Knitting with glass: The incredible work of Carol Milne

Carol Milne

You know the feeling of looking at art and wondering how it was even made – what kind of magic is behind its creation.

This is what Carol Milne’s pieces do to you, leaving you puzzled and amazed at how could she possibly knit with glass. Because when a material has a melting point of 1400 to 1600 C, physically working it with needles sounds highly unlikely.

The truth is, in 2006 the Seattle-based artist developed a lost-wax bespoke technique. She casts the knitted sculpture in wax, then fills it with melted glass. The artwork is then excavated out of the mold – et voilà, the work is ready.

Carol Milne

Carol Milne

However, knowing the truth doesn’t make you less impressed with the lightness and the delicate craftsmanship of her pieces – we could spend a long time studying each knit and purl following how the thread loops, curves and interlaces.

Glass is the perfect material choice to celebrate these details. As Milne states: “Knitted goods exude comfort: soft, cozy, warm and heartwarming. Once they are in glass, the result loses most of the qualities we associate with knitting and becomes something else entirely. Where we once noticed the surface and feel of the material, we now shift our emphasis to the structure of the material itself.

Carol Milne

Carol Milne

“We notice the twisting interconnection between the stitches, the deepening of color where the stitches overlap, and the spaces between the stitches. Where it was once a flexible fabric able to mold to our bodies, it is now rigid and fragile. It is nice to look at, but totally impractical to wear.”

The sculptures are shaped into vessels, boots or hands, or instead showcase a “work in progress” textile sample, while the addition of real objects, like a safety pin or actual knitting needles running through the stitches, adds to the realistic impression of the artwork.

Carol Milne

Carol Milne

Her work will be in the 9th International Craft Competition as part of Cheongiu Craft Biennale in South Korea. WGSN Lifestyle & Interiors subscribers – keep an eye out for a great report on oversized knit coming out later this month, and in the meantime there’s plenty more inspiration to be found in our Textiles and Materials sections.

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