The art of embroidery conjures images of proper young ladies learning to stitch floral patterns and Bible verses in hopes of appearing worthy of a suitor. Your grandmother’s walls may have been covered in cross stitched kittens in baskets and reminders that her cookies were baked with 6 tablespoons of love.
But these are not your grandmother’s embroideries. These artists aren’t fine-tuning their ladylike sensibilities to woo a fine young man. No, these artists are reclaiming an art form and making embroidery newly relevant. With immaculate skill and macabre imagery, they are creating beautiful works of stitchcraft, making magic with needle and thread.
Tiny Cup Needle Works
Britt Hutchinson of Tiny Cup does things with needle and thread that most of us can hardly dream of doing with pen and paper. Her work is small and minute, with incredible attention to detail paid to the skulls and roses that feature prominently. Her integrity and respect for the art shine as bright as the moons that she carefully crafts with golden thread. She works primarily on commission, but occasionally will have pieces for sale here.
Carrie Violet’s all-black embroidery work is mementori mori for the melancholic soul. She is clearly influenced by Victorian mourning imagery, frequently stitching hands reaching out to grasp flowers and wreaths of braided hair. She reinterprets the art of Edward Gorey and Albert Joseph Penot, and draws inspiration from historical graveyard iconography. You can purchase her macabre masterpieces here.
The Yellow Wallpaper
Rebecca Hampton’s love for all things mystical shines in each pass of needle through cloth. Drawing upon subject matter such as gothic Victoriana, death customs, and pagan traditions, she creates embroideries that embrace vibrant colors while never straying from her proclivity for darkness.
A quick glance at the hand-stitched work of Adipocere and you may think you are gazing upon a beautifully detailed painting. Upon realizing that each line, shape, and shadow have been made entirely with thread on linen, or even skin, it is impossible not to be amazed by the intricacy. His embroidery focuses primarily upon our relationship with nature and death, each piece reflecting a message of death acceptance and connection to nature.
Sold through her shop, Mythweavers, Lyla stitches dark, mystical, and fantastical creatures. Ravens, unicorns, moths, and scorpions come to life in rich and magical color. A self-proclaimed “patron saint of night creatures,” she creates embroidered art for darklings and the magically inclined. She is also available for custom work.
Baba Vešterka Dark Arts
If a trip to Australia for one of Tamara’s hand poked tattoos isn’t in the cards, her embroideries are the next best thing. The subject matter of her work relates heavily to her trade as a tattoo artist, featuring hands, needles, and black line work. The clear Victorian Gothic inspiration is showcased beautifully on vintage napkins and doilies.
Your Gothic Granny
A self-proclaimed lover of all things “spoopy,” Rachel’s embroideries capture all that is weird and wonderful. She contrasts macabre elements like skulls and wet specimens with flowers and greenery, and doesn’t hesitate to lay on the sass. Her original work can be purchased here, and she is also available for commission pieces.
Elsa Olsson may use the traditional cross stitch method of embroidery, but her art is anything but. Working almost entirely in black thread, she draws inspiration from occult imagery, folklore, and witchcraft. Worn as pins and pendants, her work features symbols of protection, witches’ familiars, and eerie imagery.
Sea of Doom
Our favorite flying creatures of the night are brought to colorful life by the hands of the Bat Queen. Her large, detailed pieces capture the many fanged faces of bats, accented by badass details such as barbed wire, spiderwebs, and blood drips. She also embroiders custom denim and leather with her signature bats, as well as coffins, reapers, wolves, and goats.
Primarily a painter, Natalia Czajkiewicz has only recently began stitching her work into bandannas and handkerchiefs. She creates haunting vignettes inspired by life and death, light and dark, mysticism, and magic. Symbols of memento mori such as skulls and coffins feature heavily in her work, with elements of mourning and nature. She also hand paints leather jackets and decorative wooden coffins.
Feature image courtesy of Adipocere.