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

über embroiderers: Kimika Hara

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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squirrel

Japanese artist Kimika Hara’s work is an embroiderer’s eye-candy x a hundred. She uses simple stitches and raw-edged appliqué of commercial fabrics, but her color palette and the cute subjects she depicts blow her pieces out of the water of ordinary embroidery and into über gorgeousness.

What can I say? That I’m jealous of her? That, one again, an über embroiderer has left me feeling hopelessly redundant? That I’m torn between feeling so inspired by these embroideries, and hating them for being so awesome? That I have to exert tremendous willpower not to grab a needle, some thread, and surreptitiously imitate her fabulous style? Yes, all these things.

These images defeat me, and she doesn’t write too much about herself on the internet, so I’ll stop here and let you get on with admiring these pieces.

Be sure to check out her Flickr Photostream, and her website, for many more images that will make you alternate between squeeing and groaning…

fishhananuguri

bird and fruits

flora

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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

Zim and Zou

Special font created for Easter (‘Pâques’ = French) by the duo Zim and Zou for the BNP. Delighted by the fun and evidence of real play in these letters, so different from their virtuosity in paper, which is the medium I know them for.

One sentence, the very last in their brief description of the project, says it all: “The font was handmade with plasticine.” So here’s what you can really do with ordinary modelling plasticine. No? Okay, so here’s what creative geniuses like  Zim and Zou can do with ordinary modelling plasticine, then!

via Zim and Zou on Behance.net

Kantha see I’m busy? Week 10 ✂ Running Stitch (TAST)

Tast Week 10: Running Stitch

Week 10’s stitch on Take A Stitch Tuesday is Running Stitch…

Possibly the simplest stitch of them all, and yet…who, among embroiderers, is not indebted to this stitch? From basting, easing, and smocking to outlining, gathering, filling, quilting, and pattern darning, running stitch can do it all.

And does it quickly! Please *ahem* note that for once I am not posting my TAST2012 sample at the last possible moment. This piece took the good part of a day to do (it was the pattern darning that slowed me down, and I was plenty distracted) but that’s not too bad,when you count how long some of the others took me.

 This first bit of my sample shows some pattern darning. A simple line of stitches worked over counted threads, (evenweave fabric, using a single thread and a tapestry needle) was built up into a band so even that it almost looks woven. There was going to be a whole field of this darning, but after four repeats of the pattern I got bored (heh heh) so I tore the strip from its mother fabric, and mixed it with other torn pieces of fabric for a patchwork, instead.

Tast Week 10: Running Stitch

My favorite use of running stitch is in the Indian and West Bengal embroidery called kantha. In the best examples of this technique, the entire cloth is covered with running stitches, often used to fill in shapes of animals, plants, and people. The effect of so many running stitches is a subtle, delightful crinkling or rippling in the fabric, and a contrast between puffed-up and stitched down areas that resemble quilting. Kantha embroidery is both decorative, and serves to hold all the pieces of a patchwork down, and if several layers are used, is also a quilting stitch to hold all the layers of a blanket (or somesuch) together, at the same time.

I work this dense running stitch quite a lot. Here it is on a patchwork-covered journal…
book 913 with hand-embroidered kantha quilting

and on a simple felt journal
puff (no. 908)

BUT I am digressing…this here is a detail of my running stitches for the TAST sample. The shimmery pink organza is particularly effective when it is puckered up by the running stitches, letting the light play on its crinkled surface.

I didn’t do anything special to hold the pieces of fabric down—like bond them to the ground fabric, or spray them with adhesive—except some very large basting stitches (removed afterwards) running both vertically and horizontally across all the loose pieces. The edges were left torn or cut. As I worked the running stitches—first vertically then horizontally, forming crosses—I tried to catch and hold down the raw edges of the pieces. Don’t know if I would dare to launder such a thing, but for a static embroidery sample, the kantha seems to do the job of securing everything well enough.

Tast Week 10: Running Stitch

The text is very crude on this one, I didn’t think it would turn out so ordinary. I’ve used running stitch for the letters, which I then whipped with the same color. Kinda ‘meh’. I tried to set the word off better by running a few lines of tiny white running stitches around it. Maybe I should have filled the entire word-shape with white running stitches. But it’s colorful, and pretty, has a rich texture, and I like it a lot, anyway!
Tast Week 10: Running Stitch

I love running stitch…it’s so simple, and versatile, and it instantly gives a design that earthy, “made by hand” feeling.

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This small embroidery sample is for the Take a Stitch Tuesday 2012 Challenge. The idea was to combine my love of embroidery with my love of typography.

Inspired! By 0 the 1’s Muse of The Week

Kat’s gorgeous blog, 0 the 1, has really taken off in the past year…she’s made a score of changes to the art, design and layout of the pages, has added regular ‘feature’ type entries, and—as always—slathers the whole thing with scrumptious photographs that have been given what I am really starting to think of as Kat’s signature “Elegant & Quirky” post-processing treatment: dreamy veils of layered colours, mosaics and intriguing juxtapositions, curly elements tucked into the corners, vintage graphics.

The result is a coherent and harmonious blog about being creative, starting a family, making a simple, self-sustaining, joy-filled life, and taking that life for long walks around (sigh!) Italy. She did a guest post about the city of Turin for Poppytalk that was so visually stunning, I ached with unconyeved excitement, a restless giddiness, and wanderlust for weeks.

In her most recent Muse of The Week post, Kat put together a short documentary about Stefania Giuliani, a book maker and typographer with a studio/laboratory called Librare. Librare is in the historical center of the city of Ancona, a seaport on the Adriatic. The sight of two medieval rooms full of Stefania’s gorgeous artist’s books, photographs, and trays full of metal type sorts, makes me jealous as heck! But also I feel so inspired to be able to glimpse into this warm, inviting creative space, and doubly lucky to have an adventurous and artistic friend like Kat, who took the time to put together this inspiring video and generously share it.

Salamat, Kat!

P.S. I sent Kat a mail art booklet—postcards, swatches of fabric, a cd, a bit of embroidery, a bit of everything, really!—some time ago, and here she’s done a post of the thing…including an animation where a smaller booklet of embroidery and writing slips out of a pocket in the bigger booklet. I was going to do my own post on the mail art I sent her, but this sort of leaves me (happily) deflated…I wouldn’t do anything as cool, so better just send you over to read her post on the matter!

animated GIF by Katerina Bona Vora of 0 the 1 (zerotheone)

Week 9 ✂ Couched and laid threads (TAST)

I have missed about 5 weeks of the TAST challenge…at this rate I may never catch up! But I’m pushing, this late Sunday afternoon, to upload my stitch sample for the current week. Week 9’s stitch on Take A Stitch Tuesday is Couching.

It’s not completely done, but I’ll be damned if I am going to miss yet another week’s stitch! Not after I nearly lost my mind today, working this diabolical Turkish basket-weave couching with Japanese gold thread. Five tries, and I really thought it would do my head in! It’s harder than I thought it would be…I’d never tried couching metal thread before.

couching stitches— for TAST 2012 (detail)

(Incidentally, the pink-couched black cord is a prime example of Baluchi work…sort of on the opposite end to the skill of the Turkish emboroiderers, Baluchi women do a very coarse couching, using big, visible stitches in contrasting colors.)

Jacobean couching, below, along with satin couching, long and short couching, and thorn stitch couching…
couching stitches— for TAST 2012 (detail)

Bayeux Stitch (a.k.a. Algerian, or Italian couching)

couching stitches— for TAST 2012 (detail)

and, to the right of it, a spiral of single metal thread couching, worked in Japanese gold #4, and again in Kreinik metallic pale pink.
couching stitches— for TAST 2012 (detail)

This started out as zig-zag or to-and-fro couching of a length of mohair yarn…but the resulting puffball was such an unruly little thing that I tried to pull it in with a trellis reminiscent of jacobean couching.
couching stitches— for TAST 2012 (detail)

Bokhara couching
couching stitches— for TAST 2012 (detail)

And a very exciting (to me, at least) couching technique employed by Japanese embroiderers: a foundation of laid threads are couched down securely using the same color thread ( I have used a dark purple, to show the stitches) and further embroidery is worked over this foundation. Embroidery over embroidery is probably the one thing that really sets Japanese embroidery (nuido) apart from the rest of the world’s.
couching stitches— for TAST 2012 (detail)

Okay, the more experienced among you will call my bluff right away…no couching involved here, not really. I ran out of ideas and steam…laid the threads one way, and then started to fool around with needle-weaving in the other direction. Pretty textured effect and pattern, yes, but not couching. 😉
couching stitches— for TAST 2012 (detail)

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UPDATE 10 March 2012:

Okay, it’s done! I just filled in the remaining circle, and continued the laid and couched line that spirals around the design.

In the circle below, I tried my hand at making patterns with the couching thread…this reminds me of friendship bracelet patterns. Bordering the circle is a black cotton yarn couched using blanket stitch, then I snuck in a couple of bullion stitches, and when that didn’t thrill me I shifted to a wrapped couching technique (three wraps, one couching stitch, three wraps, and so on).

I also turned the tables on goldwork by couching the cotton yarn down using Jap gold…

couched and laid3

Over on the other side, just a length of bead couching, to round the bunch of techniques off.

couched and laid1

If you know of a couching technique that I missed, please let me know! I found this sample a great learning and discovery process, as I’ve never really given couching much thought before. Definitely a family of techniques that I will enjoy adding to my repertoire of working stitches. I’ve replaced the bottom photo with one of the finished sample:

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This small embroidery sample is for the Take a Stitch Tuesday 2012 Challenge. The idea was to combine my love of embroidery with my love of typography.