Tag Archives: embroidery

You can close your eyes

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I saw this illustration and thought it lovely. It would make a quite lovely quilt, don’t you think? Turns out, it’s a drawing by Santiago Ramón y Cajal of the retina.

Still think it would be a pretty quilt, embroidered bedding of some sort. There are such a lovely array of colors here, and I love how easily our internal structures resemble abstract art. It would be perfectly apropos and cheeky at the same time, in my opinion, to have this covering you while you close your eyes and dream.

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Pulling threads

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While scouring the web for fabulous finds for the Pattern Pulp weekly roundup, I came across some amazing works by husband and wife designers Sally and Peter Nencini. I included them, but still found myself particularly smitten with a few certain pieces of work. Such as the chair above, a truly collaborative effort: the poem is written by their daughter, Sadie (at age 8), Peter designed the layout and design of the words, and Sally hand-embroidered the type onto a vintage hemp sack. I really love everything about it. The poem, the lively design and layout of the words, the rough elegance of the hemp. Just the fact that a poem was embroidered onto a piece of furniture makes my heart beat. The way it comes to life makes it sing. And, hey! They’ve done more collaborative furniture. All of which I think are awesome.

The set of chairs on the left are entitled Calligraphic, with a motif that reads horizontally and represents “A funny amalgam of not-so-esoteric and long-loved and digested visual matter feeding the language used. The consistent is something of a space between images and words.” (For more clues to the meaning of the motifs click here.) The stool on the right was commissioned with the intention of it being a place for one to sit whilst taking off or putting on one’s shoes. The Nencini’s used text from Gaston Bachelard’s The Poetics of Space, and created a design that is reminiscent of the combined oddity of Alice when she grows so large her legs poke out the windows and of Struwwelpeter illustrations. (For more background and info about the process click here, and here.)

I do quite enjoy all of these works and others done by the couple, both independently and together. It’s a lot of exploring old crafts with a new eye and giving them new life and language.

So, yes, with these wonderful and imaginative functional works of art in mind, I fell next upon Keisuke Fujiwara‘s “Spool 214 Thool Chair, which pays homage to iconic Thonet chair.

The chair is wrapped painstakingly by hand in 12 different colors of thread to achieve the “fire” and “ice” color schemes. I was immediately amused by the comparison of the processes of the Nencini’s work and Fujiwara’s. One which updates classic furniture by embroidering new things into fabric, and other which gives a new look to an iconic chair by wrapping it in threads. I enjoy the gradation of colors and the softness that the layers of thread give this work. Also, I’m simply amused by the use of thread for something other than cut and dry sewing. Looking at a selection of thread in a store is almost as gleeful as looking at a wall full of paint swatches. The array of color is astounding and your mind is swept up in possibility. Fujiwara’s chairs also called to mind another project I spotted a few months ago and also always intended to use. Dominic Wilcox‘s “By a thread” walking sticks, employ a similar concept of wrapping a walking stick with spools of thread:

Of course, then I remembered what I had been saving along with Mr. Wilcox’s canes!

Voila! Mark Kaplan‘s spool of thread inspired earrings.

So there you have it. A spun tale of of thread in it’s many uses and forms. In it’s natural on a spool habitat, wound decadently around objects, and stitched in a new old school kind of way into some seriously awesome furniture.

Happy Monday to you (I know, *groan*), and get creative!

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But your skin is like porcelain

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Stumbled upon Li Xiaofeng‘s gorgeous porcelain dresses a few weeks ago and have been itching to show them to you all ever since. I find them very striking, in how something so hard and sharp as ceramic shards could manage to look so soft when utilized in a dress. The patterns on the traditional chinese porcelain almost look like embroidery, albeit exceptionally bright and potent in their color and shapes; the variety of shape used gives a patchworked sort of feel, but there’s that interesting discongruity in how each piece of ceramic maintains a shape that gives “patchwork” a whole other dimension (as opposed to flat pieces of fabric pieced together to form a 3-D shape). They’re dresses that look particularly alive in a way.

(imagine all of the family dinners, and teas, and stories that have been told in each objects presence!)

Although Mr. Xiafeng’s clothes were created a few years a go, I feel they hold a particularly poignant timeliness to the present. When I saw them, I thought about Sarah’s Smash Shack which I wrote about this past January. Basically, you can go there and take your aggression out on ceramic and glass objects. I think all of us, at some point, and especially in the past year or two would really like to break something out of frustration. At the same time, people have been trying to be happy with less, spending more time with families and loved ones in a pared down existence, trying to foster kindness and giving. Trying to be optimistic. And of course all of this has entailed picking up the pieces of the things that have been broken and creating something new from them. And these dresses take something beautiful and traditional and done some new and modern with them, while still allowing you to feel a sense of the history, the background from which they came.

Carry on!

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Digging: MoBro

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What on earth is MoBro, you ask? It’s what I’ve decided to call a quasi recent crop of embroidery (particularly hand) that’s been popping up and giving the old-school craft a new sort of life. You know, Modern Embroidery. Some of it is not your grandmother’s embroidery (as in used in new and interesting ways, designs) and some is really not your grandmother’s embroidery (as in some naughty words and nudity).

It started when I saw the work from Andrea Dezsö‘s 2007 show “Lessons from My Mother”… somewhere, and cataloged it off in my brain as Really Pretty Rad. Ms. Dezsö is an ethnic Hungarian born and raised in Transylvania, Romania and for this project, she embroidered some of the witticisms bestowed upon her by her mother

And then, not terribly later, I saw Tim Moore‘s work in Monster Children magazine. He started embroidering on a flight back in 2001 (pre-September 11) with and in-flight sewing kit after he realized that he’d forgotten his sketchbook and pens. He got really into it, and even received some tutoring from his girlfriend’s Sicilian mother. Of course, he then “bastardized it”. (since you can’t read the Monster Children interview online, you can read a fairly similar one ((from what I can tell)) here.

After Tim, I came across the work of Porterness. Jennifer, the designer/artist, creates all sorts of goodies, but her embroidery work really stands out. Taught to embroider at age 10 by her grandmother, she describes her work as being heavily “influenced by Carl Jung’s work on the personal shadow, the embroidery functions as what Jung calls ‘spiritual talisman’ for inner growth.” She explores this theme in a number of pieces through two characters she created- Priscilla and John – and their ongoing tale of love and loss.


Some pieces are available at her etsy shop, Porterness.

And then this morning (!) I stumbled in my Tumblr stream upon Caroline Hwang‘s lovely work. Influenced by years of watching her grandmother knit and crochet, Caroline has managed to incorporate those older crafts like quilting and embroidery into paintings and drawings; “All my pieces begin as fabric, which I paint on, and then collage other fabric on top of, then embroider over with my sewing machine, and then add some final drawing and painting. They end up very layered.” (from Swindle). The following work is from her illustration page, which I saw first and is already linked to. For more awesome work (I got overwhelmed attempting to decide what to use, so I stuck with what I saw first) visit her other site here.

It’s all quite lovely, yes? It’s nice that in such an increasingly technologically advanced society, some still take time to learn the crafts of our grandparents and great-grandparents and reinterpret them into something that honors that past while making it modern. Creating each piece is so time consuming that I imagine it’s hard to not become very emotionally involved in the process, each individual stitch allowing a moment of reflection. It is interesting considering this fact how most all of these artists seek to explore love and the nature of relationships in their work.

Regardless, I would be tickled to see some quirky off-beat embroidery incorporated into the, err, various fabrics in my life. Yesiree, I would.

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