Thread Infused with Scent Embellishes Embroidered and Woven Textiles to Stimulate Memories
Scent, memory, and emotion are inextricably bound together in the human brain, making it possible that a single sniff evokes feelings of delight, comfort, and calm associated with an experience. Pallavi Padukone uses this inherent connection in Reminiscent, a series of 11 fiber-based works infused with naturally derived fragrances, all of which the textile artist and designer equates with her hometown of Bangalore, India.
Part aromatherapy and part nostalgic stimulus, the fiber pieces hang from the ceiling as delicate, sheer curtains that are accessible from all sides. Padukone weaves and embroiders using thread that’s covered in a wax-and-resin substance she developed through trial-and-error. “The testing phase for the coated yarn involved sampling weave structures and embroidery techniques that were best suited for the yarn. I kept a record of swatches as a test of their durability and how long the scent and color last when exposed to heat and light,” she says.
Infused with clove, vetiver, jasmine, citronella, sandalwood, or rose, the cotton yarns also are hand-dyed naturally, pulling out the golden color of turmeric and rusty tones from cutch and beets to pair with a corresponding aroma. “It’s ironic that I happened to choose scent during a time when wearing masks is the new normal,” Padukone tells Colossal. “While the beauty of olfactory art is that it has to be experienced in person, I use textiles, patterning, and color as a way to visually represent my depiction of the fragrance’s personality.” A yellow and green patchwork, for example, emits the grassy, lemon-like aroma of citronella, while sweet, musky sandalwood is paired with thick, abstract coils of yarn on sepia-toned silk.
Although the scents are embedded in many of the works, tiny accessible pockets cover the undyed organza in “Jasmine II,” ensuring Padukone can replace the flower buds. She’s currently exploring other methods that allow replenishment considering most fragrances last between one and three months. The transience of sent, though, is part of its appeal. She explains:
I find beauty in impermanence and how each textile’s color, structure, fragrance changes over time. In this collection, I have incorporated handspun recycled sari silk and cotton for my weaves and embroider on organza silk. I am drawn to the sheerness of the fabric, the way it interacts with light to visually evoke the ephemeral experience of fragrance.
Padukone lives and works in New York, and you can see more of Reminiscent and other textile-based projects on her site and Instagram.
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Ornate Jewel-Toned Stitches Embellish Common Household Objects Made From Textiles
Whether a corded rotary phone or humble water pitcher, Sue Trevor’s household objects are all made from the same materials. The artist meticulously stitches ornamental sculptures that resemble common domestic items and vintage electronics. Covered in crisscrossed seams and textured rows, each piece is a product of combining embroidery, appliqué, and quilting techniques, and the resulting jewel-toned works are heavily adorned with flowers and other organic forms, shapes she derives directly from her garden in Loughborough, Leicestershire.
Prior to sewing the objects from hand-dyed Egyptian cottons and silks, Trevor studies the film camera or teacup and saucer she’s replicating and creates a pattern. She then “manipulates my heavily embroidered 2D pieces of fabric into sculptural 3D works of art, testing and trialing until I have the desired shape I want. I love the challenge of trying to dissect the structure of an object and translating it into one of my textile pieces.”
Peruse Trevor’s available sculptures on Etsy and Folksy, and see more of her work, which includes an array of functional and decorative pieces, on Instagram. You also might enjoy Ulla Stina-Wikander’s needlepoint tools and devices.
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Hidden Mother: Swaths of Fabric Disguise Figures in Mixed-Media Portraits by Artist Sarah Detweiler
The lengthy exposure times required by 19th Century photography were not conducive to newborns and fidgety toddlers, a problem many mothers tried to remedy by cloaking themselves in fabric and hiding behind furniture. As a result, those Victorian-era portraits, while capturing an endearing stage of life, are often spectral and slightly unnerving, shadowed by phantom limbs and textile silhouettes that closely resemble an inanimate backdrop despite their lively features.
This desire for disguise informs the multi-media works of Philadelphia-area artist Sarah Detweiler, whose ongoing series Hidden Mother is on view at Paradigm Gallery through May 22. Depicted without children, Detweiler’s portraits subvert the original photographs to instead draw attention to the figures otherwise purposely relegated to the background. Fabrics rendered with a combination of oil, acrylic, gouache, watercolor, and embroidered elements further confront traditional notions of femininity and motherhood by literally cloaking the women in materials long associated with domesticity.
Because the artist has a personal relationship with each subject, the textiles, motifs, and colors all evoke specific aspects of their personalities and distinct experiences, resulting in idiosyncratic portraits tethered only by their shared identity. “In maintaining the anonymity,” a statement about the series says, Detweiler “preserves a universal relatability—the woman under the shroud could be you, your mother, your friend.”
If you’re not in Philadelphia, you can take a virtual tour of the sold-out exhibition, and watch this Q&A with Detweiler for a deeper dive into the series, which is available as a limited-edition print set on Paradigm’s site. Head to Instagram to see more of the artist’s process, including some of the original photographs that informed the portraits shown here.
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Art Craft Design
A Massive Catalogue of Stitched CMYK Studies by Evelin Kasikov Merges Printing and Embroidery
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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Subversively Embroidered Money and Penny Sculptures Question Historical Narratives
Throughout 2020, Stacey Lee Webber developed Insurrection Bills, a revisionary collection of United States currency overlaid with subversive stitches: flames envelop monuments, a wall is left unfinished, and an eclectic array of face masks disguise Abraham Lincoln’s portrait. Contrasting the muted tones of the paper, the vibrant embroideries stand in stark contrast and as amended narratives to those depicted on the various denominations. “The series references feelings of anger, turmoil, and frustration during the tense political climate while recontextualizing and questioning the beloved iconography we see on our money,” she tells Colossal.
Currently working from her studio and home in Philadelphia’s Globe Dye Works, Webber is formally trained in metalsmithing—she has an MFA from the University of Wisconsin, where she initially began using currency as the basis of her projects—and sees the two mediums as an ongoing conversation. Embroidery “allows me to work in a quieter setting outside of my metal shop acting as a sort of ying to the yang, soft and hard, masculine and feminine,” she says.
Many of Webber’s sculptures involve soldering coins, including the copper penny works that make up The Craftsmen Series and question the value of blue-collar labor in the U.S. Comprised of hollow, life-sized tools, the collection visualizes “putting endless amounts of work into a single cent,” the artist says.
Webber has multiple exhibitions this year, including at TW Fine Art Palm Beach Outpost in April, Philadelphia’s Bertrand Productions in October, and Art on Paper Fair in New York City this November. If you can’t see the currency-based projects in person, head to Instagram, where the artist shares a larger collection of her works and glimpses into her studio.
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Varied Patches of Color and Textured Stitches Delineate Expressive Embroidered Portraits
Brenda Risquez is deliberate in her use of texture, density, and color in her boldly embroidered portraits inspired by friends and pop culture icons. Varying patches of long, single-stitch rows and rounded tufts map onto the subjects’ faces, many of which display the textile artist’s affinity for pronounced, single-hued cheeks. Her hoop-bound portraits are expressive and dotted with playful elements, like a jaw outlined in pink or highlights stitched in bright, geometric shapes.
Textiles have played an outsized role in Risquez’s creative trajectory—she holds degrees in Fine Arts from the University of Granada and Textile Art from the School of Art of Granada—although she only started embroidering in the last five years. Currently, she teaches at Workshop Granada and is exploring a variety of techniques involving fabric painting and pattern design. Find shots of works-in-progress, along with information on commissions and other opportunities to buy her dynamic pieces, on Instagram.
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Highlights below. For the full collection click here.