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From The Archive: An Interview with Christin Ripley
You’re a multi-faceted artisan, could you list the trade skills/work you do?
My studio specializes in hand-printed textiles that I sew and/or upholster into sculpture and functional objects like pillows, pouches, and furniture. I practice printmaking techniques including Turkish Ebru Marbling, relief printing, serigraph and monoprinting, as well as woodworking, bookbinding and sewing. I make each object start to finish including: designing, printing, sewing, and construction of wooden furniture frames to be upholstered.
When did you start Objects n’ the Round? How did you get started?
In 2014 I started Objects ‘n the Round, when I moved upstate after living in NYC for 14 years. Shifting my studio practice into a business seemed like the only way I could reach my goal of being in my studio everyday, and I'm still able to sneak in sculptural elements into forms when sewing pillows and upholstering objects. I am really fortunate to have studied in a great sculpture department at the Cooper Union. The wood-shop, shop-technicians and professors opened a whole new world of possibilities to me as I got comfortable using machines and tools in the shop.
How did you end up in Catskill?
I moved to the Hudson Valley from New York City to share a storefront workspace and venue with my friend Patrick Kiley who runs Publication Studio Hudson. We were both starting out our separate businesses together in the same space, Patrick working with artist’s and writer’s to publish print on demand books, book launches, artist’s talks, and film screenings—while I started the beginning of my marbling journey trouble-shooting fabrics, inks, and viscosities of liquefied seaweed, while taking commissions, painting signs, developing my first wholesale relationship, selling at markets and working part-time jobs. In particular I got to work with a spectacular seamstress in Hudson, NY, Mitchell Motsinger of “Sew and Sew by Mitchell”, who really helped hone in and sharpen my sewing skills which has improved the quality of the sewn objects I now make.
What is your favorite part of the creative process?
I’m drawn to non-narrative, non-representational image making processes that create patterns from a reaction in the material world. I love that marbling like so many printmaking processes achieves this. The immediacy of mark making, as in the painter’s brush stroke, is replaced by a sequence of steps to reveal a nature of its own. Roland Barthes has this great comparison of the artist to the athlete, I like to think that the creative process is the highest attunement and expression of the human experience just as an athlete exemplifies the highest capabilities and pushes limitations of what the human body is capable of.
What is a challenge in your process or one that you’ve encountered recently? How did you work through it or go about solving the problem?
I didn’t imagine marbling would take center stage of my studio practice four years ago when I started. But there is something so incredibly frustrating and alluring that keeps drawing me back to master this most finicky and unscientific process. Its been a long road testing fabrics and sourcing suppliers to find the perfect heavy weight fabric for marbling that would be appropriate for upholstery and furniture making, a bit like the Goldie Locks story—too textured, too loosely wove, not absorbent enough. After finally finding the perfect fabric and working with it for two years, the mill is ceasing to produce it. I keep hoping I will have an “Ingres Moment” – just as the French neoclassical painter worked with a paper mill to invent a textured paper to help grip the chalky dust of pastels, I dream of connecting with a textile mill to design the ultimate medium weight canvas for marbling. But for now it's back to the drawing board.
Is there a ritual you practice in your studio? Or is there a work practice mantra or motto for the year?
In marbling there is this idea that the artist is but one of many elemental forces that cooperate together to bring an idea into material form. The artist is merely a conduit to bring forth spirit of genius and poetry. I prefer this to the postmodern notion that Artist is Icon, Brand, and primary controller, mover and manifester of materials and ideas.