Let's talk about art: Mittens as art
Textile artist Amber Coppings turned her love of color and texture into a business that features the latest fashion craze: Xmittens. Even Justin Bieber wears them.
They are fingerless, recycled fleece gloves that come in nearly every color under the rainbow. Ms. Coppings of Lawrenceville started making them in 2004 to keep her hands warm while working in her cold studio.
Like a lot of artists, her mother was the first one to encourage her to be creative. "She taught me how to crochet when I was 8. I loved it from the moment I took a hold of that shiny blue crochet hook," she says. "I remember making a very, very, very long strand of crochet stitches."
Ms. Coppings moved to Pittsburgh 16 years ago and after a couple of years dabbling in various art careers, she decided to turn her creative endeavors into a business venture. "My mom tells me she always knew I would be a textile designer."
She sells her one-of-a-kind accessories -- Xmittens, hats, scarves, wraps and coats -- at the Shop at PCA in Shadyside, Pavement in Lawrenceville and online at Xmittens.net.
Ms. Coppings is part of a group of Pittsburgh crafters working outside the mainstream, sometimes called DIY (do-it-yourself) artisans and crafters. Locally they've gained recognition through craft fairs like this past weekend's Handmade Arcade event at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. Across the country and around the world crafting with reclaimed/recycled materials and methods is all the rage.
Her accessories emphasize "great design and texture, while using recycled and thoughtfully sourced fabrics," she explains. Besides the extra cozy Xmittens made from vegan fleece (recycled polyester), Ms. Coppings also makes a lightweight cotton-blend mitten for year-round wearing. These are hand-dyed using a Japanese technique called shibori.
Xmittens are just one of many hand-crafted items, created by more than 200 local and regional artists, featured at the annual Holiday Shop at PCA. A free reception to commemorate the start of the holiday season will be held Friday, from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m.
For the holiday hours schedule at PCA, or more info about the Holiday Shop go to: www.pittsburgharts.org.
This is a biweekly series about art and artists in the region. Pittsburgh Filmmakers/Pittsburgh Center for the Arts serves the community through arts education, exhibitions and artist resources.
First Published November 15, 2011 12:00 am