I began Tatting because I had seen it discussed in some old handicrafts books and I was intrigued by the process; seduced by its delicacy, meditative repetition and the fineness of line. Although, I am primarily self taught, I later discovered that my grandmother was an avid tatter, who mined one of the primary impulses of domesticity; to make and make beautiful.
My explorations have led me to veer away from the doilies of my grandmother and to investigate three-dimensional forms in Tatting. I am particularly drawn to the idea that a line/ filament can become form. I have also experimented with many different types of thread-like materials, such as Plarn (made from recycled plastic bags), T-Shirt yarn, paper thread, human hair, thermoplastic coated thread and recycled silk saris. I chiefly utilize nylon C-Lon cord, which I find has just the right amount of stiffness and flexibility to create the undulating forms that I am drawn towards.
I am particularly intrigued by the underlying order found in nature, especially among fungi, corals and marine invertebrates. My pieces draw on the biological, in order to create abstracted, hybrids; forms which reference nature, but are not imitations of nature. These organic, ambiguous sculptures not only connect to nature, but also confront the relationship that we have to/ towards nature by allowing one to consider the complexity of all life forms, as well as the fragility and delicate balance of nature.
My work is primarily improvisatory, although I regularly use repeating patterns, and hyperbolic geometry, as a foundation to “grow” forms out of a predictable order, based on rate of increase. Thus allowing thread, a line, to become a frozen wave by following a formula of counting and skipping stitches, iterated over and over. The resulting form is infinitely expanding, occupying exponentially more space as it curls in upon itself.
I feel that Tatting is experiencing something of a renaissance, brought back from the brink of extinction by the Internet, which has facilitated connection and sharing of techniques on a global scale. But, despite this renewed interest, Tatting remains an under-recognized lace making form, and still labors under the heavy weight of its cultural reference of old ladies making useless domestic bric-a-brac. However, I feel that the time is ripe for expansion both technically and conceptually; for pushing boundaries and exploring new, uncharted territories across the entire map of Tatting possibilities.
Andrea Brewster graduated cum laude with a B.A. in Sculpture from Pomona College, Claremont, CA and obtained her M.F.A. from the San Francisco Art Institute in New Genres. In 1993 she received a National Endowment for the Arts grant for Works on Paper.
She has exhibited her artwork throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, including solo shows at Mercury 20, The Lab, and Southern Exposure and in group shows at Chandra Cerrito Contemporary, The Oakland Museum, New Langton Arts, and the Peninsula Museum. In 2017 her work was included in an international exhibition devoted to Tatting, at the Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles. In October 2020 her work was included in the Headford Lace Project show, “The Space Between” in Headford, County Galway, Ireland and in Summer 2021 in the Bi-Annual International Fiber Arts X exhibition held in Sebastopol, CA.
Her work can be viewed on Instagram @abrewster698