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Tapestry Trainers - Emma Sulzer!

Date: December 16 2009

By: Sneaker Freaker

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Melbourne artist Emma Sulzer has made a career out of the unlikely art of tapestry, bringing a fresh sense of credibility to an artform you thought only your nana loved. Here's a selection of uncannily accurate tapestry 3-D sneakers that she made stitch-by-stitch for a recent show in her hometown. With each sneaker taking around 40 hours of solid work to complete, we knew we had to hit up the nimble fingered weaver to knock out her own spectacular version of our New Balance 850. Crikey - look at that little beauty! From the cover of Sneaker Freaker Issue 17 to holding down a killer position at the Victorian Tapestry Workshop, we hit up the local lass for a quick chin wag to find out more about this phenomenon!

Tell us a bit about yourself...
My name is Emma Sulzer and I'm from Melbourne. I have a Bachelor of Fine Art, majoring in Tapestry, from Monash University, Caulfield campus. I currently work full time as a weaver at the Victorian Tapestry Workshop in South Melbourne.

Why tapestry shoes?
Tapestry is traditionally seen as a women's craft medium. I wanted to apply tapestry to a contemporary subject to elevate the art form and to make tapestry appealing to a young audience.

What got you started?
The designs for these tapestry shoes were selected from a friend's sneaker collection. I was attracted to the different styles, colours and logos. I started looking through copies of sneaker freaker and found that sneakers are more than functional footwear, they reflect identity, desire, a place and a time.

Sure do! How long does each shoe take?
Each shoe takes at least 40 hours. This includes gathering the materials, making a pattern as you would do for a dress, then weaving the individual pieces and stitching them together.

How do you copy them from a shoe?

I take the original shoe or a photograph of one and mark out onto clear plastic sheeting the separate sections (ie sole, tongue, logos) - there can be up to 15 different panels to copy. After selecting the correct colours and textures to accurately represent the design i then weave each piece on a loom. I then stitch each piece together and sculpt them onto a wire frame.

Are they wearable?

No, as much as people would love to wear them, they are designed as artworks, they are quite fragile and the wire frame would hurt I imagine!

Where can we buy your shoes?
You can contact me at [email protected]

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