Clothes are a representation of our culture: an expression of an industrialized society where repetition is used in the service of the assembly line. In my pieces, the intensive handwork makes the process the most important part and gives me my inspiration. Chainmaille has been the catalyst to every other medium I excel in. All of the mediums I enjoy are obsessive and have repetitive patterns.
Through chainmaille, I have found my patience.
– Sky Cubacub
Above: Sky Cubacub models her own work for a show at Swimming Pool Project Space in Chicago, IL
It feels like we here at B3 have watched strikingly original Chicago artist Sky Cubacub grow up right before our eyes. A radical thinker and maker, Sky uses the ancient art of chainmaille and other traditional crafts including scherenschnitte (traditional paper cutting) and embroidery to explore contemporary subject matter and create modern (think futuristic) “body sculpture”. Oh, and did we mention she is barely old enough to vote?
Your work is so strikingly sophisticated I always forget you just finished high school! Where do you think this impetus for such thoughtful creativity came from for you?
Both my parents are multi media artists, so I didn’t really have a choice, I was just born with it.
How did you have time to make the work you make and still keep up with school?
Last year was easy to make time for my work because I had a senior project, which was 3 out of the 6 periods, and I had sculpture, drawing/painting and shakespeare lit outside of that. I basically never stop working, even during passing periods I will be chainmailling, and when I walk, I just embroider.
Have you always been interesting in making fashion and wearable art?
I have always loved wearing costumes and since I could dress myself I always wore two different colored socks, but I didn’t start adding found object to clothes until the 7th grade, and it wasn’t until freshman year that I really got into it making garments, but it was more of an interest in making bigger chainmaille projects.
Above: Sky Models Chainmaille dress, 2008-2009, Byzantine weave with aluminum rings (Left) and previews her Wayang Kulit Collection at Redmoon Theaters J.O.E. 2010 (Right)
Why make wearable art instead of more traditional fashion or sculpture?
Traditional fashion has been done to death and I do make sculpture as well. I actually prefer to call what I make “body sculpture”
What inspired you start working with chainmaille?
At Caravan Beads, I always saw the samples of projects made in the classes they offered, and I loved the chainmaille ones the best, but they always said I was too young to take the class, so I finally got to take it with my mother when I turned 13.
Above: A piece from Sky’s “Repetitive Motions” collection/show
The chainmaille couture world is pretty small (meaning you are certainly a pioneer). Who do look to for inspiration?
I don’t look to other fashion designers, instead I get my inspiration from people like Buckminster Fuller and his geodesic domes, and I also get a lot of inspiration from the chainmaille weaves themselves.
What other materials do you enjoy working with?
I also specialize in traditional paper cutting called scherenschnitte. Embroidery, cardboard, wax, found object (washers, scissors, pop tops, army men)
Above: Sky Models a wearable piece that use two specific scherenschnitte patterns (Left) and her work Army Man Dress, 2008, melted army men, plastic tanks (Right)
Sadly, we missed your show in June due to Bead & Button show craziness, what do you have coming up that we should keep our eyes peeled for?
I am working on my next collection, but it will not have any chainmaille in it. I have some pictures on my fanpage on facebook– under preview of Wayang Kulit collection. It will be a collection of life sized wearable shadow puppets.
You recently previewed one of the pieces from that collection at Redmoon Theater’s first ever J.O.E. at Belmont Harbor. How did you get involved with Redmoon?
My friend from working with Dzine got me in contact with the people from Redmoon. I interned with Redmoon over the summer, helping with coloring and puppet mechanics for their show, The Astronaut’s Birthday at the MCA. I was originally going to make costumes, but they ended up cutting that part out of the show. I am currently working for Redmoon on their annual Winter Pageant, making costumes for a family of puppets and I definitly would love to continue working for them, but I think I will limit myself to working during the summers to make time for my own work as well.