Textile artist Melanie Kay highlights drinking abuse issues by intricately stitching stories, messages and images about alcoholism onto old beer cans. Using the recycled aluminum cans as her main vehicle, the Mancunian creative takes unsettling stories she sees in the media, in films, or in her own life as her main inspiration. Sinister events, sad characters, roses, and even the police force, are hand- or machine-stitched into each piece of aluminum, giving new use to old beer packaging as a textile to be used in other designs.
Melanie Kay uses design as a way to create meaningful objects with a moral narrative. To make her work more interesting and unique, she has been experimenting with a wide variety of textiles and non-textiles techniques including hand- and machine- embroidery, as well as foiling, flocking, sanding and punching.
In addition to recycling issues, gender stereotypes are also portrayed in her work. She uses beer cans to represent the male, and the lace effect to represent the female. The artist’s positive attitude towards these hot button issues is also illustrated in the details she uses. One of her lampshades is made with 5,400 aluminum hearts, which she individually punched by hand and sewed together. To Kay, the lampshade symbolizes the light at the end of the tunnel.
Photo © Melanie Kay