chattanooga-based artist Olga de Klein uses the art of yarn bombing to create connections between people and place. “Trolley” is a 30-foot wide, 15-foot tall mixed-media mural made of yarn and paint on plywood.  Sections of yarn knit by residents and supporters of Glass Street visually represent how individuals, when stitched together, can become something greater than before.

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The mural also celebrates the historic East Chattanooga Belt Line Trolley which connected the Glass Farm District to the businesses and attractions downtown in the early 1900s. The trolley is not only a point of connection for places – it connects people. De Klein’s mural is designed to do the same – inviting people to interact with the installation and ultimately one another.

The temporary installation is located at 2442 Glass Street.

Outcomes:
14 volunteers engaged in the project
17,151 yards of yarn were used, which translates into about 9.7 miles
1 image of this mural reached more than 2,500 on facebook
More than 100 first-time visitors attracted to Glass Street

This story was originally published on glasshousecollective.org.

Moment: Artist at work doing oil paintings of Wally’s Restaurant

From an article by Tim Barber for the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Outbound traffic on McCallie Avenue begins to build to rush-hour levels on a Wednesday afternoon in mid-December as local artist Hollie Berry applies the first strokes of color to her latest oil painting.

Dressed in full winter outerwear with fingerless gloves, Berry glances at the fading image of a setting sun through gray skies, feels the chilling wind and considers packing up her brushes and moving from the sidewalk across from Wally’s Restaurant.

City buses and delivery vans pass by just feet away as Berry steadies her flimsy wooden easel in 46-degree temperatures.

“There used to be a really cool retro sign for Wally’s,” she said, comparing photos on her cellphone. “It’s not up anymore, but it’s in the old pictures.”

The spot she chose on the sidewalk is the exact angle depicted in the 1950s photograph she is painting, Berry said.

Photo by Tim Barber/Times Free Press.

“I’m doing a couple of paintings,” said Berry. “One of their restaurant the way it looked in the 1950s, all in sepia tone; then another one the way the restaurant looks now, in all color.”

When completed, both paintings will hang side by side in the Highland Park community restaurant, she added.

Berry, a two-year Chattanooga resident, began painting at age 8. Now, the graduate from the University of Texas at Austin has gone full time in the business and has a studio in the Chattanooga WorkSpace downtown.

“I’m going to make myself stay out here for about 30 more minutes,” she said as the afternoon shade crept across the sidewalk. “I was going to stay longer, but it got cold too fast. If I get a sunny day, I’ll spend a full day on it.”

Contact staff photographer Tim Barber at tbarber@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6640.