This is a re-post of an article originally posted in 2017.
All Photos by @1000ThingsToDoInDenver, unless noted.
If you’ve ever walked down Larimer this past year, you’ve probably spied, up in the sky, the incredible feat of both artistry and architecture that is The Geoge. The Geoge is the crocheted work of The Ladies Fancy Work Society for Colorado Crush, 2016. After seeing it go up last September, and admiring it, so many times since, I reached out to The Fancy Ladies Work Society to find out what they’re working on for Crush 2017.
I photoed The Ladies, on June 3, at Europa, a coffee shop here in Denver. It’s with pure amazement that I watched them transform yarn into art pieces that will grow larger and larger, and eventually, make-up a large scale installation for Crush 2017.
First off, can you give your bio so the folks reading can learn a little but more about you?
The Ladies Fancywork Society has been terrorizing your neighborhood with their garish yarn crimes since 2007. What began as a group of crochet-loving friends just chillin’ out maxin’ relaxin’ all cool and shooting some b-ball outside of the school has transformed into a diabolic art hydra capable of putting together large-scale projects, international art shows, and installations.
Also, we’re fun at parties.
I want to dive right into this year’s piece for Crush. It will go up in September, when do you start thinking about it? At what point are you thinking about theme, size, color, etc.
We’ve been thinking about it since we put up last year’s piece! We’ve had back and forth about it for the last year but we started really narrowing down an idea around March this year.
One reason I wanted to do this interview and photo the process is it’s so labor intensive and I thought it would be cool for people to see the work and the passion that will go into this piece. Can you walk us through you process?
It’s hard to keep track of time in the process because we are always, always making stuff- usually a couple different projects are on the burner in various stages at the same time. Usually after brainstorming a few themes we start doodling stuff, but they’re not nice renderings or anything- I don’t think anyone else would look at our sketches and see anything really. Then we all make some pieces in some sort of agreed upon range of colors or shapes etc, then come back together with what we made and see how it all fits and if it’s still congruent with our initial idea or if maybe our idea has morphed some. We basically do that last part back and forth for a few months and our concept is a little more solid every time until it’s pretty well formed.
So we spend a lot of time crocheting the elements of our piece on our own (well we hang out a lot but that’s just for fun), and then when we have most of our pieces done we spend a lot of time assembling it all together- usually in the basement of Lowbrow, for days at a time, until we get super weird and develop hunchbacks and forget what sunlight looks like and how to talk to other people. This is where we hand stitch all the pieces we made into a larger concept, work on hidden structural elements too, which is part of a lot of our work.
So that’s our process whether it’s a big project and takes half the year, or a small project and takes a few weeks, it just scales up or down.
What I really noticed from the day I shot photos you working at Europa is there”s not a lot of talking but a lot of communication, a real short hand with you ladies. I know this is your tenth year anniversary. Can you give us your origin story? How you met, how you evolved into art installation?
The Ladies Fancy Work Society origin story isn’t very interesting- we’re just friends- who met through school, work etc- who kind of started doing this together, first on a small scale and then getting bigger and bigger and crazier and batshit crazier. But really- I mean, what are the chances that the four of us are humans together on this earth in this lifetime right now? It’s pretty crazy that we’re here right now and get to do this.
And we definitely mind meld. We’ve been told more than once when we’re installing that we resemble a hive of bees. We’ve spent so much time together, we don’t really need words anymore. We’ve probably been in a lot of covens together over the ages.
At the point I met you at Europa (when all these photos were taken), what’s the feeling? Are you excited? Is it daunting? Because all I noticed was the fun you were having. But seeing the scope of last year’s piece, I know there’s so much work ahead.
If we stop and really think about the work load ahead it can be a bit daunting. But we all love what we do, so we’re always having fun. We’re constantly crocheting, it almost feels wrong not to have a hook and yarn in our hands.
Is there pressure, whether outside or as a group, to top last year’s piece?
We definitely like to bite off more than we can chew and then chew it up anyways. As soon as we install a piece we start thinking about how we can make the next one bigger and better.
I know there’s some secrets about this years piece. Is there anything you can tell us?
Our piece for Crush this year is already underway! We’re hoping to take the viewer to a place they’ve never been. It’s going to be out of this world!
Do you already know how long it will take to install? And can an audience watch? I think that was the coolest thing about Crush last year, watching pieces go up.
A lot of the production and assembly will happen off site, before hand and we’re still working out our installation specifics. Peeps can definitely follow or social medias during the week of Crush to see updates on our installs. (Ed. Note: Follow @LadiesFancyWorkSociety on instagram, here)
Can you tell us where else we can see your work? I was so excited when I saw your piece at Kachina… and I knew it was you right away. So second question, can you define a Ladies Fancy Work Society style?
– The tree at Kachina is a permanent installation!
– A few of our crocheted clouds are currently on view at the Ross-Cherry Creek Library through the end of July.
– A crocheted Sherlock Holmes tapestry is permanently on view at the Ross-Cherry Creek Library.
– Geoge is located at 2719 Larimer Street, indefinitely, so far he’s been up for nine months.
Our style is all the colors all the time, yarn vomit crazy town.
I think what I loved about the Kachina art installation was, it tells me the restaurant is fun… that they “get” Denver. Do you want to talk about who The Ladies Fancy Work Society’s ideal client would be?
Our dream clients and projects include opportunities for us to work in a large scale where we can be as garish and tacky as we want. We’d also love to be part of larger street art festivals like Pow Wow, Art Basel, Life is Beautiful, etc.
Can I say I’m completely obsessed with you guys starting a t-shirt line because I would buy every design. Can you each pitch what the logo would be?
Haha! That would be great! We are going to start producing enamel pins, which should be pretty great! Maybe we’ll have some stickers soon too, they’ll probably be pretty tacky and awesome 😛
Or on their website!