Welcome to Gear Threads, where we showcase artists who are elevating machine embroidery to new heights!
Today on Gear Threads we dive back into the world of artistic embroidery digitizing. It was once thought of as mostly a commercial tool, but artists are starting to get their hands on digitizing software and incorporating it into their textile creations with pretty cool results.
This work comes from textile artist Charlotte Ziebarth, author of the book Artistic Photo Quilts and a stitcher very familiar with the concept of combining the digital with the textile. After experimenting heavily on using photography on fabric to create rich, layered quilts, Charlotte dived into the world of digitizing to add another photo sourced element to her textile work.
I came across the beautiful machine embroidered quilts of hers online, and upon visiting her website, I was instantly pulled in by this quote:
For the past couple of years I have been learning how to digitize my drawings using the Bernina Embroidery software for a Bernina artista 730 with embroidery module. The software is often used for embroidering logos, teddybears, or exotic embroidery from times past. I have thought there were untapped possibilities for using digitzed embroidery on my stitched digital art quilts.
Untapped indeed! I contacted Charlotte to get some of her thoughts on how she uses digitizing software in her textile work.
Although I could use drawings for designing the digitized embroidery, my idea was to see if I could use my photographs as the basic blueprint for my digitized embroidery. So I have started with high contrast photographs with simple lines in them – bare tree branches, grasses, etc. Working in Photoshop I turn them into black on white drawings using one of the sketch filters. Usually a lot of erasing is involved also. When I have something simple that retains the essence of the photo I take it to the Bernina Embroidery Software to digitize it.
In essence what Charlotte is doing is using digitizing and quilting akin to photo collage. Not only does she use printed photos on fabric to create many of her quilts, but she can create large embroidered landscapes by layering the single digitized pieces on top of each other, which lends very naturally to the organic shapes she often chooses to work with in her Bernina software.
I find her work fascinating, as it is all about photo collage but in a totally unexpected medium: textiles. The deep colors of her quilts and the mesmerizing repetition of her layers contrasts beautifully with the harsh, often jagged edges of the machine stitched embroidery.
It’s a unique look at one way an artist is using digitizing software for contemporary embroidery pieces, a practice I hope continues as this technology reaches more and more curious hands. If you want to check out more photo quilts of Charlotte’s, follow her on Instagram!
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