NatureVolve

Q & A - Gaelle Chas­sery

- Arts · Knitting · Crochet · Crafts · Hobbies

How did you first start to cre­ate yarn art?

I learned to knit when I was 8 to make a scarf for a doll, and hated ev­ery­thing about it. Through­out the years I per­sisted in a luke­warm, ag­gra­vated sort of way! When I turned 20 I re­al­ized knit­ting was a bril­liant way to play with col­ors, so I be­came much more com­mit­ted to it. I also learned to weave with yarn, and through those two crafts, I ex­plored my love of putting col­ors and tex­tures to­gether, re­ally de­light­ing in cre­at­ing unique gra­di­ents and very tac­tile pieces.

When I had to stop knit­ting a few years ago due to chronic pain, I was crest­fallen: work­ing with yarn had be­come such a pas­sion for me. I just had to find a way to con­tinue—so I taught my­self to cro­chet. I had al­ways shunned cro­chet, think­ing I would not en­joy it or be good at it, but to my sur­prise I took to it im­me­di­ately and very quickly started im­pro­vis­ing. Thank­fully, cro­chet does not make the pain worse and even acts as a wel­come respite from it, of­fer­ing me a bub­ble of relaxation, con­tent­ment and cre­ativ­ity. I have been cro­chet­ing pretty much ev­ery day since!

Please de­scribe the tech­ni­cal, creative process be­hind your yarn art.

I de­scribe my­self as an in­tu­itive yarn artist who spe­cial­izes in im­pro­vi­sa­tion that brings sooth­ing com­fort. When I work on a piece, I do not plan or re­hearse. I just pick a color pal­ette and start cro­chet­ing. As each row is com­pleted, it high­lights the next steps: which type of yarn I will pick, which color will work best, which stitches I will choose and which size of hook I will use for the next row. It’s a re­ally fun, im­mer­sive and med­i­ta­tive way to work, which pri­or­i­tizes a con­tin­u­ous and re­laxed di­a­logue with the piece. This way of work­ing means that each piece is a com­pletely unique heir­loom with no ex­ist­ing pat­tern, so ev­ery cre­ation is truly a one-off and is con­structed like an in­ter­ac­tive yarn sculp­ture that tells its own story, in­spired by na­ture.

How are your heir­loom pieces in­spired by as­pects of na­ture, par­tic­u­larly, along the West Coast of Scot­land where you live?

I am al­ways in­spired by the col­ors and tex­tures of na­ture. These are the dom­i­nant fea­tures in each heir­loom piece through my sig­na­ture wave pat­tern and my tex­tu­ral use of stitches. The col­ors in­vite the eye to rest and the tex­tures in­vite the body to in­ter­act with the piece, to re­lax into it as “your very own piece of na­ture.” My Rocky Shore Throw made with He­bridean wool emu­lates the lay­ers and tex­tures of those beau­ti­ful rocks found on the He­bridean shores and the del­i­cately in­tri­cate marks left by sea­wa­ter run­ning on grey sands. My Win­ter Shore Blan­ket evokes those moody days where sea foam flies over the sand and stormy waves rise in fas­ci­nat­ing blues. My pref­er­ence for work­ing with small Scot­tish yarn pro­duc­ers is a di­rect con­nec­tion to the land that grows and dyes the wool I love to use. Each piece of­fers its own nat­u­ral lit­tle world to wrap up in and re­lax, al­low­ing the re­cip­i­ent to cre­ate their own story.

Please also tell us about your paint­ings – what medi­ums do you use and how are these works in­spired by the nat­u­ral world too?

For my sooth­ing paint­ings I also work in­tu­itively in an open di­a­logue with each piece, al­low­ing that to lead ev­ery choice of color, tex­ture and tool. I love ap­ply­ing paint with sponges, tooth­brushes, paint­brushes of all shapes and sizes, and my fin­gers. I en­joy work­ing in shim­mer­ing shades that cap­ture the light changes we are so priv­i­leged to en­joy on the Scot­tish West Coast. I use a lot of di­luted gold and sil­ver as a kind of fil­ter on most of my paint­ings to hon­our the ethe­real, gen­tle and mys­ti­cal qual­i­ties of the land­scape. Each paint­ing is the ac­cu­mu­la­tion of many thin lay­ers of paint with a lot of wa­ter to cre­ate sub­tle color changes and re­lax­ing gra­di­ents full of nat­u­ral and cap­ti­vat­ing de­tail. I work in all sizes, but have a par­tic­u­lar fond­ness for pro­duc­ing tiny paint­ings that fit in the palm of the hand, open­ing minia­ture win­dows into dream worlds, cher­ished mem­o­ries of trea­sured mo­ments and places. I love cre­at­ing mini worlds to re­lax in. At the mo­ment I work with acrylic on can­vas, but would love to ex­plore nat­u­ral pig­ments in the fu­ture and a more monochro­matic pal­ette.

Do you have any per­sonal re­flec­tions to share as an artist dur­ing the pan­demic, or plans about what you will be work­ing on next?

The pan­demic has given me the space and time to fully fo­cus on my art with­out ne­glect­ing self-care, which is an im­por­tant foun­da­tion of my cre­ativ­ity. Hav­ing this com­plete per­mis­sion to cre­ate with­out dis­trac­tion has been a fer­tile jour­ney, al­low­ing me to ex­plore all the ways in which we can thrive and stay con­nected. Cre­at­ing pieces that cel­e­brate our con­nec­tion to na­ture as a re­li­able con­stant is a gift I never take for granted. I love how I can en­hance peo­ple’s qual­ity of life in that way, even when iso­lat­ing for many months. One of my on­go­ing project is to source yarns from each Scot­tish Is­land and make a piece ex­clu­sive to that place, in­spired by its col­ors and unique char­ac­ter­is­tics. I re­cently com­pleted my first piece cre­ated in this way with yarn grown and dyed on Colon­say. It’s a very beau­ti­ful way to deeply re­late to a place from a dis­tance and pay trib­ute to it. In my paint­ing I want to carry on ex­plor­ing the won­der­fully com­fort­ing wild­ness of the West Coast by cre­at­ing land­scapes that touch the heart and soul. I will also con­tinue to share my writ­ing and na­ture pho­tog­ra­phy through my slow liv­ing blog.

Fi­nal thoughts

With Scot­tish coastal waters as a muse, Gaelle Chas­sery gets creative with in­tri­cate yarn art and at­mo­spheric paint­ings. The yarn art is in­flu­enced by de­tailed ob­ser­va­tions found in na­ture, from rough coastal rocks next to lively stormy seas, and the unique tex­ture of lichen. As we have seen in the throws and shawls pre­sented, each fab­ric color is care­fully con­sid­ered and re­flects an as­pect of the en­vi­ron­ment.

The ma­te­rial used is also not an af­ter-thought, made of qual­ity yarn sourced from small in­de­pen­dent yarn pro­duc­ers. For Gaelle, cro­chet has been a val­ued out­let when deal­ing with chronic pain. Per­haps for many more, it can be a ben­e­fi­cial ac­tiv­ity in times of per­sonal dif­fi­culty.

 ?? © Gaelle Chas­sery. All rights re­served. ?? Top: Rocky Shore Throw, made with won­der­ful He­bridean yarns from Ardalan­ish Mill and Uist Wool. Di­rectly above: Win­ter Shore Blan­ket, in­spired by the tex­ture of sea foam and the fas­ci­nat­ing blues of moody, stormy days. Both:
© Gaelle Chas­sery. All rights re­served. Top: Rocky Shore Throw, made with won­der­ful He­bridean yarns from Ardalan­ish Mill and Uist Wool. Di­rectly above: Win­ter Shore Blan­ket, in­spired by the tex­ture of sea foam and the fas­ci­nat­ing blues of moody, stormy days. Both:
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