Since 2004, I have created woven and crochet beadwork, which I refer to as beaded chords, using a range of materials, from glass to stone, fiber and metal. Japanese seed beads and often gemstones combine in my work to construct a larger mosaic. The linear character of these beaded chords lends itself to transition. The variety of color and texture in my work offers the opportunity to create endless pattern and progression.
My work is intended to be flexible, allowing the wearer to double, triple, tie and wrap the work to suit any preference.
These works comprise a collection of necklaces and bracelets that I show exclusively at Patina Gallery in Santa Fe, NM.
Claire Kahn grew up under the artistic eyes of her parents, who were both artists and designers. Kahn’s father, Matt Kahn, was a designer, painter and a professor of design and art at Stanford University (his appointment was the longest in Stanford’s history, from 1949-2010). Her mother, Lyda Kahn, was a weaver. Her grandmother, Anneke Vos-Van Thyn, was also a weaver who was a member of De Stijl, a movement established in Holland that coincided with the Bauhaus school in Germany. Claire Kahn studied design, partially under her father at Stanford University, and graduated in 1977.
Until 1984, Kahn worked at the San Francisco office of architecture firm, Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. There she developed graphic design for interior and exterior treatments, including that of textiles, facades and courtyard designs. During her time at the firm, she contributed to projects such the Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco and The Southeast Financial Center in Miami.
In 1985, Kahn joined WET Design, using her knowledge in graphic design to assist in creating sophisticated water features all over the world. Through the invention of new technologies in water and light, plus the support of individuals with abilities in numerous fields, her team created one-of-a-kind installations in scale and design, which had never been seen before. Kahn’s work and influence extends to The Los Angeles County Music Center, the Fountains of Bellagio in Nevada, The Dubai Fountain, among others. Installations were made of hundreds of thousands of units (jets of water and light) combined to create a larger, singular kinetic water expression.
The interaction of color and pattern remains the focus of her work, and since 2004, it has been elevated in the light of bead crochet. Using tiny Japanese seed beads, Kahn conceptualizes the world around her, interpreting what she sees into palpable, mosaic expression. Beginning with a tiny crochet hook and nylon thread, she scripts her design, stringing the beads as she envisions her composition. Kahn compares her process to the like of Ikat weaving; only as the piece is crocheted does the design emerge.
Her necklaces, comprised from what she calls beaded chords, are at least 110mm long and have no break so that progressions remain continuous. Value and pattern may morph as the chord evolves. The designer amends that the animation comes from the wearer’s movement and the way light engages with the gems, which embellish a piece. “It is worn, it has a purpose.” Kahn observes, “My father used to say, design is the art form that is incomplete until it is engaged.”