paint & puffballs

Allium journals (WIP)
These embroidered allium journals are probably the most time-consuming of the ten journals that a friend has commissioned from me, so I thought I had better get cracking on the embroidery part. This is Number 2. They always take longer than I think they will: the painted canvas is leathery, hard to push through, and my index finger already bears small cracks and cuts where I use it to push the needle in. I suppose I should use a thimble, but I don’t own one (I have yet to find one that fits me properly).
Allium jurnal WIP
The puffballs are very pretty (I think so, anyway) when embroidered…they don’t look as nice, painted or drawn. But it’s incredibly boring work, the same star stitch, over and over. Thank god for audio books! They make the repetitive stitching bearable. I have been listening to Barbara Mujica’s “Mi Hermana Frida” in Spanish. It’s my second time to listen to this audio book…a year and a half has passed since I first listened to it. I’m enjoying it so much more, this time around, because my Spanish is much better than it was then. It’s a nice way, too, to hang on to what I know of the language, as I hardly get to use it over here…

über embroiderers: Chloe Giordano

Chloe Giordano

I’m trying to keep up a sort of regular ‘feature’ on über embroiderers on The Smallest Forest: These are the big kids, the crème de la crème, the leet of needle and thread…that runts like me long to play with, but will never even exist in the same universe with. *stabs herself with a #24 chenille* Oh, crewel world!

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Chloe Giordano

Admiring Chloe Giordano’s fine handiwork this morning: delicate little animals rendered in minute embroidery stitches and subtle colors, miniature 3D forms that don’t sacrifice any detail or cut corners in the making. They are quite dazzling, in a calm and self-possessed way…the mark of a professional.

Chloe is an illustrator, like many of the über embroiderers I’ve featured here, and I continue to be intrigued by the slightly different ‘feel’ of embroidered works produced by artists who have come to the craft from some other area of the visual arts, using thread and stitches as though they were paints and pens. Their work seems to be less constrained by the rules that one tends to follow when trained strictly as an embroiderer. I like the freedom with which these visual artists manipulate thread, and the expressiveness that their stitches have. I’ve also noticed that they tend to stick to simple stitches…no fancy, exotic knotted and looped moves that stand out on the fabric.

In traditional embroidery it sometimes seems that the medium is the message and not a lot of imagination or creativity goes into the actual design (pay a visit to the craft pavilion at any Royal Show and you will see the judges flipping fairly boring embroidery designs over to inspect and fuss over the threadwork on the back). These contemporary approaches to the craft allow the subject to shine, and have stitching play a supporting role (not that any of this nitpicking matters, they are all beautiful, wonderful, and our lives could use more of both approaches!)

Here’s a portion of the brief FAQ on her blog page:

How did you learn to embroider/sew?

I’ve learned mostly from trial and error, usually I’ll draw out what I want to sew first and try to work out in the sketch how I would stitch to get the effect I want. I also try to look at work I admire and figure out how they did it – this especially helpful when I’m working on something 3D

How long does a piece take you?

Anything from a couple of days to 2-3 weeks. Usually the planning stage takes the most time, once I’ve got everything hammered out the actual sewing doesn’t take long.

What materials do you use?

I mostly sew on an off white calico, if its dyed I use powder dyes. Generally I used embroidery thread for text and sewing thread for everything else, but it’s not set in stone.

Where/what did you study?

I studied Illustration at the University of the West of England, in Bristol.

Have a look at Chloe’s Tumblr, and keep an eye on her (hopefully only momentarily empty) ETSY shop  for more work by this sensitive and soulful young artist.

Found via Mr X Stitch

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uber embroiderers: Jazmin Berakha
uber embroiderers: Jazmin Berakha
über embroiderers: Tilleke Schwarz
über embroiderers: Tilleke Schwarz
über embroiderers: Maricor/Maricar
über embroiderers: Maricor/Maricar

Imaginary cover designs for favorite books

What if I could design the covers for my favorite books?

This just looks like a book…it’s really just paint on canvas. I’ve wanted to do something like this for ages, and seeing A.J. Hateley‘s vintage paperback cover designs for non-existent books finally tipped the scales from daydreaming to doing something about the idea.

The Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys is a favorite of mine for its sensuous language and steamy equatorial images, mainly, though I also chuckled at the way Rhys cleverly, ironically braided her novel’s ropes in with the silken cords of Charlotte Bronte‘s Jane Eyre…like a cuckoo sneaking her vulgar egg into a respectable bird family’s nest.
one of these things...

Sort of the way, come to think of it, that my painting tries to hide among the Penguins on my bookshelf… 😉
The Wide Sargasso Sea

As paintings go, this one’s pretty bland…pretty, but not really saying anything. I just had the image of seaweed viewed through a cross-section of seawater, and stuck to it, even when it was obvious that there wasn’t going to be much tension or interest in a flat sea and some seaweed. There are events from the book that would have made for much more intriguing cover images, but I didn’t feel capable of a composition with burning parrot against night sky and French windows, or something dramatic like that. It’s okay for a book cover, though.
The Wide Sargasso Sea

I’m especially delighted with the way it looks hanging—like I’ve got a book stuck on the wall.