Pink knitted motorcycle cozies and tool belts may not be the stuff that boys or girls dream of, but for Theresa Honeywell they speak to both her feminine and masculine sides. Plus, they look great.
“It makes things more interesting to contrast opposites,” she says. “Whether it’s textures (hard vs. soft) or mediums (metal vs. knitting) or ideas (masculine vs. feminine, or crafts vs. Art).”
While getting a master’s degree at Tennessee’s Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, Honeywell explored her macho side using “feminine” arts such as knitting and embroidery. Tattoos and “lowbrow art” were represented in colorful thread and yarn.
She found her first Kawasaki in a junkyard. “I was very particular about the style of bike; I wanted an early-80s, rugged macho-bike,” she remembers.
Honeywell, who lives in Jacksonville, Fla., began with machine guns and handguns, then tools and tool belts, a jackhammer, an electric guitar, and finally the Knit Motorcycle Series. She’s knit three motorcycles to date, and embroidered hundreds of tattoos.
“The tattoos that I stitch are typically macho-associated icons, but I’m redrawing them out of thread — a softer and typically domestic-associated material,” she says. “The images are based on vintage tattoo imagery, and my designs are made in the similar labor-intense way that a tattoo is made.”
Each piece of tattooed embroidery takes about two weeks to complete, the knitted pieces even longer. “The motorcycles can take up to two months,” she says. “Many people are shocked at the time involved, but the labor process is a huge conceptual part of the piece. I am a woman using domestic techniques to change the appearance and associations of typically masculine-associated objects.”
Honeywell’s work has been displayed in San Francisco, New York, and lots of places in between. Next up is the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Mo., where she’s planning a few surprises. “I would love to do something really large and crazy; maybe a bulldozer or something for tearing up the ground or buildings,” she says.
More Hardcore Crafts: theresahoneywell.com