Embroidery Art Goes Three-Dimensional and Abstract

More artists are expanding the expectations of embroidery art. The embroidery art hashtag on Instagram has over 316,000 posts! It isn’t just delicate flowers and chain stitches anymore. Artists are pushing the boundaries of this medium. Some artists make embroidered skulls showing famous art pieces or landscapes. Others, like artist Justyna Wołodkiewicz, try something new and make three-dimensional embroidery art.

An Ancient Art Form

Embroidery is a craft that has existed for thousands of years. Archeologists found fossilized remains of hand-stitched and decorated clothing, boots and hats believed to be from 30,000 BC. Even that long ago, the concept of decorating and enhancing an object with art existed.

In Siberia, examples of embroidery from around 5,000 or 6,000 BC were discovered. Elaborately drilled shells stitched to animal hides with decorative designs were found. Chinese chain stitch embroidery art has also been found. The art form has existed in many different cultures.

Thread and bead embroidery gained popularity in 1500 AD and continued through the 1700s. Many court dresses, home decorations and tapestries were painstakingly embroidered with complex designs.

Elaborately embroidered clothing, religious objects and household items were a mark of wealth and status in many cultures including Persia, India, China, Japan and Europe. Traditional folk techniques passed from generation to generation in cultures such as Vietnam, Mexico and eastern Europe.

Treasury of the Basilica of Our Lady, Maastricht, the Netherlands. Reliquary purse, red velvet with gold embroidery. France, 15th c.

Russian Museum, a collection of folk art. Right: female festive dress. Second half of the XIX century. Left: female festive dress. Mid XIX century.

Taking Embroidery Art to a New Level

Artist Justyna Wołodkiewicz combines clay pieces with thread to create three-dimensional embroidered art. The clay pieces vary from simple smooth shapes to complicated textured pieces. Each combination illustrates a narrative, hinting at water, skies, flowers or people. The bright colors make the designs pop and feel current.

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Justyna uses polymer clay to sculpt the abstract pieces. She creates rings, spikes, circles and other shapes out of the clay then bakes them to make them solid. Her art is very experimental and spontaneous. She doesn’t sketch out the designs. She just improvises as she goes, letting the forms and colors guide the pieces.

Modern artists like Justyna, Haley and others are bringing a contemporary twist to the age old art form. Their pieces show innovative and creative ways to modernize the time-consuming medium. You can see more of Justyna’s work on her Behance site and read more about her process on her blogspot.

 

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