Fab­ric artist trades L.A. for desert

Leaves fash­ion in­dus­try be­hind and cre­ates unique ta­pes­tries us­ing hand-tuft­ing tech­nique

StarMetro Calgary - - DAILY LIFE - Lisa Boone

As a fi­bre artist work­ing with dead­stock fab­ric and vin­tage tuft­ing tools, Svet­lana Shi­groff has an acute ap­pre­ci­a­tion for what she de­scribes as “old-school women’s work.”

“There is some­thing so spe­cial about us­ing your hand with these old tools,” Shi­groff says of her hand-tufted ta­pes­tries. “I don’t want to be­come mech­a­nized.”

After work­ing as a high school teacher in her na­tive Aus­tralia and in the fash­ion in­dus­try in Los An­ge­les, the 36-year-old moved to the Yucca Val­ley. Now, the full-time artist and oc­ca­sional wardrobe stylist cre­ates colour­ful, pow­er­ful ta­pes­tries in her­garage over­look­ing the desert.

“Be­ing in the desert al­lows Svet­lana Shi­groff blends her in­ter­est in god­desses and mythol­ogy into amaz­ing ta­pes­tries she pre­pares with vin­tage wood tuft tools. PHO­TOS IR­FAN KHAN/TNS

me to be free and delve a lit­tle deeper into my art and what’s go­ing on with me,” she says. “I can be a lit­tle less self-con­scious out here.”

In­ter­ested in ta­pes­try but in­tim­i­dated by the process, Shi­groff taught her­self how to tuft by watch­ing a dated, grainy tuft­ing video on YouTube.

To­day, she works 8 to 12 hours a day in the garage, craft­ing pieces from left­over

or re­jected knits she buys in the down­town Los An­ge­les fab­ric dis­trict. After cut­ting the knits into half-inch strips with a ro­tary cut­ter, she then tufts them onto a fab­ric can­vas us­ing a well-worn an­tique wood and metal shut­tle punch.

Her cus­tom pieces take any­where from two to six weeks, and range from $350 to thou­sands of dol­lars.

Her work is in­spired, she says by her fam­ily, mythol­ogy and “half-truths.”

A face­less Me­dusa jug­gles heads on a bed of flames in one un­fin­ished ta­pes­try hang­ing in the garage. An “al­chemistress” grips a spi­der, scroll and flames in an­other. Coiled snakes tufted onto fab­ric are widely rep­re­sented, hint­ing at her in­ter­est in lore and leg­end.

“I draw a lot of god­desses from dif­fer­ent cul­tures and mash them up,” she says.

View­ers ex­pe­ri­ence her work dif­fer­ently, Shi­groff says.

“I love hear­ing what peo­ple think,” adds Shi­groff, who also cre­ates one-of-a-kind jack­ets. She views her work as a mix of sculp­ture and paint­ing.

“Some­times I don’t know what my pieces will be about un­til they are done.”

Is her work al­ways about some­thing? “Al­ways,” she says with a smile. Fox News host Tucker Carl­son was tar­geted.

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