This Christmas I went all out in making handmade gifts. In fact, I spent most of November and December unweaving flannel for homemade blanket scarves for all the girls in my family – more on that later.
Aside from the scarves, I also gifted both sets of my parents and grandparents an original hand embroidery.
I decided to do a different design for each couple and the design I’m sharing today is the one I completed for my grandparents.
This design features three snow-covered pines, standing elegantly in a winter wonderland. I was inspired by winter-themed embroidery art I found on Pinterest, and was particularly drawn to this idea as my grandparents can now display this artwork all winter, instead of having to take it down with the Christmas decor.
I would highly recommend a design like this for artists looking to get into fiber art. With its limited color palette and simple line-art design, it’s a very approachable piece. In fact, it only took me a few hours to complete!
If you’re interested in tackling a pine-inspired embroidery, check out some inspiration here.
There is undeniably something magical about Christmas and the season that surrounds it. Sparkling snow, sweet treats, cheerful music and smiles on even the most sullen faces. Truly, it’s the most wonderful time of the year.
One story I always found to capture Christmas magic in its own whimsical way is “The Nutcracker.” If you’re up to date with my holiday posts then you know I love incorporating these mystical wooden figures into my work this time of year, usually through drawings.
Last year, I decided to embark on a bigger undertaking: a nutcracker hand embroidery. Measuring nearly nine inches tall and having started the project in early December, I wasn’t able to complete the embroidery for last Christmas – there was a lot of baking and wrapping to be done, after all – and has been tucked away for the past year.
Having finally wrapped up most of my DIY gifts for the holidays (more to come on these later) I decided to pull this little German guy out this weekend and work to get him done for this Christmas.
Finally finished with this massive embroidery undertaking, I’m through the moon excited with how it turned out.
I can’t wait to display him my house for many Christmases to come! And who knows, maybe every year will be marked with a unique nutcracker piece – but only if I start the piece immediately following Halloween!
With Christmas less than two weeks away, there’s no better time to inspire yourself and get into the holiday spirit! For everyone who may be feeling a little grinchy this Christmas, here are a few tips and ideas to help you channel your inner Buddy the Elf:
Stir up a Christmas cocktail
Nothing says happy holidays like a stiff, spiced drink! Click here to read more about my favorite Christmas cocktail.
Turn up the tunes
Listening to Christmas music is a sure-fire way to inspire holiday joy. I love listening to it while I’m working on projects in the studio. Bing Crosby on repeat, please.
Get your DIY on
Make a homemade ornament or gift! Words can’t describe how fullfilling it is to make something with your own two hands. And it only gets better when you give homemade goodies away to loved ones.
During this time of year, I also love making wreaths. Check out my tutorial here!
Turn the oven on and open the spice drawer!
Nothing makes me happier during the holidays than baking, especially cookies. This year my family started a new tradition: Christmas cookie baking day! Everyone brought two doughs with them and we spent the afternoon baking and sharing laughs over Christmas cocktails and record music.
Set up your own Christmas cookie baking day! Make up some gingerbread dough, invite your friends over and spend time cutting them out and decorating together. Pour some eggnog (or wine) and enjoy making memories.
Get away from the commercialism by taking a moment to remind yourself of all you have to be grateful for – there is no better time than Christmas! This year I am especially grateful, celebrating my first married year with Andy, and in our new house none the less!
It truly is a wonderful life.
Only 12 days until Christmas!
I’ve been told that as a toddler I used to watch “Cinderella” relentlessly. I’d sit totally enraptured, watching Ella’s story unfold in the 1950’s classic before asking my mother if we could watch it again. And again…and again.
While admittedly I’m a lover of just about all Disney tales, “Cinderella” will always hold a special place in my heart. It’s impossible for me to watch the film without feeling nostalgic – remembering all the times I watched it with my mother and grandmother, lost in the magic that came to a woman who persevered through hardship with courage and kindness.
My latest embroidery piece has ties to the “Cinderella” story and was inspired by her rodent friends who gallantly help her sew the dress she first intends to wear to the Prince’s ball.
This piece was just about 2 months in the making (who’d have thought mouse hair would take so long to embroider?) but I do believe Seamster Mouse looks better in color. He’s come a long way since his initial sketch!
Unlike in the movie where the mice help “Cinderelly” with the original dress that gets torn by her stepmother and step sisters, I imagine this mouse might be helping with the final product. This is hinted at in the blue thread wound on the spool next to him.
The challenges of this embroidery were 1. making a mouse look cute (not creepy) and 2. the use of metallic thread in the represented sewing needle. If you’ve never used metallic embroidery thread before, I highly recommend that you proceed with patience and wine! It’s constantly fraying ends are enough to drive a novice embroiderer positively mad.
But perhaps the biggest challenge was giving the piece a strong sense of story. I wanted viewers to wonder who this mouse was and what exactly he was up to with that needle and thread. Similar to my other fiber pieces, I wanted to instill the theme of everyday magic.
I love that I feel a sense of accomplishment when I look at this piece and I love that it reminds me of one of my favorite stories. Perhaps most of all, I love that it reminds me of my own upcoming wedding and fairytale soon to come.
I’m sure everyone can relate when I say that it’s always difficult to get back into the every-day routine post-holidays. With the close of the hustle and bustle also comes the inevitable energy crash.
It has definitely taken me some recovery time this year to get back to my normal routine, but I am happy to share that with this frigid don’t-leave-the-house-because-it’s-way-too-cold-outside weekend also came the time and energy to re-focus on my work.
My un-finished nutcracker embroidery is way too seasonal to work on in January, so I decided to put him away for the year, to be finished next December.
Looking to start something new, I drew inspiration from the -30 degree Fahrenheit weather outside and sketched the outline for a new fiber piece:
Now, before you start thinking that I’ve turned into a hunting-crazed Central New-Yorker, I’d like to clarify that what I have in mind for this piece is much more magical than a taxidermy deer head.
In fact, the white stag has a firm footing in mythology found in several cultures. It is often a symbol for purity and good fortune, and in Celtic myth is said to be a sign that the otherworld is near. The white hart is also a staple element in Arthurian legend.
I love the stories that accompany this seemingly ordinary animal and am looking forward to making this piece magical in subtle ways. There’s certainly more of a challenge in making a stag appear magical than there is in doing the same with a dragon.
Here’s to many cold New York nights ahead that will be spent working on this piece!
Combining my love of nutcrackers and their representation of good luck, I thought it only fitting that my last embroidery of 2017 be a nutcracker.
I’ll admit – I’m a little disappointed that I wasn’t able to get this guy done in time for Christmas day! BUT that being said, I love how he’s looking thus far.
Just a little over a month ago he was nothing but a sketch…
Nutcrackers are also said to be messengers of good luck and good will, so from my family to yours, I’m sharing this nutcracker to wish you the merriest of holidays. May your heart and home be full of peace and love this Christmas day!
P.S. Only 2 days until Christmas!
The inspiration behind this piece is entirely clear and one that I can easily direct you to: “Imagine a Forest: Designs and Inspirations for Enchanting Folk Art” by Dinara Mirtalipova. This book is simply lovely and an absolute must-browse for anyone that has an interest in Eastern European design.
Having worked in a public library for 6+ years, I’m very much inspired by books and this one drew me in the moment I saw the cover.
Taking in Mirtalipova’s illustrative style, I was inspired to get out of my comfort zone and create a piece based on the instructions in her book. While her recommended media is paint, I decided to try her style in the form of embroidery.
I was especially attracted to her take on mermaids, and thought that this sea queen would be a perfect summer project!
While I was working on this piece I also developed a sketch to get a better grasp of the character. This can be a useful tactic when your subject matter is human or humanoid, and you’re looking to capture a specific persona.
Although tedious, embroidering the scales for the mermaid’s top was also fun and I’m in love with the end result.
I would definitely recommend Mirtalipova’s book to anyone interested in design, illustration and folklore! I know that for me it definitely proved to be a successful source of inspiration.
It’s been a little while since I’ve shown some Potter love, so today, in celebration of the first book’s 20th anniversary, I’m bringing the love back with one of my latest embroidery pieces.
A while back, I gave you a preview of this little guy and the painstakingly slow process I was undergoing to get him stitched up to completion.
At this point, I am VERY happy to announce that this embroidery has reached completion and the niffler’s belly and feet are no longer devoid of thread! Despite the amount of time it took to get it done, it was well worth the effort. (It’s pretty darn cute, if I do say so myself).
I mean, c’mon just look at that face…
Aside from representing outstanding cuteness, the niffler also stands as a reminder to the future of the Potter universe. Those of you who, like me, grew up with this story know that it is so much more than just a book series; it’s an artifact of our childhood. For me, it’s also been a constant source of inspiration – showing me that magic is real in friendship, love and story.
It’s also amazing to see the love so strong after 20 years, with young fans all over the world now enjoying these books and films the same way that we did, as if they were just now being released for the first time all over again.
Here’s to the last 20 years and the future that Fantastic Beasts will bring us!
Those of your who follow me on Instagram received a subtle preview to the piece that I am featuring today. Although we’ve seen a few 70 degree days over the past couple of weeks, Upstate New York is witnessing a resurgence of winter, with this weekend being particularly frigid, heralding sub-zero temperatures. With bone chilling winds blustering outside, what better time to share my latest Frozen-inspired piece?
This winter, when I was feeling particularly tired post-Christmas, I was looking for a simple, quick project to keep my hands busy as I recovered from the holidays and put more serious thought into what my next piece would be.
Thinking about textiles and re-representing them in textile art, I decided to do an embroidery piece based on Elsa’s coronation dress from Disney’s Frozen (because, let’s face it, we all know I love that movie and it is great inspiration for winter).
The design and color palette of her dress is simple, refined and very-much Scandinavian, and the design found on the bodice embodies those traits. I wanted my simple embroidery piece to be much the same.
When starting this embroidery, I didn’t have any fabric on hand that was the same color as Elsa’s dress. No matter! I wanted to make the piece mine after all. Instead of using the dark turquoise color, I landed on a light blue before free-hand drawing the design on with a ballpoint pen.
After that, it was a matter of filling the piece in with corresponding colors.
Feminine with allusions to both winter and spring, I’m hoping this is the last cold-weather inspired artwork that I will be sharing for a while!
This week’s post was delayed due to a last-minute business trip across the country (more on that later). In the meantime, I’d like to share with you an insight to my newest fiber art piece.
I recently drew a pen sketch of the Niffler from Fantastic Beasts but couldn’t resist further exploring the imagery of this animal, depicting it in freestyle embroidery. The creature’s furry coat is proving to be a lot of fun, as I’ve been using different variations of grey and brown cotton to produce the platypus-mole aesthetic.
Stay tuned for the finished product!