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.
Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve shared inspiring illustrators and some of the best sketchbooks to follow on Instagram. Continuing this tour of my favorite feeds, here are 11 embroidery artists who fill my timeline with beautiful stitching.
The chosen embroiderers will make you a better stitcher by following them. From beautiful interior scenes to abstract beading, they both inspire and showcase techniques that you’ll want to try. And, if you’re looking for more specific advice, Elizabeth Pawle sometimes does a Q & A in her posts.
Whether you realize it or not, collaboration is inherent in embroidery. To begin, an embroidery artist will create a design and make it into a pattern for others to complete as they wish. Color choices, for instance, can change based on the whims of that particular stitcher. Libby Moore of Thread Folk takes this collaboration idea a step further with her modern embroidery patterns. In her charming Artist Series, she translates an illustrator’s work into something that anyone can complete with a needle and thread.
I don’t have a car, so riding the local bike share is one of the ways I get around. But, I can guarantee that my rides are not nearly as whimsical as the bicycle embroidery by Walker Boyes of TrueFort. Called the Velo Series, it features hand-stitched bikes that are decorated with colorful blooms. They represent a fantasy, like something out of a movie—carefree weekend excursions to the farmer’s market that overflow with a bounty of fresh flowers.
Ezgi Pamir (previously) has recently created a denim jacket embroidery that’s a snapshot of contemporary pop culture. The large portrait adorns the back of the garment, and it features a woman wearing a floral crown with a bubble of one Instagram “Likes” next to her. As with Ezgi’s previous embroideries, she incorporates real objects—in this case, it’s a lovely selection of blooms.
If you’re looking for colorful embroidery to brighten your day, then look no further than Kelly Ryan. The Albany-based embroiderer creates vibrant hoop art that’s a happy collision of patterns and texture. Sometimes, Kelly is figurative with her work and embroiders plants. Most of the time, however, she stitches abstract imagery with nature-inspired shapes like leaves that are clad in the likes of magenta, cerulean, and lime green.
When it comes to hoop art, light-colored fabrics are a popular choice to embroider on. But, don’t overlook dark cloth. As Lindsay Swearingen demonstrates, it too can create beautiful pieces. Under the moniker Tusk and Cardinal, the Californian sews nature-inspired pieces that showcase, most notably, flowers and hands on a black background. The contrast makes her designs pop, and I love the tattoo aesthetic that she has in some of her pieces. The creatures, in particular, have the distinct feeling of blackwork-style body art.