Micah Clasper-Torch is a fiber artist and designer based in Los Angeles. Still now Micah’s favourite textile technique is the needle punch one, or rather, a way of embroidering using a specific needle which makes inserting the thread into the fabric easier.
Micah loves making wearable pieces. Especially boleros and clutches. Every piece is unique with an everlasting elegance. She’s made an inspirational bolero for us with our Piuma yarn which you can see in the photo of this article. The chosen colours are quintessentially autumnal.
Now let’s get to know Micah better with an exclusive interview that I had the pleasure of doing with her.
What’s behind your textile art?
Through my work, I am to take something traditional (like punch needle) and do something new, creating something that blurs the line between art, fashion, design and craft. Punch Needle Rug Hooking has a rich history here in the United States, but like most fiber art forms it was overlooked because it was considered women’s work, a craft of poverty, and because it was functional. My goal is to challenge what people see when they look at a coat or a rug, calling attention to the artistry and detail that is lacking in this era of fast fashion and mass manufacturing. I want to help people rediscover an appreciation for well made things, created by artists, built to last. What is interesting about the coat is the process by which the textile is constructed into a coat -- it has to be done entirely by hand. Once the difficulty of it’s construction becomes clear, each coat can be appreciated for its craft and technique instead of simply it’s fashion appeal. I love the slow and intimate process of using my hands to create, and the tactile nature of yarn, thread and fabric. Working by hand connects me directly to the materials, to a deeper part of myself, and to the generations of women who have practiced punch needle rug hooking or sewing techniques through the ages.
What is your source of inspirations?
The number one inspiration comes from the materials themselves. Looking at the colors and feeling the textures of yarn, fiber, fabric, is very important to me in the design process. The materials I use tell me what they want to become, and point me in the direction I need to go.Beyond this, I am inspired visually by the colors and shapes in nature, art and architecture. I am delighted by good design, color and balance. Traveling is my biggest source of renewal, and I love soaking up the various landscapes, design and culture of new places, as well as the sounds, smells and energy of the location. Translating the energy of a lived experience to my work through a joyful balance of color, texture and form is my goal. As I’ve learned more about the history of punch needle rug hooking, that has also become a huge inspiration in my work from a conceptual standpoint. Techniques like sewing, embroidery, rug hooking and quilting are so deeply connected to the history of women throughout centuries, and I find that inspirational as I continue to move this work forward into the future.
What is your biggest dream?
I want to introduce the possibilities of punch needle into all sorts of industries! I would love to collaborate with a furniture brand, and I would love to design a custom coat for a singer/musician. Through my work with Punch Needle World I also hope to educate and inspire many others around the world to embrace the traditional craft of punch needle, and bring it into the 21st Century with new fresh ideas. I want to help revive this craft as a rug making technique and restore the cachet that it once had. Overall, I want to continue to experiment and create work that keeps pushing the boundaries between fashion, art and sculpture!
What do you think of social media as a tool at the service of arts and crafts?
I love social media as a tool to showcase my work, connect with others, and build a brand. What I do today would not be possible without it! I love being connected to other people, companies and brands around the world, seeing what other creatives are doing, learning and reaching a broader audience. The art world of the past is very closed and secretive. The internet and social media removes the need for gatekeepers and gives artists and creatives control over how to showcase and share their own work and story.
What is for you the best moment during the day to be creative?
I am most creative and productive in the morning. I wake up and immediately my mind is racing with ideas! I get up and make coffee, make a list of all the things I want to do that day, take a walk around the neighborhood and when I get home I dive into work. Around 4pm I start to slow down, so I try to focus most of my work in the morning and leave the evening for gathering inspiration, research or smaller projects.
I don't have one mentor, but I have a couple networks of female creatives and entrepreneurs in NYC and LA who I learn a lot from, who energize and inspire me!
Your favorite textile art book?
I haven't read too many textile art books, but I love the book Slow Stitch by Claire Wellesley-Smith. I purchased it before I began doing punch needle, when I was just focused on fashion, and wanted to incorporate more sustainable and slow stitch practices into my work.
Tell us about the coat made for us.
The idea behind this coat was to work with the beautiful fiber selection that DHG provides, in particular the Piuma wool. This is an extra fine merino wool, that is significantly lighter and softer than the rug wool I usually work with, so it was an exciting challenge to experiment and discover how this yarn developed into a coat! When it comes to creating, I am heavily inspired by the materials I work with. I find that the style of the yarn will determine the best design, the way the coat feels and the way it is constructed. The Piuma wool is not very tightly spun, which gives the loops a very soft almost feathery feel. It begs to be touched! I selected a palette of natural colors, gold, brown, cream, grey and white, which felt very earthy, inspired by the natural world, and appropriate for autumn.
If you liked this article you may also like Bookhou and an Art Nouveau style needle punch.