Sunday, October 2, 2011

Flesh Embroidery

I get a wide spectrum of responses to my stitchy hobby.  Some are very positive.  But not all.  Ooooooh no.  I try not to dwell  insanely on those comments.  However, sometimes the sneering and scorn can really piss one off.  'Its a wonder you can be bothered' is a classic reaction that I am actually getting used to.  And I ask... why?  Why do they think its lame?  Is it because embroidery conjures images of sentimental ladies of leisure with no social life?  Maybe it brings to mind an uptight auntie whose house is drowning in doilies (σεμεδακια) and small porcelain objects.  How can my labour of love have such a bad rap?  

Embroidery is far more akin to tattooing than to, say, knitting.  I'm not trying to say that embroidery is cooler than knitting.  No way!  But it is a different creature.  Early embroidery took the place of tattoos with decorative symbols appearing on clothes in the same places as they appeared on the flesh.  Tattoos have been called 'flesh embroidery'.

So now things have come full circle, with embroiderers again taking tattoos and applying them to fabric.  The inspiration for this whitework is the most stunning piece of 'flesh embroidery' I have ever seen up close.  I love old school tattoos for their raw style and classic symbolism and this lovely gentleman's arm is an example that deserves to be celebrated.  And, in addition to being a walking work of art, he is a talented artist to boot.  Check out his art here.

I wanted to stitch this in white to create a lace-like quality, to draw attention to the details of the needlework and the parallels between fiber of fabric and flesh.  I wanted it to look, at first glance, like a tablecloth that any elderly lady may use to decorate her house.  But nestled in the centre is a ghost of a tattooed arm.


  1. I love this one, IMO it's the best one so far, really subtle.
    As for the negative commenters, I don't give them a moments time. I have identified a whole, very lame, class of people that I call "the un-doers" - they themselves do nothing and create 0, they never stick their neck out. But they define themselves by what they don't like, which it turns out, is a lot.
    If I think someone is an un-doer, I stick way clear of them, lest I suffer some contagion.

  2. I like what you did :) and I am more than happy if you want to reference my blog entry about street art and public space.

    as for naysayers, they can go suck a lemon ;)

  3. This is such a kick! It looks like it all goes together, then you look closer and there's that skull, etc. Very surprising and fun. You made me laugh!
    best, nadia