Megan Whitmarsh creates pop culture modern embroideries of yetis, space travellers and battling elf maidens. The size is small: 3" X 5" to 8" X 8". Whitmarsh draws from her background as an art school painting major to bring a contemporary sensibility to embroidery. The backgrounds are stretched plain fabric. The imagery creates a sense of alienation from the real world and escape to a world of pop culture fantasy. Whitmarsh further explores the emotional isolation of being a yeti in the short film, The Life of a Yeti.
"Whitmarsh's work primarily consists of embroidered depictions of Yetis, Elves and various pop icons. These characters are sewn in numerous arrangements over monochromatic stretched fabrics. Scenes include socializing Yetis, people from the future chased by geometric shapes, or Elf-girls chatting on cell phones. For her first show with Sixtyseven Whitmarsh presents her most recent embroideries, a series of drawings and a video entitled 'The Life of a Yeti'. Whitmarsh’s choice of medium bring to mind the Arts and Crafts movement of the 1970’s while other elements in her work relate Minimalism and Pop Art. Since her cast of characters is sewn over flat backgrounds, the pieces resemble color field paintings with little specks of color. A closer look reveals a tiny cigarette held by a Yeti or a golden necklace worn by an Elf. Some pieces include more familiar references: The band Kiss or Darth Vader can be found inhabiting a monochrome… Other pieces include art historical inserts: A Yeti next to a Franz Kline painting, King Kong staring at a Robert Indiana sculpture and so on." from "Forest Logic" at Sixtyseven gallery.
"For moonboots and barrettes, elves and cigarettes, Whitmarsh will present her exquisite embroidery on fabric pieces that combine this traditional medium with depictions of elements in pop-culture such as yetis and battling elf girls. While the size of her work ranges from small to large, her characters remain tiny and detailed, forcing the viewer to literally peer into her worlds. Sumpter, part of the new school of illustration, will be exhibiting paintings on paper using gouache, ink and watercolor. Her work has been described as "…delicate ink lines, and subtle attention to detail complement and subvert the lightness of her drawings' and her 'icon-like imagery resembles....children's books found in antique stores, but with a modernist composition and adult subject matter'. Megan Whitmarsh graduated with a BFA in painting from the Kansas City Art Institute in 1993. She completed her MFA studies at the University of New Orleans in 1997 with the aid of a full fellowship. Upon graduating she migrated to Williamsburg, Brooklyn where she magnified the role of embroidery in her art. She makes a comic 'Snow Monkeys' and various merchandise under the moniker 'Tiny Industries'." from not starving artists
Punch Needle embroidery (or Bunka) seems to be creeping back into favor, after decades of disgrace from its visual abuse in the 1960s and 70s. Needle punch is an old Russian technique, which uses embroidery floss in a continuous feed system to create looped surface images. Rissa Peace offers this description of punch needle embroidery, "Punch Needle Embroidery is often referred to as thread painting, since it can be used to depict very complex scenes, not unlike an oil painting. This technique and its variants are know as Punch, Punch Embroidery, Punch Needle Embroidery, Russian Embroidery and Bunka (the Japanese variation). These terms are not universally interchangeable, but they use the same tool, a punch needle. The basic concept is pretty simple, yarn is punched through a fabric with a hollow pencil shaped needle and leaves tufted loops yarn on top of the fabric. You can create intricate, durable images out of the pile. The actual technique is more closely related to rug-hooking than embroidery, but the application and end product are better described as embroideries than rugs." Rissa provides a list of resources as well as an introduction to the craft of punch needlework.
The best illustrated directions that I could find online are from Amherst Antiques. They have images of the needles, threading directions, pattern transfer and 'Working the Design', as well as online patterns for beginning projects. Their emphasis at this site is on rug hooking though; the pieces tend to use wool and look like miniature rugs.
Libby Magnello has a page of needle punch work that she has integrated into her crazy quilts.
As I have mentioned before, to my mind, Missy Stevens remains the unrivaled artist in contemporary punch needle embroidery. Stevens created the artwork to the left, "Sanctuary,", 9" wide X 13-1/4" tall.
Ray Materson is an ex-con who embroiders tiny works with shiny fibers unraveled from socks. To learn more about Materson's work, listen to this interview with Materson on NPR. The NPR quick summary of Materson's life reads, "Ray Materson taught himself to embroider while in prison, where he was serving a 15-year sentence for drug-related offenses. By fashioning a hoop from a Rubbermaid top and salvaging threads from old socks, Materson was able to create intricate, multi-colored scenes depicting everything from prison life to football emblems to romantic sunsets. These scenes are only 2-by-2 inches, with 1200 stitches per square inch."
If you want more details still, Materson's story is told and illustrated in a book, Sins and Needles.
The Diane Rehm Show offers a one hour interview and book discussion with Materson. The emphasis in this interview is on overcoming addictions through art as well on the art itself.
"Creativity is part of our very makeup," he says. A failure to nurture or encourage the creative urge, he believes, can lead to crimes against others and oneself, such as drug addiction and alcoholism."
The Esther Project by Esther Nisenthal Krinitz is a travelling embroidery show at the American Visionary Museum. The project consists of 36 large scale embroideries depicting the holocaust experiences of Esther. Esther Project Website describes the works, "In October 1942, after living under Nazi occupation for 3 years, the Jews of the village of Mniszek were ordered to report to the nearby train station. The 15-year old Esther decided she would not go but would instead take her 13-year old sister Mania and look for work among Polish farmers. Turned away by Polish friends and neighbors, the sisters assumed new names and evaded the Gestapo, pretending to be Catholic farm girls. They never saw their family again."
At the Visionary Art Museum, these works are all hung in close quarters within a single room. My initial impression was "ho hum." Esther began these works in 1977, at the age of 50. To be frank, the art suffers from the style of that time. There is way too much cloying calico print, cutesy 3 dimensional pigtails and shag roofing - that was at first glance. After a superficial look, I began to read the narrative stitched at the bottom of each piece. It was then that the art superseded the stylistic limitations. The coziness of the images belie the harsh, heart rending story that is told. The image to the right, No. 24 We Find No Refuge, carries the following lines: "October 30, 1942. After dark, we went to the house of our former neighbor, Zebina. As her daughters, our friends, watched, she told us we had to leave because the Gestapo were looking for Jews. In the darkest night, we headed for the woods but stumbled into a pile of debris where we spent the night."
The Esther Project website gallery has the full set of images on line with accompanying captions. Take a few minutes to look at the images and read the captions. It will be time well spent.
image: No. 24 We Find No Refuge by Esther Nisenthal Krinitz. © Art and Remembrance Inc. 2004
Ever wanted to learn more from the greats of modern embroidery, but can't get to the U.K. for a guild workshop? A collection of stitchmasters got together in 1994 and donated one article each to the newsletter of the Young Embroiderers group. Those articles are now available online (free!) in .pdf format as The Riches of Stitches. The articles have simple and not-so-simple stitch instructions plus design guides and inspiration. The list of articles and contributors is as follows:
Fabric transfer paints : : Jan Beaney
Stitches worked on bars : : Chris Berry
Raised stitches : : Muriel Best
Breton stitch : : Joy Bradshaw
Battlement couching : : Jenny Bullen
Pattern into texture : : Anne Coleman
Flying stitches : : Gavin Fry
Developing stitches : : Linda Lewis
Textured triangles : : Jean Littlejohn
Planting in patterns : : Vicky Lugg
Pulled thread : : Moyra McNeill
Blackwork : : Anne Mullins
Book & book cover project : : Elaine Osborne
Indian mirror work : : Jennie Parry
Hot spots : : Dorothy Tucker
Gavin Fry has two degrees in art and textiles from outstanding British universities, but now earns a living as a mental health professional and pursues his art in what he calls 'Sunday embroiderer' status. Twisted Thread described Fry's work at the Knitting and Embroidery Show 2004: "There is no set format in his work, and technique is employed according to the desired effect rather than for its own sake. He describes his pieces as collages. He uses imagery which isn't intended to shock, but to tell a story. He reinvents the familiar to challenge myths and he says, 'sex rears its ugly head to laugh at life and death'."
Fiberart Gallery in Cornwall features an online exhibition of several of Fry's small witty pieces. It is simply captioned: "Hand embroidery commenting on contemporary issues using masculine images."
Matthew Cox is an astonishingly versatile artist whose current repertoire includes oil painting, drawings created through stamping on paper and embroidery on x-ray film. The latter was highlighted in an article in the Sept/Oct 2004 Fiberarts magazine, The Fiber of our Being.
A show at the Aron Packer gallery gives a glimpse into Cox's diversity. His show, Painted, Stamped & Stitched, at the Jonathan Ferrara Gallery included this press release:
"In his search for alternative drawing materials, Cox utilizes subject specific rubber stamps as his drawing tool. Rubber stamps have become part of his lexicon and his renderings capture the essence of the subject in both words and precise portraiture. Embroidered X-Rays are Cox's latest discovery... literally hand stitching the X-Rays, bringing them to life and resurrecting the subject from the material. Cox's multifarious bodies of work strengthen one another by balancing technical and conceptual concerns with humor and formal beauty."
Eirian Short is a British embroidery legend whose pinaccle seems to have occurred prior to the advent of the internet. One of the few pages that I could find of her work features an embroidered landscape with crows and a short biography - given first in Gaellic then in English:
"Eirian Short was born in Fishguard in 1924. She studied sculpture and embroidery at Goldsmiths College, London. From 1953 to 1985 she lectured at various London art colleges, while developing her own work and exhibiting widely."
A student newsletter from 2001 provides a bit more depth as to the significance of Short's work: "Admitting to a vulgar side of her nature, she works with subjects and imagery, which arise from a sense of necessity and a commitment to an inner integrity in terms of idea and concept. Eirian avoids any danger of good taste, working from a cycle of subjects, which have recurred over the years. Her subjects focus over a wide span of ideas, although most are based on the creatures and landscape of her home in Wales.
The great Black Crows of the early '80's were depicted as a crucifixion, and exhibited in a 62 Group exhibition at the RIBA galleries in Central London. Other, equally controversial subjects followed over the years, the snakes series shown in the On the Edge exhibition of 1998 at the Knitting and Stitching Show, ranged from a series of exquisite, detailed drawings to a huge, padded and sculpted snake which encircled a mirror....
A committed hand embroiderer, Eirian uses thread and stitch as a painter would use paint and brushes, each stitch a mark of colour, and in turn multiplying and building until it has filled the canvas. Her stitch language is simple and straightforward, straight stitches, detached chain stitch and French knots. Working with crewel wool means that she is able to vary the number of threads in the needle and mix colours - much as a painter would mix colours in a palette. Every scrap of the ground fabric is filled with stitch, which creates a smooth even surface of coloured wool, the surface values and qualities created not with texture, but in the way that she is able to modulate the light/dark contrasts of tonal values." (pages 20-22)
One of the great drawbacks to the Internet is the lack of information on older, not-so-fashionable people/issues/art. Short's books are still available through libraries and used book stores, but sadly not much can be found online.
Tom Lundberg creates small scale fiber works with a keen sense of craftsmanship and humor. Many of his works are "pockets", small embroideries measuring about 5 1/4" X 4 3/8", created in the shape of a shirt pocket. Each pocket describes its own world of events and dynamics.
Lundberg describes these worlds: "On the fronts and backs of their court robes, officials in imperial China wore panels called Mandarin squares. Embroidered with birds, animals, waves and clouds, these insignia diagrammed how each individual fit within an ordered and layered universe.In my embroidered pictures, glimpses of everyday life merge with fragments of memory. The steady process of stitching attempts to bind and compress the fleeting moments that trigger each piece. Like threads pulled from intertwining networks, small details reflect the bigger picture."
"Red Pruning Shears" brings to mind the pop art sensibilities of Jim Dine. It's a understated composition in red and white with a precise drawing of the implements and the consequences. Other works, such as Evening Pocket, are more painterly narratives creating a silent world of mystery, reminiscent of painters like Hollis Sigler or Edward Hopper.
In a statement at the Hibberd McGrath Gallery, Lundberg reveals the importance of memory to his creations: "In my embroidered pictures, glimpses of everyday life merge with fragments of memory. Needle and thread offer a way of working that is simple and direct. This process is slow and deliberate, in contrast to the fleeting moments that trigger each piece."
"For the past few decades, 52-year-old East Hampton, N.Y., artist Christa Maiwald has been sending up the social mores of privileged urbanites in paintings, sculpture and video. About a year and a half ago, she took up embroidery. No Grandma Moses she, Maiwald uses the quaint activity to explore feminist themes, much as Rosemarie Trockel did in the 1980s when she used knitting to create charged cultural symbols like the Playboy bunny. At MOCA, Maiwald sticks her needle into teenage angst -- mostly girls confronting their emerging sexuality and the good-girl/bad-girl conflict." from a special to the Washington Post
"For the past three years, Maiwald has been photographing adolescents and creating embroidered portraits of them, first on small linen handkerchiefs, then on larger pieces of cotton, and most recently on pillows. The exhibition will include three large pillow installations and a selection of digital photographs." from Florence Lynch Gallery
This is an artist who seems restless and determined to keep exploring new territory. A photo of her recent work, is not so controversial - and this shot is clear enough that you can see the detail! Maiwald's gallery has a page of perhaps the most intriguing work: the "Learning to Draw Series" and some sculptures. Unfortunately, the detail is lacking in the web site photos and the links to the larger images don't work. Art in America offers this evocative review of the series: "Christa Maiwald's recent oil paintings and gouache drawings, collectively titled "Learn to Draw," offer comic scenarios, often depicting instances of artistic coercion. Sometimes the pictured events are summed up by their titles: the teacher scolds the child in You Better Learn to Draw!, the aspiring artist faces a gallery's rejection in Sorry Nudes Are Out, Bugs Are In.... In You Better Learn to Drawl (1997), a small child in a classroom lined with children at easels is confronted by a shrewish teacher with a masklike face, a distorted hunch back and Medusalike hair. Maiwald's cartoon style engages with aspects of abstract picture-making in a black arch that seems both to be part of the wall and to form the teacher's back. Throughout this exhibition, Maiwald seems to delight in a certain kind of dark humor, one which perhaps expresses her frustrations with being an artist."
"Claire Heathcote is a graduate from Goldsmiths College where she studied Textile. Her work looks at the way thread can transform from a drawing tool to a medium able to say something about the person being drawn."
"Claire Heathcote's delicate embroidered portraits capture modern life in mid gesture. The impact of her faces - images gleaned from magazines and reduced to a collection of graphic planes and simple outlines - is strangely amplified by the relative intimacy of embroidery. Occasional loose threads connect us to the making process and trail across the surface like a line of thought left unresolved."
"My work is almost always portrait based. I find peoples' expressions and features very interesting, and I tend to embroider pictures of people that catch my eye, that look a little unusual or glamorous. My starting points are usually images from magazines, films or books, and I think my work benefits from this distance between me and the subject.
Another aspect of my work focuses on thread as a drawing tool. Sometimes I use it in a very controlled way and at other times play with the loose threads to speculate on the subjects' personality, or the situation they are in."
All of the above quotes are taken from the respective web pages. When embroidery begins to gather the meaning and line quality of drawing, it suddenly becomes intensely interesting to me. There is something overly balnd about the embroidered line that is continuous, smooth and in-control. Heathcote has managed to break both the line and the restraint simultaneously! Delightful and provoking.
First disclaimer: I do not practice Voodoo, nor do I know or understand much about it. But the flags that I came across on the web struck me as very beautiful and evocative symbolic communications, worthy of some reflection. Raw Vision gives an explanation of the flags that suggests that they are an outgrowth of Catholic icons, combined with the pain and anger of slavery. "Created one sequin and bead at a time, each stitch is a silent prayer. The finished flag is an emblem of spiritual resolve within a fabric and beaded skin which presents a constellation of beauty and brilliance."
ElCoqui Galleries describes the flags this way:"Unique to Haiti, Voodoo Flag or Drapo Voodoo is the most elegant and profound sequin art. Flag art originally started as a praying cloth in honor to the Iwa (spirits). The art is both complex and intricate, starting with the 18K-20K sequin and glass beads that are needed to complete a piece. Each Iwa is an abstract diagram called a veve that serves as a symbol. Spirits can also be represented in animals, objects or human figures having particular attributes. The iconography of voodoo is extensive and complicated. Voodoo artists need to have a good understanding of it and the color scheme for each spirit. The new generation of artists combine spiritual devotion with artistic ambition, appealing both to the art market as well as religious devouts." An exhibit, Sequined Surfaces: Haitian Vodoun Flags, that travelled the country a few years back, but this seems to be a largely ignored folk art medium(?).
Recent economics have given a new position to voodoo flags as secular art objects created by artists for collectors. Many of the newer works feature more mythological themes such as mermaids or stylized designs It is hard to find much history or documentation on the internet about voodoo flags, but just browsing the gallery offerings is fun:
Electric Gallery (15 pages of flags)
Haitian Art Co.
image: Flag (drapo) for Baron by Antoine Oleyant
"I now interpret artistic inspiration, often understood in terms of unexplainable impulses and images (as I previously thought), in a more mundane but just as profound fashion: inspiration means, simply and literally, to breathe in." - a quote from an article by Akiko Kotani in Fiberarts Magazine (2001) entitled, A Zen Retreat on Fibers and Drawing.
Kotani's work is minimal. Through her writings, we receive some insight as to the wellspring of her purist aesthetic. She writes about the activities during the days that she spent on retreat at the monastery. But her deepest discovery came later, when she returned home and began to integrate her learning into her teaching and art. The thought of a Zen master that can grab an arrow in flight is an inspiration to most little boys. Being a Zen master who is fully embedded in each stitch sounds pretty enticing too.
image: Akiko Kotani, Deep Winter #5-10, 2000
I have discovered the fun of the self portrait. It all began with my hometown's exhibit of residents' self portraits. I had only done one self portrait and that was almost 20 years ago. Since I have my tongue sticking out, I guess that was some foreshadow of the fun of the self portrait.
Artists have often done self portraits and some of their most memorable works may be this art of reflection. A short, illustrated paper by Jeanne Ivy The Exploration of Self; What artists find when they search in the mirror offers this insight: "Self-portraits, we have found, can be carefully staged to show the audience only what the artist wishes to project, or deeply revealing, inadvertently displaying feelings of anguish and pain. Self-portraits have been used to test new techniques, make a signature mark, launch into self-study, remember the past, and as a way to release emotion. Whichever way artists choose to construct their images, they are each forced to study their own personas both physically and emotionally"
Some collections & resources to reflect upon:
Self-portrait U.K. - Making a self-portrait
Rembrandt's self portraits
VanGogh's self portraits
Self portraits of famous artists through the ages
image: Serena Fenton, self portrait
Alice Kettle came to embroidery from a modernist art background. In the early 1980s, she graduated from art school, creating abstract expressionist paintings. When she moved to textiles, she began to explore the possibilities of texture, layering and depth. From a review at Otter Gallery: "Kettle employs machine stitch as it best suits her intuitive approach and uses metal thread to add a glistening effect. She creates three-dimensional surfaces by repeatedly stitching over the same areas forming interesting shadows. Kettle constantly explores new methods, drawing inspiration from various sources, such as medieval church tapestries, Russian icons and the paintings of Giotto."
Kettle has a new body of work which is currently touring Great Britain. The show description reads: "Mythscapes is a major exhibition of a new body of work by Alice Kettle, one of Britain's leading textile artists whose machine embroidered hangings are known for their remarkable painterly quality and poetic resonance. The show features a series of works which explore themes contained within Homer's Odyssey. In these figurative pieces she makes reference to universal ideas of hope, renewal and human concerns of existence. Both large and small scale works illustrate her mastery of the materials and convey depth of emotion through an exceptional use of color, line and composition."
The work is far more painterly and abstract than Kettle's previous works. Unfortunately, there are darned few images available on the web. There is a book available of the show.
Connecticut artist, Missy Stevens, creates thread paintings using punch needle embroidery. This technique allows her deeper texturing of the surfaces than she could achieve with traditional embroidery stitches. Her subject matter tends towards nature inspired whimsey and fantasy. Her finished pieces range from two dimensional framed paintings to small three dimensional sculptures, incorporating beads, wire, wood,and polychromed objects.
A New York Times review wrote of Stevens' work: "Using needle, thread and beads, Missy Stevens makes tiny, tightly knit tapestries of riveting optical and material richness. With jewellike colors, satiny and nubby textures, intricately patterned borders and glass-bead fringes, her works look as if they were made by an inspired medieval artisan. Her images may seem whimsically simple-minded, but as in the poetry of Emily Dickinson, formal ingenuity and heartfelt moods ranging from ecstasy to grief give the work a complex depth that belies the seemingly naïve surface."
Texture and depth is what keeps bringing me back to textiles when I start to wonder why not just do paintings (painting being much quicker, after all). These sumptuous works by Mary Ruth Smith bring it all back to me as to what fiber can do that nothing else can: exquisite color combined with the mottling, shading and movement of light that only comes from the dimensionality of fiber. The blurb for Smith's exhibit reads: "As a textile artist working from a formalist approach Mary Ruth Smith relates traditional embroidery techniques to contemporary thematic concerns in a compacted, overlaid process, refining stitches and French knots into intricate works reminiscent of Byzantine mosaics."
Woman's lives and issues are humorously depicted in beaded paintings by Chicago artist, Colleen O'Rourke. Working with seed beads (available in a limited color palette), O'Rourke has created a series of frozen moments of conflict and reflections. Dishin the Dirt depicts a lively gossip scene of women friends. Cornered portrays a mother and young child backed into a place of no escape. Family Bed depicts a contented family, complete with dog, cat, parents and several children all piled into bed. Rooftop is a evening party of friends, drinking beer and jamming musicians.
O'Rourke's style is flattened and graphic. The bead medium, with its hard edged colors dos not allow for much surface modelling. These small works could perhaps bear a kinship to the Roman mosaics, where daily life remains frozen in time. In Pompeii, the dogs bite; in O'Rourke's world, are there lingering dangers, or just modern apathy?
image: The Gramma's Tea Party by Colleen O'Rourke
Mary Bero creates small embroideries and slightly larger prints. A description of her work at Kevin Quandt Fine Art (and also at Kelly Rae Theiss Gallery) says it all: "The reason one is drawn to her tightly constructed and highly stylized work is that she has the power to pull them off. They are tribal, urban, and indiginious, they have the look and feel of relics that were from a time past, but once view up close one realizes that the are too surreal to be from any other time but the present. Her work combines paper, thread, and cloth together and separately, they present worlds of calm and schizophrenia meshed together. Bero's work can be broken down by subject matter into three group: portraits of faces resembling tribal mask, surreal landscapes, and works combining both."
A handout from Mobilia Gallery has a wonderful quote from Bero: "Her work relies a great deal on intuition and spontaneity: 'Mistakes are my greatest inspiration.'"
Rachel Howard is a U.K. stitcher whose work I find engrossing, but it is darned hard to find much of it on the web. I first stumbled across Howard's work while browsing through the 62group's gallery.
The integration of sketching and stitching is what makes Howard's work so engrossing. Each piece is different, yet there is a current of consistency and exploration that runs through them all. Her piece for the competition held by
Coats and Clark illuminates the possibilities of embroidery as a vital sketching medium.
image: humorous ties by Rachel Howard
sharon b's Stitches for Embroidery and Needlework is a lengthy and well illustrated resources of hand embroidery stitches assembled by an Australian textile artist and colege professor, Sharon Boggon The best thing about this dictionary is that it provides photos of the stitches as they are being created as well as several illustrations of the stitches in-use in several unusual pieces.
image: Whipped spider's wheel stitch by Sharon Boggon
Linda Miller - miniature embroideries. "Working from the Colour Factory Studios and Gallery in Winchester, Hampshire, UK which was set up in 1985 with fellow artist Jenny Muncaster, Linda Miller makes one-off, framed and unframed machine embroideries using an industrial Bernina 950 sewing machine. She embroiders onto a heavyweight cotton using a wide selection of rayon, silk, and metallic threads." These are charming, lighthearted small embroideries. Actually the size ranges from small to tiny. Tiny size embroideries being 4 cm X 4 cm (or roughly 1-1/2 inches square). Small embroideries measure more in the range of 30 X 30 cm (or roughly 12" square).
Her subject matter focuses on lighthearted whimsey. All of her people smile; all of her animals gambol through the grass. While the subject may be amusing, the composition and color are very well planned and effective. Miller understands perfectly the use of shapes and forms as design agents. Trees and hills become abstract compositional masses, focusing the eye motion and direction and creating a stage set for her figurative actions. Miller's works are delightful.
image: Forest Pig Racing 29 x 42cm by Linda Miller
Embroidered Comic Book Samplers by Mark Newport,art professor at Arizona State University, poke fun at both male and female stereotypes. Newport's recent show at the Greg Kucera Gallery utilized comic book cover as a theme, examining the silliness of the macho hero stereotype. Newport begins with a literal translation of the "found comic book cover"; select areas of the cover are then enriched with heavily textural knotted needlework. Earlier work by the artist includes beaded football trading cards and beaded Desert Storm trading cards.
Part of the irony is the juxtaposition of pubescent-boy iconography with a traditional woman's handicraft. It reeks of pop art, Andy Warhol and soup cans. The images are in-your-face, but why not? It's a big breath of fresh air after the traditional saccharine floral embroideries.
image: Sampler: Batman Poster Child For Crime, 2003 by Mark Newport
Sewing Machines Product Reviews and Reports by Consumer Search
Every once in awhile I find myself longing for a new, different, better sewing machine. Something that will create my visions while I sleep. But the question to be answered is whether I should get a Bernina, Pfaff or a Viking/Husquavarna.
The answer has emerged - or at least where to find the answer. Consumer Search has kindly complied a neat list of all of the major sewing machine reviews. Not only that, they ahve pprovided a little assessment of each reviewer and where their view is coming from.
Cindy Hickok contemplates the interplay of titles for artworks and artworks as being created from wordplay and visual puns. Hickok is a gifted modern embroiderer whose work takes full advantage of visual humor. One piece entitled, On Tuesday Vincent Picked Up His Socks is a reinterpretation of VanGogh's bedroom scene, after a good cleaning.
image by Peggy Moulton: "Radiation Therapy"
In an article for Embroiderers's Guild, Hickok describes her process of visual punning: "I begin by listing 'pieces': piecemeal, hairpiece, centerpiece, puzzle piece... the list can get long. From there I move on to list expressions: 'it's a piece of cake', for example. Then, on to list well-known stories or songs, and then I think about homonyms: peace -piece treaty - piece at any price. I could try peas. Or pease (porridge hot). Once I have exhausted my list of word possibilities, I look over them to find double meanings, or to change one letter in a word to alter the meaning. I plead for help from others, and it becomes a game. The list can get very long, especially when I allow myself the freedom to get silly. While many of the words on the list could not advance beyond a word game, many do have the potential to provide good visuals."
elaine mcbride, fiber artist Stitched small narratives are what Elaine McBride calls these tiny modern embroideries. She's been making them for over 25 years while teaching at area colleges and arts centers. It's hard to find much information on her techniques or theory, but the Peters Valley Crafts Center in 2003 did offer this description of her course, which gives some insight into her process:
"Embroidery is deceptively simple - providing substance to a piece of cloth with or without pre-conceived ideas! This course will utilize the stitch to develop personal imagery. Students will experiment with stitches exploring color, stitch application and mark making (think "sampler" for reference). We will design a project specific to each student utilizing doodles, introspection, brainstorming, ideas that need tweaking for needle and thread mode or suggestions from a wise and savvy stitcher! (Think personal narratives/symbols/totems.) Embroidery is a meditative process in this world of instant gratification, students may not complete their pieces but will leave with the ability to finish on their own. Framing and finishing ideas will be discussed."
Image by Elaine McBride
Scrapheap Challenge: Carol Shinn's photo-realist embroidery
Carol Shinn :: photo-realist embroidery
Carol Shinn has received international attention in the past few years for her groundbreaking photo realist embroidery techniques. Her subject matter tends to be old cars or other derelict remenants of the consumer society. Shinn begins with a photo or mulitple photos, which she then sandwiches together to form a single image. Using her sewing machine, she proceeds to create a dimensional embroidery of the image.
This 2002 article in Embroidery magazine had this to say about her technique; "In order to stitch the many layers necessary to arrive at these complex images, Shinn sets her sewing machine with the feed dogs lowered so that she is in complete control of the position of the fabric and the density of the stitches. The rich surfaces that build from the layering of numerous coloured threads cover the entire canvas base. Shinn notes this dense, all-over effect is similar to cross-hatched lines across the surface of a drawing paper. In fact, it is her love of drawing, evident in her command of proportion and detail, which first led Shinn to embroidery. The hand of an artist competent in her command of line, form and composition is certainly evident in her second chosen medium of thread and stitch."
image by Carol Shinn