See Without Judgment: The Striking Realism of Carol Shinn


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


There’s photorealistic machine embroidery, and then there’s the work of Carol Shinn. Honed over 25 years of practice, her technique creates richly beautiful images that make striking use of light and shadow, taking inspiration from the landscapes and structures of the American West.



In an interview on, Shinn says she has come to embrace the power of just observing and faithfully recording:

There are moments when I feel like a set of eyes outside my human self. However fleeting, those moments are extraordinary, when I see without judgment, and just exist as a part of that moment and place. … After my first college degree, I was afraid to acknowledge this part of me because it seemed to lack the intellectual content, the metaphors, and complexities of urban thinking. When I finally moved toward realism, I felt guilty because I didn’t know how to justify doing it. But over time I have learned that often the “doing or making” must come before the “understanding.”



See more of Shinn’s breathtaking work on her site, read the full interview at, and absorb a bit of her wisdom from her book Freestyle Machine Embroidery: Techniques and Inspiration for Fiber Art.

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