Macro and Micro: A Visual Excercise in Things Large and Small

Amanda Belue

“To take a photograph is to participate in another person’s (or thing’s) mortality, vulnerability, mutability. Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to time’s relentless melt.”
― Susan Sontag   

A figure, staring through glared glass, at a city morphing in front of his eyes; a moment frozen in time. The figure: Joseph C. Daniels, the president and chief executive of the nonprofit foundation that oversees the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. In one click of the shutter, Ashley Gilbertson (the photographer) captures the hopes and aspirations of an entire organization built around memorializing those who tragically lost their lives over 12 years ago. 

From a journalistic perspective, the photograph helps begin the New York Times article’s conversation surrounding one of the most difficult events the 9/11 Museum has yet to face: it’s opening in May. From space restrictions to stakeholder sensitivities, the Museum has a momentous task ahead of it, and the magnitude of that is equally represented within the first photograph. The reflective the glass, as well as the width of the shot allow for an encompassing view of the Museum’s site, though not clearly, as to create an artistic flare and highlight the subject: Mr. Daniels.  

Personally, I find many different compelling about the composition of this shot, as well the subject matter. In this day and age where many of us are able to remember vividly the events of September 11th, 2001, the fact that the chief photograph in this particular is not of those events, or the aftermath, is very effective in promoting the article’s mission. It is not to politicize, romanticize, or even memorialize those involved with 9/11, but to discuss the intricacies of building, opening, and maintaining a museum and memorial of such significance to today’s generations. Compositionally, the photograph is well lit and follows the rule of thirds horizontally. I also applaud the photographer, as the reflective glass is both beautiful and very difficult to shoot properly without having the photographer reflect as well as the subject. Gilbertson captured a moment; a moment of contemplation, of silence, in a city full of noise, and for that alone she has gained my respect.

As life gets hectic, people often turn to hobbies as a form of stress relief. As the semester comes to a close, this graduate student is no stranger to stress and has learn to manage it in a very constructive, interesting, and if I may say “cute” way. Amigurumi, the Japanese art of knitting or crocheting small stuffed animals and anthropomorphic creatures is one of my particular forms of stress relief, particularly the crochet kind. Over the last few months, I have been crafting multiple octopi “ami” for one of my younger sisters, who is using them as part of a craft fundraiser for her High School Drama club. As part of this visual assignment, I’m going to take you through the process of creating one of these “ami” from start to birth.
Most “crochet-ers” follow written patterns to help guide them as they create their pieces. Often, I find myself finding free written patterns online and modifying them. This can be done easily, by changing the size of the crochet hook or the weight of the yarn. Or, things can get more complicated and I can use the pattern more like guidelines vs. a rulebook. For the octopi that I have been making for my sister, I am following a free online pattern and modifying the size by increasing the size the crochet hook.
Most Amigurumi are crocheted in rounds. This round was created using the magic circle technique.
The supplies for this project are fairly simple. One only needs the basic 4 weight yarn (ie the cheap stuff), a size G crochet hook, a small amount of poly-stuffing, and toy eyes (which are optional). For an experienced crafter, this project would take less than an hour, though beginners will take longer since it’s made in round (circles) which are normally harder for the average bear.
When crocheting, it’s important to keep track of the number of rounds. In addition to counting, stitch counters, the purple circle in the top left, are very helpful

       Compositionally, this “ami” is made in two parts: the body and the tentacles. Both pieces are started with a technique called “The Magic Circle”, which creates a tight beginning so the stuffing doesn’t escape. After that, basic stitches are used like single crochets, increases, decreases and half-doubles. The most difficult part of this creature are the tentacles which are made in a continuous piece and require knowledge of working in the round (circle) as well as half-doubles. After crafting both pieces, the head which resembles a hacky-sack, and the tentacle circle which resembles a mess of techni-color spaghetti, all that is left is sewing the two together using similar yarn and BAM! Hello Mr. Squishy, IE this particular “ami” octopus. 

In the end, the “Ami” is stuffed and then sewn shut using the same yarn.

As the rounds continue, doll eyes are added to help create the character.




     After he has been put together, Mr. Squishy will join his herd of Octopi brothers and sisters in a pre-paid USPS box to join my sister in South Carolina. Normally, I don’t sell my work, but after my sister almost got mobbed by a bunch of geeky teenagers asking her where she got hers, I figured I could help her raise some money for the local Drama Club. She sells them for about $8-15, depending on the yarn and size. Overall, crochet and amigurumi is a great way to relive some stress so we don’t die before we have a chance to finish our theses.

Introducing Mr. Squishy, a crocheted octopus amigurumi, about the size of a hacky-sack.