One of the great things about having a "passion" is that it keeps you exploring. A lot of us are constantly on the look-out for new and interesting people, places and things in the world of fiber.. The upside is discovery; the downside, is that you find so many interesting people and things that you become overwhelmed by the desire to meet and talk with them all. Nonetheless, one persists!!!
When we found the artist, Max Alexander, it was one of those "sweet finds". She has a combination of whimsy and talent that results in charming and beautiful products that resonate with those that share her interests. Located in London, she's easy to reach online. We did. She responded, and now we have the fun of introducing her to you. Read on to learn about Max's World.
Since time is money for an independent artist, we figured it might be easiest for us to send her some questions. Off they went and, true to a disciplined nature, back came the answers along with a lovely selection of pictures.
A quick read of her CV revealed an art college education plus a course in stop motion animation. The latter resulted in a wonderful video that is most entertaining. - to be revealed further on. Max was home schooled in the early years, received a diploma in 3D design from her first college and then went on to University for a degree in Sculpture. It was then that she started to incorporate yarn into her work and went on to do knitted animations and large sculptural pieces.
Like many artists, she grew up in a family filled with them. Here's her answer to a question about influencers in her childhood: "I grew up surrounded by fun artworks. My grandma, Sue Jackson, ran Cabaret Mechanical Theatre in London, which was an exhibition of automata and moving sculpture made by lots of different artists (cabaret.co.uk). Nearly every piece had a joke or something amusing about it so I’ve always associated making with fun. I’ve never got on with exceptionally serious art."
Although she didn't learn to knit until she was 20, it is not surprising that she immediately took to it. Her love of fine knitting, plus her fascination with moths, was what arrested our attention from the first. Although none of these beauties are "cloth eaters", for the wool-loving uninitiated among us, it seemed an almost perverse subject matter. It was one of the first things we asked about. We wondered whether it was their beauty or the irony of using knitting as the medium with which to produce her works of art.
"It’s a bit of both really. A friend suggested that I knit a rosy maple moth. I wasn’t particularly interested but then I saw that it was bright pink and yellow and thought it could be fun. Then I started researching moths and I saw how many different and amazing varieties there are. It quickly became addictive!"
"I was working part time in the yarn shop/gallery, "Prick Your Finger", and the owner, Rachael Matthews, offered me an exhibition there. That was in November 2014, it was great to show them off and I was delighted by how popular they became."
I think it would be tempting fate to include any "cloth eaters" in my work, but I’m also interested in highlighting endangered species. One of the most spectacular moths that I’ve knitted is the Urania Sloanus which went extinct in the early 1900’s. Here's a replica that I created as a brooch."
Max began making jewelry as a "warm weather" way of demonstrating her love of knitting. She opened a shop on ETSY, where her line took off quickly. She also sells in yarn stores and craft fairs where fiber people care to congregate.
In addition to her moth brooches and pendants, she creates earrings and necklaces with knit and crochet focused themes. Another round of creative energy goes into the creation of stationery products. This one is particularly close to some knitter's hearts.
You can find a selection of her cards on her website here.
Since Max has a talent for stop animation, as well as the education and training to back it up, we couldn't help but include this strictly tongue-in-cheek video she created as a student. We hope it's highly imaginative and irreverent look at frustration is more humorous than shocking. She's a perfectly charming woman to chat with, we assure you.