I’ve always been intrigued by Frida Kahlo. I remember the year I was first introduced to her: 1993. I was waiting for my cappuccino to be made at an artsy coffeehouse in my hometown of Phoenix. There, under a glass case filled with handmade jewelry, were sets of glittered bottlecap earrings. Embedded inside each one was a picture of a striking woman with thick brows, full lips, and a solemn facial expression. I asked the clerk who she was. “That’s Frida! Isn’t she beautiful? She was a Mexican painter,” she said.
I had just started my Mexi-craft design business and couldn’t believe I had never come across this artista. She invaded my imagination. Frida. Later that week I packed up my toddlers into the car and went on a field trip to the library to read anything about her I could get my hands on. My life hasn’t been the same since.As an artist and a crafter, I appreciate the pride and passion Frida put into her work. Each and every detail showed her love of her Mexican culture. She didn’t blatantly try. It just naturally spilled out of her. Maybe I don’t paint haunting self-portraits, but I can certainly identify with the need to express myself through art. I’ve been blessed with a happy life and I, too, paint my own reality.
THE RISE OF THE PHOENIX FRIDAS
In 2004, I formed a local art collective with friends. We call ourselves The Phoenix Fridas. Our personalities are vast, but the one thing we all have in common is being inspired by Frida for different reasons. We get together once a month to craft, organize local events, and sometimes just to hang out and talk about her.
“Frida transcends time and death,” says Monique Sanderson-Mata, 33, a Phoenix Frida member. “Like Frida, I once lost my ability to walk. I lost my marriage. I can’t seem to bear children. I’ve learned to love her in so many ways. I, like Frida, will overcome.”
Frida was more than just a painter. She was an independent woman who ran her own business in a male-dominated arena. Yet her work wasn’t motivated by trends or what she thought others wanted to see.
“When she painted, it was for herself,” says Emily Costello, 47, a Phoenix Frida painter. “She was original in every sense of the word. When I look at her paintings, I cannot help but admire and be inspired by her tenacity, tragedies and heartache.”
Artist Annalisa Rios, 27, agrees. “Frida didn’t care what anybody thought,” she says. “She did what she wanted and never let her obstacles bring her down. She had the spirit and attitude to conquer it all.”
One of our members, Carmen Guerrero, is motivated by Frida’s political activism. She channels Frida’s fighting spirit when it comes to sharing her viewpoints dealing with Arizona’s controversial laws, such as SB-1070. Others, like myself, are mesmerized by Frida’s sense of style and color, despite dealing with so many dark periods in her life.
Every year The Phoenix Fridas organize a gallery exhibit featuring our signature art piece that were inspired by her. It’s a kind of birthday party in her honor with music, cake, a lookalike contest, and a multimedia feature. This year, our theme is “In Frida’s Garden,” and we even have a butterfly lover’s pavilion that looks like the inside of Frida’s famous La Casa Azul.
Frida Kahlo was more than just an artist. She was a style icon. A vessel of inspiration. It’s no wonder that many of us love to use her imagery in our daily life and setting. If you are in the mood to channel some of Frida’s creative energy, here are some crafty ideas I’ve come up with for you to enjoy, all designed by moi!
FRIDA KAHLO INSPIRED CRAFT PROJECTS!
1. Frida Flower Crown—A must-have for all Frida fans. Take a wide plastic headband and wrap it in yarn. Hot glue the end. Now hot glue silk flowers and leaves from one end to the other. Add a touch of spray glitter if you want it to sparkle!
2. Frida Tote Wall Lamp—What to do with all those plastic Mexican totes? Turn them into something functional. I cut the front panel, stretched it over a wood frame and stapled. Add battery-operated lights behind and use craft paint and glitter to accent Frida’s details.
3. Frida Resin Pendant—Use a deep dish pewter pendant and a packageof two-part resin to create a wearable art piece. Add in sparkling embellishments and letter beads too! Here’s a video tutorial.
4. Frida Earrings—Buy a pack of Shrinky Dinks from the craft store. Trace an image of Frida on two 3×5” pieces, punch a hole at the top. Color Frida in with permanent markers and place in oven according to the package directions. Add earring hooks.
5. Frida Appliqués—Buy a package of fabric sheets, print images of Frida on them from your InkJet printer and use fabric glue to affix to a tote, a shirt or purse—anything of your liking! Use 3D paint to seal down the edges of your appliqué.
For more specific directions for these projects, visit Crafty Chica.
Are you inspired by Frida Kahlo? Do you have a favorite painting or quote by the artist? If you are an artist inspired by Frida, leave a link to your website so we can all share and see each other’s work.