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With needle and thread

We’ve been talking a lot about hooked rugs lately (of course!) but today let’s take a look at some very fine needlework. Sarah K. Benning is an American contemporary embroiderer, who lives a rather nomadic life and studio practice (primarily splitting her time between the U.S. and Spain). Above and below, you can see examples of her well-designed and detailed work with needle and thread.

Sarah’s formal training was in fine arts, but she writes that she is a self-taught embroiderer. In fact, she says she discovered her love for embroidery almost by accident, and what began as a hobby has turned into her full-time career. But her studies at the Art Institute of Chicago have their effect – her sense of strong composition and her training in illustration really show in her designs.

Her works are quite small:

And her sense of humor comes through, too, as in this piece:

Sarah wrote that each piece begins as an illustration, and then she treats her thread as if it were ink or paint, meticulously bringing her drawn design to life. She frequently forgoes traditional embroidery stitches in favor of bold shapes and playful patterns. And because drawing is at the heart of each work, she keeps a sketchbook of ideas, composition thumbnails, plant details and textile diagrams to work from.

And don’t you love how she uses interior rugs to add depth and pattern to her plant scenes? See, we are right back to talking about rugs again! OK, here is one more of Sarah’s pieces for you:

Many thanks to Sarah, whose works are all her own and protected by copyright, for giving me permission to show them here. You can see many more of her designs on her website at www.sarahkbenning.com.

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