When I was a kid at summer camp or in elementary school we often engaged in activities referred to as ‘arts and crafts’. At that age we were probably making pretty rudimentary projects but the idea was to encourage kids to express their creative sides and produce some works of interest or that had aesthetic appeal. My parents appreciated my endeavors despite my lack of prodigious talent.
I’ve never been quite sure about the difference between ‘arts’ and ‘crafts’ but surmised that we’ve separated them into two categories resulting in art being considered more lofty or skilled than craft. For instance, we might view painting or sculpture as requiring a particular level of talent or training while craft is more functional.
I checked out a couple of definitions and they did lean towards art being viewed for its aesthetic value, whereas crafts were often considered primarily as utilitarian handmade objects.
“The major difference between art and crafts is that crafts are something you can easily reproduce, while arts are more unique and cannot be duplicated. Crafts can be more functional, while art is an emotional manifestation.” – art in context
It seems a bit like splitting hairs as both arts and crafts can require a high level of skill, imagination and creativity. For me, at the heart of it is soul.
I’ve written ten previous posts in this series focusing on artists (and one writer) who feature chickens in their work. Most have been painters, but I have managed to find a potter, glassmakers, a fabric maker and a clay artist. I’ve found that sometimes when approached to participate in this project some crafters have declined feeling they aren’t ‘real’ artists. I beg to differ and in this post will present some fine works that celebrate the humble chicken.
Stephanie Pokorny (https://www.facebook.com/crochetverse/)
I live in Ohio, mom of four boys and long time crocheter. My Grandma taught me when I was 16; it’s now my passion.
Every year I freehand crochet costumes for my children that they choose for Halloween and the remainder of the year I design crochet patterns that I offer on Ravelry and Etsy. This year my kids wanted to dress as chickens who ate toxic waste and grew oversized. All are crocheted free hand with no pattern. When we go in, we go all in. We even made a biohazard waste bucket for them to pretend with.
Marie Nestel (nestelpottery.com)
I grew up in a small town in Wells, British Columbia (Canada) the oldest of four kids, and the only girl. The majority of my childhood years were spent on our father’s placer lease with my hands in the mud. I graduated from UNBC with a degree in Forestry in 2005 and my ‘real job’ sees me working as a Silviculture Forester in the beautiful Quesnel Forest District. This allows me to spend many hours tromping around in cut blocks and plantations, avoiding bears and mosquitoes, but being in awe of Mother Nature and all it has to offer.
Pre-pandemic, I would attend local pottery workshops when time allowed and now in the world of social media, I find a lot of inspiration and many opportunities for fuelling my passion and developing my skill in online forums.
There have been many hobbies, passions, and obsessions that have come and gone during my lifetime, but clay has always been, and I hope will continue to be, a common thread. I’ve been potting close to 30 years and am still fascinated with all the rabbit hole possibilities clay has to offer.
Inspiration comes from so many different sources but mainly from nature. I spend my free time gardening, bike riding, hiking in the alpine, and spending time in my backyard with many chickens. My flock of chickens is too large, but I love them dearly with my incredibly supportive husband. None of this would be possible without his unending patience as well as his coop-building skills.
Chickens find a way into my art is a few ways: the graphics, and using their feathers as well as egg cartons. I got obsessed by soap making at one point (loved it) and hated how homemade soap would get slimy in a traditional dish, so this is my version of a well functioning soap dish. A rare earth magnet gets glued onto the top of this piece then a bottle cap gets pushed into a bar of soap which makes the soap magnetic. It stays suspended in the air never to become slimy again. This version is raku – in which I burned my chicken’s feathers on the exterior to create a pattern.
I also make egg cups and an egg separator which is a little cup with a slit in the side. You crack an egg into it and pour the white out through the slit while the yolk stays inside the cup.
The egg trays were done as a slump mold over foam egg shipping trays.
Originally from Britain, I’ve lived in the USA for almost 50 years. I’ve always loved art of all kinds and am self taught. Painting has been my main art form for many years but I got into making cloth dolls and small sculptures, each one designed by me.
Besides drawing and painting I sew, crochet, knit, sculpt and just recently got into miniatures. I needed something to help with stress during the craziness going on the last two years and I bought a small inexpensive dollhouse kit; no idea why, but I did. Something inside me just woke up because I am totally obsessed with miniatures and I now have three houses and an ever-growing amount of furniture and accessories.
I have a need to try to make my own rather than buy it, so I began making little things for my house and, of course, it had to have chickens and a coop so I went about making one from popsicle sticks. I aged it and even added poop on the ramp. I love to add the smallest details into my work. I made a chicken to go with the coop but you know once you have one you have to have more so I’m in the process of making a few chickens to go in the coop.
I have a thing about eggs too because I have done a good bit of artwork and small egg sculptures.
I love animals of all kinds and most of my art tends to feature them. I have three dogs, two budgies and no idea how many fish (they keep multiplying). I have four six month old hens. I love them so much and enjoy spending time with them every day. There is so much personality in each one. When I’m not spending time with my family I spend most of my days taking care of my animals and working in my studio, which is such a blessing to me.
Thanks to Stephanie Pokorny, Marie Nestel and Karen Michaels for sharing their work and photos, used with permission. Feature photo: Crocheted rooster by Polish crafter Beata Bylinka.
If you are an artist/crafter that incorporates chickens in your work and would like to share it, feel free to drop me a line using the ‘contact’ button on my homepage.