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EVELYN HARDIN

OUR FAVORITE MAD TEXAN

"White Spire Tube-Worm" grove by Evelyn Hardin, pictured here in its installation at Track 16 Gallery, Los Angeles (2009). [Curated and assembled by Ann Wertheim.] Photo from the IFF Archive by Francine McDougall 2009.

It is hard to know where to begin with Evelyn. And it is certain the woman doesn't know how to stop. Evelyn's inventiveness has never ceased to amaze us and during the course of this project we've seen a lot of incredible creative feminine energy. Without warning we began receiving boxes from Cedar Hill, Texas. Each was a surprise. Some contained tiny delicate works made from mercerized thread or embroidery floss, others were full of large flobbery forms made from hairy brown yarns. Getting a box from Evelyn was like opening the mystery door on Pick-A-Box; you never knew what it might contain. The woman seemed to have no boundaries - she was equally comfortable with lacework and rubbish, equally facile with fine mohair and used plastic bags.

Who was this person?

The Plastic Exploding Inevitable Garden at the Winter Garden, New York. At front left stands a grove of picnic-glass anemone forms with plastic craft lace heads by Evelyn. Photo by Helen Wall.

So we called her up, and from the other end of the phone a liquid Texan accent came pouring down the pipeline. As a contributor to the Reef, Evelyn prefers to remain anonymous, known for her works rather than herself. We honor that modesty and present here a small fragment of her astounding and eclectic ouvre.

In the history of the Crochet Reef project, Evelyn was the first at many things. We have found that crochet reef inventions are often made repeatedly by different contributors, each working in ignorance of the others on opposite sides of the world. That process parallels the history of life itself, for so often, through the ages, nature has also reinvented the same forms again and again on different continents in similar ecological niches - the process is known as "convergent evolution." But there are first firsts and Evelyn has been the foremost of these. Among her greatest contributions to the Crochet Reef project are the forms she's made from plastic craft lace. At these she is a master. Below are a few of her craft lace corals with plastic bead adornments.

Craft lace anemone head by Evelyn Hardin. Photo by Margaret Wertheim.

Evelyn was the one who introduced cable ties into the project. Her diatom forms crocheted from yarn with cable-tie cillia have entranched us, and while we were eager for her to do an entire collection of these, Evelyn was always off on a new tangent. One week it was crocheted computer tape, another it was crocheted video-tape, another week she was into strapping tape - though it is hard to see how she worked with this difficult material.

Evelyn's output was prodigious - whatever we said we wanted, she sent six of them. Though if we asked her to repeat that she usually had better ideas in mind. The best thing to do with Evelyn is to let her work speak for itself.

Detail of diatom form by Evelyn, crocheted from plastic craft lace, with cable ties and plastic beads. Photo by Aaron and Cassandra Ott.

Radiolarian form by Evelyn Hardin - made from plastic strapping tape and cable ties.

Evelyn has also been an important contributor to the IFF's Crochet Cactus Garden installation, a little-sister sibling to the Crochet Coral Reef. For the Cactus Garden, Evelyn has made a number of amazing constructions, including the exquisite pale pink and green aeonium pile pictured below. Like her other Cactii forms, this one is made from felted soy yarn. Once we suggested cactii to her, Evelyn astounded us with her inventiveness and style, dreaming up embellishments we could never have imagined, including adding copper nail thorns to one model and cable tie bristles to another.

Left: Felted crochet cactus by Evelyn Hardin - photographed in the IFF's Crochet Cactus Garden exhibition at the Wignall Gallery, Chaffey College (Spring 2008). Right: Collection of felted crochet cactii by Evelyn Hardin - photographed in the IFF's Crochet Cactus Garden exhibition at the Wignall Gallery, Chaffey College (Spring 2008). The round model at front is adorned with copper nails.

Collection of felted crochet cactii by Evelyn Hardin - at right - photographed in the IFF's Crochet Cactus Garden exhibition at the Wignall Gallery, Chaffey College (Spring 2008).