I learned to embroider the summer before starting college; my friends and I decided we wanted to make cute embroidered shirts so we just went for it and the rest is history. I fell in love with embroidery, the way it’s so versatile. I originally was only embroidering items that could be used such as t-shirts or pockets, but then I realized I could make art with the miles of string I had.
At the time of this epiphany I was reading a book, The Museum of Intangible Things by Wendy Wunder (it’s a fabulous book, it really gets you thinking). The book is about a girl named Hannah and her best friend Zoe, who also has a younger brother with autism. Being the great older sister Zoe is, she makes him museum exhibits in their basement of intangible things to help him better understand, like emotions such as fear and whatnot. Zoe decides she wants to get out of town which is exactly what they do. Little does Hannah know Zoe has some plans to teach Hannah some intangible things she’s been missing in life. The first intangible thing Hannah is taught is insouciance. According to dictionary.com, insouciant means free from concerns, worry, or anxiety; carefree. That has been my favorite word ever since, because I think I need to be a little more insouciant in my life. This was my inspiration for the insouciant piece you see here; I wanted an everyday reminder to be a little more insouciant.
In making the insouciant piece I came to the conclusion that I love keeping the embroidery hoop on as a frame; it just works in my eyes. Another piece I made was inspired by The Gay Beards, specifically a picture they featured on their Instagram. As you may know, The Gay Beards are known for decorating their beards with all sorts of different things. In this particular case they had put flowers in their beards; I fell in love with the image and overall look of it. This inspired me to create an embroidery piece. This time it was all about experimenting and texture. I wanted to see how watercolors would work on fabric in creating the face of the bearded man. Although they bled a lot more than on paper, it worked pretty well. Then came the task of actually creating the beard; I wanted it to be textured similar to a beard and for the flowers to really pop. It took so much longer than I thought it would but that could just be the impatient millennial within me.
I recently touched up a piece I did earlier this year. When I originally made it I was very pleased with it and felt as though it was done for good. I gave it a title and everything: Music Never Dies; it’s of a skeleton couple lying on the floor listening to a pink vinyl record (in my eyes the record is My Chemical Romance’s Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge album that came exclusively in pink vinyl). When I came home for summer break and saw it again I felt as though it was missing something. I realized the white bones of the skeletons were blending with the cream colored patterned background too much; they weren’t distinctive enough for my liking. Therefore I took a chance once again and undid the backing to allow me to embroider a thin black outline of the skeletons. I was nervous because I had never done any outlining of any sorts with embroidery and didn’t want to mess up the piece since I liked it otherwise. I’m also one of those people where if I finish a work and consider it complete I don’t like to change things since it’s how I once wanted it, or maybe I have a fear of messing things up, I’m not sure which it is but anyways, this piece may have swayed that mentality of mine since I’m very happy with the way it turned out in the end.
Just like with any new medium for me, embroidery is all about experimenting and learning as I go. It’s like a challenge and a hobby wrapped up together; on one hand I have no idea what I’m doing but on the other hand I learn as I go and enjoy it. Not to mention I end up with awesome things I can hang on the wall or t-shirts that say exactly what I want them to; simple things I can cherish since they’re handmade therefore meaningful to me. On an ending side note, I’ve found them to be awesome presents for friends as well.
Also, I’m finishing up an Etsy shop that will feature embroidery and other art, more to come on that soon!
2 thoughts on “The Old-Fashioned Art of Embroidery”
Enjoyed the article on Francesca Giuliani. I know her well and you truly captured the essence of her personality!