In COVER 66, Editor Lucy Upward takes a look at the trend for tufted homewares and art and speaks to four dedicated tufters about the joys of the craft including artist and Founder and Chief Creative Officer of Design Milk, Jaime Derringer. Her colourful artwork comprises wild and imaginative abstract paintings and drawings both analogue and digital, plus sculptural pieces and a hand-knotted rug collection for Woven Concepts that was created back in 2018. Here she talks to Lucy Upward about her journey into tufting, which has taken place over the pandemic.
When and why did you start tufting? I began tufting in February 2020 right before the lockdown, and it became my Covid-19 hobby. I’m not sure what inspired me to begin, but I think I was uninspired by painting and wanted to deliver my art in a new medium. Simultaneously I’d also discovered Tim Eads’ Instagram account, Tuft the World.
I’ve always felt like my work would translate nicely into 3D form, whether it be sculpture or ceramics. Textiles have long been a dream of mine. I‘ve already done one rug collaboration with Woven Concepts featuring my brushstroke works, and have just started working with Soho Design House on limited edition art rugs. It’s so exciting to see the texture I dream up in my mind come alive.
Are your tufted pieces versions of previous artworks or new ideas? Some are, yes. The first large piece I created was not based on anything I’d made before. I drew some shapes onto the fabric and then built up the design organically. The next three pieces I did were based on sketchbook drawings that I scanned in and digitally manipulated.
What I love the most about tufting is that I am able to bring my sketchbook designs to life and give them texture and depth. I’ve been adding depth to my drawings with shadowing for a long time now but it’s really cool to see it happen in a 3D space. I’m hoping to keep pushing this further to see where it takes me. I want to explore all the things I can’t do with 2D art.
With tufting what can you play around with that excites you? Dimension and texture! I want to create things people want to touch.
Is there some therapeutic aspect to tufting? For me, there is. Art has always been my therapy—a way to get out of my head, zone out, and get into a flow. What I didn’t realise was how physical tufting is. It surprised me that holding the machine and using my arms and body weight would be so rewarding. It’s odd how it can be both meditative and physically taxing at the same time. It’s kind of like doing art yoga.
I find that tufting is very different than knitting and crocheting because the latter can be done while watching TV and sitting down. Tufting is pretty physical and (depending on how detailed your piece is) requires a little more concentration. For me, its meditative quality doesn’t necessarily come from repetition, so much as from the flow. The flow state can be achieved with any kind of art, so it’s not unique to tufting. Flow is relaxing, healing and invigorating.
You just designed some hand-knotted rugs with Soho Design House. Did that come out of starting to tuft or something else? Jacob from Soho Design House and I have been talking about making rugs from my sketchbook drawings for many years now. I don’t think I was quite ready until more recently, when I finally got to a place where I felt comfortable with the direction of my art. Perhaps the tufting sparked this in me. We started sending each other our favorite drawings and began planning a series of pieces to make. I admire Jacob’s attention to detail when it comes to the colour, texture and quality of his rugs. I’m excited to share more soon!
The tufted pieces that I am making are not necessarily for the floor; they are intended to be wall sculptures, due to the materials being used. However, I would love to tuft a floor rug one day! For now, I’ll leave it up to the experts.