Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Embroidery 101 - Amazing textile artists

I mentioned in my first entry or two that I have been a embroidery enthusiast for years and although I haven't yet combined my love for embroidery and sewing, I do plan to eventually, when I find the right item. In this post, however, I wanted to talk you through some different types of embroidery that I love and some of the people that have inspired me.

I lived in the country for my school years in a small town about three hours east of Melbourne. It's called Sale, and not really famous for terribly much. There's a RAAF base there, home of the Roulettes, so I got used to watching six planes in formation flying loop de loops on a regular basis. We have some local celebrities - a few footy players, Australian author Mary Grant Bruce, and a textile artist.

The textile artist is a Dutch-born woman named Annemieke Mien, and her work, if you haven't heard of it, is insanely gorgeous. Her pieces are incredibly intricate and three dimensional. She mixes a huge variety of materials, including hand dyed fabrics, to create the pieces.
Image via Ararat Regional Art Gallery
I was so used to seeing her work around town that I don't think I ever really appreciated it while I was there.
Annemieke Mein’s Textile Sculptures: Mating Mythical Moths, Cultural Entomology Digest 4Pink Emperor Gum Moth II (detail) 1982. Low-relief wall panel. 85 x 130 x 5cm

These photos just don't do her work justice. They are *huge* and the colours are so vivid. 

Margaret Lee - Japanese Embroidery
I went to visit my aunt a few years ago, and since she loves embroidery too when we saw an advertisement for an embroidery exhibition on while I was in Brisbane, we took ourselves off to see it. One of the people who was teaching there was Margaret Lee. This fan was one of the pieces on display. I think I spent at least an hour examining almost every stitch in it.
It was perfect. In the handle section of the bar, there are gold threads, lying on the fabric. These are 'couched' at regular intervals in red thread. Couching is where one thread lies on the fabric and the other thread is used to hold it in place. If you use the same colour it looks almost invisible. If you use a contrast, like in this example, you can play with the effect. This was couched to have an almost brick like pattern on it. I'd never seen embroidery like this before, but ended up going out and buying several books on Japanese style embroidery. I'm still fascinated by it, as it's the most perfect thing that I've ever seen, but I haven't got the equipment to try it myself yet. Plus, it's so ridiculously particular - I mean, I know that's why it looks so amazing, but I don't have the patience to make sure that I twist the thread the same amount of times each time I take a stitch and then move the threads so that the twists in the silk are lining up perfectly. I might leave it to someone else and just gaze in adoration at their work.

These are my two favourite embroidery artists. Who are yours?

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