“Seamster Mouse” – Freehand Embroidery, Nostalgia & Everyday Magic

Art

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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Stitching Mythology: the White Stag

Art

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!

Embroidering Elsa’s Coronation Dress

Art

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.

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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!

Snowman Embroidery

Art, DIY

This winter, I set about making my first snowman-inspired embroidery, inspired by the idea of making my grandmother a homemade gift.

Growing up, like most children, I was quite the expert in homemade gifts, constantly gifting my family members with the crafts and artwork I labored over in school and during my free time.

I’m happy to say my craftsmanship has improved quite a bit over the last 15+ years or so, but my desire to give homemade gifts has remained the same. Knowing that my grandmother would appreciate a handmade gift the most, I set about creating this embroidery for her in late November.

 

The process started out much the same as my other pieces, beginning with some google research (imagery inspiration is so important) and moving on to a pen sketch on fabric. When designing this piece, I knew I didn’t want to go too big (I was working on a limited time frame) but I also knew that it had to be big enough to make for a substantial gift. Not to mention a larger piece allows for more intricate details.

Another design decision that had to be made was whether or not I wanted to embroider snow falling in the background. While French knot snowflakes would have furthered the piece’s sense of whimsy, I ultimately decided against them, not wanting to distract from the main element and focus (the snowman). With the design being so clean, I decided against the clutter of snowfall.

 

After filling in all of the colors and patterns, I framed the piece and tied a festive blue ribbon onto the fastening, allowing the artwork to be easily hung. Although the snowman in the drawing is wearing Christmas colors, I designed him with the intention of being left out all winter, knowing that my grandparents would want to enjoy him all season, as opposed to only one month during the year.

While I’m in no hurry to embroider another snowman any time soon, I’m happy to report that the gift went over extraordinarily well! Having been the person who first got me hooked on embroidery, I know my grandmother was able to appreciate the time and effort put into each and every one of the countless stitches.

Capturing Everyday Magic: Snowflake Embroidery

Art, Inspiration

Most of us can remember making snowflakes when we were children, frantically cutting geometric shapes out of pieces of paper and hanging them throughout our childhood homes.

Still entranced by snowflakes as an adult, I decided to bring snowflake art to the next level, completing this freestyle hand embroidery inspired by the movie Frozen.

 

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This piece, while differing greatly from my usual subject matter with its focus on pattern, was very relaxing to work on. After drawing the outline in pen, I then worked very methodically: filling in one piece at a time, following with the corresponding sections in the other five points.

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As of late, I’ve been using my embroidery pieces to capture the idea of every day magic. Objects or occurrences that occur in nature (or perhaps they’re believable enough that they just might) that possess a fantastical or magical quality.

I was inspired by the Frozen snowflake in particular, as it is used as a symbol of Elsa’s powers and magical abilities.  The snowflake’s design represents the power of strong colors and geometric shapes, and their ability to transform something created by nature into something otherworldly and beautiful.

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Greatly pleased with the outcome, I plan on framing this piece and hanging it with the rest of my holiday decor this Christmas season.

Anchors (Stolen) Away

Art

As the summer comes to a close, I’m pleased to be ending my summer-inspired embroideries on a high note.

Looking to create unique and naturally whimsical pieces, I came across the idea of incorporating an anchor into one of my embroideries, a visual element that is timeless and as of late, quite popular. With mysterious tentacles closing in from both directions, I hoped for this piece to be colorful and fun.

 

After completing the initial sketch, I spent the next five weeks filling in the space with colors, enjoying the contrast between the anchor and its thieves. Aside from the stark color difference found between the blues and reds, there is also a strong contrast between the organic nature of the tentacles and the solid foundation of the piece, the anchor.

I’m a strong believer in contrast and find it worth experimenting with multiple contrasting elements in a single piece.

Overall, I’m very pleased with this piece and can well imagine it hanging next to my last embroidery, “Mushrooms.”

While the summer may be coming to a close, I know that my embroidery production is not. I look forward to fall inspiration and adding to this “Naturally Whimsical” series!

Spirited: New Series

Art

I’ve been waiting for a new series idea to come to me for a long time. Probably one of the most challenging aspects about being an artist is finding inspiration. In fact, part of the reason I started this blog was to inspire myself and others by  sharing creations and inspiring places, media and recipes.

Recently, Andy and I were watching “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.” Although probably my least favorite installation in the series, I have always been inspired by the scene that showcases the DA (Dumbledore’s Army) learning how to cast a Patronus charm.

The spell that has come to the forefront of all Harry Potter witchcraft, the Patronus charm defends again dementors and for every witch or wizard, takes the form of a different animal.

tumblr_inline_nvs2kwqehg1stluio_500Thinking about partonuses and spirit animals, I landed upon the idea of creating a series of mixed media pieces, featuring different ghostly animals. Whether the animals are ghosts or the result of magic, I cannot say. All I know is the vision that I have.

 

Right now, that vision entails white, ethereal animals painted onto fabric and embossed with embroidery. I hope to machine embroider white wisps of thread trailing from the animals. The first animal is a fox, as I have always loved these animals and thought that, were I to have a spirit animal, it would probably be some species of fox.

Although I started this piece a while ago, I am just now ready to proceed into the embroidery phase. Painting onto untreated cotton, I needed to put down numerous layers of paint before I was able to achieve the opacity I was looking for.

Ready to start #embroidering. #textileart #fox #spirit #newseries #paint #markers

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I’m looking forward to embroidering, as I know that will pull the piece together, adding details and movement to the composition.

Stay tuned for the final result!

Mushroom Embroidery

Art

I’ve been working on this piece for an embarrassingly long time. But as I’ve mentioned before, hand embroidery tends to be slow going.

Having done a lot of pop-culture inspired art this past year, I was looking to create something more natural and organic.That being said, I still wanted to focus on imagery that would be fun and unique, able to hold my attention for the many weeks I knew it would take to complete. I’ve always enjoyed mushroom imagery but had yet to create an embroidery piece. This seemed like as good a time as any.

After doing a little bit of research, I was able to find images of mushrooms of all different shapes and colors, and arranged the composition so that the hues would be well-balanced across the hoop.

After completing the initial sketch, I made small notes to myself so I would remember which colors were to be filled into which designated areas. This can be a useful tactic, especially when working on a piece that you know will take you a significant amount of time. If you no longer are in possession of the reference images, you want to remember your initial color plan.

Sketching a new #embroidery. #mushrooms #fiberart

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Once I had finished embroidering the mushrooms, it was time to focus on the surrounding area. I decided to add moss under the mushrooms, grounding them in the designated embroidery hoop space.

Similar to what I had done with the spots on the red mushroom, I used French knots to create texture that would mimic moss. Although time consuming and daunting to some, I absolutely adore French knots. They proved to be especially useful in this particular situation, providing the texture I desired.

Although time consuming, I am extraordinarily pleased with how this piece turned out. Bright, fun, organic and original, it was well worth the wait.

I See the (Embroidered) Light

Art, Pop Culture

You know that scene in Tangled when Rapunzel and Flynn Rider are on the boat during the festival of lanterns and Disney, yet again in true-Disney fashion, inspires you and makes you feel like a kid again? Of course you do. Or, at least you do if you’ve ever seen the movie.

If not, here’s a 3 second recap to catch you up to speed:

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Probably the best-loved scene in the movie.

Inspired by this scene I decided to approach the lantern imagery from a graphic stand point and reproduce it in a nontraditional medium. I wished to recreate a lantern in fiber, specifically embroidery.

This is what that process looked like:

  1. I began by creating a quick sketch with pen on white cotton.
  2. Then, I started filling in the colors with embroidery floss using hand embroidery.
  3. Next, I painted in the background with acrylic paint. This is what the piece looked like following one layer of paint, but thought this was too boring.

Rather then having a static background, I decided to add lanterns in the distance. This is how the piece ended up:


In the future I think it would be fun to sew my own lantern and use wire to make it three dimensional. I will have to keep you posted if and when I decide to try this out!

Narwhal, Narwhal

Art

Just because winter is technically over does not mean that you can not (and should not) keep creating in fiber.

One of the reasons I love embroidery is for its versatility. As fun as it is to sit stitching by the fire, light-weight fabric such as cotton also makes for a great spring and summer medium.

That being said, I started this embroidery project back in January…

Sitting by the fire and working on some #embroidery. #narwhal

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But only just finished it a few weeks ago. As I’ve mentioned before, embroidery (while rewarding) is very time consuming. The lag time is also due to a hectic schedule and the medium’s ability to be put down and picked up at any point in time.


That being said, I always make a point of having an embroidery project going year round. Because picking up a project here or there will ultimately result in a well-made piece. Not to mention a pleasant surprise on the day it’s actually finished!