Have you ever seen newspaper spun into yarn? Neither had we until we met Seattle Shifu artist, CLaire Renaut.
On Sunday, April 22nd from 12–3 PM, the Concept Shop will host a live demonstration by CLaire Renaut. Renaut is a French-born, Seattle-based artist working in the Shifu technique. What is Shifu, you may ask? We asked CLaire the same thing!
What is Shifu? Shifu is a technique of spinning and weaving a paper made out of mulberry tree bark
How have you adapted the Shifu technique? My own adaptation is to use newspaper instead of the traditional Japanese handmade paper.
Do you have any artists that have influenced your work/ that you admire? Yes, many! Andy Goldworthy, Fashion designer Ray Kawabuto (Comme des Garcons), Issey Miyake, Antoni Tapies, Cezanne, Delacroix...
How long have you been working with Shifu? I have been using the Shifu Technique since 2005.
What kind of response do you hope your work evokes in people? I like to surprise viewer, making them look twice at my work. There is another level than just glossing over. I like to give a more august sense to material that would seem common or vulgar, how to bring beauty and mystery to the everyday reality.
How does your work comment on the current social or political climate? My work speaks of immigration from my personal and family history. The newspaper becomes a metaphor for adaptation to a new country or city. I am currently knitting small size Pussy Hat to create a Woman's March.
I have designed in fashion and textiles for the better part of three decades. My current practice focuses on spinning newspaper into yarn. This approach is inspired by Shifu, a technique for transforming bark into fabric for Kimonos, which I learned in Japan in the early-2000’s. Newspaper, once spun, is converted into textiles or sculpted.
A newspaper is built to tell stories. When it is turned into yarn, those stories become the fabric of the final thread. I let the transformed material speak for itself, the black and white or splashes of color replace the words and pictures on the page.
I work with papers from places with significant personal experience to me –The New York Times in the days following 9/11, journals from cities where I have lived in both Europe and America, and the cartoons from Resist, a newspaper that accompanied the Woman’s March from January of 2017.