Mai Ohana in her studio with three completed commissions from 2021: Web (top), Orange Squiggle (bottom), and Berry Chain (right). Photo by Terttu Uibopuu.
Instead of the old latch hooks and punch needles of the past, today’s tufters reach for their trusty and (relatively) affordable tufting guns. After a design is prepped on tufting cloth, users punch dense loops of yarn into it, rapid-fire, finishing a rug in just hours or days.
For three young textile artists who started ahead of the trend, tufting is fiber art infused with playful design and their artful aesthetic, resulting in something uniquely theirs.
Savannah, Georgia–based Trish Andersen takes a painterly approach to her tufted works and color-filled wall hangings. The Savannah College of Art and Design fibers grad was notably featured at Design Miami 2019 with a large-scale tufted series. Her more recent works have a trompe-l’oeil effect, resembling draped, dripping, abstract expressionist–like canvases.
Inspired by Memphis design, interiors of the ’70s and ’80s, and what she calls “powerclashing” or using super-vibrant contrasting colors together, Hampshire College graduate Mai Ohana never shies from bold geometric patterns. Contrasting checkerboards sliced by mischievous squiggles, groovy two-tone marbling, and mod black and white are all signature patterns in Ohana’s popular online shop, launched in 2020.
Caroline Kaufman’s textural tufted works are composed of abstract elements that seem to float, weightless, in space. A Pratt Institute fashion design alum, Kaufman’s interest in knitwear and painting led her to tufting back in 2018, well before it took off on social media. She regularly posts tantalizing detail shots and works-in-progress on her Instagram (and TikTok to a lesser extent), straight from her picturesque Brooklyn studio
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