American artist Cayce Zavaglia considers herself a painter. “Although the medium employed is crewel embroidery wool, the technique borrows more from the worlds of drawing and painting”, the artist comments on her statement.
Manipulating color, especially paint with a brush, is obviously easier than manipulating color with varying wool strings and needles. That seems kind of impossible, don’t you think? Zavaglia makes it looks like a seamless process, laborious but not too difficult to actually achieve.
“Initially, working with an established range of wool colors proved frustrating.”
Painterly portraits demand for loose brushstrokes and intermingling colors, varying tones, and contrasting hues; creating a technique that would allow her to do this with wool strings was something that Zavaglia struggled with. However, with time, she came up with a system of sewing the threads in a sequence that would ultimately give the allusion of a certain color or tone. The system allowed for the threads to mimic the depth,volume, and form that we are familiar with in paintings and color drawings.
My work unabashedly nods its head to the tradition of tapestry and my own love of craft. Using wool instead of oils has allowed me to broaden the dialogue between portrait and process as well as propose a new definition for the word “painting”.
Deborah Simon sculpts anatomically correct bears out of polymer clay, faux fur, linen, embroidery floss, acrylic paint, glass, wire and foam. Aside from their size (around 22″ high), Simon’s bears are realistically detailed and meticulously fabricated. Her inside-out bears tread the boundaries of taxidermy, toy, and sculpture.
“Evolution has always held a particular fascination for me, informing how I create and group the animals in my work. As I’ve read and dug through museum collections to research my pieces, western science’s mania for labeling, codifying and collecting has stood out. Most of this categorizing bears little resemblance to how animals and plants exist out in the natural world and I find this disconnect fascinating.” (via design boom)
During the summer, Milwaukee-based fiber artist Molly Evans began to rise early in the morning, on the hunt for discarded furniture to embroider with lyrics from Lionel Richie songs. Dubbed “#LionelStitchie,” her project first began when she set out to entertain a grumpy neighbor by transforming their abandoned, seemingly unlovable couch into something more lovable. She has since embroidered many discarded pieces with these love lyrics, giving a voice to unwanted domestic objects.
‘These bulky discards were the remains of university graduates moving on to new chapters, of families starting over with fresh styles, and of people letting go of emotional attachments to tired possessions. I identified with this process of reestablishment and sought to call attention to this important narrative in progress all around the city,’ Molly explains.(via ignant)
Hiroko Kubota is a prolific embroiderer whose latest project of embroidering cats onto dress shirts has caused the cat-loving internet community to swoon. Kubota stitches cats who peek over and through shirt pockets and openings, giving plain dress shirts an adorable and unique accent. Her project began when her son – a cat-lover and collector of internet cat images – requested that she embroider some cats from his collection onto some shirts she made for him. After posting her work on the internet, her project quickly became popular and of high demand. Kubota then decided to put some of her shirts up for sell on Etsy, but her handiwork could not keep up with the demand – even at a hefty price tag of $250-300 apiece. Kubota also embroiders other figures, such as fish, Pokemon characters, dogs, and flowers onto a variety of objects. You can check out more images of her work on Flickr. (via colossal)
Using both printmaking and embroidery in his work, artist Max Colby explores themes of death and transformation in his series Role Play. He first prints on handmade paper, creating a collograph. This type of printmaking applies materials to a rigid board. Things with a lot of texture like sandpaper, leaves, cardboard are inked and printed. Colby has controlled the shape of the print, manipulating it in a very deliberate way. Once printing is done, he then adorns it with hand-sewn embroidery.
In a short statement about his work, Colby refers to his the imagery in his work as “figures,” which I take to mean as beings. Not necessarily human, but some other living force. Their “body” is made out from printing, while the embroidery acts as embellishment for the figure. Colby writes that Role Play features “sculptural ‘skins’ which showcase fragility and temporality in conjunction with highly embellished and extravagant applications using notions of death and transformation as a catalyst.” I imagine that these could be armor or headdresses, with pieces that have spikes sewn-in or tactile objects like beads and buttons.
There is a stark difference between the delicate collograph printing and the visually-heavy embroidery. At times, it engulfs the figures, which I think is the point. Garments last a lot longer than we do. Items are passed down from generation to generation, and evidence of what a jacket looked like will be surpass our lifetime.
Amanda McCavour creates delicate and intricate thread illustration-sculptures by sewing into a fabric that dissolves in water. This method allows her to build a threaded structure that stays in place once the fabric dissolves. The result is embroidery that appears fragile, on the verge of unraveling. She recreates domestic scenery, like that of chairs, side tables, electric sockets, in addition to other figures such as hands, a garden, and a steam pump. The effect of this work is ephemeral and whimsical.
From her artist statement, “I am interested in the vulnerability of thread, its ability to unravel, and its strength when it is sewn together. I am interested in the connections between process and materials and the way that they relate to images and spaces. Tracing actions and environments through a process of repetition, translation and dissolving, I hope to trace absence. My work is a process of making as a way of tracing and preserving things that are gone, or slowly falling apart.” (via slow art day)
Louise Riley embroiders human figures using a mattress as a canvas. Usually in repose, these figures create an intimate experience for the viewer. Riley’s work demonstrates a fine attention to detail and color shading, rendering vulnerable and realistic characters out of linear and geometric forms. Part of her practice includes that of altering the flat shape of the mattress, creating rolls and curves in her mattress-canvas, or cutting shapes into or on the mattress.
From her artist statement, “When I am sewing figures, I think of the thread being strands of DNA and the stitches binary codes and the fabric (our second skin anyway) a grid and that leads me onto String theory, experiences happening alongside each other with endless alternative outcomes. These grandiose thoughts are what get me through the hours..
The literal abundance of fabric and thread as domestic content and construction, not limited to gender, makes our relationship to it very intimate.
I use the mattress as a backgroundless background that holds weight of experience conceptually, spiritually and physically. Blood, sweat and tears like tree rings in its core. Its presence in our rights of passage, our sleep, rest, thoughts, dreams, the theatre of life spilled out onto it. How could I work on anything else! It is a ready-made canvas, it allows my ideas to penetrate it and collaborate with it to unearth a supposed breath-taking, yet ordinary, history or herstory.”
Jose Romussi creates colorful and elegant embroidery art by stitching thread into old photographs and magazine pages. Embroidering bright colors onto sepia-toned or black and white photography, Romussi designs a sharp contrast that is thoughtful and beautiful. His subjects are often women, the fashion advertisements and models ornamented with floral and other round patterns, the dancers with straighter lines reflecting the strength and precision of form of ballet. For the dancers and ballerinas, Romussi’s embroidered accents highlight movements and bodily forms of the figures. A photograph is of course an inadequate substitute for any live performance, but Romussi’s neatly-placed thread brings a bit more life to these static images. The result is a multi-textured design that becomes immediately more compelling than its previous version.
Romussi has a background in landscape design and didn’t begin experimenting with personal artwork until fairly recently. You can stay current with Romussi’s work by visiting his tumblr page. (via farewell kingdom)