Pastoral landscapes and quiet domestic scenes stitched into vintage textiles envelop Ulla-Stina Wikander’s needlepoint sculptures. Using rotary phones, kitchen appliances, or an antique gramophone as her foundation, Wikander (previously) molds the cross-stitch works around her chosen object, cloaking it in a blanket of color and texture while preserving its original shape. Multiple facets of domestic life intersect in the revitalized pieces, which bring the age-old craft traditionally associated with home decoration and items commonly found in kitchens and garages together into reinterpreted forms.
Splitting her time between Stockholm and Kullavik, Wikander shares that she’s started to work with sports equipment and more elaborate tools, which you can see on Instagram. You can browse her available works at Philadelphia’s Paradigm Gallery, and see her pieces in person through August 6 at Jane Lombard Gallery in New York and at M Contemporary Gallery in Sydney in the coming months.
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Miniature Scenes, Cross-Stitch Flowers, and Works from Art History Nestle into Eva Krbdk's Tiny Tattoos
Havva Karabudak, who works as Eva Krbdk, thrives on inking minuscule details. Focusing on innumerable lines and dot work, the Turkish tattoo artist (previously) illustrates textured florals in cross-stitch, realistic portraits of animals, and micro-paintings in the likes of van Gogh, Magritte, and Fornasetti. Many of the vivid renderings are small enough to fit into a perfectly round circle or a skinny stretch of a client’s upper arm.
Karabudak’s background coalesces in her tattoos, including her formal education at the Fine Arts Academy of Ankara in Turkey and her love of textiles. “It’s pretty customary for young women to learn (embroidery) from their grandmothers in Turkey,” a statement about her work says. “As a result, tiny cross-stitch patterns were among the first tattooing styles that Eva embraced.”
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In “XXXX Swatchbook,” Evelin Kasikov (previously) explores all of the variables of CMYK printing without a single drop of ink. She catalogs primary, secondary, and tertiary colors, two-dozen combinations showing how rotation affects the final pigment, and a full spectrum of rich gradients. In total, the printing-focused book is comprised of four base tones, 16 elements, and 400 swatches of color entirely hand-embroidered in 219,647 stitches.
The original idea came from Kasikov’s desire for a reference tool, one similar to loose sheets of Pantone swatches, that she could share with potential book design clients interested in CMYK embroidery. During the next six years, though, the project evolved into the uniquely comprehensive artist book it is now.
“XXXX Swatchbook” features three-dimensional color studies in the style of precisely arranged halftone dots employed in four-color printing. “I use cross-stitch technique to replicate this. It’s a very simple idea,” Kasikov says. “I prepare the image in InDesign or Illustrator, then pierce the design onto paper and stitch with CMYK colored threads. Of course, my ‘print resolution’ is very low, about 3-4 lines per inch compared to 300 in print.”
Stitched with varying thickness, the swatches use conventional screen angles—cyan 105˚, magenta 75˚, yellow 90˚, and black 45˚—to produce a wide range of colors and gradients, all of which you can view on the artist’s blog. Each French-folded page features geometric patches of thread, alongside hand-written details about the CMYK values shown. The spine of the book also reveals a vibrant gradient spanning magenta to cyan.
“XXXX Swatchbook” is founded on Kasikov’s earlier “CMYK Embroidery,” a project that grew out of her MA studies at Central Saint Martins and was influenced by her background in advertising. Merging the two into the broader project of graphic stitching grew organically and offered an outlet to create a piece that was the artist says was “valuable, timeless, and trend-less,” in comparison to the more transitory projects of commercial work. “When you add tactile qualities to graphic design, it changes perspective. The structure of color can be touched. The printed image becomes three-dimensional. A flat page comes to life so to speak,” she writes.
Kasikov splits her time between Tallinn and London, where she’s working on a project called Small Hours. Centered around a theme of silence, the collection features still-life photographs with freehand dots stitched on top in a pointillist style. Follow the ongoing project and find a larger archive of Kasikov’s book designs and embroidered works on her site and Instagram. You also might enjoy Tauba Auerbach’s RGB colorspace atlas. (via Present & Correct)
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Caroline Harrius merges two historically domestic crafts in her florally embroidered vases. The Stockholm-based artist shapes tall vessels and studs them with tiny holes just big enough for thread to pass through. Adorned with a readymade cross-stitch pattern or Harrius’s own floral motifs, the finished vases are semi-functional and visualize the intersections of gender and craft history, particularly in relation to decoration and purpose.
Harrius recently graduated with a master’s degree in ceramics art from Konstfack University of Arts, Crafts and Design, where she began the porcelain pair. “This was the first time I felt ashamed of something I was working on. I wanted to hide my vases so no one could see them when I was not there and could explain the reason behind the work. For some reason, I saw no value in the curvy vases and didn’t want to be associated with them,” she shares.
Now working from her studio in the iconic Swedish porcelain factory, Gustavsberg, Harrius plans to create a third vessel with black-and-white stitching—follow her on Instagram for progress on this design—to complete the series that questions historical conceptions of women’s work. “I’m interested to see how I revalue the techniques when (they’re) taken out of their original context and are combined into one piece,” she writes. (via Brown Paper Bag)
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An eclectic array of installations recently popped up at the Navy Yard in Philadelphia, transforming the historic neighborhood into a temporary wonderland teeming with quirky characters, large-scale interventions, and optimism. A life-size piñata shaped like a 1984 Thunderbird is parked on 12th Street, cross-stitched roses trail across the brick facade of Building 99, and a typographic message casts shadows on a pavilion in a call for hope.
Officially titled Mystery Island and the Marvelous Occurrence of Spontaneous Art, or MIMOSA, the entirely outdoor exhibition includes work from seven artists DAKU (previously), Justin Favela (previously), Kid Hazo with South Fellini, Reed Bmore, Liesbet Bussche, and Raquel Rodrigo (previously). It’s a collaboration between the anonymous collective Group X and the Navy Yard, which was overrun in 2018 by a gargantuan sea monster. MIMOSA‘s six site-specific installations are spread across 1,200 acres.
Activated by sunlight, DAKU’s installation “Rays of Hope” casts shadows in 25 different languages on a brick terrace in Crescent Park. Throughout the day as the light shifts, so do the silhouettes on the ground. “The sun has always been associated as a symbol of energy and so is hope,” DAKU says. Rays of light metaphorically serve as “a symbol of positivity and optimism.”
By translating the word “hope” into dozens of languages, the anonymous Indian street artist puts forth a welcoming vision. “When we see a native language, we have a sense of belonging and familiarity with the space. Especially in a foreign land or a place, it makes it more relatable,” DAKU writes. “Languages have been a part of every culture and (have their) own visual aesthetic… Culture is common ground for any language or a form of visual art, and if one comes to think of it, language plays an essential role. It binds the culture in forming into a community.”
A nod to his mother’s first purchase after immigrating from Guatemala to the United States in the 1980s, Favela’s paper-fringed car expands on the myth of “The American Dream.” “The promise that if you keep your head down, work really hard and save your money… you, too, can own a home with a two-car garage, get married, have kids, build an empire, and live an abundant and dignified life,” he says. Through his large-scale piñatas, Favela conveys stories like his mother’s, particularly in relation to her longing to return to Central America. “What about the immigrants that come here and realize that they moved to a country that does not want them here? Their stories are also important,” he says.
Questions about identity, including his own as a first-generation, queer, Latinx American, and the experiences of people who have immigrated to the U.S. face inform Favela’s artworks. He subverts common narratives by offering a revised way of thinking centered on joy:
What are we when we are not viewed as just a labor force? What if we stopped taking pride in suffering and the sacrifices that we had to make? What if we valued joy? Mental health? What if we could take a couple of days of…just because!? What would happen if could just be ourselves? When will we all be free?
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Lithuanian artist Severija Inčirauskaitė-Kriaunevičienė (previously) continues her practice of employing the traditionally delicate process of cross-stitching to adorn hard metal objects with similarly delicate imagery. Her recent works include a rusty tanker decorated with water lilies and a series of found cans embellished with studies of colorful butterflies and insects. While playing on the irony of the juxtaposition, Severija is also able to tell a story about the objects and their respective histories.
Installed in the public space of Lithuania’s capital Vilnius, “Water Lilies” references motifs by Claude Monet and speaks to the history of the region, the power of water to sustain and destroy, and the changing utilitarian use of objects. Previously used to transport water from natural springs to reservoirs, gardens, baths, and streets, tankers are now more commonly used to transport waste; clean water has become the more rare and expensive substance. Severija’s “Tourist’s Delight” series uses flattened cans found discarded in the Caucasus Mountains as a commentary on the butterfly effect of disturbing natural environments. Though partially decayed, the objects will still outlast the creatures whose images have been stitched into them.
To see more Severija’s socially engaged embroidery, visit the artist’s website.
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Editor's Picks: History
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.