A selection of Carlys patches and pins.

Carly Owens | Goldwork Embroidery

Goldworx with Hattie McGill

Welcome back to another Goldworx! I have quite the treat for you this month in the form of some gorgeous goldwork. If you trawl instagram (like I do) for goldwork stitchers you probably have come across the amazing Carly Owens.

Carly Owens stitching at her frame.
The wonderful Carly working on one of her embroideries.

Carly is a contemporary hand embroidery artist based in Colorado, her work is a beautiful mixture of traditional techniques with modern subjects. From stunning eye brooches to encrusted tooth pins (my favourite), Carly is constantly mixing up and pushing the boundaries of goldwork. She studied Art and Design at college with a concentration in Fibres and Fashion Studies at North Carolina State University. However it was when she took a summer study abroad session at the Royal School of Needlework back in 2016 that she was first introduced to hand embroidery and immediately became hooked on goldwork.

Carly's goldwork eye brooches
Carly’s goldwork eye brooches

I spoke to Carly about her work and what inspires her.

“It was so unlike any form of embroidery I had ever encountered before, especially being from the US where you don’t see the technique much. I also found goldwork to become a very ritualistic process for me because of its slow, meticulous nature, which is exactly how I work.

After my time at the RSN, I was so jazzed about hand embroidery that I focused the remainder of my collegiate studies on it. My final year of embroidery studies in college led me to become a finalist for the 2017 Hand & Lock Prize for Embroidery in the Student Fashion category and work as a couture embroidery intern for the New York City based fashion house, Marchesa. Shortly after graduation, I started my own hand embroidery business for fashion and interiors under my own name and I’ve been busy running that ever since.”

Carly Owens -"Duality" detail - goldwork on canvas.
Carly Owens -“Duality” detail – goldwork on canvas.
Detail of Carly's hand embroidered dress bodice.
Hand embroidered dress bodice by Carly Owens.

Carly’s work is inspired by anatomy, womanhood and the human condition. She also draws inspiration from contemporary art, especially in “non traditional” forms that are textile or craft based. And cites some of her favourite artists as Louise Bourgeois, Grayson Perry and Faye Wei Wei as a huge influence too.

Craft is super important to me, which is why I am such a quality control freak in my own work. And with goldwork, there’s no hiding your mistakes. Immersing myself in this technique has made progress exponentially as an embroiderer. There’s seriously nothing more satisfying than a perfectly laid piece of purl over felt or a pristinely serpentine line of s-ing. I think goldwork is such an exciting, multifaceted medium with some amazing tactile qualities.

A selection of Carlys patches and pins.
A selection of Carlys patches and pins. I want them all!

“Currently, I’m working on some fiber art pieces based on body sovereignty. I used to be slightly afraid of making work that is more “political” but over the past year I feel like I’ve been finding my voice and developing a style that I feel less hesitant now to make a statement, especially given the political climate here in America. I am also working on some more, maximalist goldwork eye brooches which have been a crowd favorite. After stitching so many eyes, I feel like I could do cutwork in my sleep!…(I wish)”

Enjoy Carly Owen’s website where she has a link to her shop, and her Instagram. You won’t be disappointed.

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