Caren Garfen - Guilt Biscuits - 2014

Caren Garfen – Small Stitches, Big Issues

Caren Garfen is an embroidery artist from London whose small scale stitched pieces tackle big topics like eating disorders and anti-semitism.

Caren Garfen - Guilt Biscuits - 2014
Guilt Biscuits – Cookies have been hand stitched with silk threads. Biscuits are one of our ‘treats’ but at the same time we feel guilty about eating them, especially after going past two or three! One would think twice about nibbling into a biscuit with thread stitched into it especially after reading the message it holds.

“For fifteen years up until 2007 I worked as a craftsperson hand stitching top-of-the-range, miniature, and traditional samplers for dolls’ houses. My work was sold, by my agent and myself, all over the USA, in Japan, Europe and Great Britain, to adult collectors. In 2007 I graduated from the University of Hertfordshire with a First Class (Hons) degree in the Applied Arts, and I now work as an artist.

Caren Garfen - Clock, 'Weight a Minute' - 2014
Weight a Minute – This artwork has been created using real weighing scales but has been adapted using silkscreen printed imagery and hand stitched motifs onto cotton. The dial is now in the form of a clock used to represent the time that diets tend to fail, ten past four in the afternoon, when all good resolutions tend to fail….

“I am currently creating an art installation dealing with women and dieting for The Knitting & Stitching Show which takes place this Autumn. I will be incorporating works that have been made over the last three to four years and creating new pieces, bringing everything together in the shape of a kitchen. I have hand drawn and silkscreen printed all of the cupboards, washing machine, sink, oven, tiles, etc. which, as well as forming a backdrop for the installation, will become an integral part of this life-size artwork.

Caren Garfen - It's Only A Question Of Balance
Caren Garfen – It’s Only A Question Of Balance

“It will not be possible to open the cupboards or eat anything in this kitchen as, according to research, food is dangerous.  One week we can eat dairy, the next we cannot.  Carbohydrates are fine, or carbohydrates are harmful.  Sugar is deleterious to your teeth and your health, and sweeteners are full of chemicals. We should now eat 10 portions of fruit and vegetables rather than five! We treat ourselves with ‘good’ foods and feel guilty about ‘bad’ foods… Enter this kitchen at your peril!”

Caren Garfen - A Pick Me Up
Caren Garfen – A Pick Me Up

Caren’s work is astonishing. I’ve seen it with my own eyes and it’s minute and perfect. Caren’s years of stitching for tiny textile things for dolls houses have given her command over the microstitch and she uses it to terrific effect. She’s not afraid to use these delicate stitches to make big statements and as you take time to examine her work, you realise the messages contained within are often a stark contrast to the tiny charm of the form she uses.

Caren Garfen - Oven Love
Caren Garfen – Oven Love

At first glance you’ll assume the work is machine stitched, such is the size and delicacy of the stitch, but it’s all done by hand. Contained within the work is a quiet wit that brings the pieces to life and draws you in. It’s magic. I still don’t fully understand how she managed to stitch onto biscuits, let alone onto the almost microscopic pieces of fabric she uses, but she has and it’s astonishing work!

Caren Garfen - Tea Time
Caren Garfen – Tea Time

Find out more at Caren’s very cool site or keep up with her on Instagram.

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