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Saturday, April 7, 2012

Front & Back

If you were to tell me a year ago to do an embroidery on paper I would probably have laughed at you.  Mostly because embroidering on paper is very temporary since the paper can easily rip thus ruining your embroidered hard work.  But after finding out about Art House Co-op's Brooklyn Art Library (see previous posts) I had to get involved.  They give you a book to fill with whatever you want inside the parameters of the theme you choose and when you're done you send it to them and it's on display there for all eternity so people can discover other artists and be inspired by their work.  

The theme I picked was thread and surface since when I went to the Art Library the books that stood out to me most were ones that you could get something out of it via touch and I knew that if I made it as a sketchbook it wouldn't be very interesting.  Tactile work is very cool that way and since it's not a painting hanging on a gallery wall you're totally allowed to touch it.  I titled it Front and Back because when you are done embroidering what you planned out on the front, you get to see the process on the back; something you can't achieve with a drawing without a time lapse video.

If I was going to make a project for myself I would want it to be very well made and long lasting so that I could have it and enjoy it forever.  But with this book once I send it in it belongs to the library so I thought I would try something that I wouldn't normally do.  And since the book already had paper in it I decided to embroider on paper.  Not surprisingly it is much more difficult than working with fabric.  Once you poke a hole you can't move the fibers around to get rid of it, that hole is there to stay.  It took me a few pages to perfect my back side paper poking technique since I embroidered as I went along instead of poking all of the holes in the beginning.  Paper is also obviously much more delicate and rips easily.  I like to think that this project made me more aware and grateful of how easy it is to embroider on fabric.

 The back of the cover is one of my favorite ones because it looks familiar but so foreign at the same time.

In the beginning I played with more abstract shapes since I thought it made the back more interesting because there was no logic for where you would start and where you would end.

I had a more freedom with ones that had a kind of grid because I could play with the madness inside of the order.  There was no right or wrong answer for what went where.

Once I did a few abstract embroidered pages I transitioned to more figurative themes to keep it interesting.

I really liked making the pattern on the shirt in this one especially when you realize how chaotic the back side is.

The wizard was engaging because when I made the drawing it was just a wizard and wasn't very exciting at all.  But when I embroidered him, the stitches came to life and made the same drawing more interesting to look at.  P.S.- embroidering small hands on paper is not easy.

I enjoyed working on the gems a lot because I used multi color thread so it looked like the shapes had highlights and shadows like the objects would in real life.  It's also fun to see on the back how the same pink and yellow gem shape looks different when I was trying to conserve thread.

The robot's party hat is just my favorite in general.

If you saw the back first what would you think it is?

My book as well as many others in the Limited Edition Sketchbook Project will be on display at the Brooklyn Library sometime soon at 103A North 3rd Street 12-8pm everyday.  Stop by and check it out!  It will also be included in a series of art books documenting the project that will be published in the fall of 2012.  If you're interested in doing a sketchbook, the Sketchbook Project for 2013 is open now!  Go sign up here to participate!  


  1. this is very awesome...great work!

  2. Sweet stuff! I especially like the gems embroidered with variegated thread, it makes it look like they've caught a bit of light. :) This makes me want to go embroider paper

  3. Thanks! You should definitely give it a go Sarah!