Artist Hilary Fayle uses embroidery techniques to create delicate suspended designs in dried leaves. She first cuts shapes like circles and mimics the contour of the actual leaf, and then stitches thread into a variety of intricate patterns. The complex designs mimic the veins of the plant in their twists and weaves.
Fayle first began stitching on unconventional materials while she was studying embroidery at the Manchester Metropolitan University in Manchester, England. She started with found materials and fabric and later moved onto leaves once she returned to America. The choice to use them was a logical extension of Fayle’s desire to use renewable, sustainable, and environmentally friendly materials for her artwork. Photos by Natalie Hofert Photography. (Via Colossal)
The embroidery artist Ana Teresa Barboza, previously featured here for her arresting renditions of the human body, is at it again with her series of intricate, deconstructed landscapes. Turning her gaze outwards towards the vastness of the natural world, she celebrates the materiality of her craft, allowing her thread to spill from the boundaries of the embroidery hoop like wild nets wrenched from a tumultuous sea. Here, calm seascapes, serene pastures, and chaotic, rocky waves adopt the same sense of inexhaustibility, refusing to commit solely to embroidery and extending into the realm of the sculptural.
In this series, titled “Suspension,” Barboza’s medium mirrors her content. Like the art and craft of embroidery itself, her visual narratives are composed of iconography historically associated with the female: nature’s rolling hills, curved waves, and fluid, moonlit water. As her pieces unravel, they express something powerful and inevitable in female desire and spirit. No longer contained by the neat frame of the traditional hoop, exuberant colors and textures spring forth from a two dimensional realm into three, interrupting the comfortable barriers that normally exist between art object and viewer. These labors of love are not meant for pillows; instead, they proudly hang on a gallery wall.
Each of Barboza’s suspensions evoke folktales like those of mermaids, selkies, or sirens, woman creatures of the sea who are as frightful as they are alluring. We are presented with delicate illusions, mirages of landscapes, only to witness their dissolution into thick, tactile thread that invites our incredulous touch. Take a look. (via Colossal)
Alaina Varrone‘s embroidery is bawdy, playful, and especially considering thread is the medium, astonishingly technical. Each piece of Varrone’s tells an absurd, humorous, and/or eroticized story. She draw her inspiration from subcultures such as furries, heavy metal, and BDSM, but she’s also inspired by her own life, sometimes inserting herself directly into her work, producing pieces that are part fantasy, part memory. Though some of her work is deeply personal, Varrone executes it with a sense of humor, transforming the serious into the comic. Of her overtly sexual work, Varrone says,
I’ve been doing this for some years now, and this past year or so I’ve noticed more people doing blatantly sexual work, and I actually roll my eyes! I feel like a jerk for admitting that, but I feel like we’re past doing erotic art for shock value.
I still get stupid comments about my work because I’m a woman who does erotic art, I still get men who assume I’m easy or promiscuous because I’m open about this subject, and it doesn’t help that I’m buxom either, so some more ignorant folks just see a big titted woman stitching coitus and get a jolly from it.
I’m trying to capture moments, I’m not just stitching a vagina to be “edgy”, and I like to think my technical ability and sense of humour help to garner respect. I just keep doing what I want to do, I just trust my instincts, so far it’s worked out pretty well!
The artist Amelia Harnas creates dazzling portraits from spilled wine, using embroidery thread to trace and refine her crimson-faced subjects. Like delicate watercolor, the wine has an ethereal texture; the artist admits a certain unpredictability and instability in her unique process. Using wax resist on soft white cotton fabrics to set the images, she cannot determine how long the delicate images will last, and the transient images float like ghosts across the page while thread guides the eye.
Art historically, wine is associated with the god Bacchus, the god of drink and sexuality who inspired mortals to drink to the point of confusion, a state where the lines of identity and gender are blurred. Here, the spilled wine soaks the fabric in such a way that only the slightest mark provides a hint into the distinctive temperament of the subject. It is the thread that defines personhood, outlining the divisions between eye and flesh, hair and scalp. Without the meticulous embroidery, men and women become murky, drunken figures.
The miraculous tension between accident and purpose heightens the drama of each face. The cotton foundation is seemingly drenched in reds and pinks, the colors chaotically spreading throughout the image and creating serendipitous halos around the portraits; in stark contrast, the embroidery is distinctly rational and deliberate, forming complex geometric shapes like concentric circles, squares and triangles.
As the volatility of wine stains collides with the reason and order of human craft, Harnas presents a startlingly complex vision of the human condition. As illustrated in this work, art, like man, is governed by both passion and sound intellect, doled out in equal measure. Take a look. (via Colossal and Oddity Central)
There’s not much information about Alicia Watkins‘ scientific embroidery, but we can all agree the project is a fun way to identify potentially harmful microbes. From anthrax to salmonella, herpes, e.coli, toxoplasma, mono, botulism, and the common cold, Watkins has colorfully cross-stiched many well-known bacteria, protozoa, and viruses. Some of these dreadful microbes almost appear cute by Watkins’ careful hand, associating the warmth and comfort that cross-stitching evokes with the coldness of threatening diseases and sicknesses. Watkins’ Etsy store, appropriately named Watty’s Wall Stuff, has these stiched microbes available for purchase at $19.99 each, along with other clever and pop culture influenced cross-stitch work. She also takes custom orders, as well as making some of her patterns available for purchase. (via this isn’t happiness)
For the artist Eliza Bennett, her flesh is her medium; in embroidering her palm with thick threads, she hopes to explore the ways in which we view gender roles. Her hand, swollen and bruised by her own careful work, is titled “A Woman’s Work Is Never Done,” and her gruesomely precise handiwork serves to remind the viewer of the strife of women laborers, many of whom are paid far less than their male counterparts.
Embroidery, like most traditionally female crafts, is often belittled and considered frivolous, but Bennett’s representation of women’s work is urgently and painfully profound. By literally—and unflinchingly— penetrating her own epidermis, the artist subtly subverts the notion that the efforts of women are superficial or shallow.
Building upon these themes of gender constructs, Bennett’s project blurs the lines between the private realm, coded female, and the public realm, coded male. In many ways, her skin serves as the bridge between the internal self and the external world; in embroidering it, she makes a public spectacle of her own personal narrative. As if reading her own palm, she traces its lines in various soft colors, creating intricate patterns and granting certain patches of flesh both psychological and aesthetic importance.
Bennett’s pointed social critique of ideas of femininity is made stronger by the intimate nature of the work. Feminist scholar Betty Friedan once explained that in the battle for gender equality, the personal lives of women must be made political, that internal struggles must be made visible. “A Woman’s Work Is Never Done” is a poignantly simple execution of this idea; here, Bennett weaves a painful visual story onto her hand, stretching it outwards for public consideration. (via Hi Fructose, Design Boom, and anti-utopias)
Michelle Hamer hand-stitches pixelated versions of photographs she’s taken of urban spaces, mainly those occupied by text found in advertising, signage, or graffiti. She stitches her images into perforated plastic, transforming flat, static images of everyday public urban life into tactile needlepoints that recall private and domestic spaces.
“I see my work as a type of socio-historic documentation. The images depicted are in between moments that we often take for granted. The obviously slow process allows viewers to become more conscious of these moments which are captured within an instant and consider the difference between the manual and the digital. The in-between spaces (on/off ramps of freeways etc.) where signage can often be found is both necessary for our infrastructure, but also generally not noticed. Similarly, much of the text, advertising signage, streetscapes are so familiar we can fail to focus/really see it, but it’s often reflective of our broader social ambitions, aspirations and edicts.”
Taking your average shovel, bucket, and spoon, Lithuanian-based artist Severija Inčirauskaitė-Kriaunevičienė embroiders them with detailed cross stitch designs. She often adorns these items using conventional floral motifs, and combines the decorative art with the practical everyday object (view some of her previous work). Most of the time, however, this renders its usefulness obsolete.
Severija’s work is cognizant of the history surrounding craft in her country. In an essay about her embroidery, Dr. Jurgita Ludavičienė writes:
Employing irony, Severija conceptually neutralizes the harmfulness of kitsch’s sweetness and sentimentality. Irony emerges in the process of drawing inspiration from the postwar Lithuanian village, with which artists have lost connection today, or from the destitute Soviet domestic environment, which women were trying to embellish with handicrafts, no matter what kind of absurd forms it would take. The intimacy of indoors freed from all tensions is the essence of coziness, that is crystallized in Severija’s works as cross stitch embroidery on various household utensils not intended for it.
The artist’s portfolio goes beyond floral arrangements. It has a sense of humor, as she embroiders trompe l’oeil cigarettes in an ashtray, the reflection of a mouth on a spoon, and fruit in a bowl. In addition to its meticulousness and amusement, it also blurs the lines of gendered objects, as she stitches “girly” flowers in to “manly” car parts. (Via Colossal)