How is your week so far? Made any grand outings into a holiday retail setting? I've been avoiding stores like the plague since Thanksgiving, but I had some McKays credit still in my pocket from the "Great Bookshelf Clean Out of 2013", and took a trip out to the second hand booksellers last weekend to make good use of said credit. I ended up redeeming a portion of the yellow slip with a VHS (I know, I know, why, but it's not out on DVD and it was only six bucks!) of They All Kissed the Bride, a DVD of In This Our Life (audio commentary by Jeanine Basinger, AND a favorite Bette Davis picture? SIGN ME UP), and some various paperback books about Victorian occult interests and 1960's clothes. Not a bad haul! On the way to the check-out, I was stopped by a book with this slice of heaven adorning the cover....wouldn't you be?
The book, turns out, was a mildly interesting survey of handicrafts in this, the 21st century, but what I REALLY wanted more of were these art-piece embroidery. Like the crazy quilts I was talking about last week, the heavily detailed, wildly creative stitches, and just the time and effort you'd have to put into something like this, set my little aesthetic whirligigs all a-twitter. The needlewoman behind these creations is Jenny Hart, who also maintains Sublime Stitching, a subversive needlepoint website I'd ooh'd and awed over before, but hadn't realized was the brain child of one entirely-too-talented gal. Looking like a French chanteuse and knocking out French knots like it was nothing, I can't lie, I kind of want to be her.
Other pieces, from her website, speaking of French chanteuse...
The depth of detail here reminds me of some of those amazing tapestry pieces or embroidery you'll see seventeenth and eighteenth century 'tweens turning out like it was nothing. "Oh this? Yeah, I made some beginner's mistakes, but it's pretty much 1,000,000 times better than a professional seamstress would do nowadays and I wasn't even trying...it helps that I've been stitching since I was two." I know its a young adult historical fiction trope to have a boisterous, proto-feminist female protagonist disdain embroidery work and other pre-home-ec style female creative outlets to prove "some people don't fit the mold", but look at this! I would much rather do this than learn to fence, if we're talking brass tacks. The texture that the dense needlework in France's Little Sparrow's forties' hair makes you want to reach out and touch it! And how about the solid-colors in her blouse and the neat little bow at her collar? And didn't she nail that vulnerable, world weary expression of Piaf's with an economy of lines that would make an illustrator jealous? I LOVE THIS.
Here's Iggy Pop, with those puppy dog blue eyes shining right through the textile, just as laser like as they are in real life!
I wonder if this is a real concert-- I feel like it sounds like a "haha, in what world would the Staple Singers and the former Stooges frontman play an Iowa City nursery ward?" but stranger bedfellows were made at concerts in the seventies', I'm sure. Either way, notice the french knots around the word "December" and year "1972". I love how you can see all these techniques (which Hart is kind enough to have built tutorials around on her website) coming together to form this varied, visually high impact piece.
This one isn't a celebrity, but isn't it pretty!
That chalk-on-chalkboard like contrast of the white stitches, plus the tiny sequins and other embellishments! While I didn't have much luck at knitting (too monotonous for the stuff I COULD do, and too complicated/math-based/labor intensive for the things I wanted to do), and I can't sew more than a hem or a button, I love the idea of having this creative free reign in embroidery. Maybe I should try my hand at it. I have a whole secret stash of embroidery floss and hoops from when my grandma taught me to cross stitch as a grade schooler, this might be a handiwork I can actually get behind. The piece above might be my favorite of the lot except the next one. You will see why the next one is my favorite.
How about you? Do you have any beautifully embroidered vintage pieces in your collection? I have a bunch of table runners and table cloths and napkins I've bought at estate sales over the years on the merits of the high-quality hand-stitched birds or flamenco dancers or poodles wrought in floss upon the cloth, but other than that brief foray into cross stitching, I haven't made anything of my own! This should change. Have you created anything in the field of traditional handicraft lately? Which of these are your favorites? Who would you do a needlepoint portrait of given the skill and time? Let's talk!
That's all for today, but I'll see you back here tomorrow for Photo Friday. Have a great Thursday (we're almost to the weekend!). Til then.