Monday, April 17, 2017

Extreme embroidery

A couple of weeks ago I attended a workshop taught by Beth Schnellenberger called "Extreme Embroidery."  Beth has been working in this intensive format for several years, filling every speck of base fabric with hand stitching to make elaborate designs.  I've admired her work and was happy to have her show us the technique.

Happy to report that I have finished the piece that I started in that workshop, hung it at Pyro Gallery last week, and it was sold at the opening reception of our new show.

Here's a detail shot.  I used french knots for the iris, and plain old straight stitches for everything else.  In some areas the straight stitches were neatly aligned in the same direction, but in others they go every which way.  I started with six strands of embroidery floss for the blue and white, then switched to three strands for the rest of the picture.

Beth had us prepare our white cotton base by fusing it onto a felt background, which gave enough stability to stitch through this heavily without puckering.

When I finished, I cut the felt away from the back right at the edge of the stitching, then turned over a quarter-inch of fabric and overcast the edge heavily with black.

I mounted it on a 6x6" canvas; you can't see in this photo but the canvas is 1 1/2 inches deep so it has a good heft on the wall.

I've felt for a long time that eyes are a good motif for me to work with.  I used them a lot in my year of daily hand-stitching, and in my three years of daily collage, so it's kind of a default image when I need to doodle or practice.  I think this little embroidery, which I've called "Desert Eye," may be the first in a series.


  1. Glad you liked the class and glad the piece sold.

  2. Hi Kathleen, what is a lot of embroidery. Looks very cool.

  3. I love your stitching. Question: How do you cut the felt away from the fabric if they are fused? thanks.

  4. good question -- I was able to peel the layers apart even though they were fused. I think in future pieces, since I know how I want to finish them, I may just hold the layers together instead of fusing.

  5. This is a lot of work! I have been wondering what kind of price you put on something like this. Or if you don't want to be specific, how does your pricing compare with other work.

    1. I sold this one for $75. I think this is too low for the time spent but I regarded this piece as a learning project. If I do another one like this I'll have to go higher, but not sure how much.