Not all all street art is spray paint and wheatpaste. London Kaye crochets large colourful murals out of yarn and ties them up to walls and fences. We spoke with Kaye in Brooklyn to watch how she creates her pieces and what is involved in the process. Following is a transcript of the video.
London Kaye: My name is London Kaye, and I’m a street artist here in Brooklyn. Everything I make is made out of yarn.
Yarn bombing is when you take a piece of crochet or knit and you wrap it around something, usually outside.
I think it’s great, because it takes that craft of your grandma that holds so much nostalgia and is almost reinventing it in a whole new way.
I started crocheting when I was 13, I sold scarves to my friends and girls at my dance studio when I was growing up. After I graduated college, I was working at Apple, 9-5 job, and knew there was more to life than selling computers.
So, I took one of my scarves I made and wrapped it around a tree outside of my house in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn and left it there. It started catching on, I haven’t stopped since.
Coming up with a piece, it always starts with an idea, and I get inspiration from current events, things going on in pop culture, bright colours; anything that kind of interests me.
From there, sometimes, I’ll draw it out, water down the shapes to the most basic shapes; from the sketch I crochet it, I glue it all together, and then I hang it up on the fence. I’ll go through and tie each string up on the fence, cut the strings, take a photo and I’m out.
I usually put up my crocheted art on chain link fence. When I started out, I had no idea it would be such a perfect canvas, because it allows you to stretch and manipulate the yarn. I also love doing it out of a water pipe or unexpected objects that usually wouldn’t see crocheted.
I like to mix a lot of different colours and textures together to create a bit more depth. I print my own crochet hooks on 3D printers, I actually just got a patent approved a few weeks ago.
My crochet art usually lasts about two weeks. It’s not the weather that hurts the crochet. The yarn does very well in rain or snow, in the heat. It’s usually people that take it, but I tell myself whoever takes it, loves it so much, they can’t live without it, and that kind of keeps me going.
Out of the, probably 400 yarn bombs I’ve hung up, I’ve been stopped four times. I never got officially in trouble by the police and hopefully I’m going strong with that record.
Right from the start, people started reaching out, brands started reaching out to me, asking them to do marketing campaigns, advertising campaigns. A couple of my favourite brand collaborations I’ve done is: a capsule collection with Red Valentino, which is a fashion brand based out of Rome, and I got to do 14 different store windows around the world and open up two new stores and do a capsule collection of crochet clothes; dream.
I got to do a 25-foot by 50-foot billboard in Times Square for Miller Lite beer, all crocheted. I’ve worked on a Gap commercial crocheting a school bus. I’ve crocheted high heels for Sarah Jessica Parker.
My favourite piece is a crocheted dragon I put up, it was on 6th Avenue between 14th and 15th street and stretched for about 20 feet. It was shooting fire out of its mouth. When it got pulled down, the community came back with ribbons saying where’s my dragon, who took my dragon and it was the first time I got to see, wow, this art really does affect the people that live here and see it every day.
Everybody has that connection to yarn, so no matter who it is, young, old, where they’re from, they have seen crochet.
I just love bringing unexpected joy to people’s day and I think that’s what street art does.
I am a really big “[The] Amazing Race” fan, so I was at a sushi restaurant one night and I met the host of “The Amazing Race.” We got to talking and somehow, I ended up on a season of “The Amazing Race.” I came in third place. The crochet did not help at all, I was really hoping for, like, a crochet challenge, or a crochet challenge, or a crochet challenge. No.
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