Bat skull embroidery

art, embroidery, skeleton, work in progress

Yesterday I took an impromptu trip to the beach to get away from the stifling heat and smokey air here in town. For me, that means finding something to work on in the car, because I can’t sit still for a drive that long without something to do. 

Luckily I still had the tracing around from my bat skull print. I’d already been thinking about turning it into a sewn piece instead, so I put it on some starched cloth and took it along.

Not bad for a quick embroidered sketch!

WIP Wednesday: Deer Skull Embroidery

anatomy, art, embroidery, skeleton, work in progress

For the past few months I’ve been working on a new embroidered piece. Here are some progress photos!

Step one: initial sketch.

2015-04-22 21.54.01

Step two: make a photocopy of that sketch and trace it onto some fabric using carbon paper.

2015-04-24 22.22.14

Step three: stick it in an embroidery hoop and get sewing.

2015-04-30 07.46.38

At this point most of the outlining is done, but I still need to get the shading finished.

Neck Muscle Study, 2015

anatomy, art, corvallis, embroidery, skeleton, work in progress

In the spirit of my New Year’s resolution, I finally finished the muscle study I started way back in October. The original sketch for this stemmed from some neck issues I’d been having, which got me thinking in terms of muscles–a departure from my usual focus on skeletal structure, but just as interesting.

Neck Muscles.05

Neck Muscle Study, 2015

I’m still trying to decide how this will be displayed–either in the hoop, as shown here, or stretched around a wooden frame.

I’ve been both praised and criticized for showing embroidery in the hoop. Personally I don’t think there’s a problem with displaying it in a way that reflects the utilitarian tradition of the medium. That’s half the reason I do it: to connect the artwork to its roots. An embroidery hoop is a simple, elegant item, rife with history, and used in the right context, it can add another layer of meaning to the work it holds. Why shy away from that?
Neck Muscles.01

Love it or hate it, you have to admit that it’s visually striking to see a piece hanging like this: the raw edge of the fabric, the wrinkles, the shape of the whole thing. I’ll probably clean this up a bit before it’s shown anywhere, but if I’m being perfectly honest, I prefer it this way, loose threads and all.

Neck Muscles.04
What about you, fellow embroiderers? How do you hang your work?

Muscle Study

anatomy, art, embroidery, skeleton, work in progress

Unfortunately my giant mountain woodcut is on hold right now, because my neck is sort of jacked up and sore and I’m a huge sissy who doesn’t feel like coming home from work and carving. So while I wait for my next chiropractor appointment I’ve started a new project that doesn’t require quite so much physical effort.

Neck muscles!

2014-10-12 16.12.00

This week I discovered the library’s medical anatomy section–I spent most of Sunday sketching from a pocket version of Gray’s Anatomy and my own copy of Human Anatomy: A Visual History from the Renaissance to the Digital Age. Awesome book.

Photo Jul 17, 3 25 16 PM

My intent is to embroider this sketch first in black, then to lay in some color in the most dense areas of muscle. Usually muscular anatomy doesn’t interest me as much as skeletal–bones are just so more more solid and strong, where muscles flex and lack a lot of definition. But the issues I’ve been having with my neck and back have made me more interested in the way muscles fit together and work, which is what prompted this project.
2014-10-12 19.15.00

My usual embroidery setup has a new component, this awesome clip on light I bought from work. It’s meant for a music stand, with two flexible lights, one for each side. It’s absolutely amazing for embroidery–the two lights can be positioned to fully light whatever I’m working on, which is invaluable given that I usually sew in my dimly lit living room. Anyone who sews or cross stitches should consider getting a light like this–Mighty Bright Duet2 LED Music Light.
2014-10-13 18.53.27Sewing time!


Skull Studies

anatomy, art, embroidery, skeleton, work in progress

For the past few weeks I’ve been absorbed in stitching these skull studies, taken from old sketches I did last summer. I don’t actually have any work in progress photos–these weren’t as much leisurely stitching as frantic, nose-to-the-grindstone work. Sometimes when it’s been a while since I sat down to a real project, I just feel the need to finish something, which is sort of backwards from my usual style–generally I get more pleasure from being actively involved in an ongoing project than I do from actually completing it.


Skull Studies #1 – Full Skull, embroidery on linen, 2014

Each study is about 3″ – 4″ tall, stitched with only 3 colors (white, black, and ecru). Most of my stuff involves simple lines and single colors, so I wanted to branch out into a fully filled in design for a change. After I’ve got all the wrinkles out, these will be stretched around wooden frames, sort of like paintings on canvas.


Skull Studies #2 – Maxilla, embroidery on linen, 2014

I really enjoyed sewing this way, blending thread colors to create depth, and even though these designs only used three colors, that layered thread makes a glorious texture both visually and physically–the layers get thick on the fabric in places, which I love, even though I’m sure it’s not ‘proper’ embroidery.


Skull Studies #3 – Mandible, embroidery on linen, 2014


Bonus depth of field shot of the full skull & the fabric texture. This linen is wonderful, all coarse-woven and unbleached and soft, and the satiny thread really stands out in contrast. Sometimes I really get sick of bleached surfaces–I look at standard white copy paper all day long at work, and between that and a computer screen, sometimes I really just want something that’s naturally colored rather than stark white.