Saturday, August 14, 2010


Just recently I discovered the amazing art of Diane Savona .... or rather, Melanie of My Croft sent me the link and the first image to greet me on Diane's website was this blazing red, layered piece which brought a lump to my throat as it reminds me so much of my mother.

Diane embeds domestic objects between the layers of filmy fabric to form fossil-like impressions which bring to mind exposed artifacts at an archeological site.

Diane writes, "As a part of daily life, sewing is a dying skill. Expertise that was passed down, mother to daughter, for hundreds of years is now dying out: types of mending are no longer general knowledge, and most young people don’t own a pin cushion. Hence, my work shows textiles in an archaeological context."

"In my latest series, Fossil Garments, the work is presented as fossil specimens. The deconstructed garments – sometimes embedded in handmade felt – are offered for inspection on taut surfaces. By carefully cutting apart and arranging the garments, their human connection
is emphasized. Crochet and lace, showing through the almost transparent garments, appear skeletal. I used mending techniques in overlapping layers, sometimes obscuring parts of the garments, sometimes cutting through them. The rigid framing exposes the somewhat sentimental clothing in an unemotional perspective, allowing the viewer to examine the clothing as archaeology."

Soft Bodied Specimens #3 (size: 20”H x 12”W) are bits of crochet preserved under old glass mason jar lids. In some museums, soft bodied specimens are kept in small liquid-filled tubes, inside liquid-filled mason jars, so there is absolutely no danger of drying out. This piece is constructed inside a flat wooden box. The background cloth is printed with the names of various types of crochet and lace, and the soft specimens are preserved under the glass lids, which have been stitched down to the bottom of the box.

To see more of Diane's intriguing work, go to her website, here and please do yourself a favour and watch the video!!

Virtual tour of Closet Archeology here.

The whimsical work of Elfi Cella, putting a collection of vintage buttons to good use.

It's surprising how many artists use heirlooms, broken or discarded, in their art. Many bloggers know the enchanting work of Elfi Cella. If not you are in for a treat when browsing through her blog, here.

Juliet by Beverly Soasey. See more of Beverly's work at the Mary Lou Zeek Gallery website, here.

Blue Torso. Mosaic made from English Spode by Janice Corbishley. See Janice's website here.

Heirloom by Clare Twomey. See more here.

Robi Renzi creates "patchwork" cabinets from salvaged wooden components.

Armadiature by Robi Renzi for Renzivivian. See more here.

..... and now for some light relief .....

A quirky bird by Chris Griffin at the Mary Lou Zeek Gallery, here.


  1. Robyn - I love the way that you showcase so many artists and their work - it is so unselfish of you.

    However, I do love to see your work when you show it to us.

  2. Thank you for Diane Savona link! Lovely work.
    I often enjoy your posts in my reader.
    Thank you.

  3. Another wonderful collection of artwork. Love them all! Diane Savona's work is stunning and inspirational.

  4. diane savona, oh my gosh...

    thank you, robyn. you present us with the most fabulous inspiration!


  5. Oh I do love the work on Elfi Cella's website Robyn. Those button umbellifers are so gorgeous. What a great idea. I was interested to read where Diane mentions that many sewing traditions are dying out. I did a little darning workshop for a teaching certificate years ago and no-one knew what a darning mushroom was, let alone how to darn a sock.

  6. Paul Newman was asked about the recipe for the success of his long marriage. He answered that we are living in a generation where nothing is mended, but replaced the minute it is broken. He said that in his marriage an in his home - they tried to fix everything.
    It is sad that we not longer appreciate anything 'home made'.

  7. Enjoying textiles and handwork as I do, this is a fabulous post. And I love the quirky bird!

  8. Wonderful, all wonderful! It's amazing how these artists use their imagination! It's inspiring and awesome! Thanks for posting! It is 6 am here in the Philippines and I'm still in my nightclothes but I've travelled to wonderful realms at the start of my day- better than a cup of coffee!

    Patsy from

  9. Robyn, you introduce us to so many fabulous artists, my "bookmarks" folder is overflowing! I so enjoyed Diane Savona in particular. It's true that most people don't sew any more; young people don't even know how. When I was growing up, my grandmother mended everything by hand, and even made clothes for my dolls. I taught my kids the basics, and my son had to show other kids in his high school home economics class how to do it! Diane's work is so nostalgic and touching, it almost brings me to tears. thank you.

  10. the image at the top reminded me of the ochre-covered work of
    Australian artist
    Antony Hamilton
    here's a link

  11. I love what you share here at your blog..... beautiful, exciting stuff, thank you.

  12. A lovely ride through sewing and beautifully expressed. I own my mother and grandmothers sewing tins, buttons, needles and things...sweet memories. I will be sure to visit these websites!

  13. When I put my hand on a tool or item that was my Mom's I can see and feel her hand, in my mind's eye. What a beautiful tribute to use those things/fossils now in art. Button boxes are a thing of the past. Thank you Robyn!

  14. Thank you for always sharing..These artist are wonderful. I hope you are well.

  15. Fantastic inspiration...just what I need.

  16. What a wonderful concept to display the sewing items in archelogical form. I love the bony skeletal effect that shows them as a phsyical structure and not just as a tool. I would love to see an exhibition of her work.

  17. Diane's work is so haunting. It reminds me so much of my lineage -- my grandmother who was the forewoman of a rag factory (literally rags used to clean machinery, not slang for couture). My aunt, who did work in couture (for Hattie Carnegie). My mother, the master knitter and genius with all things made of fiber.

    Her work lifts my heart and breaks it at the same time.

  18. I think there is nothing more satisfying to one's soul that to see discarded bits and pieces of our - or others - lives put together to make a whole.

    The symbols of past lives, cultures, ways of being speak to us from the art of re-assemblage. Great post, as ever.

  19. I was supposed to sort out the house this Sunday morning, but after I saw this post, everything will just have to wait...
    I wouldn't poke fun at Art like this. Each of the works you've featured is unique, sincere and beautiful.

  20. Lucky Dip Lisa, you mentioned wishing to see one of Diane's exhibitions. Though its not quite the same as seeing an exhibition in person, take a virtual tour of Closet Archeology.

  21. Melanie, Diane's work has obviously struck a chord and as you commented "her work lifts my heart and breaks it at the same time". Thanks so much for sending the link!

    Priya, yes everything will just have to wait :-)
    I'm sure you've looked at the video on Diane's site, but if not be prepared to be blown away.

    Kim, I thought of you the moment I started browsing through Diane's website.

    Caryl, great story about Paul Newman. It is so true.... most people don't have the patience to mend things any more, though in rural Africa everything is reused and re-invented.

    Patsy, I'm smiling at the thought of you travelling "wonderful realms" at the start of your day. I'm sitting in front of the computer reading all the comments and hopping back and forth between links knowing that I must get up and start my day but I'm so enjoying the buzz that Diane's work is causing.

    India, thanks for the link. Antony's work is intriguing!

  22. Amazing!! That first image is just fabulous. Thanks for the introduction to Diane's work. Love it.

  23. I adore all these sewing objects made into art. The cabinets! Hey, I want one for my invisible house. Thanks again Robin for spending the time to put such an interesting post together.

  24. oh robyn, wow..the fossil garment find is unbelivable as is the mosaic bust. VERY COOL STUFF. i love it as usual...getting turned on to so many good pieces and new artists. thanks!

  25. Although needle work as an everyday activity may be dying, the way in which artists are taking up this dropped thread is heartening--and makes me think that if we carry it for a while, once again, it will work its way back into popular culture.

  26. Can't imagine darning a sock nowadays! I do love sewing and anything textile related and I even own a pincushion! I was delighted by this post - thanks Robyn!

  27. Weaver, I love sharing art that enthralls me.

    Jaihn, glad you appreciate this amazing work.

    Lynne, my pleasure :-)

    Cathy, I know what a darning mushroom is .... but I have no idea how to darn.

    Heather, it's time we saw some of your work again!

    Sharmon, I know the feeling. There are so many memories tied up in those images. My mom loved sewing and I can remember "stitching" my first mini patchwork quilt between the age of 2 and 3.

    Robyn,so glad you're enjoying this post as much as I am.

    Mary Ann, button tins are another story. I love searching through my mom inlaw's button tins. She has kept everything since the year dot. Eighty years of collecting! She is now 87.

    Leslie, sadly I didn't keep all my moms sewing things when she passed. There was just so much to sort through and no space to keep it all.

    Katelen, all is well here. Thanks so much.

    Azirca, inspiration for a sunday morning!

    Patrice, Diane's work has certainly sent me off on a journey of memories. Many things I havn't thought about in decades.

    Willow, the first image is quite striking isn't it? It certainly got my attention!

    Paula, I have a feeling you will use all your newly learned mosaicing knowledge in art one day.

    Hannah, you make such a good point. Artists are enjoying these old traditions again and turning them into art.

    Caroline, I love hand stitching though I havn't done it in decades.

  28. What a journey you've taken me on the last few posts, thank you. I particularly loved Elfis seedheads, wanted to touch everything in the Hamill Gallery & the colors of M-A Orrs work made my chest positively ache!

    Dianes 'fossil' layers are beautiful.

  29. another inspiring selection of introductions Robyn. love Diane's work, and writing - there is such an intimacy to the stitching and layering she does. I get a quiet, calming, deeply connected feeling from her work. thank you!

  30. an incredible journey now artistic memory lane with these fabulous pieces! just beautiful - and so timely in terms of the lost art of "hand stitching" which i grew up with - when i was little, all our clothes were "handmade" and had every kind of sewing technique imaginable - for my children, i handmade all their layettes, as well, french stitching every garment by hand - and for my grandchildren, the same - including christening gown sets -

    thanks for such a great post - and a fabulous blog!

  31. Love the fossil garments. I think we all as women and artists, writers,expressives must be at some archeological tasks within. Your work surely expresses layers of such.


  32. Well, I need time to see the details in the amazing works of all these artists you've introduced to us! We don't throw away easily at home, 'cause together with my husband we gather things for our puppet theatre projects. Now I'll have a new approach to all this stuff, thanks to your post, Robyn.:) Yes, there's life in every object even when not used on purpose.

  33. Hi Robyn,
    just discovering Dianne's engaging Domestic Archeology made me realise what is so wonderful about visiting your posts.. so particular to the experience.
    Im quite a dedicated lover of the 2d art form.... its a whole world and full of endless stimulation for me. So much so that I overlook the 3D. I like to collect 3d items but they end of as stimulus for 2d work.
    However each time i visit your fresh posts I seem to be presented with endless ideas and reasons for why I should take more notice of the 3 dimensional realm.
    Its wonderful to be nudged out of one's preoccupations...and brought to new feilds of discovery.
    Love it all..really... Thank you.

  34. le plus beau blog! j'ai affirmé ça, bien avant que je sois cité..
    les ouvrages, oeuvres, créations des autres artistes me font chaud au coeur..tout simplement magnifique!
    amitiés elfi

  35. So much of this collection speaks to me, inspires me. It makes me wonder how it is that certain combinations are evocative for so many. Why is it that so many of us like crackled and peeling paint, images that are reminiscent of decay and antiquity while another segment of the population might prefer shiny and new?
    Something I wonder about.
    You seem be a curator of my preferences in imagery, patterns and texture.
    Thanks again, Robyn

    xoxo Kim

  36. what a treasure trove of inspiration, thanks for digging for us... and for food for work for months to come...

  37. There is so much to love in this post. Love, love the idea of uncovering/discovering a life through the sewing needle. The wooden patchwork cabinets are wonderfully interesting...a new kind of cabinet of curiosities. Adore the bird clock...because I adore all old clocks as well as anything whimsical.

  38. Yes, I feel very tender memories from the art you have posted here. My mother was a beautiful seemstress as well... my favorite piece here is Julliet, the fork, the stiches and the photographs... roxanne

  39. All the ladies in my 2 families crochet or knit, quilt and sew and I have often felt that the craft of stitchery is fading. These images bring a sort of melancholy of things passing, time changing and lengthening on.

  40. As always, you find the most lovely and interesting pieces/artists to share!

  41. I can see that Diane's work really touched a cord within very many of us...I always feel connected to my mother when I sew something because she taught me and she was taught by her grandmother...not only have we lost the capacity to appreciate why we need to 'mend' things but also a precious way of linking the thread between those gone before and those coming after.

    Thanks for the bird, Robyn, I was ready to cry otherwise! And love to all who hold the needle still!

  42. More new artists to explore. Thank you!!

  43. Already a fan of Elfi, but am going to really enjoy these new links!!! I collect old sewing implements and fabric- just enjoy the history of them - and do use them too!! The mosaic torso is a wonderful new way to use old teacups!!!LOL

  44. Re - purposed heirlooms.
    recreated - Art.
    Inherited the world.
    Very interesting log.

  45. Outstanding! Savona's work is facinating. I love the looks of it, how she does it and the statement- the whole story.

  46. Beautiful stuff! I especially like Soft Bodied Specimens #3 -- lovely display of such special items. Thanks!

  47. Thankyou for the link! Lovely suprise and I am going to check it out now!
    L :)

  48. Finally, I know somebody :-)
    Chris Giffin whose work is in Mary Lou Zeek Gallery-- now you are in my part of the 'woods'-- I know Chris and have seen her and her wonderful assemblages in person recently at an art fair and I have been to this gallery several times.. a good friend of mine has her paintings there. I love assemblage and even though I do not do much myself I still look for 'stuff'.

  49. thank you Robyn, for the introduction to the amazing textile work of Diane Savonna and Elfi Cella. I love handstitching and sewing implements. I gather lots of the later and am a avid amateur at the former. their work is matched by your genius to hunt them out for us and share their links so we can discover more about them. love this post uber much!

  50. A gorgeous post as always. Great stuff, Robyn. I especially love the quirky bird by Chris Griffin.