Needlework and the ability to make something with my hands have always been important to me, and a crochet hook has always been my first tool of choice. For a while, I was content with following patterns, but I always wanted to find a way to take it further and be more creative. Many people see crochet as a traditional craft used to make doilies and afghans and, while there is nothing wrong with that, I wanted to stretch the technique further and use it to create unique contemporary pieces.
I discovered freeform crochet and was taken by the versatility of this technique. I have been experimenting with it this past year by making portraits. My portraits capture a look or expression and a sense of the sitter’s personality. I always start with a drawing and a concept in mind, but I allow it to evolve as I work on the piece. The yarn thickness, colour and texture have a huge impact on the size, shape, look and feel of the piece; I can manipulate it to a certain degree, but I also allow it to manipulate the portrait itself. I work mostly with cotton as I love the variety of colours it comes in, and prefer to work with natural fibres. I want the piece to look polished and finished, but I also love the contrast of the loose ends dangling from behind – after all, aren’t we all a little frayed around the edges?
Mimi Valias-Clark is a fibre artist living and working in Calgary, Alberta. She graduated from the Alberta University of the Arts with a major in textiles.
Mimi has lived in and travelled to several countries, which has exposed her to many different types of art and handcraft. She has always had a passion for crochet and has used many traditional techniques. Discovering freeform crochet a couple of years ago has opened a whole new world of possibilities for her, as it allows her to create images in a very organic way. Her focus at the moment is on using crochet to create portraits, she loves how the use of colour, light and texture allows her to portray mood and personality, it’s almost like painting with yarn. Her goal is to keep expanding the boundaries of this craft.