Gear Threads

 

Gear Threads Is The Mr X Stitch Machine Embroidery Column - Presented By Urban Threads!

 

Delightful things are coming out of PaleGray Labs, a collaboration between cartoonist/animator/quilter Nina Paley and scientist/author/software developer Theodore Gray. Based in Urbana, IL, this power duo is taking computerized stitching in creative new directions. They’ve done some machine embroidered animations, like these (and also this):

Ziz_photo_movie

Old-school embroidermation. Sort of.

Old-school embroidermation. Sort of.

And they’re putting their new quilting machine to great use in wonderfully geeky and challenging new ways:

Pale Gray labs specializes in creating stitchwork that is beyond the capacity of human beings; designs that can only be executed by robot. … Our speciality is the application of sophisticated mathematical techniques to the creation of single-line stitching instructions, starting from vector art (Adobe Illustrator, EPS, etc).

What’s that look like, you ask? There are these pretty Fibonacci spiral quilts:

Fibonacci sequins.

Fibonacci sequins.

And then there are the gigantic Thousand Dollar Quilts (full of more beautiful patterns, just like real money, and available at face value!):

Minting money on the quilting machine, named Behemoth.

Minting money on the quilting machine, named Behemoth.

The duo created these $1K bills as a more affordable version of Nina’s Ten Thousand Dollar Quilt (“Bargain”) — a snuggly commentary on the value of art and craft:

High-end art is a form of currency for elites. Art museums and critics encourage us peasants to believe the value in these “priceless art treasures” is based on utility (i.e., the more they cost, the more “genius” they contain). But the value of high end art is due to collectors attaching their surplus capital to it. …

Ironically (for ironic juxtaposition!) quilts are among among the most under-valued art forms. They also require more skill and time than almost any other art-making technique I’ve tried. The selling price of quilts seldom covers the costs of materials; quilters often prefer to give their quilts away. An “expensive” quilt usually costs more than the value of materials, but less than minimum wage for labor. I recently met a master quilter whose beautiful wall quilt, which took months of expert work and won many awards, was professionally appraised at $3,500. This is considered very high; had it not been widely displayed and won many awards, it would be “worth” far less.

A bargain.

A bargain.

Can’t wait to see what Nina and Theo will create next! In the meantime, check out the PaleGray site to see all the collaborations, take a closer look at those gorgeous Thousand Dollar Quilts, and peruse Nina’s blog for more of the stories and photos behind these unique creations.

PaleGray's first-ever design for a quilting machine.

PaleGray’s first-ever design for a quilting machine.

________________________

Urban Threads - Unique and Awesome Machine Embroidery DesignsGear Threads is brought to you from the offbeat gals at Urban Threads. Created by illustrator Niamh O’Connor, Urban Threads is revolutionizing machine embroidery one edgy, elegant, innovative, and/or offbeat design at a time. Discover the future of digital stitchery at www.urbanthreads.com.

 

 

{ 0 comments }

Gear Threads Is The Mr X Stitch Machine Embroidery Column - Presented By Urban Threads!

This particular video has already been all over the internet and back, but we would be so very remiss if we here at Gear Threads, who celebrate so fondly the work of machine embroidery, did not feature it. If you happen not to have heard of it, allow me to enthrall you with the first totally digitized and machine embroidered music video we’ve ever heard of – Tharsis Sleeps, from heavy metal band Throne.

 

Each frame of this epic animated adventure was individually machine embroidered onto fabric – all 45 million stitches of it. Director and band member Nicos Livesey gave an interview over on Dazed where he explained how the whole thing started.

process1

The original inspiration was metal band patches. I was making band patches on a sewing machine that could embroider with one needle. I remembered from when I was seven or eight years old, I’d seen an embroidery machine at a boat show and that always stuck in my mind. It mesmerised me and looked crazy, how it could embroider anything. When I was doing the band patches, I realised it was totally animate-able I could embroider it frame by frame and it would look mental.

The embroidery itself was stitched out on two industrial Brother machines supplied by Brother UK, and digitized with Wilcom software. The digitizing process did of course cause the band some headaches, like those in the industry are all too familiar with. Given the huge nature of the task, auto-digitizing was utilized heavily toconvert the files from the animation software, which can be unpredictable.

process2

In the beginning, nothing was going right. I was like, “This is impossible.” You’ve got to use this software to digitise the images into embroidery so the machines can read the image, but you’d convert it to stitch format and parts of the image would disappear randomly. I couldn’t really give up though, I was too far into it! You just have to fight through.

The project eventually got so overwhelming the band started a Kickstarter page to fund it, and got the backing of quite a few major players from the machine embroidery industry. In total, there were 3000 frames, each of which had to be individually hooped up under the machine and stitch anywhere from 20-90 minutess each. It’s an epic undertaking anda fantastic example of what happens when you put this kind of stitch technology in the hands of creative, if slightly obsessive, minds.

________________________

Urban Threads - Unique and Awesome Machine Embroidery DesignsGear Threads is brought to you from the offbeat gals at Urban Threads. Created by illustrator Niamh O’Connor, Urban Threads is revolutionizing machine embroidery one edgy, elegant, innovative, and/or offbeat design at a time. Discover the future of digital stitchery at www.urbanthreads.com.

{ 1 comment }

Gear Threads Is The Mr X Stitch Machine Embroidery Column - Presented By Urban Threads!

Long ago, in a land far away, the earliest sewing machines used not the lockstitch you’re familiar with, but chainstitch. Machine embroidery happened, but it wasn’t digitized — deft artists guided fabric under the machines, painting pictures with those awesome textured stitches. Machine-sewn chainstitch has largely gone the way of the dinosaur, except for a few industrial applications — but in East LA, the Chain Gang are keeping this vanishing art alive and well, crafting custom patches for car and bike clubs.

chaingang1

chaingang2

chaingang3

Tommy D and his crew of stitching artists (aka the Chain Gang) are old pros at this trade. Taking custom orders from all over the world, they create each design by hand, one at a time, on vintage sewing machines. A single patch can take hours, and when they’re finished, they look like nothing else.

chaingang4

chaingang5

TheChain Gang doesn’t have a big online presence — clients find them through car and bike scenes, so frankly they don’t need it. Take a peek into the life of the Chain Gang on Instagram (@chaingang_la and @tommydkustom), read more about the crew at Lowrider magazine, and watch this awesome video for their collaboration with Lot, Stock and Barrel:

________________________

Urban Threads - Unique and Awesome Machine Embroidery DesignsGear Threads is brought to you from the offbeat gals at Urban Threads. Created by illustrator Niamh O’Connor, Urban Threads is revolutionizing machine embroidery one edgy, elegant, innovative, and/or offbeat design at a time. Discover the future of digital stitchery at www.urbanthreads.com.

{ 0 comments }

Gear Threads Is The Mr X Stitch Machine Embroidery Column - Presented By Urban Threads!

The art of machine embroidery, or digitizing, is still a small but growing medium for new artists and designers to explore and work in. The thing that keeps it small mostly comes from the fact that access to the digitizing equipment is expensive and limited, and learning it can be even more daunting without some professional guidance. For many years these skills have mostly been held tightly within the industry, used on logos and hats and not much more.

Luckily, along with more accessible projects like open source embroidery software, the Rhode Island School of Design is offering their students a chance to learn digital embroidery and explore its artistry for themselves. The class is part of a5-week-long winter term class at the prestigious fine arts college.

RISD describes the digital embroidery in the class for newcomers who are unfamiliar…

Digital embroidery transforms hand-crafted couture into a work of fine art. Just like a tattoo where an image is created with needles and color, so embroidered fabric or paper is needle-stitched with colored threads. … The resulting personalized textile can be applied to fabrics for apparel or interior applications as well as fine art.

Well-known textile embroidery artist Michael Savoia led the class in training on this modern embroidery software to create a new generation of artists who can use this medium to express themselves, and industry magazineStitchesdid a great overview of some of the work that has come out of the RISD classes.

2025

Students work through inspirations of classic and contemporary art, using everything from Da Vinci toMackintosh toinspire andtry out new digitizing techniques.

2024

Students were of course also encouraged to create their own works of art using the software and machines now at their disposal, and the results are free-flowing and pretty awesome.

2027

You can see more images and read more about it over on Stitches, or see the course described on RISD’s website itself. This school has already turned out amazing digitizing artists such as Coral & Tusk, featured earlier on Gear Threads. Here’s hoping it turns out many more.

Have you heard of any other places you can learn digitizing for machine embroidery? Share it in the comments!

________________________

Urban Threads - Unique and Awesome Machine Embroidery DesignsGear Threads is brought to you from the offbeat gals at Urban Threads. Created by illustrator Niamh O’Connor, Urban Threads is revolutionizing machine embroidery one edgy, elegant, innovative, and/or offbeat design at a time. Discover the future of digital stitchery at www.urbanthreads.com.

{ 0 comments }

Mr X