über embroiderers: Lorena Marañon

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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Check out these jewel-brilliant embroideries by the artist Lorena Marañon! Her embroidery work is perfection, and I am in love with her embroidered art pieces—Kaleidoscope Studies (above) and Kinderatom (below)—only slightly more than with her embroidered jewelry pieces.

I’m really amazed by how well-finished the jewelry pieces are, too…everything is so well-planned and minimalist, it really reveals a beautiful mind behind it all. Does she not totally rock the vogue for geometric shapes (triangles, especially) and bold, contrasting colors?

She’s absolutely stunning, to boot…on her website, Lorena models the Embroidered Jewelry collection for 2010, herself. I am smitten with craft crush.

My personal favorite is this irregularly shaped mass of tumbling blocks in the necklace just below…

Lorena Marañón, born 1988 in Holguin, Cuba. Emigrated 1997 to Miami, FL. Miami International University of Art & Design for Fashion Merchandising. Currently living and working in Denver, CO. (source: website)

Mmmm-mmm, YUMMEH! Sunbursts and kaleidoscopes and pyramids of tropical color…there is so much amazing art, design, and crafting talent coming out of Central and South America, I could probably limit all my Google searches to en Español and never run out of über embroiderers!

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Lorena’s website is here, and she keeps a blog here.

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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

One way to use up leftover thread…

I got around to organizing my embroidery threads the other day…putting all the untouched hanks, little paper bands and color codes still on, in one organizer, looping the working hanks of thread around plastic thread card thingies, and gathering all the odds and ends of leftover threads (short lengths, minus a few skeins)

If you do a lot of embroidery, chances are that you have a small (or medium…or humongous…) mass of embroidery threads left over from all those other stitchy projects. Could it possibly look anything like my own thread bunny, here?…or am I more slovenly than most of you? >:)


I hate to throw anything even remotely usable away, but I know that I will not remember to rummage through my tangled thread monster for a particular shade of thread when I am working on an embroidery design, so the solution—for me—has always been to create a project specifically to use up my leftover threads.

Years ago I drew diamonds on an A4-sized piece of white linen using gold gutta, and whenever I had time to kill I would take some leftover thread and fill a shape or two in with satin stitch. I ended up turning the finished piece into trading cards and swapping them away. I only have this one crappy photo, pretty much to scale, but you can see what I mean.


It was time for another one of those projects:

A simple geometric grid on the fabric (old white cotton bedsheets, in case you were wondering)…nothing too complicated.

Inch-sized squares halved on the diagonal. I’ve kept each shape smallish, just the right size to use up the verious 16-inch lengths, 3 or 4 threads to a skein, of each color. Any bigger and I would have to pull fresh thread from the other piles, and I am trying to use the snarl up, not create more leftover thread.

I’ve filled the triangles with a simple satin stitch…alternating between horizontal and vertical stitching gives textured patches of glossy and matte threads.

I started out by using the regular satin stitch, but realised that some of my thread lengths were so short that I wouldn’t have enough to fill even one triangle, so I shifted to surface satin stitch—leaving almost no thread on the back of the embroidery.

front / back

Once I use up this tangle of  leftover threads I hope to always keep a piece of fabric, with a simple grid like this, ready in a hoop, so that I can stay on top of the thread situation, working a triangle here and there alongside my real embroidery projects.

It doesn’t really matter that I don’t know what I’m going to do with this piece of cotton when it’s full of embroidery…there are a million ways it can be used, and I’ll just decide that when it’s done.

Moulin D’Or…in thread and paint


Part of the set that includes the green camera embroidery is this work-in-progress embroidery of the old Zassenhaus Mokka Kaffeemühlen that my Dad gave to me 11 years ago.  I love it, and the steady crunching sound that it makes as it grinds freshly roasted coffee beans into a fine, fine powder.  Still works perfectly, though it must be around 45 years since he bought it in Germany.

I don’t know how I feel about the embroidery, yet, though I suppose it will look okay when more of the ground has been worked. The colors and pattern were chosen with less confidence than those of the camera, I felt.

moulin d'or

I wanted to explore other treatments of the same subject, so I started a painting today, as well…this as far as I got, starting at around noon today. Happy so far, though that pink horizon line is too far up. Already I like this painting better than The Sulking Chair. Trying not to be so heavy-handed this time…keeping the touches, the colors, the movements light, light, light…dancing over, just kissing the canvas…here, there…moving around and not brooding over any one detail.

(And yes, that is a tree on our deck…it’s about 2.7 meters (9 feet) tall now: a Moringa olifeira…Filipinos eat the leaves, they’re fantastically loaded with vitamins and minerals. I never make a soup or curry without throwing handfuls of the small dark-green oval leaves in. Yum!)

moulin d'or

picture of a contemporary Zassenhaus coffeemill in beechwoodNote: Zassenhaus of Germany is still producing its wide range of fine and beautiful Kaffeemühlen for the discerning coffee connoisseur, and each mill’s metal components are guaranteed for 25 years. German craftsmanship, what a wonderful thing in this Made-in-China-today-throw-away-tomorrow world.

I still like my 50-year-old one better, though…the wood has darkened with use, and the knob is shaped like a little mushroom.