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Posts Tagged ‘embroidery’

  1. My Time at Penland

    October 21, 2017 by Erin Fletcher

    I had the chance to spend the last few weeks of summer at Penland School of Crafts on a work-study scholarship. This was my first time attending Penland and I hope it won’t be my last. It was a truly unique experience and one that forced me to slow down and relax. It also gave me the freedom to be expressive in a medium outside of bookbinding.

    I came to Penland to take Rebecca Ringquist‘s Maximalist Embroidery workshop. Her work has intrigued and inspired me for years. The level of detail and depth she can create through embroidery really drew me in and I wanted to learn more. She uses a combination of hand embroidery and “drawing” with the machine. My goal for the taking this workshop was to see if I could incorporate any of the techniques into my binding work particularly with leather.

    Mistletoe in Paradise by Rebecca Ringquist

    We jumped in right away, not on cloth, but on paper with drawing exercises. Rebecca is a collector of flash cards and we used the simple imagery as our guide for blind contour drawings. In bursts of 60 – 30 – 15 seconds, we soon had a slew of drawings to inform our embroidery. After selecting one our favorite pieces, we then free-handed the drawing onto a piece of cloth. We were limited to one hour and could use any stitch we wanted. I recreated a drawing of GIRL using bright pink thread on a peach cotton cloth. I used back stitch in various thread thicknesses.

    We continued to use our contour drawings with other techniques for transferring. After finishing GIRL, I transferred my image of DRESS onto Sulky Solvy (a starch-based product with a sticky backing that dissolves in water). This time I used the sewing machine to “draw” my image onto the fabric.

    Using these two techniques I began to build on my design. Adding machine-sewn flowers with reverse appliqué centers and hand stitched trees that were drawn by a fellow classmate. The yellow dots are just the start of a field of french knots and the dividers were created on the machine.

    As the week progressed so did my piece, I continued to layer with more drawings, found embroidered pieces, dense machine stitching, appliqué and trimmings. I also got into machine couching, which offers a faster alternative to hand couching and a different effect. The way I chose to execute this technique was with the use of the Sulky Solvy. I placed my design and used a royal blue thread to couch a royal blue scrap of yarn by stitching mainly through the center. Throughout the week, we held three small critiques to voice our compliments and suggestions. It was refreshing to be back in a setting where we could freely discuss our ambitions and struggles. And it was wonderful to see how my classmates incorporated this feedback and battled through their own fears with destruction, layering and creation.

    At the end of the week, I created a nearly finished piece. I’ve taken to Rebecca’s strategy and stowed it away for now to be reviewed later. Rebecca informed us that she will continue to work on a piece over several months or even years, keeping it in a drawer and out of sight from time to time. The following images showcase my final piece and some work from my classmates.

    left: Sophie Fields | right: Annabel Wrigley

    left: Laura Martin | from right to left: Kate Webb, Vicki Bradley, Paisley Holloway, Deb Menz

    As I mentioned before, I was able to attend with the aid of a work-study scholarship. This meant that I had to arrive and work a day before and after my week-long workshop. I ended up with washing duties in the kitchen during my week shifts. It was hard to pull myself away from the studio at times to go wash pots, but this community action is part of the foundation of the school and how it continues to thrive. Since I was able to stay a few days beyond my duties, I got to participate in the end of the season bonfire with some of my fellow work-study mates, the staff and fellows at Penland, plus the community that lives around campus. It was the perfect send off.


  2. Artist: Emily Barletta

    April 11, 2017 by Erin Fletcher

    If you go to Emily Barletta‘s website (and I highly recommend that you do), click on her paper portfolio page. You’ll have to scroll all the way to the bottom of the page to find more pieces like the ones in this post, but along the way you’ll stumbled upon one amazing piece after another. Emily’s expressive illustrations are created through calculation and precision, building the image one stitch at a time.

  3. Best of 2014

    December 31, 2014 by Erin Fletcher

    As the year 2014 comes to a close, I want to send out another thank you to the nine bookbinders and book artists who took time away from their busy schedules to participate in my interviews. Another thank you goes to those who read and subscribe to my blog and I especially appreciate the kind comments I’ve received either in person or via email.

    Now to reflect on my year: Herringbone Bindery was busy yet again this year. I had the opportunity to work on some really great projects, amongst them were commissions from the Old State House in Boston, artist Laura Davidson and the Veatchs booksellers. An unusual amount of traveling this year took me to Rare Book School for the first time, up to Maine for a mini-conference and across the country to Vegas for the Guild of Book Workers conference.

    Things to expect in the New Year:
    – an updated website with all the projects I completed in 2014 (including some beautiful design bindings)
    – a Herringbone Bindery newsletter
    – more posts on my own projects (expect to see more on Dune as I will be covering right after the holidays)
    – another round of interviews

    As we ring in the new year, I just wanted to share my favorites posts from 2014.


    1. February // Bookbinder of the Month: Haein Song
    Haein Song was recommend to me by Hannah Brown and I was so thankful for her suggestion. Haein’s work is so clean and skillfully crafted. Her headcaps are so impeccable that I gape in awe.
    2. Artist: Marcela Cárdenas
    3. May // Bookbinder of the Month: Monique Lallier
    I greatly admire the work of Monique Lallier and was just ecstatic that she agreed to be interviewed for the blog. She has become such an influence in our field and openly shares her support and wisdom.


    4. My Hand: A Desert Inspired Edge for Dune
    5. August // Bookbinder of the Month: Mark Cockram
    The interview with Mark Cockram captures the boisterous and enthusiastic charms of both his personality and love of the craft. Each post examines the intensity of his designs and complexity of his techniques.
    6. Conservation Conversations Column
    Beginning this year, I invited six of my colleagues working in conservation to post about a field that encapsulates their professional lives. Topics range from using the appropriate adhesive and what to consider when building a conservation lab to various conservation considerations and philosophies.


    7. My Hand: Boxes for Laura Davidson
    My first project with Laura Davidson after interviewing her on my blog.
    8. Artist: Lydia Hardwick
    9. Photographer: Andrea Galvani
    10. January // Book Artist of the Month: Mary Uthuppuru
    I’m so charmed both Mary Uthuppuru and her work. She really engages the craft by exploring and experimenting with bookbinding and printmaking techniques. Mary is quite inspiring.


    11. November // Bookbinder of the Month: Sol Rébora
    It was a pleasure to interview Sol Rébora. Her insights to bookbinding in Argentina were refreshing, as are her imaginative and unique design bindings.
    12. February // Book Artist of the Month: Diane Jacobs
    Diane Jacobs employs important topics like feminism, body issues and societal issues against women in book arts and other art forms. I am very engaged and compelled by these issues and enjoyed dissecting her work in the interview.
    13. My Hand: Leather Embroidery Samplers
    14. Artist: Jennifer Davis

    Happy New Year!

  4. My Hand // Leather Embroidery Samplers – Part One

    April 15, 2014 by Erin Fletcher


    Since my last embroidered leather binding, I’ve had the urge to experiment with various traditional stitches in leather. Through my experiments I aimed to find which stitches would translate the same way on leather as they do on fabric. In addition, I wanted to know if I could easily keep a stitched line straight during the covering process.

    I began with a rough sketch of each sampler, a total of six. The stitches I chose were divided into categories (such as chain stitches, variations on the back stitch, couching, etc.) and then laid out onto each sampler sketch. I choose to experiment on both goatskin and buffalo which were pared down to the thickness I use when covering a full leather fine binding (~.5 for the buffalo and .7 for the goat). 


    Then, I cut down a piece of Japanese tissue to the size of the plaquette board and adhered it to the center of the leather. Once the pieces were dry, I proceeded to draw out a 1 x 1 mm square grid onto each sampler. This grid made it incredibly easy to lay out the stitches and to make sure I kept them even and straight. Before I began a stitch, I figured out the hole placement and spacing. Then with my pin vise I made pin-pricks through the leather. Laying out the holes beforehand made the act of stitching easier and faster. 


    After completing all of the stitches on a sampler, I prepped the leather for covering. Excess strings were trimmed and pasted down in line with stitches on the backside. This way any strays would not be visible on the front side of the leather. Once I readied my bench with the proper tools, the leather pieces were pasted up with wheat starch paste and attached to the board. After folding over the turn-ins and working down the corners, I stuck the plaquette under a press between foam and press boards. The foam pushes down the leather around the stitches much easier and quicker than I could. 

    When working with embroidered leather, I don’t wet out the piece before pasting up as I normally would. I do however add some moisture to the turn-ins to aid in the covering process. 


  5. Swell Things No. 11

    December 31, 2013 by Erin Fletcher

    1. Purely a fashion find: Three Floor, offers up some unique and interesting garments with unusual structural elements. 
    2. The Bristol Central Library just celebrated its 400th anniversary and as a tribute to its history installed a massive living sculpture cleverly referred to as Book Hive. Robotics collective, Rusty Squid, designed this interactive installation to respond to the movements of the library’s visitors. Each book, 400 in total, open and close in a range of breathtaking patterns, creating a satisfying creak that one expects to hear when opening an old book. Check out the video here.
    3. Temari balls originated as Chinese folk art and were introduced to Japan in the 7th century. These balls were hand embroidered with the thread from old kimonos, then given as a gift from an elder to children on New Year’s day.  
    4. When I clicked on the Fruit & Vegetable series from Heidi Voet I was quite surprised and immature giggling quickly ensued. But in all seriousness, Heidi used images from Chinese magazines and completed the naked female bodies with various perishables to highlight both our consumption and their perservability.
    5. Exhibition a is one of two sites I discovered recently that offers original art and prints at reasonably affordable prices.  The image featured is a print titled Persian Princess Mourning Her Peacock from artist Tony Cox.


    6. Philippe Parreno recently premiered his work Atlas of Clouds, an animated neon book. This piece is visually stunning and I think Parreno artistically captures the movement of a book in a stationary object. View the other pages at 1301PE Gallery.
    7. Gorgeous paper sculptures from artist Richard Deacon. Each piece is crafted from sheets of hand marbled paper. The patterns and colors are quite unusual from a bookbinder’s point of view, but absolutely striking. 
    8. The Art of Clean Up: Made Neat and Tidy is a playful book from Swiss artist and comedian Ursus Wehrli. His crusade to organize the chaos of the world seems quite daunting even when the objects seem so simple from a bowl of alphabet soup to a pine branch.
    9. 72 Editions is the other affordable website I discovered recently to offer original art and prints; from the web to the wall (as their slogan goes). The image featured is Glacier d’Argentiere I from artist David Denny.
    10. Haute Papier SS 2014 is the latest collection from designer Bea Szenfeld. Showcased at Stockholm Fashion Week, the models walked the catwalk with beautifully crafted ‘garments’ created from 3-dimensional paper sculptures. 


  6. Artist: Anouk Desloges

    December 13, 2013 by Erin Fletcher


    I’m just gushing over this embroidered Knot series from artist Anouk Desloges. Normally, the holes created by the needle are lost in an embroidered textile, but Anouk cleverly uses plexiglass as her canvas which amplify these gaps between the stitches. 


    detail of My Sunday’s Mask


    The following two pieces are titled Paper Bag; are sewn through plexiglass and include bronze leaf. They both have a very lovely resemblance to the anatomy of the female reproductive system.  

    paperbag-anoukdesloges paperbag2-anoukdesloges

  7. Book Artist of the Month: Dianna Frid

    February 25, 2013 by Erin Fletcher


    In 1572, astronomer and alchemist Tycho Brahe observed an incredibly bright star within the Cassiopeia constellation. A few months later the star disappears and Brahe publishes a small book in 1573, coining the phrase nova for a new star. We now understand this term as a supernova or the death of star. In 2009, Dianna Frid created this artist book Stardeath out of canvas and silk. The geometric layout of each page is embroidered with floss, additional details are added with aluminum foil and cellophane.

    stardeath2-diannafrid stardeath4-diannafrid stardeath6-diannafrid stardeath7-diannafrid

  8. Book Artist of the Month: Dianna Frid

    February 11, 2013 by Erin Fletcher


    Dianna Frid found inspiration in the tragic story of celebrated cave explorer Floyd Collins and in 1998 she constructed this memorializing embroidered cloth book. Using a heat transfer technique, Dianna also included a found image of Floyd Collins. This is one of Dianna’s first fabric books to use found imagery becoming a pivotal point in her approach to narration. 

    I asked Dianna to include a few words in regards to the concept behind Floyd Collins, Cave Explorer.
    It is, in essence, a narrative book that shows you, not only tells you, what happened to this minor historical figure from Kentucky in the 1920’s. As such, it is an exploration of the potential of the form to use a sequential progression of layers to achieve narrative coherence that echo the story. This happens again in Leak, for example, and in Reversal, although both of those books are comprised by words only. In Floyd Collins… each layer is visible at once when you first open the book because there is a large hole on each page. The hole gets smaller as the pages progress, and they eventually bury Floyd Collins (his photograph).

    The story of Floyd Collins is compelling on many fronts, not only because of the ironic tragedy it exemplifies. In the history of American journalism, he became the first ordinary person who rose to celebrity due to a tragedy: he got stuck and died while he was trying to explore an alternative entrance to the larger network of caves that comprise Mammoth Cave. Floyd Collins was an adventurer-explorer, and he was looking for “more.” I found out about his story—or, more aptly his story found me—while I was perusing a textbook on Physical Geography. I was struck that a scientific book with the mission of teaching us about the earth’s layers, volcanoes, and rock formations included this brief vignette of an unknown, illiterate farmer. I was assailed by the interlude. The stitched words of the artist’s book are sourced from the textbook, and I, of course, give attribution to the authors of the textbook in the colophon. 

    floydcollins_diannafrid2 floydcollins_diannafrid3 floydcollins_diannafrid4 floydcollins_diannafrid5 floydcollins_diannafrid6

  9. Artist: Shaun Kardinal

    January 24, 2013 by Erin Fletcher


    It should come to no surprise that I love the work of Shaun Kardinal, who so wonderfully combines my two favorite materials into his art: thread and paper.  Shaun applies thread with calculated precision, embroidering symmetrical patterns over collaged ephemera. His pieces are incredibly affordable as well, so be sure to stop by his shop.connotation29_shaunkardinal connotation38_shaunkardinal connotation36_shaunkardinal connotation37_shaunkardinal

    Shaun also offers the series Alterations, a collection of altered vintage postcards: 

    alteration52_kardinal alteration61_shaunkardinal alteration54_shaunkardinal

  10. Artist: Stacey Page

    January 23, 2013 by Erin Fletcher


    These whimsical portraits from Stacey Page seem to capture any hidden desires of the subject, whom wear their superhero guise so proudly. Her embroidered work is exceptional, carefully sewn through small-scale photographs. 

    jasoncharlotte_staceypage jesstodd_staceypage

  • My name is Erin Fletcher, owner and bookbinder of Herringbone Bindery in Boston. Flash of the Hand is a space where I share my process and inspirations.
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