Call it subversive tailoring. Alternative embroidery. Today’s home samplers include everything from Kanye West’s tweets to tattoo designs.
Jamie Chalmers, a bearded and burly man who lives in Bedford, England, calls himself an âembroidererâ. He keeps a blog and wrote a book, Push Stitchery: 30 artists explore the limits of sewn art (Push Stitchery / Lark Crafts, 2011).
âAbout 12 years ago I bought a cross stitch pattern as something to do on a long plane trip. I was motivated by the juxtaposition of being a big man doing a tiny little cross stitch, but once I got down to it I really enjoyed it, âhe says. âI started Mr. X Stitch as a way to showcase contemporary embroidery from around the world, challenging the common paradigm that sewing is only for little old ladies.
âOne of the reasons people love to learn from me is that I’m tall, bald, straight, and tattooed, and if I love embroidery, anyone can love it,â he says.
Pop culture translated into cross stitch can be bold, irreverent, and fun.
Imagine a sampler sewn with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim or Snoop Dogg; scenes from Fighting spirit or Harry Potter; portraits of Lena Dunham or Grumpy Cat; cross stitch burgers, asparagus, cupcakes or kimchi. You got the idea.
Singapore-based artist Teresa Lim sews scenes from her travels – a bridge in Prague, a park in Tokyo, a field of German sheep.
âEmbroidering a place instead of taking a photo makes all the difference. When you take a photo, you don’t notice the small details. But when you draw or embroider, your eye catches so much more detail, âshe says. âAfter I complete a piece, I feel like I KNOW the place. “
Jacqueline and Christopher Gable from St. Catherines, Ont., Run a blog called Wee Little Stitches. They found a niche making film and TV castings like Star wars, the Lord of the Rings and The Big Bang Theory in pixels for cross stitch.
Why pixels? âThe nice thing about pixels is that they translate exactly as cross stitch patterns – in fact, you could say that the cross stitch is the original pixel art,â Jacqueline laughs.
“I think my favorite is the Daddy’s Girls model. I have such fond memories of watching the show with my grandmother, âshe says.
Emily Peacock assembles alphabets and phrases like “Think Happy Thoughts”, using colorful, groovy typefaces with a cheerful vibe. The artist, based in Buckinghamshire, England, says his background in graphic design and his fascination with uplifting fonts and themes inspire his ideas.
âI love the vibrancy of folk art and the simplicity of mid-century design. I have an idea, I sketch it, then I turn up the volume so that the effect is eye-catching and immediate. I love designs that demand your attention when you walk into a room, âshe says. âI play with color a lot and I can feel a kind of ‘yes’ moment when the color balance is right. So I know I can start sewing.
Do you want the whole Game Of Thrones Map of Westeros in cross stitch? This is the bestseller from Jen Eggleston’s Etsy.com store. Eggleston, of Vancouver, British Columbia, was also National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and Mad Men. She recently completed an ambitious design that shows the self-destruct sequence on the spacecraft in Extraterrestrial.
If you just enjoy the cross stitch pattern without picking up the needle and thread, consider the Stitches collection from Danish company Menu. There is a nice pot, a candlestick and a white porcelain vase with a gray dot border. Here, too, the Gry Fager vine and leaf cross stitch pattern is printed in soft gray on a crisp white trim.
Hungarian artist Zsanett Szirmay uses cross stitch to create multimedia art. Using a laser, she transfers Eastern European folk art embroidery designs onto strips of fabric, which can then be “played” in an old punch card music box. She calls this the âweaving of soundâ.
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