The Cutting & Stitching Edge | Contemporary Embroidered Art from Mr X Stitch

Deborah Simon is a mixed media artist from Brooklyn, USA.

Deborah Simon - Ursus maritimus

“My work walks the line between taxidermy, toy and sculpture. Each sculpture is meticulously fabricated to create an unnervingly accurate but slightly off version of the natural animal.

Deborah Simon - Ursus maritimus - back

“Evolution has always held a particular fascination for me, informing how I create and group the animals in my work. As I’ve read and dug through museum collections to research my pieces, western science’s mania for labeling, codifying and collecting has stood out. Most of this categorizing bears little resemblance to how animals and plants exist out in the natural world and I find this disconnect fascinating.

Deborah Simon - Ursus americanus

“The Flayed Bears play with ideas around stuffed toys, taxidermy and classification.  Bears especially interest me as they are the ultimate stuffed animals; both the iconic plush toy and the prized taxidermy specimen for hunters. Most of all the sculptures deal with vulnerability. A stuffed bear is the enduring toy of childhood. The fierce predator declawed and defanged to become a child’s beloved friend and sense of security. The pieces explore the tension between the reality of the animal and the vulnerability imbued in toy.

Deborah Simon - Ursus americanus - embroidery

Their fur is removed on the body, leaving a linen skin, as if they’d been flayed or like undressed porcelain dolls, with the hard sculpted fur covered head and paws connected to the soft linen body. On the linen I’ve embroidered different organ systems that I felt best represented each species.”

Deborah Simon - Ursus arctos horribilus

I find these pieces incredibly powerful. Not only are they physically large, and therefore a feat of technical expertise, but the characterisation of the bears and their subsequent flaying is really quite moving. Reminiscent of bad circuses from the past, you can feel the pain of the animals, their stance suggesting captivity.

Deborah Simon - Ursus arctos horribilus - embroidery

The removal of skin and embroidery of their inner workings elicits a response akin to that of traditional taxidermy – despite how cool small bits of taxidermy might be these days, there’s something haunting about seeing big beasts turned into trophies. Deborah’s work is simply clay and fur and stitch, but her execution is so well done that I feel like crying at the demise of these beasts. It’s wonderful work.

Deborah Simon - Ursus maritimus - face detail

Connect with Deborah via her website.


The Cutting & Stitching Edge is brought to you in association with PUSH: Stitchery, the must-have embroidered art book by Mr X Stitch !



Kreinik Calling! Exclusive to Mr X Stitch!

We love the companies that sponsor Mr X Stitch and we thought we’d take a moment to share some love about them!

Kreinik Threads have been making beautiful threads for years and each month, Dena Lenham’s Kreinik Calling column provides inspirational ideas on how to create great effects with their products. If you don’t know about Kreinik, this introductory post will reveal all!

Kreinik Threads

You can tell that Kreinik have a real love for their products and for the world of stitch. Dena’s enthusiasm for the work of others is palpable and her recent post about bugs is a perfect example of what we mean.

This needlepoint butterfly is a highly stylistic depiction, a blend of stitches and thread types.

The world of thread is so much broader than you might initially realise, and it’s been fascinating to find out about the production processes and some of the innovative products that Kreinik make.

Entering the Kreinik factory

Dena is always willing to help you master techniques and good practices as well, as proven in this post about fraying.

Fray a metallic ribbon for interesting effects.

We’ll wrap this post up by making sure you read the interview we did with Dena last year – we heart her a lot!

Dena with Doug Kreinik, representing Kreinik Manufacturing Company at a trade show in Birmingham, England.

We’re so honoured to work with Kreinik – they’re great ambassadors for the industry and we can only encourage you to visit their site and try out the range of products they make. Tell ‘em Mr X Stitch sent you!


Another Stitchgasm from Mr X Stitch!
Yuko Uemura has serious patience! She created this rain drop embroidery, made up entirely of French knots for her niece.  Each raindrop took between 1-2 hours each!

Happy Rain by Yuko Uemura

I really love her use of colour and shape, as well as all that lush texture!


Kreinik Calling! Exclusive to Mr X Stitch!
As a stitcher and embroider, you use threads as a tool for bringing a design to life. They’re not just for adding color, however. Depending on the kind of thread, they can add a different texture or a special effect, which makes the end design all that much more interesting. Look around you right now: are your surroundings flat, all one texture, totally matte, all one type of surface? No, the world is varied, and pretty darn visually interesting.

In addition to color, metallic threads add light to a design. To get technical for a moment, metallic thread is made from a polyester film that goes through a vacuum process to coat the surface. The materials used for this film can be aluminum, silver, gold, holographic, transparent, iridescent, etc. These threads are literally created to shine.

Chartreuse Kreinik metallic threads

Chartreuse colors of Kreinik metallic threads: Japan Thread (in front), followed by Braid, Filament, Ribbon, and Fine Braid.

Why would you want this in a design? Well, basically, to make it more visually interesting. Why do you wear silver earrings, or a gold necklace? Why do we wear metallic nail polish or lip gloss? Why are fish naturally attracted to shiny things? The light reflection of something metallic gets our attention, jazzes things up a bit, or communicates stimuli of some sort. That’s just science (or nature).

I want to showcase the beautiful work of Sam Packer, of Workshop On The Web, to illustrate the idea of adding light to designs through choice of thread. Sam is a mixed media artist who also writes for that quarterly textile e-publication. (Note: You can get a “taster issue” of Workshop on the Web from their website.)

Sam used a variety of stitches in a combination of hand and machine embroidery using metallic threads on silk paper. Kreinik Fashion Twist is used for the machine stitching, while various sizes (thicknesses) of Kreinik Braids are used for the hand embroidery.

Sam used a variety of stitches in a combination of hand and machine embroidery with metallic threads on silk paper. Kreinik Fashion Twist is used for the machine stitching, while various sizes (thicknesses) of Kreinik Braids are used for the hand embroidery.

Use white metallic threads on white fabric creates eye-catching detail and a sense of dimension.

Materials/techniques: freezer paper stencil, cotton fabric, screen printing, Kreinik Fine Twist for machine embroidery, Kreinik Braids for hand embroidery. “You can catch the light with it,” Sam comments about the metallic pearl-colored Braid used on the white fabric. She went with the same color family for the machine stitched background too, but used metallic thread to create detail. “I used the Kreinik machine sewing thread that has flecks of silver, so even though it is white-on-white, the thread catches the light.”

Take a slow look at these photos to study how metallic threads add the element of light on a contrasting backdrop. Then consider how you can use metallics to add light to your next project. It doesn’t matter if you are a cross stitcher or a mixed media embroiderer, a costume designer or a paper crafter, a needlepointer or a jewelry maker; the end result of mixing up your thread types is going to be so much more stimulating….dare I say, dazzling, dahling. Go for it.

The stitches give the body, but the metallic threads give the light.

The stitches give the body, but the metallic threads give the light. Materials: Cotton sheeting, stencils, dimensional paste, Kreinik Fine Twist (three colors: yellow, white gold, dark gold for shading). Technique: free-motion machine embroidery.

Close up of Sam Packer's feather design showing the metallic machine sewing threads (Kreinik brand).

Close up of Sam Packer’s feather design showing the beautiful, subtle shimmer from the metallic machine sewing threads (Kreinik brand). She sketched the basics of the design on her Ipad, then worked it on her sewing machine. She used a zig-zag stitch for the main stem of each feather.


{ 1 comment }

Mr X