Artist and illustrator Andrea Wan creates some of my favorite surreal art. For years, I’ve admired her paintings of people fused with botanicals and architecture. Not afraid to branch out from conventional 2D ink paintings, Andrea has translated her dreamlike sensibilities into three dimensional paper art.
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.
Trained as graphic designer, Freda Cheung has gone analog and sculpts leather creatures by hand. “I’ve always been interested in the ocean,” she tells Frankie Magazine. “Some of my digital artwork shares the ocean theme. Then I saw other artists making animals from felt, and wanted to make my own sea creatures in leather.” To produces her octopuses, crabs, and lobsters, their patterns are pieced together and secured with whip stitches. Some, like the tiny whales, are quirky brooches. Others are larger and sturdy enough to stack on top one another—for extra fun.
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.
It’s the final stop on my unofficial “Instagram tour” that highlights some of my favorite feeds worth your follow. So far, I’ve highlighted paper artists, illustrators, embroidery artists, and sketchbooks that are inspire me—and others—with their incredible artistry. Last but not least, I’m chronicling some of the best ceramic artists on Instagram.
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 4 weeks, I’ve shared over 30 of my favorite Instagram feeds from some of my must-follow creatives. Through embroidery artists, illustrators, and sketchbook keepers, it’s so easy to be inspired by simply turning on your phone.
In one of the final stops of our tour, I’ve selected 10 of the best paper artists on Instagram. They each have their own way of working and turning the 2D material into spectacular 3D sculptures.
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.
I know it’s so cliche, but time really has been flying with the 1 Year of Stitches project. Month two is now a wrap! (Wondering what I’m talking about? Read more here.) As I look in the Facebook group and on the Instagram hashtag, I’m blown away by all of the amazing embroidery that’s in the works. Some folks have taken a figurative approach to their hoop and embroidered small scenes, while others create abstract compositions with thread.
Inspired by flora, fauna, and Victorian shadow puppets, Kate Appleby creates delightful hoop art that combines a variety of stitching techniques. From the basic backstitch to French knots, she illustrates birds with fowl mouths (pun intended) and hands with sprawling leaf tattoos. The embroidery airs towards the side of minimalism, but Kate has an excellent sense of composition and balance that’s informed by her back ground in graphic design.