Spotlight: Carol Milne, Lone Pioneer in the Field of Knitted Glass
Carol Milne has blazed a new artistic path with her work in knitted glass. Bringing the visual illusion of softness and drape to a material that is fixed in its final form, her work has a “wow” factor that encourages you to take a closer look at the nuances of her designs. And she loves the challenge!
Why knitted glass?
I’ve knitted since I was 10, but knitting wasn’t a career path – or at least it didn’t seem like one. I studied Landscape Architecture as a bridge between engineering and design. But I became captivated by Earthworks and kinetic art, which lead me to sculpture. Glass is very much like kinetic sculpture, since it changes with the light.
What are your main influences?
Dr. Seuss comes to mind. However, lots of work inspires me. But I try to be very conscious of NOT creating work that mimics others, or shows strong evidence of influence. I think it’s important to create work that expands the conversation that is art, without being derivative of someone else’s work.
What makes your work stand out?
I knit with glass. So far, the only other people I know of who are doing this are people who learned the technique from me.
Are there recurring themes in your work?
I do have different bodies of work (knitting in progress, socks, shoes, baskets, hands knitting themselves, etc.) Themes I tend to revisit – often unintentionally – are: the circle of life; the disconnect between appearance versus reality (Functional/dysfunctional); Black humor; Visual puns.
Tell us about a challenging piece.
If the work wasn’t challenging, I’d get bored and quit making it. Every piece has a different challenge. But in working with glass, scale is the biggest challenge. Large work requires large molds. Large molds are difficult to make, and heavy to move once they’re made.
What is the biggest challenge to being successful in a creative field?
The biggest challenge is in defining what success means to you personally versus what society tells you success should be. Money is only one measure of success. And if it’s your number one motivation, perhaps a creative field isn’t for you.
Do you use a sketchbook?
I rarely draw since I don’t have the skill to capture the 3D nature of sculpture. Most of my ideas evolve from working directly with materials. I also sometimes make maquettes of paper or foam core to work out the structure or details of a piece.
How do you stay organized when working with multiple design ideas and processes?
I make lots of lists and prioritize projects. I also like to keep all my ‘works in progress’ visible, so I don’t forget about them. So this tends to mean all the horizontal surfaces in my studio are occupied.
What plays in the background while you work?
Some types of work require silence. Otherwise, I gravitate towards audiobooks. My tastes are eclectic: Social science, Literature, Crime fiction, biography, comedy, medicine, politics, history.
As a creative individual, do you believe that you perceive the world differently from other people?
Absolutely not. Most people are creative. Artists only differ in their willingness to sacrifice a weekly paycheck for the freedom to explore an unbeaten path.
When you have time to create for yourself, what kinds of projects do you make?
Creating is not about finished products. So the act of creation is always something I’m doing for myself. If I really want to create an object for myself, I knit a sweater.
If you had the opportunity, what creative person from the past, in any genre, would you like to work with and why?
I would like to meet Antonio Gaudi, the Spanish Architect from Barcelona. I’m fascinated by his curvaceous architecture. And many of his architectural models were created upside down by hanging strings with weights from the ceiling. That really intrigues me.
What are you working on now?
I have an upcoming residency at Amazon where I’ll be working on biosphere inspired glass balls.
Where can we find out more about your work?
On my website www.carolmilne.com you can find images of my work, a what’s new page, upcoming workshops and a small shop of work available online. You can also sign up for my newsletter, or follow me on Instagram or Facebook.
Browse through all of our spotlight interviews on Create Whimsy.