These embroidered insects are the thing I’ve been working on the most for the last two months, since we got to Berlin. Embroidery is a wonderfully portable art form because it’s very cheap, has a tiny footprint and doesn’t risk mess-making like painting does.
I loved embroidery as a teenager, but it took a craft day at a yoga spa with porn stars to get me doing it again in my forties.
During my years as a sex-positive artist in the Bay Area, I did a lot of work with Madison Young. I’m so very grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in shows and performance art at her gallery, benefits she produced for sex-positive institutions, and shows her gallery arranged for me. (you can see some of the work here– NOT work-safe, and you’ll need to be signed in to Flickr with the adult safeties off to see some of it.)
One of the things we did was a day of handwork in the backyard of a fancy yoga place. As I recall the work produced was to benefit Lyon-Martin, and was exhibited there. Kira Scarlet, the lovely lady shown here, brought embroidery supplies and re-taught me how to do it.
When I went into remission from depression, I started to play around with needlework. You can see my last couple years of embroidery work here.
Thanks to PInterest, my embroidery has been inspired by Game of Thrones.
No, that doesn’t mean *spoiler* has *spoilered* my *spoilers*.
Instead, I discovered master textile artist Michele Carragher, who does all the embroidery for the costumes on the show. She is very generous in sharing her process and techniques, and there are lots of pictures of her work on her site.
Her work with sheer fabrics and metallic lace is amazing. I was inspired to start using organza, lace and tulle as well as beading and ribbon in my needlework.
This mermaid is the first embroidery I did with mixed media. It was the last thing I worked on in the Bay besides the three portraits I finished in March, and I was working on it til our last week- I think it actually got packed the day we left.
All the materials were leftover from my insane mermaid costume project. The ribbons and net were burned and torn to distress them. Eventually she’ll have clamshell sequin pasties but I couldn’t find them in the chaos of final packing.
One of the ideas I’m interested in is using tulle or net as a callback to Zip-A-Tone, a 20th Century artist’s material now completely obliterated by Photoshop.
Also, bead embroidery is my equivalent of smoking pot- it is relaxing and meditative and luscious to me. Here in Berlin, I didn’t have my stash of beads and fabric, but you can buy oval hoops in the craft store! Oval hoops are the business. My art materials stash has been growing thanks to a friend who is both generous patron and muse, and I bought some German metallic thread.
“This is way better than regular metallic thread”, I said to my artist sister-in-law over Skype. She said, “You mean it’s only the seventh circle of Hell instead of the ninth?” Exactly!
You can see the layers of metallic lace and organza ribbon in this bug- and also its surprising Fauvist palette.
People who have only seen my paintings from 2005 on might be surprised to know that my earliest paintings were all in the colors of Gauguin and Matisse, not Manet. The mantis was inspired by the poetic bug photographs of Igor Siwanowicz.
Also, I have been obsessed with mantises for a long time. Creepy.