Beginner and Master

Beginner and Master

Anton Alvarez, The Thread Wrapping Machine Chair 090415

Anton Alvarez, The Thread Wrapping Machine Chair 090415, 2015, polyester thread, fabric, fake fur, poly-vinyl acetate glue, color pigment, MDF, plywood, oriented strand board, wood, plastic, metal, 37 x 16.5 x 21.5 in.; Photo: Courtesy of the artist and Salon 94

As an object, this chair by Anton Alvarez is interesting to look at – but it becomes pure marvel once you learn how it’s made. If you unwrapped it, you’d be left with an assortment of textiles, metal, plastic, and wood, next to a pile of more than 7 miles of thread. No nails. No screws. No dovetail joints. 

The Thread Wrapping Machine Chair 090415, as its name suggests, is one of many – part of an evolving series the Swedish-Chilean artist has been developing since his 2012 graduation from London’s Royal College of Art. He invented his thread-wrapping machine, calling on his background in cabinetmaking, graffiti, and design, during his MFA studies.

Imagine two parallel wooden rings equipped with several bobbins of thread and reservoirs of glue and dye. While one of the rings rotates clockwise, the other counters. Whatever passes through the rings is promptly covered and bound with multicolored thread, glue, and pigment.

“Maybe very bravely, but I claim it to be my own craft that never existed before this machine,” he says. “I was a beginner and still the master in some way.”

In April, his first US exhibition, “Wrapsody,” turned New York’s Salon 94 gallery into a workshop where he created, then showcased several new creations, including 090415. It’s now on display at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, until January 10 as part of “Crafted: Objects in Flux.”

Looking forward, Alvarez is taking the concept further and has built a larger thread-wrapping machine capable of building pieces that fill entire rooms and tower over viewers – Thread Wrapping Architecture, as he refers to the new work. More uncharted territory.

“This is the way I’ve been working with this project. Trying to add, and maybe surprise myself in some way,” he explains. And trying not to anticipate “how the outcome will look.”