The Cutting (& Stitching) Edge – Heidi Hanks


Contemporary embroidery art via Mr X Stitch

When I first saw the cross stitched work of Heidi Hanks, aka daisymae_cs, I was fascinated. I contacted her to find out how she developed this clever approach to the medium I love:

About 10 years ago I started making collages of half-inch squares cut from magazine pages glued together into a grid. They started out as sort of random fields of alternating colors with interesting bits of interspersed detail, but gradually progressed to geometric patterns. In 2008 I thought about using the squares concept for cross-stitch, which I had done as a teenager but had only recently taken up again.

Over the next couple of years I stitched some really simple geometric patterns that I tried to make a bit more personal with the use of color. The main idea I had was to make the patterns very simple and basic so that the process of stitching could be calm and relaxing, with the emphasis being on the colored threads I was working with at the time. I wanted it to be just about choosing the colors and spending time stitching with those colors.

In 2010 I started to think about how I could keep the squares idea but do something a bit more dynamic with it. I had the idea of trying to do portraits of people that were somewhat abstract while remaining at least somewhat representational, but that were more about the stitches and thread and the color choice, and less about using the medium in the way you might use a photograph to represent a subject.

“So after a bit of trial and error using image-converting software, I found that I could sometimes convert images into surprisingly interesting low-resolution portraits. I tried to convert a ton of photos and found that only a small percentage of images convert well to recognizable portraits. So I started to come up with some patterns that are representational when viewed small, but with color combinations that are pleasing in themselves close up.

“The subjects are people I admire or whose work has been important to me in some way. The challenging part to me is to keep coming up with patterns that work as interesting portraits, but when it comes to the actual stitching, it’s still all about the colors and the process of stitching. I’d also like to continue doing geometric patterns and experiment with new stitches and with different kinds of thread–there’s some gorgeous naturally dyed crewel wool I just found online that I’m drooling over at the moment.”

I’ve seen a lot of cross stitch over the years, and daisymae’s approach to it is something I’ve not seen before. Cross stitch naturally lends itself to pixellated images, but this idea is scaled up to a new level and applied with intelligence and style. Although, at the time of writing, she has only produced two of these cross stitch pixellated portraits, I am entranced and keen to see more.

Keep an eye on the daisymae_cs photostream to see how this terrific idea evolves.

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The Cutting (& Stitching) Edge is brought to you in association with Embroidery As Art, the inspirational stitched art blog from the legendary Jenny Hart.


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6 thoughts on “The Cutting (& Stitching) Edge – Heidi Hanks

  • I *LOVE* the abstract & geometric ones, and might mess around with the portrait idea at some point — thanks for sharing this!

  • These are fantastic! What a great find 🙂 I love it when cross stitch takes on a new life and becomes and melting pot of mediums like this. It totally made me smile this afternoon 🙂

  • This isn’t related to the post, but I had to tell you how great the last podcast was. Shae may not think she is funny, but let me tell you, she really is hilarious! I’m not being biased or anything because I’m her mom, I really enjoy her dirty little sense of humor. You guys are pretty damn funny, too!

  • Update: daisymae_cs no longer exists on flickr, but if you’re looking for my cross-stitch, I can be found under the flickr profile lowlycraftworm now. Thanks!

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