This week, I’ve been enamored with artwork and illustrations where small elements make up a spectacular whole. On Tuesday, I shared the meticulous cut paper work of Margaret Scrinkl, who uses a combination of scissors and an X-ACTO knife to achieve fine details. Brannon Addison of Happy Cactus Designs does the same thing with a needle and thread. Her tiny embroidery features a host of beautiful blooms, from five petal plants to leafy ferns. After finishing a piece, Brannon usually frames it.
Do you want to try embroidery but don’t know where to start? Patterns can help you become comfortable with wielding a needle and thread as you learn new stitches. And with the recent revitalization of hoop art, illustrators are creating modern modern hand embroidery patterns that you can try today.
If you’ve ever tried embroidery, you know how methodical the practice is. It teaches patience; you’ve got to take it stitch by stitch, because there’s no great shortcuts when it comes to embroidering by hand. Embracing this fact is Slow Stitch Sophie, a Vancouver-based crafter who wowed me last year with her “fields” of beautiful floral embroideries. Since then, she’s continued her practice of creating intricate compositions that resemble sun-soaked landscapes.
When I first came upon the embroideries of Lauren Singleton, aka YesStitchYes, my immediate thought was, “They look painterly!” Her style, with elongated leaves and petals, remind me of graceful brush strokes rather than lines poked with a needle. Paired with script-style text, this hoop art has a breezy, carefree style to it—one I don’t often see in embroidery.
In Philadelphia, there’s an exhibition at the Paradigm Gallery on embroidery and contemporary fabric work that’s a must see. Called Stitched: Part II, it features 16 artists who make use of these techniques in a variety of ways. Their individual imagery differs, but they are all constructed (in part) with a needle and thread.
Bralettes are en vogue, and I am here for it. One of my favorite iterations of this trend is the embroidered bralette, which combines intricate stitching with delicate, sheer fabrics. Emily Parkinson of Birds & Beestings has an illustrative take on this type of intimate. She stitches entire scenes that extend across the chest. Her small but striking collection features embroidered prickly cacti (previously), spotted fungi, jade snakes, and the art of Henri Rousseau.
Danielle Clough goes beyond the embroidery hoop to create colorful stitches in unusual places. Using vintage rackets as her frame, she fills their plastic grids with flowers and succulents. They seemingly float on top of it, but are secured by a combination of stitches, knots, and needles.
You can’t understate the importance of color—especially in art. It wields its power in all sorts of ways, from setting the mood to giving us important visual clues. Over the next several weeks, I’ll share a selection of illustration, paper craft, and embroidery that overwhelmingly uses one hue in its composition. Called The Color Series, first up are blue illustrations.
Embroiderer Sam Eldridge stitches jungles, gardens, and floral bouquets on thrifted garments. The colorful creations breath new life into these second-hand pieces and give them a fresh feel by transforming them into one of a kind pieces. Her embroidered clothing follows a long tradition of repairing a garment rather than outright disposal. Long ago, before the atomization of the Industrial Revolution, people would mend their clothing over and over again, because each piece was so expensive to make in the first place. That’s not really a concern today, of course, but Sam is engaging in the same idea—create a new twist on something old and extend its life for the wearer.
Embroidering on tulle seems like a challenge. It’s more delicate than your traditional cotton—making it less forgiving than other fabrics. But when done well, the effect is mesmerizing. We’ve seen how tulle and flowers can frame the world in beautiful bouquets. And with work of Katerina Marchenko, the hoop is like an aquarium; her colorful fish embroidery seemingly floats on the gauzy surface. Confined to their circular frame, it’s like an old fashioned fish bowl. Katerina stitches more than fish, however, bringing whales into the mix. But don’t worry about them—they are later freed from the hoop and adorn her stylish clothing.