Favoring thread and found materials, Richmond-based artist Hillary Waters Fayle (previously) works at the intersection of textile traditions and botany. “Stitching, like horticulture, can be functional,” she says, “a technical solution to join materials/a means of survival. Or, both can be done purely in service of the soul, lifting the spirit through beauty and wonder.”
Fayle’s practice embodies this sentiment with elaborate and colorful embroideries applied to dried leaves. Lined with brown edges, the perfectly preserved surfaces become more fragile as they age, and the threaded embellishments enhance the relationship between the natural and fabricated. “There is a sense of magic in being able to work with such an unexpected and exquisite material,” the artist says. “The tension in the thread, the type of stitching, the needle, the species, and the season are just some of the factors that may influence what happens.” Recent pieces include ornate networks in blue on ginkgo, floral motifs on eucalyptus, and red dots on golden leaves.
This summer, Fayle’s works will be on view at Quirk Gallery in Charlottesville, Virginia, and this fall at Asheville’s Momentum Gallery. Until then, explore more of her stitched works, in addition to leafy cutouts and large-scale murals, on Instagram.
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It’s easy to mistake Irma Gruenholz’s whimsical ceramic figures for two-dimensional illustrations. The Madrid-based artist (previously) is known for her sculptures and still lifes in clay that resemble flat graphics and drawings, although her works require precise positioning and photographing before they’re printed in the pages of a magazine or children’s book.
In addition to working on commissions for major publications and brands in the last few years, Gruenholz’s most recent projects include four imaginative figures tattooed with foliage and sprouting leafy branches from their heads. “During Covid lockdown, I have had time to reflect and realize how important it is to respect your internal rhythm when you are creating,” she says. “I think there has to be another way of living, a slow life good for the people and for the planet.”
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Japanese artist Hitomi Hosono (previously) translates the billowing leaves of an underwater plant or the clusters of Hawthorn tree flowers into intricate sculptural assemblages devoid of their natural colors. The monochromatic bowls and vases appear to sprout incredibly detailed botanicals that Hosono layers in tight wraps and dense bunches, and while stylized in presentation, each form is derived from hours of research and observation of real specimens.
Currently living in London, Hosono draws on memories of her home in Gifa Prefecture to inform much of her work, and she allows the medium itself to dictate her practice. While some of the botanical forms are inspired by specific encounters with the environment like walks through the city’s parks, others are spontaneous and spurred by a hunk of material already evocative of a leaf or petal. “When handling the porcelain clay itself, then my old memories of nature in Japan come flooding back through my hands—abstract and uncertain when it was in my mind. Kneading, brushing, patting, carving, there are many processes before the shape emerges from the porcelain clay and begins to take the form of my tactile memory,” she explains.
In a note to Colossal, Hosono says she’s been interested lately in combining small florals with larger foliage, a contrast evident in “A Tall Peony and Leaves Vase” and “A Tall Tsutsuji Tower.” She describes the process for the latter:
This flower is so much a part of my childhood memories; we had Tutsuji in our home garden, at school, along the street, nearby parks, almost everywhere in Japan. Making the delicate tip of the Tsutsuji petal is challenging. I use a very small fine brush to curl the end of each petal. This must be done slowly and gently as the ends become incredibly fragile. Then I assemble the petals by hand to make each flower and place these one-by-one.
No matter the size, every element is hand-sculpted and arranged with similar pieces into a floret or layered onto the larger vessel, which typically takes a year or more to complete.
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Opting for yarn and rovings of raw wool dyed in natural pigments, Korean-American artist Alyssa Ki crafts fiber-based wall hangings reminiscent of bouquets and overgrown patches of wildflowers. The perpetually blooming pieces blend multiple textile techniques and are teeming with macramé, needle-felted, and crocheted botanicals that sprout from a thick, woven foundation. Hanging from a knotty branch or bound by a ribbon, the floral works are ripe with color and texture.
Currently based in New York, Ki has a background in photojournalism and first started working with fiber in 2018. She’s since crafted innumerable flowers, leaves, and fibrous vines for a variety of commissions, and you can dive into her process on Instagram. (via The Jealous Curator)
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From swirls of eucalyptus leaves to perfectly round bodies of coral, the sculptural pieces by Newcastle-based artist Meredith Woolnough (previously) depict a range of textured, organic shapes. Each elaborately crafted work is drawn through free-motion embroidery, which involves using the most basic stitches on a sewing machine and moving a swath of water-soluble material around the needle. Once the form is complete, Woolnough dissolves the fabric base to expose the delicate, mesh-like structure, a process filmmaker Flore Vallery-Radot follows in the studio visit above.
The resulting works either stand alone as sprawling clusters of veins and branches or are strung into larger displays, like the “carpet of embroidery” Woolnough is working on currently that involves more than 1,000 small pieces threaded together. No matter the size, each piece contrasts thick lines with fine, sparse patches to give the leaves or rocky formations shape, and the artist describes the balance between the two methods:
Often when I depict solid subject matter, like coral which is often quite hard, I will stitch my design with dense areas of stitching. I like to put lots of small overlapping stitches very close together to form a solid structure where you can’t clearly see the individual stitches. This dense structure is needed to help the final embroidery hold its shape once I remove the water-soluble base material I stitch onto. With this dense stitching, I can also achieve subtle colour blending as I change thread colours.
Alongside her practice, Woolnough teaches a variety of workshops and released a book back in 2018 titled Organic Embroidery that details her processes. Some of her smaller works will be included in a group exhibition at The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, which opens online on October 16. You also can find her available pieces on her site and watch for updates on Instagram. (via The Kids Should See This)
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Using simple white tulle as her base, Olga Prinku creates lush arrangements of flowers, seedpods, berries, and other organic materials teeming with color and texture. She fastens the preserved florals, which she often grows or forages and then dries herself, to the mesh webbing, encircling an embroidery hoop with elaborate patterns or depicting figurative renderings of birds and individual blooms. Many of the pieces replicate the motifs found in nature or those prevalent in eastern European folklore, which the North Yorkshire-based artist ties to her upbringing in the Republic of Moldova.
Formerly a graphic designer, Prinku says her creative process is similar in her now-tactile medium, relying on trial and error and an understanding of color, shape, and overall composition. “I learned in graphic design to be willing to experiment with different ideas that I wasn’t sure would work, and then to be willing to give up on the ones that aren’t working and refine the ones that seem promising,” she says, sharing that her typographic hoops directly connect both practices.
Prinku teaches workshops and offers tutorials for those interested in learning her botanical craft and is releasing a book titled Dried Flower Embroidery that will be published this October by Quadrille. Find more of her luxuriant embroideries on Instagram. (via Lustik)
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