Tag Archives: modern freehand embroidery

Bead embroidery works in progress, March 2020

Bead embroidery WIP by Suzanne Forbes March 20 2020I went into self-quarantine on March 1, and the first two weeks were HARDCORE BEAD EMBROIDERY.

Like, my most hardcore deep dive into beads and pearls and crystals EVER.

Opalescent bead embroidery WIP by Suzanne Forbes March 20 2020The first piece I put a quick forty hours of stitching into is an opalescent colors patchwork of applique and vinyl.

I used a commercial applique in shades of pale blue and lavender on tulle as a base.

Opalescent bead embroidery WIP by Suzanne Forbes March 20 2020 detail 1I added scraps of pink iridescent vinyl left over from last month’s Fairy Rainbow Unicorn crown project, and then when my glitter and holographic vinyl shipment (The Last Art Supplies) arrived from the UK, I added some bits of blue and lavender textured iridescent pvc.

Opalescent bead embroidery WIP by Suzanne Forbes March 20 2020 detail 1I stitch the wavy scraps of pvc onto the back of the piece in a patchwork, using colored and metallic thread. The beads and rhinestones are from my stash, some 20 years ago old.

Sickle Moon bead embroidery WIP by Suzanne Forbes March 20 2020Then I decided to do something gothy, in the second week of March.

Back when I still thought I’d be going to some glamourous Weimar Berlin 1920s themed parties later this year. (Spoiler: as an immunocompromised person with asthma, I probably won’t go to an event again until there’s an effective treatment, a passive immunity shot made from antibodies, or a vaccine.)

Sickle Moon bead embroidery WIP by Suzanne Forbes March 20 2020I had the idea of a sickle moon, with antique pearl buttons and anthracite rhinestuds. The base is a commercial wristwarmer or fingerless glove with embroidered applique on it. I cut it open, both to make it easier to work on and because I have quite large bones and will need to add a gusset to it anyway.

Jewel color bead embroidery WIP by Suzanne Forbes March 20 2020 2The third big bead embroidery project this month was jewel tones.

Why do we call dark purples, blues, greens and reds “jewel tones”? I don’t know, since obvs jewels come in all colors. Anyway, I found a beautiful piece of flowered velvet while digging through stashes, and used it as a base, with a purple applique left over from my Bisexual Pride corset project a couple years ago. Jewel color bead embroidery WIP by Suzanne Forbes March 20 2020I added some petrol-colored (that’s the UK/European term for dark teal or peacock blue) velvet, some scraps of dark blue glitter vinyl, and some purple iridescent PVC. An additional piece of tulle (galaxy glitter tulle, as seen in the Big Gay Rainbow Dino-Witch!) holds everything down. I trimmed it back in an organic way in some places, to get different amounts of shine from the vinyls. In some places I also colored the light tulle with a blue Sharpie, where I wanted the blue vinyl to come through more.

patchwork tulle embroidery diagram by Suzanne ForbesSince this is hard to explain, I made one of my signature Bad Diagrams. I hope it helps a little?

All three of these pieces will eventually be sewn into wrist cuffs. I’m often photographed at events from over my shoulder, as I draw, and I had the idea it would be cool to be wearing something spectacular on that hand!

Finished for Folsom Europe: Bi Pride Corset!

Bi Pride corset by Suzanne Forbes August 29 2018 front viewThis project took an entire year! About 200 hours of work! Dang!

Bi Pride corset by Suzanne Forbes August 29 2018I started this beaded corset project last fall when I got a great price on a used lilac 426 Standard mesh corset by Orchard Corset. It was always my intention to have it finished for the Motzstr. Festival, a special Pride event in Berlin in July.

But I wound up taking an entire year to finish it, and I think that’s good. Because I made it to affirm my fundamental identity as a queer woman, and I stitched that identity and pride and love into it thousands and thousands of times.

Last summer, while writing this post, I realized I’d developed a lot of internal biphobia over the last thirty years.

As a person who has been married to three men and who has almost only dated men in sobriety, I felt like a “retired” queer person. I stopped thinking of myself as bisexual.

And as a “retired” queer person, I felt so much safer.

Bi Pride corset by Suzanne Forbes August 29 2018It’s terrible to know that, to realize I took some comfort in the reduction of my vulnerability that living a straight life meant. Because I never for a minute stopped being aware of the consequences and dangers of living an out gay life.

I knew I couldn’t blame my cowardice on my upbringing. When I was fifteen and my mom opened the door to my bedroom to see me and my friend Jenny in bed naked, she asked if we wanted to go out for brunch. She accepted my girlfriend Pam into our home for years without question.

And I am no fan of my father, but he took me to Stonewall and told me what happened there before I was ten.

So my change in identity wasn’t about shame, it was about fear.

I felt guilty about living in the Bay Area as what appeared to be a straight person. I felt guilty about the privilege that accorded me. But it seemed like compared to the people around me, I was functionally straight. When you regularly attend sex parties where you draw a trans man fucking a trans woman while she gives oral sex to a nonbinary person, being a married cis-femme seems really conventional.

Bi Pride corset by Suzanne Forbes August 29 2018Plus, as a portrait painter who often asks women I’ve just met to come to my home and pose for me, I felt less creepy identifying as cis-straight-married!

Then I moved to Berlin.

Bi Pride corset by Suzanne Forbes August 29 2018 right panelLiving in Berlin has connected me to my youth and my New York identity in so many profound ways.

There was a jump-cut that happened when I left New York at 22, in 1989, to go to treatment.

I moved to St. Paul, where the halfway house was, for six years, and then to Hartford, then to DC, then to the Bay Area, for eighteen years.

In all those places I drove a car everywhere, lived in wooden houses, people were polite in the stores… It was like a different world.

I had all these adventures in this different world, and then in 2015, I got on the subway and went home.

Or so it feels. To live in a big apartment building, take the subway everywhere, walk the city streets at 3 am, eat a slice of pizza in a doorway just out of the rain, be yelled at by a shopkeeper – this reconnects me to my fundamental self.

And of course, even though married and cis, my fundamental self is queer as fuck.

So over this year, over 200 hours, I made this corset, beading and sewing and hotfixing crystals. I will wear it with Pride at Folsom Europe next month, and I’ll get some pictures of me in it!