We had an opportunity to ask Jacob a few questions about his work.

Q: How did you learn to crochet and how long have you been crocheting? 

A: One of my partners, Austin, taught me how to crochet in March of last year.  I've crocheted just about every single day since then!  I feel as though I've found a medium that works for me, 

Q: How did you start creating masks? 

I think masks are my natural response to feelings of alienation and lack of agency in a culture of consumption and violence.

I've been making masks since about 2011, mostly out of wire and paper. Last May, I made a free-form crochet mask over the course of a day.

This crochet mask was a response to feeling isolated at a social event and only having yarn as a working material. 

 I've lately been focused on developing this further and exploring different series emphasizing one or two aesthetic elements.

Q: Where do you find your inspiration?

A: Much of my work is abstract and heavily process oriented. I'm inspired in part by naturally occurring textures, patterns, and growth processes; especially iteration coupled with stochasticity. Operating outside of anthropocentric distance and time scales. Think stalactite formation, mold growth, and sedimentation.

I like to start with small pieces and, with lots of iteration and work, build up to something. The final pieces are not planned.

There are a few other artists I've been looking to as a way to get a sense of place. In particular Olek (https://www.instagram.com/oleknyc/) and Aldo Lanzini (http://www.aldolanzini.eu/).

Q: Are there particular yarns that you like to use?

A: It really depends on the effect I'm trying to achieve. If I'm looking to do very high relief sculptural work that has a lot of structure, I'm going to use acrylic yarn. You can do some unbelievable things with acrylic. For other textures and patterns, especially if I'm looking for something that's going to read as more natural, I really appreciate cotton and silk. For the skin tight masks that have no sculptural elements at all I'm using a nice blend of cotton and silk.

Q: Are there special techniques that you use?  (This can be a lead in for the upcoming class....)

In general I tend to almost exclusively work in extended single crochet ribbing, back or front loop. This leads to having very strong lines on the surface of the work and very visible stitch definition (I think the extended single crochet posts look like teeth). I prefer to emphasize the work, the process of crochet, rather than try to hide it.

Additionally, if I need high structure there's a method where I'll work a row in extended single crochet or double crochet, then go back over the posts with another round of crochet. This leads to very structural pieces (consider the purple piece from my instagram).

Want to learn how to make a mask? Jacob will be teaching a Beyond the Garment - Crochet Masks 101.  Stay tuned for details!